Everybody wants to get fit fast... but should you?
In my early coaching career, I specialized in marathon and triathalon coaching. I eventually branched out and worked with everyone from fitness models to previously sedentary seniors. But consistently, throughout my career, people would email or call and ask seemingly innocent questions like: How long will I need to train to complete a marathon?
My answer generally alternated between either “as long as possible” or “it depends.” Obviously, neither of these were the answer people wanted to hear.
For someone going from the couch to a marathon, I would recommend 10-12 months of training. If you have a solid running background (three or more years of consistent running), or you want to simply improve your finishing time, 16-20 weeks could do the trick.
But keep in mind that training for a marathon isn't the same as training for overall fitness. This equation changes when the question is “How long do I need to train to get fit?”
What is Getting Fit?
The illusive condition of “being fit” is something I have written about numerous times, and I still feel like the definition of fitness is open to discussion. But for sake of this conversation, I am going to define fitness as: “Activities relating to keeping healthy and strong, especially through movement.”
There are a couple reasons why I like this definition.
It doesn’t contain the (loaded) word “exercise”
It implies that fitness is a continuum, not a finish line
Before we get into why I think those are important points to make, let’s look at some science.