How To Prepare For A Marathon This Year

by Adam Trouncer - 1 year ago

When coaches talk about how to prepare for a marathon, they’ll often say that anyone can run a marathon if they put in the time and commitment to training for one.

Race experts say they have seen people from all fitness levels train for marathons, and achieve results they never thought were possible. It takes grit, determination, planning, and hard work to complete a marathon, but plenty of people divide and conquer it and so can you!

According to Runner’s World:


Participation in marathon races is high, and becoming more popular than ever. Is this your year to run a marathon?

Are you unsure how to get started and prepare for a marathon? Have you always dreamed of running a marathon but it feels impossible?

Well, it’s not impossible but completing a marathon takes a solid training plan and some serious dedication.

Runner’s World estimates regular runners need 4-6 months of preparation and beginners potentially up to a year to prepare for this long race. Let’s explore some of the tips and training plans it takes to complete those intimidating 26.2 miles!

Prepare For A Marathon—That’s Right For You

One of the first steps to preparing for a marathon is to set a date and find the right marathon for you. What marathon will you run and in which city? There are many marathons to choose from nationwide in all major metropolitan locations.

Resources such as Running in the USA can help you find the race that fits your life schedule. One of the determining factors for picking a date should be how many months you will need to train.

You want to gain the proper fitness level for this significant event. It’s essential you remain realistic in selecting a goal date and give yourself enough time to make sure you’re ready for this big day.

Once you have your date and location in place, the training preparation begins. Don’t wait months and try to cram for a marathon!

Even if you are an advanced runner, or run every week for exercise, you will need time, training, and a well-thought-out game plan to achieve this milestone.

Don’t take prepping for a marathon lightly. This race can bring shock and trauma to your entire physical system. Preparation, endurance, and reaching your ultimate fitness are the keys to your success. Put your health first and do the training right.

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Running Coaches, Team Training, & Charity

Many large charities sponsor and participate in national marathon events. You can link one of your favorite causes to your run. For example, the Los Angeles Marathon has a way to link your course to your cause by choosing a non-profit as part of your marathon goal.

You can feel good about running a marathon and giving back to others at the same time. Many marathons across the country provide a giving platform and lists of charities to choose from, making it easy for you to fundraise.

Organization Planned Events

If you don’t want to train all by yourself, there are other routes you can take. If you work at a company where other co-workers wish to run the same marathon, this is a great way to connect with them and have more team-building experiences together.

There are charitable groups and team registrations set up to assist groups. They provide you with a coach and a training plan for the race. Organizations like Team in Training register runners and connect them with training plans, online apps, and coaches for their marathon.

Organizations like these plan the logistics for you for a fee, and you do all the fundraising. You pick the race date, and they provide amenities, events, registration, and travel plans.

Teams and individuals who train become part of an even bigger team that meets up at the event and cheers each other on at the finish line.

Motivation And Giving Back

Marathons for charitable causes are a great way to also stay motivated and to make sure you participate and don’t quit your goal of completing a marathon. It gives you a purpose higher than yourself.

Over the years, I recall many friends raising money for different charitable causes to run the LA Marathon. This objective offered accountability and motivation for them to complete the race and put in their training time. I noticed it gave my friends a goal greater than just getting fit, and I was happy to support them.

If you struggle with asking for donations or are shy about the fundraising process, Heidi Pashman at Shape Magazine offers tips on fundraising for marathons to help you reach your financial goals.

Her top recommendations are from climber and marathoner Gene Derkack who has raised money successfully for many races. The tips include a solid fundraising platform, social media, email, return the favor/gift a mile, and host a fundraising event for your race.

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Training 101

If you haven’t run in a while, then a good place to start would be to make sure you have the right shoes. Having the right shoes is vital to successful and safe running.

Everyone runs differently and has a specific gait. Most experts recommend you visit a local running store and have your gait evaluated. A store representative has you run on a treadmill and your gait is recorded through cameras and software.

Runner’s World lists a directory of stores that can assist runners in this process. Based on your test results, a store representative can recommend a specific brand and style of shoe for you.

Other Gear Needed

You should gather specific clothing for different kinds of weather for preventing cold, or get waterproof gear for rainy days. Even a GPS tracker or fitness watch will be helpful in tracking all the exercise you have ahead of you.

Remember, recording your mileage will be instrumental in gauging your progress and preparation. A little notebook or keeping notes on your Smartphone will help you as well.

New Runners

If you are new to the sport of running, have no fear. You can train yourself and get to a marathon just as much as an experienced runner.

The difference in your preparation is your fitness level and training window. When you start running, you will be able to evaluate your fitness and what mileage you can log.

According to, if you can only run eight miles or less for your longest run in a week, then your first goal should be a half-marathon, then the full marathon a few months later. You need time to train, strengthen, and get into tip-top shape for a run that is 26.2 miles.

If you’re not much of a runner and are new to the sport, then take time to put together a beginner plan to get you running every week.

Matt Fitzgerald at Women’s Running offers an excellent “From Couch to Marathon” training guide for beginners who want to get into the marathon game. This fitness plan provides precise training workouts broken down into five levels with a set goal at the end of each such as:

  • Zero to 5K Training Plan
  • 5K to 10K Training Plan
  • 10K to Half Marathon Training Plan
  • Half Marathon-to-Marathon Training Plan

You can print out the plans and follow them daily as a training regimen.

