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Marathon for Beginners: 5 Tips for First Time Runners

06/09/2020
By Soji James, CPT, CSCS

It’s a tough time for runners. With social distancing in full effect and varying levels of quarantine, what’s an athlete to do if they don’t feel comfortable going outside to train? And even if you live in an area where you’re free to get outdoors, keeping faithful to a training schedule can get tough. This is especially true if your kids are out of school or you’re working from home. Many storied marathons often take place in the spring, and the coronavirus is shelving the plans of long-distance runners. The famous Boston Marathon, which usually takes place in late April, was postponed. Countless runners who signed up for a marathon for beginners are also having to shelve their running plans.

But the coronavirus doesn’t have to totally derail your beginners marathon training schedule. Beginning marathon runners can still make plans during this time to keep their training schedule somewhat normal and prepare for their race once it’s rescheduled. Try this marathon for beginners training program to get started.

An image of a beginning or start of a race or marathon. Marathon for beginners needs to have a training plan.
A Marathon Is a Grueling Race (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Running a Marathon Without Training: Not a Good Plan

Don’t fall into the temptation to just give up on your training plan. A marathon is a grueling race. Beginners need to be conscious that their preparation will ensure they can finish the race, especially since some marathons take place on more difficult terrain. A steep hill can tax the legs of even the most experienced runner.

Your First Marathon: Running Tips – Vo2maxProductions

Proper marathon training is essential so beginning runners can fully reap the benefits of running long distances. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows some interesting results. Those who finish a marathon, even if the race was run at a low intensity, may be able to reverse some of the effects of aging. Researchers found 138 first-time marathon runners who trained for six months prior to a race saw a four-year reduction in the vascular age of their arteries.

A lower vascular age reduces the risk of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and other complications like dementia. This makes running a marathon one of the best types of physical fitness for beginning runners.

Marathon Training Plan for Beginners

One of the best ways to make your first marathon experience great is to make the race the cumulation of precise training. It’s easy to just go out and start training on your own, but doing so can lead to injuries that can slow down your body.

Man finishing the marathon.
Finishing a Marathon Can Reverse Some Effects Of Aging (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Running 26.2 miles is a task that you need to gradually introduce to your body. Once you start to focus on getting your race time down, you’ll want to pay special attention to what you’re eating and how many miles you’re logging each week to ensure you are shaving seconds off your time.

Any sort of training plan should be logged. Consider creating your own “marathon for beginners” notebook and take time to write down each of your runs. This will give you insight into how fast you ran, the distance of each run, and how your body felt. This information will be useful as you progress and look for ways to cut time.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

You should also aim to increase your weekly miles by 10%. Sure, you might feel like you can do more. But keeping a steady pace as you increase training will reduce the risk of injury. Likewise, it’s vital to plan to cut back on your running each third or fourth week to reduce the load on your body and help you recover.

As you start to feel more comfortable with running, begin to integrate long and short runs into your regimen. Spend a day training to focus on speed. Spend a different day running slower to get your endurance up. Some runners even find tough trails or run on the beach to build up resilience and train their legs for hard running terrain.

There’s a variety of running exercises and strategies you can use to your advantage during training for an available marathon for beginners.

Five Vital Tips for the First-Time Marathon for Beginners

Running a marathon is one of the best cardio exercises anyone can do. It’s fun to compete, and many races take place in interesting locations or in beautiful weather. Here are five key tips to keep in mind if you’re preparing for your first marathon.

Get Your Eating Right

You will want to make sure you get proper carbohydrates and protein in your diet in the days leading up to your race. Doing so will give your muscles the energy they need to perform. Don’t forget to incorporate more carbohydrates and protein in your diet as you train, too, so your muscles can repair themselves after you are finished with a practice run.

Group of people running.
Get Proper Carbohydrates And Protein In Your Diet Will Give Your Muscles The Energy They Need To Perform (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a killer for runners. Sweating is important to help your body keep its temperature normal, so do not try to stop yourself from doing so. However, you need to be mindful in drinking enough liquids before race day, and consider reaching for a beverage rich in electrolytes on the day of the actual race. Dehydration is going to greatly affect your performance while running.

A man drinking to rehydrate.
Drink Beverage Rich In Electrolytes On The Day Of The Actual Race (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Think About Your In-Race Nourishment

You will want to think about replenishing as you run. Some runners like to take a drink as they pass by a station while running, while others opt for a carbohydrate-filled gel. This is a decision that’s up to you, but most runners will choose some sort of replenishment for longer races like a marathon for beginners.

Marathon habituation table with glasses of isotonic drinks.
Most Runners Will Choose Some Sort Of Replenishment For Longer Marathon Races (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Be Mindful And Listen To Your Body

Marathon training and the actual race can be tough, especially if you’re training in the cold or in extreme heat. If you feel like you need to take a day off from practice, do so. If you feel like you’re having an issue during the race, there’s nothing wrong with slowing your pace for a few minutes to give you time to recover. Remember, the race is about you and your goals, not anyone else’s performance.

Runner resting tired and exhausted after running.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Slowing Your Pace For A Few Minutes To Give You Time To Recover (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Properly Re-Fuel Once You’re Done

While you celebrate the end of your race, make sure to replenish your body as soon as you can. You will need to drink water and restore lost electrolytes into your system. Eating a meal filled with protein after a race helps your body repair damaged muscles. If you’re not too hungry, don’t sweat it—just opt for a protein shake.

Group of young athletes drinking water after running.
Drink Water And Restore Lost Electrolytes Into Your System (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Enjoy Getting Ready For Your First Race!

Social distancing and the coronavirus don’t have to destroy your marathon training plans. Just get smart about your practice runs, and even incorporate strength and agility training if you don’t have the flexibility or time to run. Gear up and get ready, because your race will be rescheduled before you know it!

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