Running a half marathon or a full marathon is a huge accomplishment, but without proper training, nutrition, and determination, you won’t be able to reach your goals. Here’s everything you need to know about training for a marathon!

How to Train for a Half or Full Marathon

There are three different methods for training for races:

  • Run walk intervals. Instead of running at one pace, certain runners use walking/running intervals to train for a half marathon. This helps reduce the risk of injury and is a good option for beginning runners who want to complete a half marathon but are not concerned about qualifying for other races.
  • Building up mileage. If you’re running your first half marathon and don’t want to do run/walk intervals, choose a 16 or 20 week plan that slowly builds up mileage. Depending on your fitness level, you may occasionally want to
  • Long runs with short tempo runs. More advanced runners should use tempo and HIIT runs to help improve their times as well. Their plans should be around 10-16 weeks long, depending on the runner’s fitness level and their goals.

You can mix and match techniques from all three approaches, perhaps doing run/walk intervals on Mondays, a tempo run during the week, and a long run on the weekend. How much you decide to train for your marathon depends on the type of training plan you pick and if you’re facing any injuries.

Make sure you buy new shoes and break them in before the start of training. Worn out shoes can lead to shin splints, and you should replace your shoes every 300-350 miles.

Crosstraining for Marathoners

If you’re training for a half or full marathon, don’t forget to crosstrain! Crosstraining simply means doing another form of exercise that targets different muscle groups and helps reduce the risk of injury. Yoga, swimming, and other low-impact workouts are the best choices. Yoga in particular helps improve flexibility and strength, another key in preventing injury.

Runners should also make sure to keep strength training in their workout routine, focusing especially on hamstrings by doing deadlifts. Weak hamstrings can cause shin splints.

How to Choose a Marathon or Half Marathon

What kind of race do you want to run? There’s a New Year’s Race that goes through downtown LA at night, a Rock n’ Roll marathon series with live bands along the route, and even races that go through Disneyland.

If you’re running your first race, it’s probably best to choose a race that’s close to where you live so it’ll be low stress to get to the Expo to pick up your race number and then find parking the day of the race. While traveling to different cities to do races can be an adventure, you may want a lower stress race to get you acclimated to the marathon world.

What to Remember on Race Day

On the day before race day, you should have gone to the Health and Fitness Expo that races hold for runners to get their numbers and to showcase health and fitness products. Set out everything you need the night before. Organization is key to cutting down on stress.

Here are some things you should think about on race day:

  • Who’s going to drive you? Sure, you can drive yourself, but remember you’re going to be sore and exhausted, so it’s best if you get a friend to meet you at the finish line!
  • Wear tried-and-true gear. Never wear new sneakers or new workout clothes on race day. You don’t know what chafes or what is uncomfortable until you’ve run with it in the past! So only use what’s tried and true from your training on race day.
  • Are you going to run with music? If so, create a playlist. You don’t want to be fumbling with your ipad during the race. Also, invest in a good armband to hold your keys, cell phone, and ID. Good earbuds are also a must — you don’t want them falling out as you run.
  • Eat breakfast 2-3 hours before your race. This should be the same breakfast you eat before your long runs, and should be made up of protein and carbs. Some runners opt to drink coffee, others think it upsets their stomach or makes their aerobic performance suffer, so once again try out different combinations during training to figure out what you’re going to eat on race day.

Some Popular Marathons Across The Country:

Some Sites To Get You Started:

You have to walk before you run. Visit our page on Walking to get you started.

Marathon Rookie for all you need to know about preparing for a marathon, including a calendar of races across the country.

For a more extensive list of marathons, visit The Marathon Guide.