Is your goal of completing a marathon daunting because you’ve never run before? Maybe running a marathon is on the bucket list, you're looking to challenge yourself physically, lose weight, or raise awareness for a charity important to you. Whatever your motivation, the first step is finding that ‘why’ and reminding yourself of it along the way.
Beyond having a reason to keep you going, know the techniques for how to start running and hit the distance in the half-marathon or full marathon with our tips below.
1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Avoid burning yourself out right from the start by gradually building up your runs. Slowly increasing the time and distance you run by 10-20% each week and you’ll be less prone to suffer an overuse injury and tightness. Many run related injuries are caused by a rapid increase in the amount of running done. Give yourself plenty of time to train - around 6 months is ideal for a first-timer. Consider completing a couch-to-5k or other fun run event as part of your training. It’s hard not to fall in love with running once you get going and the temptation may be to run too far too soon which your body won’t thank you for. Instead, work up to those milestones slowly and bit by bit.
2. Invest in Yourself with the Right Running Shoes
Finding the right footwear specifically for your running style is paramount to feeling good on your runs and sticking with it. Take the time to visit a Running Expert location near you to be assessed for your foot type and gait pattern. Through this process, you’ll learn the level of stability and support best suited for you. It’s important to have your running shoes dialled in well before race day to break them in and be sure they don’t cause you any pain.
3. Pick a Marathon Training Plan
Following along with a training plan will offer a clear approach on how to train for a marathon and is essential to being ready for race day. A structured plan with a variety of runs with help you complete those 42.2km as strong as possible. Check out our half-marathon training plan and full marathon training plan.
It’s recommended you have a base of at least 4-8 weeks of running regularly before starting on a training schedule. Setting the foundation first will ensure you have a solid base to start your marathon training feeling ready to take on longer distances. Use a running app like ASICS Runkeeper to receive guided training, set goals, and track your progress along the way. Seeing incremental improvement will motivate you to keep going.
4. Incorporate Strength Training and Rest Days
Strengthening the muscles that power your running will give you better stamina and endurance. Helping you to run further distances and feel stronger while doing it. Balance your training by scheduling in days for focusing on strength. Two of the key muscle groups to work on strengthening are your core and glutes. Try these simple targeted exercises from NZ marathon record holder, Zane Robertson.
Avoid running yourself into the ground by giving yourself dedicated rest days. It’s important to allow your body time to recover and repair itself. Without a rest day, you risk overtraining, burning yourself out, or even causing an injury.
5. Find the Best Fuel for You
Don’t risk an upset stomach on the day of the race. Identify during your training what works best to fuel your running. Test out different carb-heavy breakfasts a few hours before your bigger run days. For a full rundown on how to dial in your nutrition, read our article from Claire Turnbull. During your runs over 90 minutes, it’s important to aim to consume around 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour. Test out different on-the-run fuel that’s simple to eat, digest, and carry. Running gels and chews are a good go-to as they’re easy to carry and contain a nice dose of quick carbs. Another part of fueling is hydration. Race organisers often provide the option of dropping personal drink bottles at stations along the way for when you think you may need more than just the cups they hand out.
One last highly important key to running a solid race, don’t try anything new on event day.
Read our interview with first-time marathon runner John Tarapi for inspiration to tackle the course yourself.
Find more resources on running topics for every level of runner at our Knowledge Base. Or shop the ASICS range of men’s running shoes and women’s running shoes.