How to run your first marathon in 26 steps


There is no doubt that training and running a marathon is sometimes bad. But you feel that way when you finish.

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When ultra champion Jamie King ran her first marathon, mile 19 brought tears and feelings of absolute defeat. But instead of maintaining that negative space for the rest of the race, King activated a switch when he realized how close he was to the finish line.

"As soon as he realized that the finish line was within reach, my adrenaline took over, my mood improved and I was able to run again," King told CNET.

So he finished and then ran many more marathons and even ultramarathons. The question is: Running Long distances can be very, very bad, but with a little courage and control over your perspective, anyone, even complete rookies, can spend a full marathon.

If you liked the idea of ​​running a marathon but you are not sure where to start, start with this 26-step guide and you can also have sticker 26.2 in the rearview window of your car.

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Step 1. Make the commitment

Don't just say you're going to run a marathon. Anyone can say that. Really, really commit to it, and actually sign up for a career. If you didn't know, race records are expensive (and things become more expensive if you travel), so it will be much harder to retire once you register. Sign up even if you don't have anyone to run with. You can find a responsibility partner later, or run alone and delight in your bad situation.

When choosing your career, be sure to look for events that do not require prior qualification times. Since this is your first marathon, you will not be eligible for a race that requires it.


Sign up for a career several months in the future to motivate him to start training.

San Francisco Marathon

Step 2. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level

If you've never run a marathon before, don't expect a marathon to run: 26.2 miles is a long distance even for people who have some experience in running. Running an unprepared and untrained marathon usually ends with pain and misery, so be honest about how much time you will need to train, even if you are not proud of your current fitness level.

On the other hand, don't let distance scare you. As King says: "Anyone can run a marathon if they wish. With a little heart, determination and some training, it is possible that anyone, even the rookie runner, runs a marathon."

Read more: How to run your first Spartan race

Step 3. Decide how much time you need to train

Typical marathon training plans vary from 12 to 26 weeks (three to six months), about a few weeks, depending on the fitness level of each runner. If you have little or no career experience, you will want to stay at the top end of that range, allowing yourself at least 18 weeks (four months) to train. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the different types of races and still allow time for cross training and rest days for a complete training plan. If you want to be really sure, go with six months.

Male athlete shoes

The pair of running shoes runs a long way.

Ned Frisk / Getty Images

Step 4. Invest in a good pair of running shoes

A nice pair of running shoes It is key to a good career. You can start and finish your training cycle with the same pair of shoes, although some marathoners like replace your shoes midway If you are training for more than four months, you may want to replace yours halfway. The most important thing is to avoid replacing your running shoes too early before your run, and definitely not the night before your run, unless you want 27 blisters and eight toenails.

Read more: How to choose the best shoes for your feet

Step 5. And sweat-wicking training clothes

Make sure you have breathable training clothes that absorb moisture to keep you cool and comfortable during your runs. You don't have to buy anything expensive, but at least you should invest in basic nylon, polyester or spandex clothes so you don't end up wishing you could tear off your sweat-soaked cotton sweatshirt. If you are going to be snowy or icy weather trainingIf necessary, obtain a layer of sportswear and non-slip covers for your shoes.

Read more: How to wash stinky training clothes

Step 6. And antichafe products

One more element for your essential marathon list: antichafing products. You can use a stick, ointment or powder, but use something, because when your mileage gets longer and the weather warms up, your skin will need it. Each runner is irritated differently, but most people can expect roughness around the armpits and inside of the thighs: a small anti-stick stick (like Body Glide) can save you a lot of discomfort.

Step 7. Commit to a training plan

Once you have your commitment, your shoes and your training clothes, you can hit the pavement. Decide what type of workouts or races you will do on what days, and do everything in your power to complete them. You can get a good marathon training plan in two main ways: you can work with a professional personal trainer or a career coach, or find a suitable one online.

Nike offers a free marathon training plan that can be modified to fit your current race pace (and change with you as you go faster). Runner & # 39; s World offers multiple free training plans for marathon runners of all levels. Verywell Fit offers another free marathon training plan with a useful rhythm calculator.

Step 8. But don't ignore the warning signs

There is a difference between hurting and being hurt. To hurt means that you are training hard. That's good, and you should move on. Being hurt, on the other hand, is not good, and you must stop. Learn to recognize the differences between pain and injuryand listen to your body when it tells you that it is hurt. Pushing through real pain, not the typical burning and pain induced by exercise, can cause serious injury and prevent you from running your marathon.

Step 9. Record all your careers, good and bad

Execution Tracking Applications you are your friend Choose your favorite and register each race. Not only will this help you control your average pace, but it will show you how different conditions (such as wind, hills and heat) affect your running performance. Also, seeing that you have run 50 miles in a week is a great feeling and you should savor that data.


A running application can help you keep track of all the different types of training runs.

Running for Daily Burn / App Store

Step 10. Do not forget about cross training

One of the most important parts of running a marathon is not running. Counterintuitive? Maybe. But you need to build strength in your muscles as much as you need to build strength in your heart and lungs. Cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance are closely intertwined and spending time in the weight room will do you much good.

Step 11. And definitely don't forget about recovery

Your muscles will beat. Your joints hurt. Give yourself at least some comfort by calming your muscles after workouts. Section, foam roll, use a heating padjump to a cryogenic chamberslip on some compression boots or hit your muscles with a massage gun: The options are endless, so there is no excuse for not doing so. recover.

Step 12. Learn how and when to feed your body

You should eat before running? After? When you are training for a marathon, probably both. Study the basics of exercise nutrition to get the most out of your workouts and avoid symptoms such as dizziness and nausea, which can occur when you don't eat enough before exercising. A basic rule: carbohydrates and fats before a workout, carbohydrates and protein after.


