Marathon Training For Beginners

Marathon Training For Beginners

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So, you are planning to run your first marathon or half marathon. You want to know how much running experience you need before participating in a marathon. If you are a beginner, you may have lots of questions about how to train for a marathon. You will certainly want to have a positive experience. In this article, we will answer all your queries around marathon training for beginners. Even if you do not know the basics, you can go through the following article to prepare your body and mind for your next marathon.

Before knowing how to train for a marathon, first, you should make sure that you are physically fit to run a marathon. This is an essential requirement. If you have any concerns about your physical fitness you may decide to consult with your doctor and get some advice. Then you can start to plan your training. You will have to focus both on your diet and exercise. A nutritious diet is a must to support the running and strenuous exercises.


If you are a beginner, first, you need to go through the basics and then you can increase the intensity. Consistency is important and you will need some motivation to prepare your body and mind for the next day. Even if you find it hard to start with, you should keep trying. The journey will not be difficult for a runner. However, if you do not enjoy running and love to stick to your couch, then you will need more effort as well as determination. You will have to start your preparation a good six months or so before the big day. Plan to run twenty to twenty-four miles per week. While preparing for the marathon, you will have to prepare the body first. Your body will demand time to adapt to the pounding.

How to Train for a Half Marathon

The key to success is consistency. You will have to consistently put enough weekly mileage to make your body accustomed to the marathon running. If you are a beginner, you can start with 10 to 15 miles per week for the half marathon. Gradually, you can move to 25 to 30 miles. Experienced runners can make a smart move by running 25 miles per week and then they can peak at 40 miles or even more. If you believe that you can run a 5K now, then you can prepare yourself for a half marathon in eight weeks. Ideally, you should plan for three to four months. You should have enough time for the preparation so that you can manage even if you get injured and face similar kinds of constraints.

As stated by experts, most beginners start their half-marathon training plan with a 3-mile run in their first week. Many of them experience some problems including shin splints in the initial days. You can start running three times a week. You should be aiming to run 3 – 5 times a week, and including a long run every 5 – 7 days.

The important part of the half marathon training is the weekly long run at a conversational pace that should gradually increase in distance over weeks to build both endurance and strength. Once you will be comfortable with long runs of 10 to 11 miles, then you should be ready for the 13.1 miles on the race day.

How Long Should I Train for a Marathon?

Preparing for a marathon will demand a significant amount of time. However, it is not easy to say how much time you will exactly need to run a marathon. Many different factors will come to the scene to decide the time you will need to prepare yourself for the marathon. Some key determining factors are distance, crowds in the running course, course difficulty, hydration and nutrition, running experience, weather conditions, and the average pace.

The official distance of the marathon is around twenty-six miles. Also, some races offer a different range of distances to make it suitable for a different level of runners.

When it comes to the training period, it might take six months to go from your couch to the marathon – this is why this article is all about marathon training for beginners. Start with baby steps. It is a good idea to enter shorter events in the lead up to a full marathon. You can start with a 5K, and then move to 10K, half marathon, and then a marathon. Gradual improvement can be more effective instead of planning to run a marathon in the first attempt itself.

5K Race

There is a 5k or 3.1 miles race. This is an entry-level of race and can be the best for beginners to start with. You can prepare yourself for this run with the right training within a few months. Many runners can finish this run within twenty-five minutes. However, if you are a walker, you might take forty-five minutes to one hour to finish a 5k run.

10K Race

The next is 10 km or 6.2 miles run. If you have the running experience, you can consider participating in this run. An average runner can finish a 10k run within 60-70 minutes. However, you will need regular training for a few months to run a 10k.

Half Marathon

Now, it comes to the half marathon. For half marathon or 13.1 miles run, you will need more training. The running time for a professional runner will be one hour. But slow runners might take three hours or even more. For a marathon, it will be a 42km or 26.2 miles run. The running time will range from two hours for experienced runners to six hours for slower runners.


It is going to be an intense experience and can be life-changing as well. You will have to remind yourself every day how much positivity you can bring into your life by making a balance between a healthy diet, regular training, and setting your goals. You need to stick to the pre-run diet and wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Get a good night’s sleep when the day finally arrives.

Marathon Training For Beginners
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Marathon Training Plan

Your marathon training for beginners needs to take the form of a well-planned program. The training plan for a marathon will include three runs per week, two rest days, two cross-training days, a combination of short, medium, long, and fast run. You can choose any day in a week depending on your preference and time availability. Also, you will have to focus on gear, diet, and mental preparation. Here are more details.


As a first-time runner, you will probably be unsure about what gear you will need. You will need the right gear to support your running. The good thing about the marathon is that you will not have to spend much on it. You just need to buy a few things that include your clothes, shoes, water, and running accessories.


You will need a well-cushioned pair of running shoes to get the required comfort while running. A pair of running shoes is a must. You should not buy any other sports shoes. In addition to shoes, you will need running socks, running shorts, a t-shirt, or a tank top/vest. You should avoid cotton fabrics and choose synthetic materials.


