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How to Train for a Marathon

Learn how to train for a marathon from competitive runners Doug Oldiges and Stephanie Coburn in this Howcast video.


So you're just getting started running. But you want to run a marathon. Before you jump in it too quickly, try to start with a 5K race, up to a half marathon to see how your body adapts. How do you adjust to the training? How do you feel during the race? What do you need to do in addition to your running? Maybe a little bit of strength training. Maybe a little cross-training to help build your body up, make it stronger, so that you can go the full 26.2 miles.

When you're ready, when you know have the time to commit to this marathon plan, again, go to your local running store. See what clubs or teams are available. See what classes they have available to help prepare you for your marathon. Visit your local running store. They'll know some local teams, local clubs that you can join to help prepare you and train for your marathon. Go online.

There's so many incredible marathon training plans available to help you reach your goal. Some of these online training programs will give you about a 12 to 16 week training plan. Some of them might start small. Maybe four, five, six miles to begin with. Some of them might expect you to have a little bit longer of a run. Maybe about even 12, 14 to 16 miles before you even start this 12 to 16 week training plan.

Over the course of this training plan you'll build your mileage, you'll build your speed a little bit. About two to three weeks at a time. And then each third or fourth week you should really bring your training back to let your body recover, so that you can be ready for that next build period of about two to three weeks. About the last week or so, you'll start to taper down your training to allow your body to rest, so that you're ready for race day.

When you're ready for your marathon is really on an individual basis. But try that 5K race. Try that half marathon to see how your body feels to get you ready. It's not just the physical preparation that you have to do, it's the mental preparation as well. 26.2 miles is a long way to go. So how do you handle being on your feet that long? You really need to find out for yourself.

It's not only the physical demands that you're working on. But you also are going to need to take in calories. Your body can't store all of the energy it needs to go that full distance. Some people will be out there three, four, five, up to six or seven hours. That's a long time to be out there without taking in calories. Throughout your training you'll take in some sports nutrition, to help fuel you through your long runs. Some sports nutrition that you might try out are sports drinks. Something like Gatorade, or Heed, or Excel. Also, GU makes small gel packets, which have about 100 calories each. You can also take in something a little bit more solid like Clif Bars, maybe a banana, or a PowerBar. Some people take small peanut butter sandwiches to help hold them over.

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