Calm muscle aches with a massage gun or foam roller.

Angela Lang / CNET

Step 13. Remember why you are doing this

We are in step 13: halfway through this list. Halfway through your marathon training, you may feel like giving up. Actually, you may want to leave it several times throughout your training plan, because training for a marathon is simply difficult.

Help yourself with a reason that is bigger than getting fit or achieving a milestone, something that, when you think about it, will inspire you to move on. For example, some marathoners like to dedicate their miles to friends and family, and would not want to disappoint people who are special to them.

Step 14. Drink more water (and then a little more)

I can't, I repeat, I can't, emphasize this enough: Keep hydrated. Dehydration can sneak up on you with symptoms that you can't attribute to dehydration: mild headaches, irritability, trouble sleeping, chapped lips, dizziness and lightheadedness can mean you're dehydrated. Watch for these signs (and the telltale sign of dark urine) and take some H2O.

It can be difficult to get enough water during long runs, but you can stay hydrated as follows:

  • Wear a backpack or hydration vest
  • Use a hand flask with a hand strap
  • Wearing a bottle belt
  • Choose a route where you can stop at a source of drinking water
  • Plan your route so you can return to your porch or car several times and hide a mini help station (such as a refrigerator with water and sunscreen) where you can stop.

Read more: How to know if you are dehydrated in winter

Step 15. Accept that you will need to sleep more and let yourself sleep

Marathon training can and will be a shock to your system if you have little or no experience with the race. At first, you will surely feel exhausted physically and probably mentally. Your body needs time to repair itself, which it does mainly during sleep.

Step 16. Reprogram – do not cancel

If you lose a race or exercise, don't hit yourself. Marathon training is a microcosm of life: things happen. You will arrive home late from work or fight a cold or you will encounter child care problems. When life gets in the way of your training plan, allow flexibility, but not resignation.

Skipping a race makes it easier to skip another and another. So reprogram, not cancel. That's why you leave rest days on your agenda, so you can shuffle when things happen.

Step 17. Embrace the suction of everything

According to King, the best approach to a marathon is to know that it will be difficult and that it will challenge you.

"The best thing you can do is accept the fact that it will probably stink at some point so that when you do, you can control the low level and return to the other side," he says. "And just remember, at the end of the day, it's just one foot in front of the other."


You will reach many points in your training where it will be difficult to run, but keep pressing.

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Step 18. Get used to getting up and running early

Most marathons start between 6 and 8 a.m. not a morning personYou may want to make an effort to become one, at least for marathon training. The bodies take time to adapt to the new schedules, so it is not a good idea to exercise at night for six months and suddenly make your body run 26.2 miles at 7 a.m.

Step 19. Choose someone to take you home

Trust this: you will not want, and you may not be able to, drive home or return to your hotel after your first marathon. It is better to list a friend or relative in advance.

Step 20. Do a general essay

The last thing you want on race day is to reach mile 10 and realize that you have developed a blister the size of Canada because your sock slid down your heel. Take a test with everything you plan to wear on race day, even underwear. You don't need to run the full 26.2 miles for your general rehearsal, but at least enter the two digits. Spend a long day on this.


Any equipment you are using at the end of your training is what you should use on race day.

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Step 21. Do not change anything the night before the day of the race.

You may be tempted to carry supplements or superfoods the night before your career, but follow your usual diet and routine. All supplements in the world will not help if you have not been balancing your macronutrients and consuming enough vitamins and minerals during the course of your training plan. Stay with what your body knows: it is not worth waking up with surprise bowel problems.

Step 22. Arrive early at the race destination

If you travel and stay somewhere for your career, arrive at least the night before. This gives you time to get used to your surroundings, pick up your race day package and avoid possible mishaps that could cause you to lose your career, such as a flat tire.

On race day, arrive at the starting line at least one hour before. Marathon runners for the first time may be surprised at how early everyone arrives on the grounds. This leaves time for warm-up, stretching, last-minute bath breaks and to find a place on the starting line.

Step 23. Don't let the adrenaline get the best of you

The day of the race will feel exciting and stressful at the same time. You will have a ton of adrenaline pumping through your body and you may feel super amplified, ready to accelerate through the starting line. Do not do that. If you go out too fast, you will burn and risk not finishing your marathon. Although your usual rhythm may seem slow at first, keep it.

Step 24. Try to keep up your training pace

In the course of your training plan, you should have developed an average mile pace during long races. Try to keep this pace throughout the race: it will not impact your body and will give you 26.2 miniature goals to meet during your marathon.

Step 25. Do not overdo the food and liquids during the race.

Don't avoid help stations completely during your career, but don't be tempted by them either. You can't always know what's in an energy drink or gel at a help station, and it's better not to bother your stomach. Safe bets include sliced ​​fruit, water and electrolytic drinks. Feel free to ask a volunteer what's in drinks.


Use water stations wisely.

Boston Globe / Getty Images

Step 26. Rehydrate, recover, rest (and celebrate!)

Once you cross the finish line, it's time for three R.

First, rehydrate: he lost fluid during his four hours on the road and needs to replace it.

Then, recover: as much as you want to collapse in the grass under the shadow of the milk chocolate shop, try to stand up. Lying down and staying still after your first marathon is a recipe for muscle cramps and stiffness. Try to keep walking and stretch a little.

Finally, rest and celebrate. Reward yourself with a well-deserved treatment, drink, massage, napPool party: whatever revives you and commemorates your first marathon.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or health advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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