When Do I Start Training for my Marathon?

August 2, 2018

Fall will be here soon, and training season will hit full swing for the marathons that take place in the cooler months. It takes time to properly train for races of this length, and it’s best to know some tips and tricks to make sure you have plenty of time to prepare and recover.

Start Training Early 

Begin training for your race early, at least a year before your marathon, so that you can build up a consistent base mileage. Building mileage too quickly can result in injury, making it all the more important to consistently run 20-30 miles per week before committing to training for a 26.2-mile race.

Starting small is the key. Enter to run a 5K or 10K to help prepare mentally and physically for your race. Choose a marathon that’s close by, giving you a “home field advantage.” This assures that you will be running on roads that you’re familiar with, and can even train on. Whatever gets you motivated leading up to your race, be sure to stick with it. 

Main Elements to Training

In order to build your base mileage over time, be sure you are running three to five times per week. For first-time marathoners, try building up to 50 miles per week over the four months leading up to your race day. These runs should be done at a relaxed pace.

To adjust your body to long distances, gradually increase the length of your runs over time. You can run these distances every 7-10 days. Running at a slower pace can help you burn fat for fuel and build confidence.

You can also benefit from adding a bit of speed work to your routine, such as intervals and tempo runs. These will help to increase your cardio capacity. Make sure to warm up and cool down with a few easy miles before and after your speed workout.

Lastly, don’t forget to rest and recover appropriately. This will help to prevent injuries as well as mental burnout. When you take a rest day, do not run. Your muscles need to recover, and resting is a great way for them to do so. Instead of running, try walking, cycling or swimming on those rest days.

The perfect time to taper your routine is two to three weeks before your marathon. This means runners should scale back on their overall mileage and difficulty of runs to give the body the appropriate time to rest before the big day.

This article was adapted from REI. Read the full article here.

If you have any questions about training for a marathon, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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