Whether you’re in the middle of training for your first 26.2 or prepping for your initial crack at the distance, here are some training tips that will help you toward your goal.
When you start a routine with running, it is inevitable that you’ll eventually start looking at races to add to your calendar. You may start with a local 5K (3.1 miles) and get the itch to do more. Over time, a 10K (6.2 miles) might be on your radar. Before you know it, you may be training to do a half marathon (13.1 miles).
If you’re newer to the sport, it may take a year of buildup to get to that point—and that’s an amazing accomplishment! Along the way you will get fitter as a runner, healthier overall, and probably make some friends along the way.
But the more you hang around runners, the more you’ll hear about that coveted distance of 26.2 miles. While you certainly don’t need to do a marathon to consider yourself a true runner, with about a year of preparation and training under your belt, conquering the distance is within reach if that becomes a new goal.
Ready to Start Training?
First, it’s always best to check with your physician before beginning any extensive exercise program like training for a marathon. If you get the green light, consider getting a training plan to guide your journey. Runner’s World offers training plans for every type of runner and distance. Here are five of our most popular plans for first-time marathoners:
First-Timer Marathon (16 weeks, 12–40 miles per week)
Beginner Marathon (16 weeks, 16–44 miles per week)
Break 4:30 Marathon (16 weeks, 23–45 miles per week)
Break 4:45 Marathon (16 weeks, 23–45 miles per week)
Break 5:00 Marathon (16 weeks, 23–45 miles per week)\
As you train, remember the human body adapts slowly and therefore responds best to small gradual increases in training stress. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, the circulatory system, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system all adapt at different rates to training.
They need a minimum of six weeks to make adaptations to the stresses placed upon them, so proceeding gradually as you get ready for marathon-specific training is very important. Training periods of greater workload, like mileage increases or speedwork, should be followed by periods of reduced workload, often referred to as a “cut back” week, where mileage is reduced and speedwork less intense.
Besides just logging the miles, there are many other factors to educate yourself on too, like hydration and nutrition. Obtaining the proper gear and equipment, like shoes, is really important. Have your current shoes checked out at your local running store by a specialist. Tell them your weekly mileage to date, your goal to run a marathon, the running surfaces you train on, and how often you run so they can prescribe and fit you with the best shoe for you.