Taylor Nelson, Masters in Exercise Science, LSF Student Intern


26.2 miles. over 52,000 steps. Many dream of completing such a task, but only 1% of the entire United States population has successfully completed the grueling 26.2 mile journey. For those who are considering running their first marathon; the endless training plans, techniques, and tips may seem daunting and even overwhelming. However, with the compilation of this simple guide, we will provide you with several guidelines to beginning your training, as well as several resources to design and implement your own individualized training program.

Training and Preparation

To begin your journey to 26.2 miles, you must first set your eyes on the finish line, literally. First, you should decide which marathon you would like to run, and set a training start date. Typically, successful training programs begin at least 16 weeks prior to the “big day” and the training program increases overall mileage ran with the progression of the program. Once the day has been decided, you must now register. You should register as soon as possible to secure your spot, and so that you may attend any training events or program plans that are offered through sponsors. After all the decisions made, and the details are clear, you should build a training program and recruit a “running buddy” or other individual who will hold you accountable to your training program. Resources such as HalHigdon, active.com, and A Runner’s World provide structured training programs that can be adapted to nearly any individual. As you continue to progress through your training days, you should also fuel your body. Be sure to consume an adequate dietary intake, and provide your body with a well-rested night’s sleep. Additionally, you should consider your race day plan, perhaps booking a hotel at the marathon site, deciding on which breakfast fuels your body best, and which clothing you will run during your race. Before you know it, you will be standing behind that starting line, beginning your very first marathon!

Race Day!

Ah, finally it is race day! The morning of your race, you should aim to wake up with extra time in case traffic or another situation arises. You should consume a breakfast that fuels your body, without running the risk of creating unpleasant side effects while running. You should then “gear up” and dress fully for the race. Often, runners will dress in several layers, stripping off the top layers throughout the course of the race. When you arrive, you should check-in, check your bags, and check out all the offerings! During this time, you may also go on a warm-up jog, stretch and review the course. After reviewing the course, you should head to the starting line nearly a half hour before the race starting time, joining your “pace group”. As the horn blows you should aim to hold back for the first part of the race, ensuring that you will maintain enough energy to complete the entire journey. Throughout the race, you should maintain your pace, focusing on the miles ahead. Throughout the race, you may want to consume small portions of water and food gels as provided. As the race nears a close, push through your wall and leave the remaining energy you have out on the course! Finish strong! After completing your race, be sure to re-hydrate and refuel gradually. Then, celebrate like crazy! You are part of the 1% who have completed this amazing feat!

-Taylor Nelson, Masters in Exercise Science, LSF Student Intern


Active.com, online at https://www.active.com/running/articles/a-training-schedule-for-marathon-beginners

HalHodgin, may be found online at https://www.halhigdon.com/training/marathon-training/