How to Become a Marathon Runner

Experienced runners and new runners can become marathoners as long as they are determined to follow a training plan. Find out what you'll need and how to train for one of the biggest achievements of your life.

Things You'll Need

  • Running shoes
  • Sports bra (for women)
  • Running socks
  • Hydration belt

Instructions

  1. Plan

    • 1

      Decide what marathon you want to run and register for it. Make sure the race is four to six months away because you need that much time to train.

    • 2

      Purchase some good running shoes, running clothes, and a hydration belt or some other way to carry fluids on long runs. Some runners also like to wear a heartrate monitor and use a music player.

    • 3

      Find a training partner or join a training group if possible. Training for a marathon with someone is much easier and more fun because you have support during the hard times and someone to help you keep your eye on the finish line.

    Train

    • 4

      Be determined and disciplined about your running goals each week and try not to skip any workouts. Depending on whether you are a beginner or experienced runner, you will start out with a weekly training plan like the following:
      Monday: 2 to 5 miles; Tuesday: 2 to 5 miles; Wednesday: rest; Thursday: 2 to 6 miles; Friday: 2 to 3 miles; Saturday: 4 to 8 miles; Sunday: rest.

    • 5

      Increase certain runs each week so you incorporate a mid-length run and a long run into your training plan. A typical weekly workout after two or three months of training might be: Monday: 4 to 7 miles; Tuesday: 9 to 14 miles; Wednesday: rest; Thursday: 5 to 8 miles (race pace or faster); Friday: 4 to 6 miles; Saturday: 16 to 20 miles; Sunday: rest.

    • 6

      Figure out how you will replace calories during the race. Some runners rely on the sports beverages handed out at aid stations. Others carry and eat gels you can find at running stores. Whatever the plan, practice it on your long runs so your body can get used to it.

    Don't Give Up...

    • 7

      If you get injured, take a few rest days and then continue with your training plan. It is not good to run through an injury or a pain.

    • 8

      If your muscles hurt more than usual, you probably need to replace your shoes. Some runners only put 200 to 300 miles on their shoes before replacing. More efficient runners might be able to put up to 500 miles on their shoes.

    • 9

      If you start feeling depressed and fatigued for no reason, you might be suffering from overtraining syndrome. Take a few days off and eat better to get back into balance.

    The Finish Line

    • 10

      Taper your runs, starting three weeks before race date. You don't want to completely stop running but slowly decrease your miles and your long run to ensure that you have peak energy on race day.

    • 11

      Set a goal pace. Don't go out too fast at the start. Miles 14 to 21 are hard because you're tired, and the end feels far away. Stay strong and keep running even if you have a bad mile. Drink at every aid station and eat the gels and fruit handed out on the course. After mile 21, the end is in sight, so remember how many times you ran five miles during training and push through to the finish.

    • 12

      Recovering after a marathon is extremely important. Drink plenty of fluids and give your muscles time to repair. You might be sore for up to a week after the race. Take some rest days and let your body heal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Take vitamins. Get good sleep before long runs.
  • Marathon training puts a great deal of physical stress on the body, so be aware of negative changes to your physical or emotional state that might indicate you are overdoing it.
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Resources

  • Photo Credit Joe Wetton

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