A marathon stretches 26.2 miles (42.19 kilometers). It’s a protracted and bodily taxing distance to run. Famously, the primary marathon runner, Philippides, collapsed and died after his ultimate steps.

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Yet regardless of the grueling nature of a marathon, the race itself is the shortest a part of the journey. Months of coaching and preparation go into constructing energy and endurance to tackle the problem.

It’s a course of that requires planning to keep away from harm and cross the end line wholesome. So, how do you get there? Let’s discover out from bodily therapist, Monica Betchker, PT.  

How lengthy does marathon coaching take?

Most marathon coaching plans vary from 12 to twenty weeks to offer your physique satisfactory time to prep for the space. The period of time you want varies relying in your health stage and objectives.

“Training plans are typically broken out into beginner, intermediate and advanced options,” says Betchker. “Figure out where you are in those categories first.”

Ideally, choose a race you’d prefer to run and work backward to set a timetable. Training plans usually begin at your present consolation stage and construct in a gradual and regular method to reduce harm threat.

First steps

Before you get into critical coaching, take into consideration taking these vital first steps.

Shoe test

You’re going to be spending a whole lot of time in your toes over the subsequent few months, so be sure you’re defending your tootsies.

Proper-fitting trainers are vital for marathon coaching. Shoes which are too small or too giant could cause blisters in your toes or rub your ankles uncooked, which is not going to make you’re feeling like getting in miles.

But the significance of match goes past consolation and pores and skin points: “You predispose yourself to injury if your shoes aren’t right — everything from muscle strains to shin splints to stress fractures,” says Betchker.

She recommends getting a complete becoming for trainers initially of your marathon coaching. (That goes for long-time runners, too.) Fittings are usually supplied at operating specialty shops and even by means of a bodily therapist.

Gear up

Moisture-wicking materials is your finest pal relating to socks, shirts and shorts for marathon coaching, says Betchker. Look for materials fabricated from polyester, nylon or bamboo, which draw sweat away out of your pores and skin to maintain you dry and reduce chafing.

Invest in a couple of runner-friendly clothes that can permit you to run comfortably whether or not it’s sizzling or chilly outdoors, too. You may have to coach in each.

Gait evaluation

A gait evaluation is an analysis of your operating type to evaluate your biomechanical motion. Everything from the place you land in your toes and your knee placement to your posture is examined.

The analysis can pinpoint unhealthy type upfront of logging your miles, permitting for modifications that enhance operating effectivity and reduce your probability of harm, notes Betchker.

A gait evaluation will be useful to each novice and veteran runners.

Start operating

Begin your marathon coaching the place you’re snug. For a newbie, which may imply operating 15 miles in week one in every of coaching. Those with some expertise could begin at upwards of 40 miles per week.

From there, although, frequent guidelines apply throughout most coaching plans. The normal rule of thumb is to extend weekly mileage by not more than 10% in any given week throughout coaching.

The purpose? Doing an excessive amount of too quickly can enhance your threat of harm.

But Betchker says the ten% rule will be modified relying on how well-conditioned you might be and what your present base mileage is. “We find that for many people, the 10% rule might not be challenging enough,” she notes.

But bear in mind, the objective is the marathon end line. Overdoing it early can create points later. Trust your plan and construct your mileage sensibly till it’s time to taper. (More on that later.)

Don’t neglect warm-ups and cool-downs

A five-to-10-minute dynamic warm-up and cool-down is often the candy spot for most individuals.

When warming up, the main target is on getting your physique transferring and muscle groups activated for the coaching session, says Betchker. Dynamic stretching (motion that mimics operating) is nice for warm-ups.

Cooling down is all about decreasing your coronary heart price and enjoyable. Make positive to stretch these muscle groups, too, which may preserve them from tightening up and inflicting stiffness.

Pro tip: Try foam rolling to alleviate sore or achy muscle groups and assist your physique’s restore course of.

Embrace cross-training

Overuse accidents are frequent in marathon coaching, a byproduct of doing the identical movement repeatedly whereas grinding out miles.

Embracing cross-training actions similar to biking and swimming can goal completely different muscle teams whereas advancing your health. This means that you can construct energy and endurance whereas additionally limiting put on and tear.

An elliptical exercise is particularly useful for many who would possibly already be injured as a result of it mirrors the motion of operating with out the impression.

Betchker says your effort stage throughout cross-training ought to match what you give throughout operating.

“Try to keep the ratios similar if you’re subbing in cross-training for a run,” she provides. “If it takes you an hour to run five miles and that’s in your plan, then you can swap it for an hour of cross-training instead.”

Strength coaching

Can you elevate weights throughout marathon coaching? Absolutely! But your lifting wants to enhance ­— not compete with — your operating schedule.

And dial down the depth of your energy exercises as your operating mileage will increase and peaks throughout marathon coaching. Your physique is already being taxed throughout this era. Don’t add to that stress it by attempting to elevate extra.

As your marathon will get nearer on the calendar, energy coaching ought to consist primarily of calisthenics, ball workout routines, Pilates or different exercise strategies with minimal exterior resistance.

(Basically, it’s extra about muscle upkeep than muscle constructing as race day approaches.)

Make wholesome decisions

To state the plain, you’ve already made a wholesome alternative by beginning your marathon coaching. Physical health is a key a part of a wholesome way of life.

But it’s not the solely half. During your coaching, it’s additionally vital to:

  • Get sufficient sleep. Adults want at the very least seven hours of sleep at night time. Getting this restorative relaxation every day will probably be particularly vital as you push your physique by means of coaching.
  • Hydrate. Runners sweat rather a lot. It’s vital to switch these fluids to keep away from dehydration and the issues that include it. (Learn the really helpful quantity of fluid to devour per day.)
  • Eat extra carbs. Look to load your plate with extra advanced carbohydrates similar to bread, rice, pasta and starchy greens to maximise your glycogen (vitality) provide throughout coaching. (Get extra marathon diet tips.)


The smartest thing to do exactly earlier than your marathon is … properly, to do much less. Your mileage two weeks earlier than the race ought to be lowered by 25% to 50% versus the earlier week. You ought to additional lower this mileage in half the week earlier than the race.

The concept is to let your physique totally get better from any training-induced muscle harm, explains Betchker. Basically, just a little relaxation is finest at this level.

So, resist the temptation to squeeze in yet another long term or a troublesome exercise. Your objective now’s to have contemporary legs for the race. And don’t fear — you gained’t “de-condition” throughout this tapering interval.

“Your training has you as ready as you can be,” emphasizes Betchker.

Race day

Training for a marathon is usually a marathon itself, notes Betchker. You’ll seemingly log greater than one million steps operating earlier than setting one foot throughout the beginning line.

Race day is a celebration of that preparation and dedication. Enjoy the moments throughout these 26.2 miles. Focus on the expertise and soak within the ambiance. Smile rather a lot, even when your leg muscle groups begin to object a bit.

And whenever you cross that end line, you’ll have earned the suitable to be referred to as a marathoner.

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