Training for a Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Cross the Finish Line

Training for a Marathon: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Cross the Finish Line

So you’ve decided to start training for a marathon. First of all, congratulations! Training for and completing a marathon is on many people’s bucket lists and is undoubtedly a massive feat of athletic ability. That finisher’s medal will long hold a special place of pride and honor in your heart—can’t you just feel its weight on your neck now?! 

If you’re getting excited about running your marathon just from reading this introduction, we know you’ve definitely got the enthusiasm and drive to run 26.2 miles. But if you’re a first-time marathon runner, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I go about training for a marathon, anyway?” 

Not to fear—that’s where we come in! We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that has everything you need to know to cross the finish line injury-free and with a smile on your face! Are you lacing up your sneakers yet? Are you getting antsy to get out there and pound the pavement already? Well then, let’s get to it.  

Training for a Marathon: Everything You Need to Know

  • Find the right training plan
  • Follow the right nutrition and fueling
  • Choose the right marathon training gear
  • Enjoy the journey

Finding the Right Marathon Training Plan

There are a million different ways to train for a marathon. In addition to long runs that increase in distance over time, many coaches and professional long-distance runners recommend adding a variety of different workouts to your plan when training for a marathon. These can include tempo runs, speed workouts, cross-training, yoga, walking, weight lifting, and more. 

But how do you know what will work for YOU and YOUR body if you’ve never trained for more than a half-marathon? The first step is to figure out which training style is best suited for you (and your budget). 

What Type of Training Plan Is Best for You?

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a shopping list? Sure, you can walk into your local market and grab some random fruits and veggies (and let’s be realistic, probably a snack or two), but what happens when you get home? 

Maybe you were able to grab all the ingredients needed to make a healthy meal without putting much thought into it—and if you’ve been cooking nutritious meals for yourself for a while, this practiced act is likely second nature. But there’s still a good chance you grabbed a pile of random stuff that can’t be made into healthy meals. Just because you were craving pistachios, watermelon, crackers, and pepperoni at the moment does not mean they will magically turn into a nutrient-dense dinner. 

The same goes when training for a marathon. If you just did a workout you felt like doing every day with no structured plan of where you were running, how far, or for how long, you wouldn’t be able to “make a healthy meal” by the end of your training. If you’re a seasoned marathoner, maybe this a la carte training plan works just fine for you. First-time marathoners: keep reading on. 

Hiring a Running Coach

Many runners find it helpful to hire a running coach. If you’re nervous about any aspect of training for a marathon—nutrition, fueling, preventing injury, recovery, etc.—this is a great way to have a professional’s guidance available to you at all times. However, as you can imagine, hiring a personal coach can be pricey. 

Pros:

  • A training plan tailored to your experience level, athletic abilities, and goals
  • A customized nutrition and fueling plan specific to your body’s needs
  • Unlimited one-on-one access to a running professional with years of experience
  • Motivation and support

Cons:

  • The cost of a running coach can get quite high

Joining a Running Group

When training for a marathon, if you’re looking for a structured plan and access to a running coach without the high cost of a personal coach, joining a running group may be more your speed. Although you won’t get a training plan completely catered to you and your needs, you will have an awesome training plan with the added bonus of becoming a part of a running community. Instead of just one person holding you accountable, you will develop relationships with other runners—many of them seasoned—who will be able to answer your questions, provide guidance, and support and motivate you throughout your training. 

Pros:

  • Access to a running coach
  • Scheduled group workouts to keep you accountable
  • A community of supportive runners

Cons:

  • Although this option is cheaper than a personal coach, there is still a relatively high cost
  • Less flexibility in your training schedule

Note that there are also free running groups in many communities! While these programs may not be as structured as a paid running group or offer a full marathon training plan, they often meet once or twice a week to run together and create a sense of community. This is a wonderful free alternative if you’re seeking the support of other runners. 

Purchasing a Training Plan

If you’re training for a marathon right now, I’m sure you’ve done some research and come across online training plans. If you don’t have a budget for a coach or running group, you shouldn’t feel discouraged. The beautiful thing about running is that the overall cost is very minimal—especially if you’re training for a local marathon and don’t need to travel very far for your race. 