Men can also take this program and modify it based on their level of fitness. The first series “Zero to 5K Training Plan” segments training into intervals of walk/runs with free non-impact cardio training days with a 5K run as the goal at the end of the cycle.

Once you work your way up to the 5-10K plan, days are filled with more running workouts at different levels and so on throughout the series.

Once you start to get in shape as a runner, from there, you can start exploring different ways you like to run.

Do you enjoy running outside all the time, or on the treadmill, or both?

You may want to find some running buddies to tag along with as well and eventually join a running group. Groups are fun and help you to stay motivated, and sites like Meetup have marathon groups.

You will need to work your way up the marathon ladder one run at a time.

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Intermediate Runners

If you are hitting 8-10 miles per run, it’s possible to prepare for a marathon in 18-20 weeks. Runners at this level are already doing about 25-35 miles a week.

Matt Fitzgerald, at Women’s Running, also offers a training plan for more experienced runners to follow as well. Men can modify the program to fit their fitness needs. This training plan is 16-weeks for people that are already at optimum fitness and are intermediate runners.

Experienced Runners

If you are already an experienced runner that has never leaped into the marathon world, what are you waiting for?

You may be closer than you think. According to Running Competitor, most experienced level runners should be able to train for a marathon in 12-16 weeks. Runners at this level should perform long distance runs already at 12-15 miles and average about 40 miles a week.

Running Competitor suggests the following routine for the long runs for experienced runners during the last six weeks of training:

  • 20 miles – easy pace
  • 18 miles – first 14 miles at easy pace, last 4 miles at goal marathon pace
  • 21 miles – easy pace
  • 20 miles – first 15 miles at easy pace, last 5 miles at goal marathon pace
  • 18 miles – first 10 miles at easy pace, last 8 miles at goal marathon pace

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Can’t Prepare For A Marathon Sans Nutrition And Hydration

Running experts at Runner’s World recommend that you learn how to fuel up throughout your training. When you are performing long runs, you should bring along small and healthy carbohydrate snacks and a good sports drink for continued energy.

Healthy meals with a 4:1 complex carbohydrate to protein ratio are best for post runs. Drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep.

Making sure you keep healthy nutrition and proper hydration to replenish your fluids and repair your muscles is vital.

Another right way to start the day throughout your training would be with a glass of Athletic Greens. One scoop contains 75 ingredients that help you across 11 different areas of health as well as the antioxidant equivalent of 12 servings of vegetables.

All the ingredients in a glass of Athletic Greens are from Mother Nature herself and are never heat treated. Athletic Greens will bring to your diet the following throughout your training:

  • Multivitamins/Multiminerals – highly absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals from freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and plants, providing optimal nutrition.
  • Antioxidant Blend – an antioxidant blend the equivalent of 12 servings of vegetables, enriching heart health and aiding in the prevention of infections and disease.
  • Support For Blood Sugar Levels – a superfood blend of ingredients that help maintain normal blood sugar levels with naturally sourced nutrients.
  • Green Superfood Blend – nutrient dense raw superfood complex that effectively alkalinizes the body.
  • Adaptogen And Hormone Support – herbal adaptogens that respond to managing stress and fatigue.
  • Neural Support Formula – natural vitamins and minerals to help maintain a well-functioning nervous system.
  • Detoxification And Liver Support – Milk thistle and dandelion root assists the liver in flushing toxins from the body.
  • Digestive Enzyme Blend – natural enzymes, bromelain and papain, assist with protein digestion and ginger for settling the stomach.
  • Prebiotics – inulin and organic apple powder to support the exponential gut flora effect of prebiotics + probiotics.
  • Probiotics – non-dairy quality probiotics lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium for optimal gut-health.

See the full Athletic Greens Ingredient List.

As your body will be using vitamins, minerals, fat, and carbohydrates throughout your training, a drink like Athletic Greens in addition to a healthy well-rounded diet is helpful for restoration and strength. It is also easy and fast to mix together daily.

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Real Marathon Advice From An Ordinary Runner

Cara L. from Chicago, Illinois shares her story about running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, and it was a great experience for her.

Marathoner Cara also shares that stretching-based training in yoga and Pilates is just as essential as the running schedule. She had knee soreness towards the end of her training and wished she had done more Pilates as she ended up in physical therapy a few weeks before her race, but recovered.

Cara also recommends runners cut way back on social drinking due to dehydration and to watch ibuprofen intake.

She says you need to stay as hydrated as possible and both of those items will dehydrate you. Despite the fact training for her marathon was a considerable time commitment schedule-wise, Cara says it felt good to check completing a marathon off the bucket list!

Have Fun And Enjoy The Journey

While training for a marathon is tough, try to have fun with your friends along the way. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself throughout the experience. Remember to explore stretching routines for in-between workouts to treat your body right.

No need to rush through your training, just follow your plan and listen to your body. Remember marathon runner Cara? If there were one thing she would change it would be adding Pilates or yoga to her training plan.

Regular massages and foam rolling those leg muscles are recommended as well.

Remember to book a date, consider a cause, create a running plan, eat right, sleep, stretch, and stay hydrated. All of these steps will help you check a marathon off your bucket list!

What do you do to train for a marathon? Have you ever done one before? What was your race and training experience? Join the conversation with Athletic Greens and share your marathon experience with us.