Training to Run Your First Marathon: How to Prepare

JamesAnkles & Feet, RunningLeave a Comment

So you’ve decided to run your first marathon, how exciting! Let James Fowler Physical Therapy help you with a marathon training timeline to ensure that you gradually build your endurance, strength and prevent injuries. Remember, this timeline is a general guideline, and it’s important to listen to your body and adapt the plan to your individual needs and fitness level.

Here is the suggested marathon training timeline: 

Phase 1: Base Building
(12-16 weeks before the marathon)

  • Focus on building a solid aerobic foundation and gradually increase your mileage.
  • Aim for 3-4 days of running per week, incorporating a combination of easy runs, long runs, and cross-training activities like cycling or swimming.
  • Start with shorter distances (e.g., 3-5 miles) for easy runs, and gradually increase your long run distance by 1-2 miles each week.
  • Incorporate strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, planks, and core exercises, 2-3 times per week to build overall strength and stability.

Phase 2: Building Endurance
(8-10 weeks before the marathon):

  • Continue increasing your weekly mileage, focusing on long runs.
  • Aim for 4-5 days of running per week, including a weekly long run, speed workouts (intervals or tempo runs), and recovery runs.
  • Gradually increase your long run distance to reach your target marathon distance, with a gradual taper every 3rd or 4th week to allow for recovery.
  • Maintain strength training exercises but consider reducing intensity or frequency to prevent excessive fatigue.

Phase 3: Tapering and Fine-Tuning
(2-3 weeks before the marathon)

  • Start reducing your mileage to allow for recovery and maximize performance on race day.
  • Maintain intensity but decrease the volume of speed workouts.
  • Focus on quality runs rather than quantity.
  • Continue strength training, but reduce the load and frequency to avoid fatigue.
  • Incorporate mobility and flexibility exercises to improve joint range of motion and prevent muscle imbalances. 

Phase 4: Race Week

  • Reduce your training significantly to allow your body to recover and prepare for the marathon.
  • Focus on rest, proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep.
  • Perform short, easy runs or light cross-training activities to keep your muscles active without causing fatigue.
  • Review your race plan and visualize success.

Also, to ensure your body can sustain the training it requires to run a marathon, consult with your healthcare professional or give us a call to before starting any marathon training program. They can assess your needs and help you modify the plan according to your circumstances. Additionally, ensure you prioritize injury prevention, proper nutrition, hydration, and adequate recovery throughout the entire training process. Good luck with your marathon training! 

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