A Beginner's Guide To Marathon Training

Are you getting ready to embark on your first marathon? Maybe this will be your second or third race, and you're curious about how others prepare? A friend of mine asked me for some tips as he prepares for his upcoming marathon, and I want to pass them along to you, too!

Running a marathon before 30 was a goal of mine. The timing was right, so I decided to check this one off the list. I played sports growing up and was always active, but never followed a training schedule before. This was all new to me.

I did a lot of reading and research as I tried to figure out how to prepare best. I've only completed one marathon in my lifetime and do not consider myself an expert by any means, but these are just a few things I learned along the way.

Training Tips:

1. Please, please, please make sure you have good nutrition! Eating healthy and consuming enough nutrients are as important as the training in my opinion! Your metabolism and fat-burning ability will increase — be prepared!

2. Be sure to include interval training or hills at least once per week. This is important when building speed and strength.

3. Practice using gels, gummies, etc. during your long runs to determine what tastes best and is easy on your stomach. I liked the orange cubes the best, but try a few different types and flavors.

4. Replace electrolytes, especially after long runs — coconut water is my favorite!

5. Eat something with carbs and protein within 30 minutes of your workout to replenish you glycogen stores after longer runs to prevent muscle fatigue during your next run.

6. Set a time goal.

7. Below is my general weekly training schedule. Hang your training calendar on the refrigerator for motivation. Highlight or check off the workout when you have completed it. You will be amazed at your progress!

  • 1 short run — 3-5 miles of interval training and/or hills (include 30 minutes of weight training).
  • 2 medium runs — increased distance and speed over time, but generally mine were about 5-12 miles (occasionally I also did weight training)
  • 1 long run — this should be race pace (the speed you plan to run the race)
  • 1 cross training day — bike, stair master for 45 minutes, plus 30 minutes of lifting.
  • 1-2 days off (yoga or a light jog on one of the days)

Injury Prevention:

1. Increase distance before increasing your speed.

2. Continue to lift weights. This helps prevent injuries and maintains strength (hire a trainer if you are not experienced).

3. Buy good running shoes! Do you know if you over-pronate, under-pronate, or are normal? Some stores will take a video of your stride to determine what shoes are appropriate — it doesn’t cost you anything!

4. Foam roll your IT band — IT band syndrome is a super common running injury that is very painful. Trust me.

5. Try kinesiology tape. You may remember this from the Summer Olympics in 2012. Find someone with experience to apply it for you, like naturopaths, trainers, chiropractors, etc.

6. Run on softer ground like trails, if possible. Trails are easier on your joints.

7. Stretch! Just a friendly reminder! Yoga is great too.

Race Day Tips:

1. Find a family or friend to give you a personal electrolyte and water in a disposable water bottle throughout the race. I didn’t want to drink Gatorade or get stuck at the water stations. I think this saved me time, was easier to drink on the run, and I never cramped up. If you decide to use the cups given, fold them into a "V" to make it easier to drink.

2. If it’s cold the day of the race, wear an old sweatshirt that you can throw away after warming up.

3. Find a pacer to run with during the race — this helped tremendously! This will prevent you from needing to check your watch or even think about the pace.

4. Download your favorite workout tunes! Include music that doesn’t make you think and isn’t too distracting. The race becomes a mental challenge toward the end!

5. Have fun and be proud of yourself. Go celebrate your success and hard work!

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