The Best Way to Prepare to Run a Marathon

Distance running is becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts, and finishing a half-marathon — and even a full marathon — has become a personal goal for many. However, you can’t expect to run right out there and complete a marathon with a couple weeks of training. This is a race that will take its toll on the body, and so proper preparation is a must. Here are some tips for you to follow.

Are you new to running? Then enter some shorter races first. If you can get to the point where you can run 5 miles without discomfort, then you can tackle a marathon. Start by entering a 5K and build up to where you can run 3 miles without stopping. Then, build up from there. 5K and 10K races are the most common, but if you find a running calendar for your area, you should be able to find races that are 15K or a half-marathon in distance. Finishing a few of these races will help you build confidence.

You need to start out by building a running base of 15 to 25 miles each week. These should be broken down into 3 or 4 running workouts. One of these will be your long run, which you will gradually extend as you work your way into your training season. But to start out, run 3 or 4 miles 3 times a week, and build up to a 6-mile run for your long run. That will total 18 miles. Then, start adding to your long run — a mile or two a week, and build your midweek runs up to 6 miles each — gradually.

You can’t wear the workout shoes that you found at Walmart when training for a marathon. Go to a running store (not a sporting goods store — a specialty running store) and ask the sales staff to fit you for running shoes. They will analyze your running gait and recommend shoes to you. Try them on and jog around the store. Magazines like Runner’s World regularly publish shoe previews as well, so give them a look to find the shoe that will work for you.

Once you have that elementary base, you’re going to add different types of runs. You’ll need hill workouts, interval training, longer runs at your race pace, and even track workouts. There are a lot of different muscles in your legs that contribute to the marathon, and you need to build them all. Different types of running will prepare you for the different elements of your marathon course.

Take at least one day each week where you don’t do anything — no weights, no core work, no running, no cross training. Your body needs to rest and recuperate, and your muscles need to restore themselves. This will help you return to running refreshed. Otherwise, you will experience injuries, because your body never has a chance to recover.

A marathon is one of the hardest things you will ever do. By completing one, you will be entering one percent of the American population. Training will make sure that your marathon is a positive experience.