How To Begin Marathon Training

This week’s “How-To Tuesday” is a very exciting one for me. I’m officially about 15 weeks away from the NYC Marathon, and it’s time to begin my marathon training! I know that seems like an odd number of weeks, but it was calculated to be after the 4th of July and a summer vacation. Also, having run 7 half marathons, I have a pretty good running base and don’t need to start from scratch. So, 15 weeks it is!


I’m really excited (and somewhat terrified) because I’ve never run a marathon before. But I know enough about fitness and nutrition to know that these are the steps to successfully prepare me for my marathon. I encourage any beginner marathoner to consider the following.

Thinking about #marathontraining? 7 tips for getting started. Click To Tweet
  1. Set a race goal. What’s your goal for the marathon? Mine is to finish 26.2 miles and not pass out on the course. Maybe you have a time goal?  Think about a goal as you start your marathon training, and use that goal to motivate you on the days when you just aren’t feeling it.
  2. Download a good running plan. For a marathon, it’s pretty impossible to just wing the training.  You need a good running plan.  There are a ton of paid programs, like NYRR Virtual Trainer or Training Peaks, or you can download a free program. I’m using Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program, but I switched up the days because I usually do my long run during the week.
  3. Know your nutrition. Obviously I think nutrition is one of the biggest parts of marathon training. Without eating the right things, you are likely to suffer from low energy and/or stomach problems. Luckily, I’ve got you covered.  Download my free 1-week runner’s meal plan to help with your marathon training. 
  4. Think logistics. The littlest and dumbest things always interfere with my running routine. Sometimes I forget to bring my headphones to the gym or the weather is much hotter than anticipated or I wait too long and then its dinnertime. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan. Think about things like:
    •  What time of the day will you run?
    • Will your run outside or on a treadmill? What’s the weather like?
    • What shoes will you wear during the marathon?
  5. Get enough sleep. If you are tired, it’s very likely that you will skip your run and sacrifice your training. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and try to go to bed around the same time every night.
  6. Choose healthy runner’s food.  If you decide not to follow a meal plan, then it’s imperative that you learn the basics about fueling. You will definitely need to eat more during marathon training, but choosing the right type of healthy foods is essential to your performance.  Here are some posts to help you navigate the landscape of food as fuel:
  7. Cut Yourself Some Slack. I think this may be the most important point. Although training and nutrition are critical, you must remember that you aren’t perfect.  If you skip a day of training or eat something you shouldn’t, cut yourself some slack.  There’s always tomorrow to get it right.  As long as you stick to your training the majority of the time, you will do great!

Are you training for a marathon or have you run one in the past? I want to hear about it! Comment below and tell me about it.

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