Online marathon training plans, when created by an esteemed running professional, are a great way to get quality training for a fraction of the cost. Purchasing plans from running gurus like Hal Higdon or Greg McMillan can provide you with all the structure you need. Some publications, such as Runner’s World, even offer free marathon training plans

Pros:

  • An already-laid-out training plan cuts down on research time
  • You will know exactly how many weeks you need to train and exactly which workout to do each day

Cons:

  • You will still need to find a running group or train with a friend to get a sense of community
  • You won’t have access to a coach for questions that come up about strength exercises, nutrition, fueling, or recovery

Making a Plan: What Training for a Marathon Looks Like

If you are training for your first marathon, we highly recommend you find a training plan that goes 18–20 weeks. Although you don’t technically need four or five months to train for a marathon, the extra weeks help account for illnesses, injuries, or life events that get in the way and ensure that missing a long run or two won’t completely derail your training. 

That being said, you should not start training for a marathon without establishing your aerobic base first. It’s so important that your body gets used to mileage well before you start your training. You should be running a few times a week and doing core- and leg-focused strength workouts leading up to day one of your training so that your muscles are well-prepared for the stress you’re about to put them through. 

Although each marathon training plan is a little bit different, each is made up of some or all of the following workouts. 

Long Runs

Each weekend, you will be doing a long run that gradually increases in distance every week. These are the bread and butter of marathon training. Many novice marathon training plans start at five or six miles and cap off at 20 miles around week 15, decreasing in distance every three weeks or so to allow your body to recover and improve. Three or four weeks before the marathon, these long runs taper off to allow your body time to prepare for the big race. 

These workouts should not be missed. If you cannot do them on the weekend, try your best to fit them into your schedule during the week. That being said, you should never do a long run when you are sick or injured—for the longevity of your training, recovery and rest trump running every time.

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs require you to run at different paces and effort levels to get your body accustomed to different speeds and put you more in tune with your abilities and limits. These workouts can include lactate-threshold runs, race-pace runs, and progression runs. 

If these workouts sound too complicated for you, don’t be discouraged! There is no shame in training for your first marathon with no time goal in mind and simply set out to cross the finish line. If this is the case, make sure to complete the mileage and focus on that—not how long it takes you to do so. 

Easy/Slow/Recovery Runs

Easy runs are 30 seconds to one minute per mile slower than your goal marathon pace. If you don’t know what your marathon pace should be, just run as slow as you want! Even walk if you have to. The important thing is that you aren’t pushing your body too much during these workouts. 

Cross-Training

Cross training is any form of aerobic exercise that uses slightly different muscles than running. These can include swimming, biking, rowing, and walking. Some people even add yoga or pilates to their training schedule to cross-train. Incorporating these workouts help to strengthen surrounding muscles and prevent injury. They also break up your running workouts and add diversity to your training! 

Strength Training

Although strength training is an essential part of preventing injury while training for a marathon, you may be surprised to learn that long-distance runners often overlook this type of workout. We highly recommend that you incorporate 1–3 days of weight lifting into your weekly training regimen. You can even find strength training programs made specifically for marathon runners online. 

Rest

Rest is arguably your most important “workout.” It’s an absolutely essential part of any complete strategy when you’re training for a marathon. You should be resting twice a week and taking that recovery time seriously. If you are feeling restless and want to do some movement, consider going for a walk, stretching, or adding a yoga or pilates class to your recovery days. These movements are gentle and will help elongate your muscles, preparing them for your next hard workout. 

Races

Many runners who are preparing for a marathon find it helpful to do a couple of races during their training. This is a great way to test out what it feels like to run your goal pace during an organized race and experiment with different fueling methods and pre- and post-race rituals. Consider running a half-marathon about halfway through your training—ideally around the time of your 13-mile long run. You can also add a 5k or 10k, but make sure you aren’t completely replacing your long run weekends with shorter distance runs, or your long-distance training might suffer.

Nutrition and Fueling

Food is fuel when training for a marathon, which means that the nutrients and calories you consume are just as important as the miles you log. Nutrition can be broken down into two categories: training and race day. While these two segments are slightly different, both are equally important to your performance. 

Training Nutrition

One of the most important aspects of training is staying hydrated. To discover how much water you need before, during, and after you run, calculate your sweat rate. This will help you determine how many fluids and electrolytes you need to support your training.

When you begin training for a marathon, you will start to notice how different foods affect your mood, energy, and endurance before, after, and during your workouts. Although nutrition is a science, each runner is different and should honor their bio-individuality. If you read on a blog that eating an entire sweet potato with some almond butter is best before a long run but you find yourself feeling nauseous after eating just that, stop eating it! What works for others will not necessarily work for you. 

