Training for your first Marathon

By Lindsay Borden

You’ve finished a 5km run and decided to tackle a 10km run. The typical runner will think, that wasn’t so bad, I’m going to try a half marathon. Really, a half marathon is only another 10km (plus 1). Around the first training run, you realize, “that’s another hour of running!” 

So how do you train for this 2+ hour run?
 

Running Clinics

When you decide to run your first marathon, you’re likely not planning to run on your own. Most runners I know started their marathon training with a running clinic (i.e., the Running Room). These clinics are great because you become part of a community of runners. In many instances, the runners who run with these clinics will go out for coffee after their morning runs, travel to marathons together, etc. 

 

Running with friends

I started running with a friend. Together, we found a running schedule to follow during the week and met for long runs on the weekend (followed by coffee). Having someone to hold you accountable to your runs (the short runs as well as the long runs) can help you stay on schedule. Running with a friend also helps to pass the time (just make sure you complete those long runs at a pace that still allows for chatting. 

 

Running coaches

I have never sought out a coach to help me train. A friend of mine found a coach to support her virtually with her ironman training. Like with a friend, she liked having someone to talk to about her runs, her aches and pains, calling to wake her up in the mornings (if necessary), setting her schedule, and in general, holding her accountable. 

Online coaches can range from individuals who give the runner a personalized schedule to those who give a standard plan based on some specific like pace and target finish time.  

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Training  schedules

Whether training with a friend or alone, schedules are great for keeping you on track and getting you to push yourself (assuming you follow the schedule properly). I get my schedules from online and make sure to include how many weeks I have to train in the search (especially if I left the training until the last minute). 

Training schedules can be tweaked as needed when other obligations come up (or if you’re not prepared to train in “any weather”). When considering how to tweak training schedules, also consider the landscape you will be running during the marathon. If the course is relatively flat, you might alter any hill training in the schedule (note that there are still benefits to hill training even if you aren’t preparing to run hills). 

However you choose to prepare for your first half marathon, try to develop routines that will fit into the race day (e.g., start running around the time the race is schedules to start, eat foods you will be able to eat before the race). 
 

On race day, there will not be much more you can do to prepare. So, have fun!