You will have to invest in a running belt, a watch, armband phone carrier, hat or visor, sunscreen lotion, and UV blocking running sunglasses. Finally, you will need a water bottle. You will not have access to water on the running routes whilst training, so make sure that you have your bottle. Some belts are designed to carry a water bottle, so you will not have any difficulty to take your water bottle to prevent dehydration.


As stated earlier, you will have to combine a healthy diet and regular exercise while preparing for a marathon. Proper nutrition is a must to prepare your body for exercise and running. You can plan for a nutritious diet for at least ten weeks before the event. You can consider the following while deciding on your diet plan for a marathon:

You need to add more carbohydrates to your diet. Your body needs carbs to support your exercise. You will have to consume more complex carbohydrates and less sugar. The sources of some complex carbs are whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, cereal, vegetables, and oatmeal. Also, you will need an adequate amount of protein for muscle growth. You should get around fifteen per cent of calories from protein and less than thirty per cent from fat.  You will have to add only healthy fats that include olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

In addition to a healthy diet, you will have to focus on hydration. You should drink at least six to eight glasses of water every day to hydrate your body. You can also consider adding sports drinks to refill electrolytes.

Mental Preparation

A marathon run will demand both physical and mental effort. You will have to prepare your mind for all the challenges. As supported by a study conducted by Staffordshire University in the UK, mental preparation accounts for fourteen per cent of the success. Here are a few tips to prepare your mind and create positivity for a marathon run:

You can practice mindfulness and talk to your friends and family to get motivation. Start with a short run and always reward yourself, even for small successes. Also, you will have to realize the health benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet. All these things will motivate you throughout.

What Pace Should I Be Running At?

Some runners cannot pace well in marathons. Even if the goal is to complete the run, you will have to maintain the pace to avoid any extra pressure on your body and mind. You should start a pace that you can sustain throughout. Many runners start at a fast pace and then they go to a very slow pace and take a long time to complete the run. Here are a few things that you can consider to maintain pace:

First, use your half marathon time to estimate the expected time to complete your marathon. You can use an online race-performance equivalence calculator to have an idea about the predicted time. Also, you will have to try your best to complete long runs without slowing down. If you experience slow down, then you can start a slower pace.

What Shoes Should I Buy for the Marathon?

When it comes to shoes, nothing can serve you better than running shoes. You should never choose any shoes other than running shoes. While buying a pair of running shoes, you will need to get the best fit. Every runner is different so their unique needs. So, it is not possible to buy the best shoe depending on others’ preferences. You will have to understand your running skills. You will need a shoe that offers the required stability and comfort. Also, you need to focus on some other factors such as the type of race. When it is a trail running, you will need more traction. Marathon running shoes are available in different types that include road running and trail running.  You can choose the one depending on the requirements of the race. The best idea for buying running shoes is to go to a specialist store, where they can assess your personal needs, have you run on their treadmill, understand your running style and get the exact fit for your feet.

Instead of buying one pair of running shoes, you should consider buying two. You probably won’t like to start your run with a new pair of shoes. You will need some familiarity before using it for a marathon. Use one during the training period and then you can wear the next while participating in the marathon. 

Best Marathon Running Shoes

Best For Beginners

Nike React Infinity Run Fk Shoe

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Best For Everyday Running

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

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Marathon Training For Beginners - Tips

  1. Are you ready? – make sure you are ready for the marathon. It is recommended that you are running for at least a year before taking on a marathon, and enter at least a 5K race first.
  2. Lose some weight first – You may be surprised to learn that runners don’t generally lose weight training for, or running a marathon. You will probably find you eat more. So, if you have some excess pounds, consider dieting first.
  3. Consult your doctor – If you have any health concerns at all, speak to a medical professional or physician, especially if you have had injuries in the past.
  4. Stay hydrated – Failing to drink enough water or sports drinks is one of the most common mistakes runners make. Plan ahead, stay hydrated throughout the race day.
  5. Run with others – To keep your motivation up and stay safe, find a running partner or group while training.
  6. Have a day off – Your body needs time to recover and heal from all the extensive training and stress you put on it. 3 – 5 days of training a week is plenty – don’t overdo it or you will suffer in the long-term!
  7. Keep active – Have time off running, but try to keep active. Swimming, Pilates or yoga are ideal to give your muscles a break.
  8. Do some long runs – Make sure you plan a long run once a week to get your body used to the distances. On the other days do your shorter distances and speed work.
  9. Warm up and cool down – Your body needs to be ready to start the run, and then you will need to stretch your muscles afterwards.
  10. Taper off – If your training has gone well and you have planned well you should be at your peak weeks before the race. Now is the time to start decreasing the distances a little to prepare your body for the big race.

Marathon Training For Beginners - Final Thoughts...

Many people have a dream to run in a marathon. However, some of them hesitate to practice for the effort and time they are going to spend on preparation. You do not need to work for a year or two to prepare for the marathon. A few months up to six months of training can serve your purpose. You will need a consistent effort to prepare your body and mind for the big event. Also, you will have to buy the right gear to get the required comfort and safety throughout. Take care of your diet and motivate your mind to accept the change and start dreaming of that incredible achievement! All these will motivate you to spend more time and participate actively to have a life-changing experience.


Have a look at our friend’s blog on her journey training for a marathon: I’m The Running Mummy

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