It is your responsibility to figure out the ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) that work for your training. Remember that as your marathon training ramps up, your caloric intake will increase as well! Fuel your body with the foods it needs at that moment to recover from or prepare for your next workout. 

According to sports dietitian Alexandra Cook, running burns 100–120 calories per mile. Use this formula to calculate how many calories you should be consuming each day—and don’t slow down on rest days! Even if you aren’t training, your body is working hard to recover and needs fuel to operate at an optimal level. Each meal should include protein, carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Produce provides micronutrients and antioxidants, which prevent oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body stimulated by prolonged exercise. 

Above all else, listen to your body and don’t be afraid to eat when you’re hungry (which will likely be all the time). You’re putting in some serious work—treat yourself to delicious, nutrient-dense meals! 

Race Day Nutrition

On race day, it’s very important to stick to the nutrition plan that you have developed over the past 4–5 months of long runs. Eat the same breakfast approximately 2.5–4 hours before the race starts to give your stomach time to process your meal. 

Five to fifteen minutes before the race starts, start your fueling with a gel and a few sips of water. Plan to consume 30–60 grams of carbohydrates per hour throughout the race. Use your pre-determined combination of energy gels, chews, and bars to achieve this. 

You should know where the fueling and hydration stations are along the course and have a plan for when and where you are intaking fuel and fluids. Don’t be afraid to ask a seasoned runner for advice on fueling weeks, or even months, prior to race day! It’s important to figure out what works best for you and your body so that those 26.2 miles can go as smooth as humanly possible.

Choosing the Right Marathon Training Gear

Finding the right gear for your marathon training can make or break your race day performance (just ask any male runner who has suffered from jogger’s nipple). When you’re running 26.2 miles, there are a lot of opportunities for discomfort. Here are our top tips for finding the proper training gear prior to race day. 

Running Sneakers and Socks

It’s no secret that finding the right running sneaker is crucial to the comfort and ease of your training. Experts say that your running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. Make sure that you are keeping a running log to track exactly how far you are running so you have a better idea of that 300–500-mile checkpoint. 

As far as brand and design of sneakers go, many runners live by a certain model, but everyone’s arch, gait, and pronation are different. Your training terrain will also play a part in which sneaker you choose. The best way to find a good running shoe is to visit your local running store and talk to one of the employees. They will evaluate your pronation and gait, ask you about your training, and recommend the running sneaker they believe best suits your needs. 

Choosing the right socks to run in is also an extremely important—and sometimes overlooked—part of training for a marathon. Good running socks provide extra padding and comfort and help prevent blisters. There’s a variety of running socks available on the market that come in different fabrics, thicknesses, and heights. 

Running Outfit

The clothes you choose to run in depend on many different factors, including where you are training, where you are racing, and in which seasons and climates. Training for the Boston Marathon in Maine during the winter is going to require a drastically different attire than training for the Honolulu Marathon on Oahu during the summer. 

Do your research on brands, fabrics, and what is appropriate for different types of weather. Be sure to train in different outfits and choose your most comfortable pieces for race day. It takes a lot of trial and error to know exactly what to wear in any given weather, and you are likely to have some days where you miss the mark. That’s okay! Try your best and make sure to, at the very minimum, dress appropriately for extreme weather and temperatures.  

Accessories

If you are running in the hot sun or cold winter temperatures, make sure you have the proper headwear. Baseball caps and visors are a great way to block the sun while beanies and fleece-lined headbands provide extra protection against the snow. And don’t forget sunscreen on any exposed skin—no matter the season! Sun is sun whether it’s summer or winter. 

When you’re running far distances, the goal is to add as little weight as possible. However, we know that there are essentials that you want to bring with you (keys, money, phone, etc.) for convenience and safety. We highly recommend that you invest in a running belt to carry your belongings, especially if you are often running by yourself. If you find that you need extra water during your long runs, a hydration belt is also a great option—many even come with special pockets for energy gels!

Tips to Enjoy Your First Marathon

You’ve spent months training for a marathon, calculating calories, and logging miles. Now it’s time to put your endurance to the test and complete your first marathon! Don’t stress too much about finishing within a certain amount of time—just take in the adrenaline, cheering, and the pride you feel once you cross that finish line. Above all, you should have fun. After all, that’s why you started marathon training in the first place, right? Learn our top ten tips for a happy 26.2 miles in our blog post, “10 Must-Haves for a Fun First Marathon.”

