How To Prepare For A Marathon?

By Vic
October 21, 2022

Anyone can run a marathon. But not out of the blue. It will take a long time and diligent preparation, so you need your training plan for half marathon or full marathon. Experienced marathon runners who have conquered more than one distance of 42 km claim that it can take from 14-18 weeks to a year – it all depends on the beginner’s physical fitness. We’ll show you how to structure your workouts so you don’t give up halfway through and fail during the race.

Where to begin?

Choose the marathon you want to run. You need to do this in advance, since registration for many cool marathons opens 6-7 months before the start and there may not be any places left. Therefore, lay at least six months for physical and moral preparation. Better is more.

Decide how you will work out – with a trainer or on your own. The first option is easier. The trainer will assess your physical fitness, write out a plan for running training, help you work out your technique, and will adjust the load in the process. But you can train on your own, based on one of the many marathon plans from books. For example:

  1. Road Running for Serious Runners by Pete Fitzinger and Scott Douglas. The book describes in detail plans for preparing for competitive distances of 5, 8, 10, 15, 21 and 42 km, as well as examples of famous runners training.
  2. “Your first marathon. How to finish with a smile. Nine-time New York City Marathon champion Grete Waitz tells how to prepare for a marathon for those who care not so much about the result as the very fact of overcoming the distance and enjoying it.


About 5-6 months (24 weeks) before the start of the marathon, start training. Experienced marathon runners recommend training 5-6 days a week, leaving 1-2 days off. What is included?

Long run for 5-15 km 3-4 times a week. It builds endurance.

One workout on the track – speed running, intervals, exercises to develop technique, strength exercises to strengthen the core.

One long run for 15-35 km. After that, they usually have a day of rest.

And so every week. Every fifth week is a recovery week. Intense workouts are replaced with light recovery runs at a comfortable pace.

Marathon runner and Strength Running trainer Jason Fitzgerald recommends that aspiring runners focus on developing endurance. In addition to long runs, Fitzgerald advises to supplement training with cycling and swimming in the pool. So you quickly adapt to aerobic exercise and get less injury.

Conventionally, six months can be divided into three stages.

  1. Stage 1: from the 1st to the 5th week. Start with an easy run and a small weekly mileage (~23–25km). Increase it by 10% every next week. Also work on running technique and doing general physical training to strengthen the body.
  2. Stage 2: from the 6th to the 21st week. Period of intense work. Continue to increase your weekly mileage, bringing it up to 50-70 km. Include tempo runs, intervals (alternating between speed and recovery runs) in your training plan. Keep practicing your running technique.
  3. Stage 3: from the 20th to the 24th week. Reduce your running load to allow the body to recover before the main distance. 


When preparing for a marathon, give preference to foods high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Limit your intake of fried, smoked, overly salty, canned foods. Avoid alcohol completely.


The main equipment of a marathon runner is good running shoes with thick soles. They need to choose a size larger, because during a long run the legs swell. Before a marathon, running shoes need to be broken in for at least 10-12 days and tested on the course.

Useful attributes also include leggings or running tights. They will keep your calves safe during long workouts. A running bag-belt will come in handy, where you can put your phone, a band-aid, a bar. A watch with a heart rate monitor will help you count the mileage, monitor the pace, heart rate.

In the world

Significant marathon races are part of the World Marathon Majors association, and getting into them as a participant is a great success. There are 4 ways to enter the limited marathon: win a place in the lottery; fulfill the qualification standard established by the organizers (for a beginner this is a priori impossible); through a charitable foundation, by collecting and donating a certain amount of money; buy a tour from an operator cooperating with the organizers of the race.

 Here are the marathons:

  • Boston is one of the oldest in the world (the first race took place in 1897). The time of the event is the third Monday of April. The number of participants is limited to 30,000 people.
  • London – also takes place in April. No more than 36,550 runners can get on it.
  • Berlin – starts on the first Saturday or Sunday of September, since 1964. A limit of 44,000 people is set for participants.
  • Chicago – takes place in October, the date of birth is 1977. Accepts participants aged 16 and over

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.

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