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How to Run Your First Marathon for Beinners and Experts

Updated on June 5, 2011
Marathons are full of beginners.  You can be one of them too.
Marathons are full of beginners. You can be one of them too.

Want To Run A Marathon - Not So Hard To Do

Have you ever thought about running a marathon or half marathon but you just didn't know how to get started? You are not alone. Marathon training is perhaps one of the most physically challenging pursuits of endurance on the planet. But it can be done even by a beginner. Even if you have never run a single race in your entire life. And it really isn't as daunting as some would have you believe.


Many Native American tribes used marathon types of run to deliver goods and messages over vast distances to another tribe. It was their “Pony Express”. Ancient Greeks and Romans showed the skill of long distance running as the pinnacle of human endurance.


But how do you run a marathon if you never trained before? How do you even begin to train for a long distance race? It really isn't as hard as you may think. All it takes is knowing how to train even if you never ran even half a mile at once in your life.

Running Experience without training
Running Experience without training
Running Experience if you do train.
Running Experience if you do train.

Can I Run A Race Without Training?

One truly cannot physically run a very long distance without training due to limited supplies of glycogen, which is a slow form of energy release. But the right training and schedule will build up your glycogen reserves to complete a marathon distance.


The only way to really build this kind of reserve for those who are not used to running is to simply start running. Even if you just start running a half mile. You have to log the miles on your legs not only to build your glycogen reserves but to also build the muscles, bones and tendons in your feet, legs, hips and lower back.


If you try to run a race without training, you most likely won't finish. Indeed, you may even need medical attention. Your body just won't be ready for such stress. It won't have the energy reserves needed to run such a race. You could put a strain on your lungs and heart and other organs that could result in the need for medical attention.


Even if you do make it to the finish line, you body will tell you in no uncertain terms that it didn't like what you did. You will be soar. Your muscles will hurt especially in your legs and I can tell you from experience that soar legs are a real drag.


Your tendons may even be damaged and you will have to let them heal. Tendons can take a long, long, long time to fully heal. Just ask a sports star who damages a tendon. They know how long it can take.


Not to mention, trying to run without training first just makes running harder and you won't enjoy the experience and thus will probably never do it again.

How To Begin Training

The smart way to train for any kind of road race, no matter how small or great the distance is to build your mileage slowly over time. Experienced marathoners usually follow something called the 10% rule. The 10% rule says that you should not increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10% at a time. That means if you run 10 miles as part of your training program, the following week you should aim to run no more than 11 miles.


The problem is that most beginners and even some over zealous experienced runners make the mistake of having each of their training session an equal distance. Take the 10 mile per week as above. The mistake is to run 5 days for the week and run 2 miles per day. So 2 miles per day for 5 days would equal 10 miles.


Elite marathoners tend to do their training program centered around a long distance session or sessions. This long training session is where most marathoners get their endurance and stamina levels from within the build up phase. For example, elite runners will do a long distance session during the week end when they have the time to complete the long run. This is followed by a rest day to allow their muscles and tendons to recover.


They also incorporate a semi long run into their training program and they usually do it mid week. They aim to incorporate two shorter runs into their training program as well as a cross training session as well. Yes cross training as in weights and resistance training to build muscle.

Lets take an example training schedule:


*Sunday: Long distance run 5 miles

*Monday: Rest day

*Tuesday: Short distance run 2 miles

*Wednesday: Resistance/Weight training (light weights or body weight only)

*Thursday: Medium distance run 3 miles

*Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Resistance/Weight training (light weights or body weight only)

Getting Better and Running Farther

As your distance increases you can add another short run day instead of having just one, so you would have two short run days along with a medium and long distance day. You can cut out one resistance training day to do this but do not cut out all resistance training days.


And don't forget your upper body. That is what the resistance training is all about. Upper body training also helps improve the strength and endurance of your organs, all of which need to be in shape to run long distances. Not to mention, you may have noticed how some long distance runners seem to by out of proportion. They have very thin and tiny upper body's sitting on top of powerful legs. Not a pretty sight actually and not as healthy as the well balanced runner.

This could be you
This could be you

Getting To The Finish Line Of Your First Race

Its also a good idea to get a running or training buddy. You can keep each other on track and just as importantly encourage one another to help you reach your goals. You may also wish to use your favorite music on a portable device, however, I highly recommend you do not use such devises if you run on the street or in traffic. Keep the ear buds for trail or track running. You will stay safe that way. After all, its always hard to restart a training program after you have been hit by a vehicle.


Remember to always increase your goals week after week and before you know it you will be ready to run that half or even that full marathon. At the least you will find yourself in better health with a stronger body.


And of course, if your goal is to run and finish a long distance race then you will be able to do so with relative ease. And, who knows, you might even cross the finish line first.

A Final Note

Thanks for reading this Hub.  Remember to take things slow at first and build up in a safe and steady manor.  Running for many is a great way to get healthy and improve the look, feel and health of your body.

Don't forget to eat properly as well.  That is just as important as your actual training.  Get yourself a good training book or program and then set your goals and hit the road or trail.  Have fun and good luck.

If you like this Hub (or if you hate it) why not share it with a friend and leave a comment below.  Check out my other Hubs as well and of course, follow me so you know when I post more helpful and informative Hubs.

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