Continue Reading: Training for a 5k to Marathon

Training for a 5k to Marathon: How to Train Like a Pro as a Beginner

Training for a 5k to Marathon: How to Train Like a Pro as a Beginner

Being great at something takes not only skill, but practice. Whether it’s painting, cooking, shooting hoops, cartwheeling, or virtually anything else, you can expect there will be some work to do. If it’s a passion, though, people tend to find it easier—at least psychologically—to get started on the journey.

Most individuals who are planning to accomplish long-distance runs do it because they love it, need it to destress, strongly believe in the health benefits of running, or a combination of all three. Others need to have that competition itch scratched and participating in races is the perfect solution.

When you’re ready to begin working toward the honorable feat of completing a long-distance race, you need to know where to start. Even if you run daily on your own, if it’s your first time running a 5k, 10k, half, or full, your body will not be fully used to it the first go-around. So, of course, you’re not going to wait until the day of a race to find out whether you can work up the stamina.

Whether you’re thinking, “maybe this won’t be so challenging, I’ve already run a 5k” or “I did a 10K once,” keep in mind the two can feel quite different. And besides, a half-marathon will take much more training than a 10K, and a marathon much more than a half-marathon. 

This is not to say you can’t do it. Never let yourself think you can’t run a certain distance, you just might have to use a different strategy the longer the distance is. 

We’re giving you this guide so you’ll feel anxiety free and encouraged to keep going and hit your mark. We’re here for you, whether your goal is to run faster, further, or more efficiently than you’ve ever been able to do before. 

With the right tips and guidance, you’ll be on your way to reaching new heights in your fitness endeavors. Utilize this guide, whether you consider yourself a casual runner or a serious runner, to improve at all levels—from 5k to marathon.

Steps to Take to Go From 5k to Marathon:

  • Train for a 5k
  • Train for a 10k
  • Train for a half marathon
  • Train for a marathon

How to Train for a 5k (3.1 Miles)

When considering the differences between all of the major distances and various races you can do, you may have some assumptions. This is not the time for educated guesses, though. This is the time to do a little research and start experimenting with your stamina so you’re prepared. Many casual runners think in terms of simply doubling, tripling, etc. the effort it takes to complete each distance, based off of a shorter distance they may have run. If you speak to people that have run a marathon, many will actually tell you it’s a whole different beast.

Working up to it by starting with a shorter distance like a 5k and continuing on to a 10k can be a good place to start. But there are some changes you’ll want to take note of in your strategy. Yes, like any sport, strategizing will be one of the key components of accomplishing what you want. 

Training for a 5k 

If you are absolutely new to running or haven’t run in a while—perhaps due to an injury, illness, or surgery—then taking on a beginner’s 5k training plan is the smartest option. Whether you haven’t run since you were forced to do the timed mile in high school or you’ve run several marathons but are one year post-surgery for your hip, you need to be very gentle with your body and ease into the training plan. We recommend training for six weeks leading up to your race and switching between running and walking, when necessary. 

Many first-time runners can find it helpful to train for certain amounts of time, rather than specific distances. For example—running for eight minutes, then walking for two, and repeating three times can be a far less intimidating task than running two miles right away without stopping. Some plans also alternate between running and walking workouts throughout the week to ensure you’re building up your aerobic base over time and stretching out your legs in between running workouts with a gentle walk. 

The key is to give your body lots of time to stretch out both before and after your run and rest in between workouts. Integrating strength workouts, especially core work, can make a world of difference in your training plan and prevent injury. Consider doing some sit-ups, planks, and crunches before or after each run and a leg workout once a week that includes squats and lunges. Building up your leg and core muscles will help you run further and stronger in no time! 

5k Fueling and Race Plan

This 3.1-mile race is considered one of the shortest races, and as such, you won’t need to refuel during the race or drink as much water as some of the other distances. Note that this depends on the heat, of course—always have an idea of what the weather will be like in your area during training and actual race day, and be sure to hydrate at least once.

