Ready to Embark on Your First Marathon? Put One Foot in Front of the Other with these Four Essential Tips

To millions of Americans, the marathon is more than a race: it’s a symbol of self-discipline and commitment to reaching a long-term goal. Less than 1% of people living today can say they have conquered this remarkable achievement. Still, each year, over half a million marathon hopefuls across the nation will, after several laborious hours, cross that glittering finish line.

If you’re thinking of joining the ranks of the elite, you know you’ve got more than just 26.2 miles of pavement stretched out before you. The road begins months in advance, and starts when you decide to take the first step.

Here are some training tips for your marathon debut.

Train to Fit Your Lifestyle

Advice on training plans is as plentiful as the World Wide Web will allow. You can find training plans that will ease you in over 20 weeks, or ones that have you ready in as little as 12 weeks. Some boast the most “6-mile or less” days, or the most total rest days.

Our advice? Find a training plan that works for you and your family. Training for a marathon is all about getting into the right habits, and habits are easier to form when they more closely align with your normal routine. Plus, the more your marathon training plan resembles your regular exercise plan, the less likely you’ll suffer an injury..

training for your first marathon

Find a training plan that works with your schedule and starts with runs (or walks) similar to your current activity.

Don’t Shy Away from Long Runs

Although you can find advice to the contrary, avoid tips from charlatans who profess that you can “run faster with fewer miles.” Marathon virgins need to face the uncomfortable fact that a marathon is a very, very long, long, loooooong run.

Let’s allow this reality to sink in, shall we?

Now that we’re all staring down the same gun barrel together, let’s jump back into your mileage strategy.

Get comfortable running long distances well before the Big Day. Make sure at least 2 – possibly even 3 – of your training days include a 20 or 21 mile jaunt.

You should also be gradually increasing your weekly mileage as you approach race day. Adding that extra endurance during training will give you the boost you need to keep pushing when you need it most. Add your extra miles to your longest or second-longest running days of the week.

Level Up with Cross Training

The best marathoners think outside the white lines. Prepare for your marathon by including several different types of exercise to build endurance, speed, strength, balance, and overall fitness for one of the greatest athletic feats you’re likely to undertake.

Swimming and training for your first marathon

Swimming is a great way to stay active on those non-running days.

Not only does cross training get you in better shape, it gives your body a chance to properly recover between runs. The joints, tendons, and muscles you’re straining while pounding the pavement need a break, and cross training is a great way to do that without sacrificing a day of exercise. This is especially true if you’re nursing an injury.

Shake it up with different kinds of activities. Try swimming, bicycling, rowing, rollerblading, or even yoga.

Get the Most Out of Your Gear

Think of your marathon as another project to complete. You need to assemble the right materials to maximize every minute of your prep time.

Your marathon clothes should be comfortable and time-tested. Don’t show up to race day with brand new gear and shoes bought right off the shelf. This is a recipe for rubbing, chafing, and painful blisters.

Avoid cotton in your clothing. Cotton isn’t very breathable, and it tends to soak up the sweat like a sponge. Instead, opt for moisture-wicking materials and lightweight performance gear.

Keep in mind that once you’re huffing and puffing, your body temperature will rise. Take a look at the weather before getting dressed, and whatever temperature it says, plan for weather that’s 20 degrees warmer. Is it going to be 72˚ today? Dress like it’s 92˚.

Lastly, although you don’t have to get new running shoes before training for your first marathon, it might be a good idea. Inspect your current shoes for wear and tear. If the sole has lost some of its support and the shoes are in rough shape, then it’s probably time to go shopping. You can make an appointment with your foot and ankle specialist to talk about the best shoes for your training plan. Bring your current footwear in so that your doctor can make an assessment of your gait and help you with a recommendation.

The UFAI Education Team

The UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
The UFAI Education Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Over 200,000 happy UFAI patients and growing
  • Yelp
    I love how Dr. Franson involves his patients in coming up with a treatment plan. I went to him years ago, and when I recently hurt my foot, it was a no brainer that I would go back to him. But the review I really wan...
    Jackie M.
  • Yelp
    I have had foot pain for more than a year now and was receiving little to no information from my PREVIOUS doctor, and even worse, I did not feel like I was being heard... In doing online research about my vaguely diag...
    Amber S.
  • CustomerSure
    Doctor Franson and the whole staff have been awesome every step of the way! I recommend them to all my family, friends and co-workers every chance I get! Thanks Dr. Franson and UFAI staff!!!!
    Robert B.
  • Yelp
    I recently saw Dr. Baravarian for an issue I was having with my tibia.  I was referred to him by my primary physician. I am SO happy that I met him.  After a few office visits with him, and a very successful surgery, ...
    Yesenia B.
  • ZocDoc
    Great podiatrist and great staff.
    MIchele M.
  • Yelp
    Dr. Baravarian got rid of my chronic tendinitis when nothing else worked!  But if you want more info: So I'd been suffering with a case of tendinitis in my foot for MONTHS, seriously, almost eight months and I was g...
    Lisaraine B.
  • When I came to you I thought my long distance hiking days might be over. But with your care and skill I have had a miraculous healing in my foot. For the many things you've done. Last Saturday I hiked in the mountains...
    Taylor
  • CustomerSure
    Dr Bob and the staff in Sherman Oaks are amazing! They are kind, thorough and caring!
    Anita D.
  • Yelp
    My 1st time visiting University Foot & Ankle was a great experience! Dr. Yau was very helpful and even provided his email to contact him about any concerns I may have had due to my injury. Awesome staff and great loca...
    Juan A.
  • Angies List
    He is very nice. He is really good with teens who don’t want to wear their orthotics. He is smart and helpful. He really was good at working with my daughter.
    Anonymous
Same Day Appointments
Now Available!

Or call 877-989-9110

24 hours a day, 7 days a week