How to Train for a Marathon Run – Guide

how to train for a marathon

How to Train For a Marathon Run: The Do’s and Don’ts

We won’t lie to you; marathons are long and hard. Training for one is more than a fad, rather the first step towards making fitness your lifestyle. But don’t be easily dissuaded.

If you’re still reading, we know you already have what it takes to run a marathon. Discovering the best training strategy to strengthen your body into a marathon runner will require skill, knowledge, and hard work.

marathon training guide


How long does it take?

The journey is different for everyone. Sounds corny but accurate. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your quads be when training for a marathon. Now, whether you have an added advantage depends entirely on your fitness journey.

The high school star track runner will need lesser time than the newly onboard marathon trainee. Does that mean its not possible? Of course not, motivation and consistency are the key ingredients here. And finding the right training will be your best friend in how to train for a marathon.

How Do Newbies Find Their Footing?

If there’s one word to describe running, I would say Unagi. Yes, we’ve heard this one from Friends. A state of total self-awareness: the burning in your lungs, pounding of your feet on the side walk, the trickling sweat on your brow. You are in control. And best tip any new runner would be, it’s all in the mind.

Setting your personal goals and reaching them depends entirely on your motivation and control. Whether its running 5 miles under the target time or doing a 20 minute thirty second run followed by one minute walk, you have to find the right burn for yourself.

How Do I Get Started?

When first learning how to develop a training plan, assess where you currently are. Are you a frequent treadmill user? How long can you run without running out of breath? If you’re a complete beginner, we’re here to guide you on how to run a marathon.

First develop a training program. This will require surfing the internet for finding the right mix for your body in a training plan. To start of, your initial training program should consist of the run-walk strategy for 20 minute a stretch. This is if you’re a complete beginner. Or you could start with a 3o minute to an hour walk if your body is out of shape. We’ve all been there, don’t feel ashamed.

marathon running guide


Have Real Expectations

Now, don’t expect to find your speed and footing in the first week. The first 5-6 months will be focused on developing the proper running technique, and building running endurance. How do we achieve this?

Step 1, make sure your stance is upright. Regulating your breathing will take time. It gets better the more you progress in your training programs.

Listen To Your Body!

This cannot be stressed enough. Do push yourself to add 5 minutes more to your training program but break it up. Take breaks. Your body will thank you for it. Plan long-term. This commitment is here to stay till the finish line. Don’t push it when you can feel pushing your body won’t allow you to continue the marathon training the next day.

Try starting off with a one minute walk, 3o second run for 20 minutes and gradually switching to a one minute run, 30 second walk. The marathon training plans should increase tempo runs with each day: stamina and speed. This way you exceed every training schedule.

Find Your Marathon Partners

Step 2, find your training buddies. They will be crucial in your training runs. The days you wake up feeling groggy, your running partners will push you to getting closer to the marathon race. Even better if you can find a buddy who matches your training schedule.

Putting two or more runners together to come up with a marathon training program will make the start line appear within arm’s reach. The target for the each week of your marathon training plan should include a long distance run, rewarding speed workouts, 2 days of strength training and plenty of mobility (every day).

marathon training with partner


Getting Ready for the First Marathon

Warm up and warm down. Stretching out your muscles should account for the first 5 minutes of your training runs, followed by a 8-10 minute jog to get your heart pumping.

This will avoid early chances of injury and oil the gears to your running machines- your legs. Then after your workout (include speed work once your stamina is strong) always remember to cool down. That means jog for 5-10 minutes before stretching again.

Easing Into Speed Work

This is integral to your training schedules. It differentiates ‘marathoners’ from recreational runners.

Start with tempo intervals

This can range from a one minute walk followed by six minute brisk walk or vice versa. Choose your own level of difficulty to start off with.

Graduate to fartlek training in your marathon training

Fartlek or ‘speed play’ is a combo long-distance runs with intervals of fast running. Like a 25 minute jog with fast 30 second bursts. Remember to pace yourself.

Interval training

try the 5:1 (one minute walk) or 6:2 (two minute recovery) once your running stamina is built. My personal favorite killer: 5x300m repetitions with 3-4 minute rests in-between. Or you can opt for 5x200m before climbing to longer reps.

Downhill tempo

If you live in hilly regions, make use of it. Allow the gravity to increase your speed without exerting any extra energy.

running for a marathon

Core Sessions

Oh yes. This controls too much of your run to leave it out. After successfully integrating speed work into your run, you need to kick your endurance in the gut. If you want to run faster, concentrate on the short reps like the 200m or 400m. But if you’re after speed endurance, go with longer intervals. 3x600m to start with, then gradually increase to 800m reps. Don’t balk at this daunting training schedule. Nothing feels more exhilarating than overcoming the steps we’ve listed out for you to race to the long distance marathon.

Circuit training: Start with 100m, gradually increasing each rep by 100/200m depending on your training plans. Once you hit the peak rep, e.g 800m, slow down each proceeding rep.

Simulation session:

Duplicate the experience of running an 800m by breaking it up into say 500 + 300m with 60 second recovery.

Increase weekly mileage.

Your legs are your motors. When coming down your circuit, increase your run speed with each rep, eg, 500m at 1500m pace, 400m even faster. This training will kick in when you’re running that last 500m of the first marathon.

How to Smash that Half Marathon Milestone

A half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21K. Most runners consider this achievable. The training plan is easier to fit into a busy work life than a marathon training plan. So where do we start? First pick the terrain(flat, hilly or scenic), then the crowd(city/area closest to you) and finally deposit that registration fee. A minimum of 12 weeks should give you an estimate of when to begin training.

Long Distance. Your run should be 1-2 miles warming up, followed by 3-5 miles at half marathon mileage and cool off with a mile of easy jogging. Personalize this with your own mix of strength and speed training to hit race pace in double digit runs just days before the half marathon.

Congratulations! You’re now training for the full Marathon

There is history behind the agonizing 26.2 miles. The 1984 women’s Olympic races in which runner Gabriela Andersen-Schiess staggered into the last .2 till she reached the finish line. Or the Boston marathon in 2011, where Lindin (2018 Boston Marathon champion) and Kilel (2011 Champion) were neck-to-neck in the final 365 yards(.2). This is when winners make their fate.

Prepare your per week training schedule in order of: core work & restoration, pulling drills, strength training with mobility, hill intervals, rest, long distance runs and finally, recovery cross training.

Optionally you can add a fun run (20-60 minutes) to your recovery days depending on you. Resting days should focus on rolling out sore muscles, ice baths and yoga stretches.

training for a marathon

Strength training should ideally focus on not just legs, but arms and abs- burpees, squats, crunches and pushups. You might as well head to the gym for this one. It might help to consult with coaches to create a routine for your current fitness level. Discuss goals and realistic expectations.

Hopefully this put you in the right mind to begin training. So stop wasting time, start training.

Good luck!

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