Keep in mind, short doesn’t necessarily mean easy. In fact, this may seem a bit backward, but this distance is actually considered to be in the red zone when it comes to effort level. On a scale of 1–10, people consider it to be a 9–10 (10 requiring the most effort). This is because most runners try to sprint a 5k and push themselves throughout the entire race. Try to get the concept of “race” out of your head to an extent. It’s not that you don’t want to have goals—you should try to beat your PR if that is a goal of yours—but you don’t want to burn out too fast.

Remember, a big part of your plan will be about your pacing. Break things down into manageable chunks by selecting a goal time and figuring out your average minute per mile pace.

In the beginning of the race, aim to stay within 5–10 seconds slower than your chosen goal pace, per mile. Then, try getting up to and maintaining the goal pace for mile number two. Your plan for the final mile—and only the final mile—should be to run faster than you have until now, or at least stay at the same speed. Now bear with us, because these numbers will change as we go from a 5k to a marathon.

How to Train for a 10k (6.2 Miles)

Your strategy will be essentially the same for a 10k as it was for a 5k—but with different calculations. When training, you’ll want to keep a log of what you did to see what worked for you and what didn’t work for you, keeping the goal you want to achieve in mind. Adequate practice and superior planning is likely to get you the optimal results.

This run is 6.2 miles long and considered to require less effort than the 5k—even though it’s double the distance, you’re not running all out like you are during a 5k. A 10k lands in the borderline orange range between an eight and nine on the exertion scale. However, it is longer and will still be a challenge, so don’t skimp on training.

Training for a 10k

As you graduate from the 5k distance and begin training for a 10k, the structure of your training plan will become a little bit more involved. We recommend you train for this distance for eight weeks to allow yourself time to rest and recover when necessary. Life gets in the way of training sometimes, so you want to account for days where you’re too busy, sick, or burnt out and need to add an extra day of rest—and for the record, this buffer applies to each race distance moving forward. 

Once you’re training for a 10k, you should be incorporating shorter running workouts during the week, one longer run on the weekend, two rest days, two or more strength workouts, and one or two cross-training workouts each week. Cross-training workouts are any aerobic exercise other than running, such as swimming, biking, walking, or yoga. Active athletes who cross train improve their performance and are less likely to get injured. You should not be exhausting yourself during these workouts, so consider them a fun break from pounding the pavement and an opportunity to strengthen smaller muscles that aren’t necessarily targeted when you run. 

10k Fueling and Race Plan

Your water consumption for this race should be every mile or every other mile. Despite the effort scale we discussed, you will need to drink more during this race than during a 5k to help avoid injury. Since you will be running for longer, your body will need to be hydrated to prevent muscle tears, tiring out prematurely, heatstroke, and more. Although this distance is double a 5k and hydration is key, the water stations located along the race course should provide plenty of H2O—no hydration belt necessary.

 Similar to a 5k, the strategy for your pacing here is to refrain from starting too fast. Remember to always start in a thoughtful, calculated way. Part of the reason you are training beforehand is to measure yourself. Take the same general plan you had for your 5k and figure out your average minute per mile. Use this pace as a goal for each mile and keep things fairly even for the majority of the race. 

You should start out a little slower in the beginning. Again, that’s about 5–10 seconds slower per mile than the goal pace you picked. Then, gradually increase through the middle. That means at mile three and four you want to be running a bit faster than you did when you began the run. In the last mile or so, pick up the pace. Next in your 5k to marathon endeavors, we tackle the half-marathon, so keep your pencil sharp if you’re taking notes!

How to Train for a Half-Marathon (13.1 Miles)

Now that we’re getting closer to the category considered by some to be “long, long-distance,” this is where you will want to start thinking even more about fueling, hydration, and closely staying with your regimen. While it’s true that if you can do a 5k or 10k you have what it takes to go further, don’t forget these distances each come with their own unique quirks.

Training for a Half-Marathon 

So, you’re training for a half-marathon. Congratulations! While training to run 13.1 miles, many people truly fall in love with the sport and discover that they can accomplish any distance with the right training and preparation. Long runs will be your hardest workouts that require the most preparation. Each weekend, you will go for a long run and slowly increase the distance by about 10% each week. If this is your first half-marathon, we highly recommend you give yourself 16 weeks to build up to 12 miles (your furthest long run). Make sure you properly fuel the night before, morning of, and during your long runs—this is a great time to test out different energy gels for race day! Much like the 10k training, you will incorporate shorter runs (and speed workouts, if you’re aiming for a faster time), cross-training workouts, strength workouts, and rest days. 

