Often a bucket list event for many, the beautiful distance of 42.195km is like the Everest for millions of runners worldwide, it has a certain mystique about it and has done for many years, possibly since the likes of Frank Shorter and later our own Rob DeCastella brought marathoning into the mainstream media and into our lounge rooms via the 72 Olympics and 83 world champs respectively. If one was to google how to run a marathon they would probably be bombarded with hundreds of cookie cutter programs, quite overwhelming for a runner stepping up to the distance for the first time. The marathon is an event that is to be respected but if the work has been done the day itself could be one of the most satisfying and memorable of your life. In the following article I have outlined my 5 most important tips to finishing (well) your first marathon.

Note these are not “running a PB marathon” tips they are for another day, the below is specifically to ensure a first timer completestheir first marathon with 2 fists in the air (ah la DEEK)

1.       Evaluate exactly where you are at this very moment. – Training age – how many years have you trained for without a prolonged break, is it months , years , decades ?

This will play a big part, if you are a newer runner it will take time to build your aerobic and biomechanical base. – think about your longest run over the last 3 weeks? was it 40 min ? was it a half marathon? Was it a 2km jog/walk around the block?- the answer will significantly dictate where you begin your training plan from. 

2.       Create a plan – Either with a coach, face to face, online or just from what you can gather from some of the best coaching books around, develop a big macrocycle or full scale program, the longer the better. The “foundation” period for a beginner is very important-  for example if you have 12 months,  the first 4 months run predominately aerobically with some quality work thrown in once a week.

Then we can start getting a little more marathon specific over the following 8 months really getting into the meat and potatoes of the program for the last 4 months, with a taper towards the end, as a rule aim for your longest training run to land 21 days out from the big day. In that specific period, every workout should have a purpose, I am big on this in general, but in a marathon prep its crucial, every workout is another rung on the ladder of success, it may be a quality fartlek, or a long distance run or a progression run but always know why you are completing the workout.

3.       Strength Train – An often over looked aspect of any running plan is 1-2x 30min strength workouts a week the amount of overuse injuries that could be avoided if the subject lifted regularly is massive!! If 30 min is too long doing 20 or 15 min is ok, but it is CRUCIAL to fit it in somewhere. Big compound movements – squats, deadlifts, glute/hip thrusters, Bulgarian split lunge, leg press are vital. If you can’t do some of these that’s perfectly fine, adapt the exercises. Include single leg work as we are never on two legs when we are running and symmetry is king! Look out for our strength training for runners blog later in the month.

4.       Recovery -   This is king, if you “go the well” so to speak on a Sunday morning run, be sure to regenerate , eat well, sleep well and take a couple of easier days to allow your body to absorb the work you have put in , adapt and improve.

 5.       Find some running mates-  you don’t have to run together all the time but for some of your quality workouts and your longer runs try finding some friends to do some or all the workout with you. It’s a nice distraction when you must spend 2.5 hours on your legs to be having some light conversations with a group of your friends.

As with anything in sport or fitness consistency and sustainability is king!
Every session has a purpose -  enjoy the journey to becoming a marathoner!!  

Rick Mirabella
Founder and Head Coach