Marathon training: Advice for beginners

As we’ve mentioned time and again, the Marathon race is the holy grail for almost every runner in the world. Besides, it has become a very popular event in the last decades. The 26.2 miles (42.195 km) an athlete has to cover before they reach the finish line is very demanding. Without a doubt, there are a lot of things that require thorough planning; not only for the race itself, but mainly during the Marathon training period.

Therefore, in this post, we intend to offer you simple, yet — in our opinion — important advice; just to help you get you started and prepare properly for your first marathon. But before that, let’s go through some important  points that you should keep in mind at all times.

Marathon training essentials

Remember: There’s more to it than physical preparation

That’s right! On one hand, you’ve got several key workouts, like the Long Run, HIIT sessions, marathon pace intervals, tempo run, etc.; which, at any rate, are an integral part of your training. You’re preparing for a Marathon race, after all. 

On the other hand, you’ve got a bunch of articles, claiming to take you to the finish line with “super-smart workouts”; even using eye-catching titles, such as “from couch to marathon in 12 weeks”. Yes, there are different philosophies about the pace of the Long Run, the frequency of training, or the weekly load, etc.; that’s not our point.

What we’re trying to say here is that there is something missing in all this Marathon training frenzy. To elaborate, both the Marathon training and the race day, call for thorough mental preparation; that is, except for a solid aerobic base and a specialized build period. Simply put, if you’re serious about running a Marathon race, you need to learn how to discipline your mind, first. 

It certainly isn’t easy to wake up every day before sunrise to go running; and, to make things more difficult, try to combine running with work and family duties. It’s also hard to sacrifice 3-4 hours of family-time on Sundays, to go for a Long Run. On top of that, running in bad weather conditions doesn’t come without pain! And — believe me — it’s not easy to press on until the finish line when you’ve hit the wall! So, always remember, mental preparation is as important as physical preparation.

Your pre-training to-do list

Never omit your annual checkup

Health and safety come first! You’re into training because you want to improve the quality of your life and your overall condition; not the opposite. Hence, you should never omit your annual medical checkup (blood test, cardiological examinations, etc.). All the more so, if you’re about to jump into some intense Marathon training. 

Get a pair of good running shoes 

Running became popular because it’s the most simple sport in the world; you only need a good pair of shoes! To be more specific, a pair of good running shoes. That being said, there are all sorts of running shoes — for high mileage, HIIT sessions, racing shoes, and whatnot. However, it’s important to find the pair that better serves your natural foot motion. For instance, do you have a neutral foot movement or are you an overpronator? Whatever the case, you have to get the appropriate type of shoes. 

Hire a coach

Most beginners believe that they don’t need a coach for their first Marathon; of course, we couldn’t disagree more. If anything, it’s the first-timer that needs a coach more than any other athlete. Not only for the training plan but also for technical advice, race nutrition, equipment; and many more that only a coach can offer. On that account, hire one; you won’t regret it. 

The Marathon training period

“The more the better” rule does not apply here

Regarding your first Marathon, you don’t have to train like a pro. For example, doing 15-20 hours of running per week or training twice a day. This will mathematically lead you to overtraining, or burnout; and straight to your physio, for that matter. There is a limit on how many training loads your body can adapt to, depending on umpteen parameters. Let your coach decide the optimal weekly load for you and stick to the plan. 

Strength training is “a MUST”

For many reasons, strength training must be applied in your Marathon training process. First of all, a strong muscular system will protect you — and your bones — from injuries. Second, you’ll be surprised at how much your running performance will increase. Third, you’re going to look hot 😁

Take your recovery seriously

Truth be told, rest and recovery are not a luxury, they’re a necessity. Your body definitely needs recovery to adapt to the training stimuli and prepare for the next workout. Don’t forget, the majority of repair and reconstruction happens during sleep. Thus, recovery tasks like sleeping, rest days, optimal diet, hydration, etc. are crucial to perform well in your Marathon training. Furthermore, recovery builds a strong immune system. I couldn’t stress enough how important a strong immune system is; especially now with the coronavirus pandemic raging.

From Marathon training to the race day

You know, we could write countless science-based tips and whole reams of technical instructions, but you really don’t need them. After all that’s said and done, the race day is your day. In other words, this is your chance to shine! If we could offer you one piece of advice for this day, it would be to enjoy it

See you at the finish line 🏃‍♂️🏁

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Marathon training: Advice for beginners was last modified: September 15th, 2021 by Aris Myrkos