Never underestimate the importance of sticking to your training plan (as much as possible) and getting all the right practice in—especially with your long runs. Incremental training will prepare your body, both mentally and physically, for the feat you’re about to pull off. As we discussed earlier, it’s important to incorporate a buffer zone of 1–3 weeks to account for injury, illnesses, and any other event that might get in the way of your training. On that note, if you are suffering from an injury or recovering from a cold or other illness, do not push yourself. Your immune system is already working hard to heal and adding the stress of workouts will not help you get back to your training any sooner. If you are able, consider taking easy walks or doing a restorative yoga session instead. Above all, listen to your body and give it the time it needs to recover. 

Half-Marathon Fueling and Race Plan

Plan to have an intake of 150–250 calories each hour of your run to give your muscles and the rest of your system what it needs to keep going. By testing out different energy gels and chews and taking note of how you feel throughout your long runs, you can figure out the number of calories that’s right for you when you’re training. You can get these much-needed calories and hydration through gels, bars, sports drinks, and water. A lot of this is about trial and error, but once you find what works during training, stay with it for the race. 

The half-marathon is considered to be a yellow-zone race and is at about a 7 on that 1–10 scale. You will run approximately 15–30 seconds slower per mile than you did during your 10k. As with the other races, it’s crucial that you don’t start out too fast. Take your average mile-per-minute goal pace but this time, begin the race running at about 10–15 seconds slower than that number for the first 1–3 miles. 

For the next seven miles or so, pick up the pace gradually until you’re at your goal pace. If you have a goal time that you’re trying to beat, you can use a running base calculator to figure out what your goal race pace should be. Slowly and carefully—but always with determination, of course—increase your speed from mile ten through the last mile so you can safely crush your goals. Remember that the adrenaline and excitement of race day will likely push you to run faster than you have throughout your training, so learn how to channel that energy and properly pace yourself throughout the course! Finally, the monster race that you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve been dedicated to your training thus far, keep going, we know you can do it!

How to Train for a Marathon (26.2 Miles)

Runners, on your mark. Here it is, what you’ve really been working up to all along, right? Or perhaps your goal was to reach just the 5k, 10k, or half—or you’ve run them each before finding this article but wanted to improve your time, efficiency, and ultimate experience. Each of these events is an impressive achievement. So bask in your feel-good vibes and your pride and stop here if this is where you choose to stop. Or, by all means, keep going.

You’re running more than the average person and, hopefully, having fun while doing it too. You have a passion for running better than you ever have. For those of you who indeed have always wondered how to go from 5k to marathon, here’s what you need to know.

Training for a Marathon

This is it—the bucket list race of long-distance running! If you’ve done shorter races and stuck to a running plan, chances are you’ve considered a marathon. The good news is that finishing a marathon is absolutely possible! For a beginner marathon runner, we recommend you start an 18-week training plan after significantly building up your aerobic base and getting quite a few long runs under your belt. If you’ve just completed training for a half-marathon and are looking for your next challenge, you may be the perfect candidate. 

At this distance, many runners find it beneficial to work with a running coach or group to get support throughout their training. If you can’t afford to hire a professional, consider purchasing a training plan online that incorporates long runs, slow runs, speed work, cross training, targeted strength workouts, rest days, and shorter races that will prepare you for 26.2 miles. 

Marathon Fueling and Race Plan

If this is your first marathon, your main goal needs to be completing the marathon without any injury. You have a lifetime of running marathons, if that’s what you love to do! Don’t stress too much about your time, even walking 26.2 miles is a huge accomplishment! You should be proud of yourself for sticking to your training plan and crossing the finish line. 

Another critical component of your strategy will be hydration and calorie intake, similarly to the half-marathon. Keep the same numbers in mind that you used for the other long races when it comes to a range that fits your individual needs, based on factors like weight and sweat. 

Drink a bit each mile, or determine a more specific amount by doing a quick calculation based on your findings before and after a run. You can check your sweat rate based on your weight and doing some simple math. Weigh yourself beforehand and then again afterward and when you see what the difference is, that is how much water you lost—and about how many ounces you want to replace.

