What You Need To Know About Marathon Training For Beginners

How to train for the big one.
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So you want to run a marathon, huh? You probably didn’t make the decision to run 42km lightly; considering that the average finishing time for Malaysians is 5:46:24, running a marathon is a serious undertaking for which you need to physically and mentally prep.


Don’t let that scare you, though! Anyone can run a marathon; the majority of it is mental, and if you believe you can run 26.2 miles, you will. But you do still need a solid plan since much of marathon training comes down to being as prepared as possible. Here, everything you need to know to make it to (and through) race day.

Are You Ready to Run a Marathon?

Going from zero to 42km is possible but probably not a great idea. If you’ve never really run before, or tend to max out at three miles, that’s OK—but you need to do a little more than just downloading a training plan from the internet.

First, you should know where you stand injury-wise, says Melanie Kann, a running coach for New York Road Runners. “If there are any nagging aches and pains heading into the plan, adding more mileage isn’t going to help the situation,” says Kann. “Definitely get checked out by a sports doc if necessary, or work with a PT to make sure your support team and overall strength and mobility regimen is in place.”

Even if everything’s in working order, you should have a base level of fitness before starting a marathon training plan for beginners—that means you’ve spent at least a month running 15-20 miles a week over three to four running days, as well as strength training, cross training, and active recovery work, says John Henwood, a running coach leading New York’s Mile High Run Club marathon training program. Also, take a look at the marathon training plan you’ve decided to use. What’s the distance for the first long run? “If your first long run is six miles, you should be able to handle that without much trouble,” says Henwood.

A general rule of thumb when to comes to marathon training plans for beginners is to not increase your mileage by more than a mile and a half when you first start, he adds—so if you’re starting from a place where three miles is your comfort zone, you need to build in enough pre-training time to build that up before starting your actual training program. “Think of your training plan as a house or even a skyscraper,” says Kann. “Start with a foundation and gradually build up to a peak. A structure is only as strong as its foundation, and the same applies to your training.”

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