Advertisement

How can I plan for a marathon?

The first step in planning for a marathon is to determine what marathon you want to run, taking into account such factors as the date of the marathon, location (climate and elevation), cost, terrain, and your goals for the marathon. Perhaps the most important factor initially is timing and the date of the marathon. You need to have sufficient time to train for the marathon. This in part is based on your current level of fitness. Although not unheard of, most people incrementally increase their running distances before determining that they want to undergo the daunting task of running 26.2 miles. If you are determined, there are several places to get information on training programs. There are books for beginners through experts. Also, there is great information on the web with excellent training programs based on your level of experience. Notable is www.halhigdon.com. Many training programs are based on a 16-week program, so look for a marathon at least 4 months out. Training appropriately is probably the biggest key to success. You must build up the necessary endurance to complete the task. Another important factor in planning is the location of the marathon, whether it is in your hometown or a substantial journey away. Terrain is also important. Most marathons plot the map and elevation profile of the run. This will enable you to train on terrain similar to that of your selected marathon. Marathons are wide ranging, whether they be flat, hilly, on pavement, on a dirt trail, near the ocean or high in the mountains. Once you’ve devised your plan, stick to it, and you will find yourself with a medal around your neck at the end of your 26.2-mile run.

Mental preparation for a marathon is very important. Remember to incorporate mental training along with physical training. The adrenaline rush at the starting line of a race is nothing like an average training run, so be prepared. It can throw off your pace and leave you breathless at the start! Experiencing a few fun runs or a half marathon will help you work up to the demands of a marathon.

I also highly recommend seeing your health care professional before you start any exercise program. It is also recommended you talk with a fitness expert to help put together a training program that is right for you.

There are a lot of marathons out there, so do your homework and choose one that is appropriate for beginners. Avoid races that will be too hot or one that has a lot of hills.

Ultimately, running should be something that is really satisfying to you. If you enjoy the journey and the process, you will get more out of the whole experience than you imagined.

A marathon is a grueling test of endurance and quite an accomplishment and goal for many people to accomplish. While it is challenging it’s well within the range for most people to accomplish with some time, dedication and training. If you are new to running to take a long time off from training first get a physical from a qualified medical professional to ensure you're ready to train. Once cleared you will want to train 4-5 times a week in preparation for your upcoming marathon. The standard formula is to combine 1-2 moderate length runs a week, 1-2 short but very fast runs, and one slower long run a week. For example, you might start with two 4 mile runs a week at a 10 minute mile pace, one 2 mile at a 8 minute mile pace, and one 6 mile run at a 12 minute mile pace. Do not increase the length of runs or increase running pace by more than 10% a week. You will want to start training for your marathon a minimum of 12 weeks before hand if your very fit and up to 18-24 weeks ahead if you’re a novice runner. The week before the marathon you should be able to run a 20 mile run in one stretch. For the week before the marathon taper down to only a few miles and rest completely for the three days before the run. On the day of the race, the excitement of the race will give you the energy for the extra 6.2 miles. Make sure to stretch thoroughly before and after each training session, get plenty of rest and try and incorporate some light resistance and core work into the program to help maintain your strength. 

Continue Learning about Running

Run . . . for Your Life!
Run . . . for Your Life!
Starting a regular running habit could mean a longer -- and more comfortable -- life. After a 20-year study involving close to 1,000 middle-aged adul...
Read More
Should I run indoors or outdoors?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Both indoor and outdoor running can be beneficial. Running indoors will most likely have less obstac...
More Answers
Besides running on the streets, how else can distance runners get better?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Other than running on the roads, distance runners can use a variety of ways to improve their spe...
More Answers
How to Heal Shin Splints
How to Heal Shin Splints

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.