How to Train for a Marathon

Marathon season is approaching, and whether you want to challenge yourself, support your favorite charity, or simply need a reason to get fit, there are hundreds of reasons to run a marathon.

Some rookie runners might not even know how to start training for a marathon. Here’s an inclusive list of everything you need to know to train for a marathon.

1. Be Realistic

Be aware of your limits. A common cause of injury is when you build your weekly mileage too soon, too fast. It’s important to consistently run at least 20–30 miles a week regularly before committing to training for a full marathon.

For many, it’s a good idea to start small with shorter races: 5Ks, 10Ks, or even a half marathon. These provide you with the opportunity to prepare physically and mentally for a full marathon.

2. Be Consistent

Most marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. Run at least 3 to 5 times per week. The majority of these runs should be done at a relaxed pace. You should run at an easy enough pace to be able to carry on a conversation.

Increase your mileage by no more than 10% from week to week. Do a long run every 7–10 days so your body can adjust to long distances.
Speed work. Practice intervals and tempo runs to increase your cardio capacity.

Most marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. Beginning marathoners should aim to build their weekly mileage up to 50 miles over the four months leading up to race day.

When building base mileage, never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from week to week.

3. Recovery and Rest

Make sure to have “rest days” where you do no running. This allows your muscles to recover from the workout and help prevent mental burnout.

4. Hydration

Nearly all marathons include water and aid stations along the way, but you may prefer carrying a hydration pack or belt. If that is the case, make sure you run with it as you train so that there are no surprises on race day.

5 Proper Food

Marathoners usually “hit the wall” around the 20-mile mark, which means glycogen levels are low and so is the energy level of the runner. While no amount of food during the race can entirely replace your depleted glycogen, consuming small amounts of carbohydrates can help.

Energy gels or chews are the easiest to carry and often easiest to digest—but a few pieces of fruit or an energy bar can also do the trick. For any run over 2 hours, aim to take in about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

Enjoy the marathon!

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