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Marathon Training and Running Tips for Beginners

Get Ready to Run Your First Marathon


Updated June 30, 2014

A man runs underneath the Williamsburg Bridge while running the ING New York City Marathon on November 3, 2013 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. With the Boston Marathon bombing from earlier this year still fresh in many minds, security is especially high this year at the New York City marathon.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Running a marathon is an incredible goal for runners, but marathon training and the race itself is not something to be taken lightly. While I think that any healthy individual who is willing to commit to the training can complete a marathon, I don't recommend that runners jump right into the marathon distance (26.2 miles or 42K). If you've never trained for any kind of endurance event, you should work on building your running base mileage for at least six months before you start thinking about training for a marathon.

Once you've established a regular running habit and are running 3-4 days a week, it's a good idea to get your feet wet by racing a shorter distance race, like a 5K (3.1 miles) or a 10K (6.2 miles) Many runners like to run a half marathon before taking on the full marathon. Getting some race experience is good preparation for your marathon and will get you excited to start your training.

Find a Marathon: Once you have at least six months of running (a year is even better) and a few shorter races under your belt, you can start thinking about which marathon you want to train for. There are lots of marathons to choose from. You'll have to decide whether you want to run a big or small marathon, and if you want to travel to another city (perhaps even an international destination) or stay close to home. Browse through the listings and reviews of marathons at MarathonGuide.com to get some ideas of where you might want to run. If you're looking for a U.S. marathon, check out these lists:

Spring U.S. Marathons
Fall U.S. Marathons
Winter U.S. Marathons
Fast U.S. Marathons

How to Get Started with Marathon Training

Before you get started with marathon training, here are some ways you should get prepared:

Medical check-up: Even if you've already been running, check with your doctor and let him or her know your plans to train for and run a marathon.

Running shoes, clothes, and gear: While you don't need to buy lots of expensive gear, the right running shoes is an important investment. Getting running shoes that are suitable for your running style, foot type, and level of experience will help you run comfortably and injury-free. Finding the right sports bra is also very important for women to stay comfortable while running. Wearing running clothes made of technical fabrics (not cotton) that wick away your sweat will help keep you dry and comfortable. You'll also need a good water bottle or hydration belt to hydrate during runs.

Weather: You're going to be training through different seasons and types of weather. Take some time to research what's involved with running in the hot, cold, or rainy conditions.

Tips for Running in Hot Weather
Tips for Running in the Cold
Tips for Running in the Rain

Marathon Training Schedules

Once you've established a running base of about 15 miles a week, you can get started with a Beginner Marathon Training Schedule. The schedule is geared towards beginner runners whose goal is to simply finish the marathon. If you prefer to use a run/walk strategy for training and completing your marathon, use this Run/Walk Marathon Training Schedule.

Not a beginner? If you find those marathon training plans to be too easy for your level, check out more marathon training schedules.

Next page: Nutrition and Hydration for Marathon Training and Running -->
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