This one is seen as being in the green zone and raced in a 5–6 range on the scale, as you should plan to run a whopping 30–60 seconds slower than the half marathon. For at least 20 miles—that’s right, more than half the race—you want to be taking it somewhat easy if you want a better chance at finishing strong. Many runners run out of energy by the time they reach even just the second half of the marathon because they weren’t mindful enough of keeping things relatively slow at the start. 

Be sure to begin your race at up to 20 seconds slower per mile than your goal pace because even though you want to be conservative in the early miles, if you go too slow you will have to make it up later. If this happens and you haven’t timed it right, don’t panic, as that will make things worse. Just hang in there and try to make up the time and distance left by as evenly as possible spacing out the remainder. Once again, this is not a sprint—going from 5k to marathon is a well-planned and prepared masterpiece.

More Information to Help You Go from 5k to Marathon

The sections contained earlier in this guide should help get you where you want to go during your 5k to marathon adventure, but there are a few more things to note. Things like professional equipment, proper nutrition, and the rest you give yourself in between training sessions leading up to the various races will also help determine how well you do.

A Note on Recovery and Nutrition

Marathon training should take place over the course of 16–20 weeks. Note that most training plans are created with the assumption that you, as a beginner marathoner, have already built a steady base and trained for races of shorter distances. You can jump right into marathon training after running no more than a mile or so for the past year, but don’t be surprised if it’s not an enjoyable experience. 

Look into which races you want to do, as each location may offer a slightly different terrain and may or may not have the home field advantage of having loved ones able to cheer you on for moral support. Regardless of the place, each long-distance race is a commitment, so schedule it way ahead of time so you give yourself plenty of advance notice. You have to build yourself up over time to get where you want to be. As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, accounting for recovery time—including adding a few buffer weeks in case you become sick or sustain an injury. 

Try doing 3–4 runs per week, and don’t leave weekends out. You can run more than that but make sure you’re spreading things out. Try not to have too many sessions in a row. Rest in between workouts is important to give your body recovery time. You’re breaking yourself down to a degree in order to build yourself back up, stronger—especially if you don’t want to experience real breakage. People have gotten stress fractures from overdoing things or having the wrong form because they’re too focused on the end goal. 

In reality, if you’re the right combination of patient yet diligent, that’s where the wins will come in.

In terms of nutrition, the body likes to use glycogen as its main energy source when running, so don’t deny it this fuel. Training is necessary not just for your leg muscles to get used to things but for the rest of your system—and your mind—to get used to it, too. This goes more for marathons but, in this way, you will be teaching your body how to utilize what is has during a race. You don’t need to look to fat metabolism for a 5k or 10k like you should for the “long, long” runs. 

You will also be burning more calories than you normally do, so prepare to eat more than you’re typically used to. You need nutrition that is high-quality though, not just the first sugary morsels you can get your hands on, as you want to avoid feeling bloated or fatigued. Keep in mind, we go by strategies here, not impulses. Act with purpose during race prep just like you would during the real race. Snacks like fruit, cheese, and peanuts—and whole rather than processed foods, for meals—will help repair your body and keep you moving.

A Note on Running Gear

The most important piece of gear you need when training for any race is a good pair of sneakers. Each runner’s arch, gait, and training goals are a little bit different, so there’s not a specific brand or model that works for everyone. The best way to discover which shoe is best for you is to go to your local running store and talk to an employee. They will look at your arch, ask you questions about your training routine, and watch you walk so they can recommend a sneaker model that will work best for you. 

Lastly, and this cannot be stressed enough in your 5k to marathon efforts: no pro when it comes to any subject can beat their goals without the right tools. Just as the chef needs their cookware and ingredients, so do you—and your “ingredients” should not overlook the immense benefits of a good running belt. We encourage you to get online and find the right running belt for you so you can keep your essentials with you without feeling bogged down.

When your equipment is bulky, chafing, or causing extra movement or weight, it can distract you during both training and racing. And that is the last thing you need since, as you know by now, being thrown off early on in a run can mess with your mental state for the remainder of the race. Plus, you can’t focus on your strategy if you’re worrying about where your wallet is, whether your phone or keys are safe, and how you’re going to get the food and water you need during the experience.

We caution you not to go into any sport, especially running, without the proper gear. We want to make sure you have every chance of turning your fitness dreams into realities without tiring early, getting an injury, or being slowed down in any way. The 5k to marathon feat really boils down to the difference between waste and waist: you won’t waste an opportunity when you have everything all in one place sitting conveniently around your waist.

 

0
Your Cart