10 Tips for Marathon Training

Whether new to run­ning or a sea­soned vet­er­an, any­one can suc­cess­ful­ly run a marathon. Ini­tial­ly, it is smart to eval­u­ate your per­son­al fit­ness, plan­ning and goals. With patience and ded­i­ca­tion, you can train your body and mind to cross the fin­ish line on the big day. A thor­ough pro­gram will cov­er many aspects, but con­sid­er the fol­low­ing essen­tials in prepa­ra­tion for run­ning a marathon:


Take a self-assess­ment and estab­lish your train­ing and race goals. Main­tain­ing and attain­ing goals along the course of the pro­gram can be help­ful in keep­ing you moti­vat­ed. Also, it is okay to change or alter your goals along the way. Whether pre­vi­ous­ly set goals feel too easy or too extreme, do not be afraid to re-assess as needed.


One of the most impor­tant aspects of marathon train­ing is plan­ning. Most train­ing plans range from 12 – 20 weeks. It is impor­tant to fol­low the plan as close as pos­si­ble, even when dif­fi­cult, to build your resilience and sta­mi­na. Results don’t hap­pen imme­di­ate­ly but cre­at­ing a plan and set­ting goals will help you attain your ulti­mate goal of marathon completion.

Choose an Appro­pri­ate Train­ing Program

Before you start, it is impor­tant to assess your cur­rent lev­el of fit­ness. Take note of your strengths and weak­ness­es as a run­ner, what types of runs are more enjoy­able and your pre­vi­ous per­son­al run­ning his­to­ry. Cus­tomiz­ing a train­ing plan to match your fit­ness lev­el will help you devel­op real­is­tic expec­ta­tions, avoid injury and achieve opti­mal results. Keep­ing a train­ing log record­ing your dai­ly mileage, run times, dis­tance and how it felt after each run can be a help­ful prac­tice. This can show you your progress with train­ing and pro­vide encour­age­ment to keep you going. 


Food selec­tion will impact your over­all per­for­mance as a run­ner. Not only what is con­sumed, but when is also impor­tant. Reg­u­lar hydra­tion, choos­ing smart car­bo­hy­drates and eat­ing no less than 30 – 60 min­utes before a run are dietary con­sid­er­a­tions to pro­vide ener­gy need­ed for suc­cess. Do not for­get to refu­el soon after a run, as this helps the body to recov­er. Also, be aware of overeat­ing and crav­ings that run­ning often cre­ates, which can be detri­men­tal to the effort and goal.

Build­ing Endurance

When it comes to marathons, it’s not always about speed. Run­ning a marathon requires endurance, both phys­i­cal and men­tal. Chal­lenge your­self by push­ing your pre­vi­ous lim­its with new activ­i­ties such as hills, stairs, tem­po runs or trails. This prac­tice can be a help­ful boost and make a big dif­fer­ence in the end.

One Step at a Time 

When pro­gress­ing through the pro­gram, increas­ing the week­ly dis­tance by 10 per­cent, is a safe and estab­lished prac­tice. Grad­u­al­ly build­ing endurance and dis­tance is crit­i­cal to suc­cess­ful train­ing. Equal­ly as impor­tant, it may reduce your risk of injury. 

Each week, it is rec­om­mend­ed to include one long run and two short­er runs. Alter­nat­ing between a hard run day and an easy run day will allow for recov­ery and adap­ta­tions to a new work­out rou­tine. The short­er runs can include speed train­ing or lighter effort for recov­ery. The ben­e­fits of speed runs include per­fect­ing run­ning form and teach­ing the body how to con­sume and use oxy­gen through­out your run. Speed runs can be short to inter­me­di­ate dis­tance and can involve hill repeats or inter­val training. 


Cross-train­ing is a way to build strength, help avoid injury and improve recov­ery. On non-run­ning days, try oth­er forms of exer­cise such as yoga, swim­ming and resis­tance train­ing. This aids in alter­ing the stress­es on the body and improves run­ning performance.

Warm-up and Cool-down

Your mus­cles can act like frozen rub­ber bands, stiff and inflex­i­ble. How­ev­er, with a few min­utes of pre-run activ­i­ty to loosen up, your mus­cles can be ready to go. Equal­ly as impor­tant, a good cool down can help expe­dite recov­ery and min­i­mize sore­ness. Build-in a few min­utes after run­ning for stretching.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recov­ery are almost as impor­tant as run­ning when it comes to train­ing for the marathon. Overex­er­tion or pro­gress­ing too fast are com­mon cul­prits lead­ing to injury. Be sure to acknowl­edge your signs and sig­nals such as pain and fatigue. Activ­i­ties such as yoga and stretch­ing can help to loosen mus­cles and relieve stress. Get­ting qual­i­ty sleep can­not be under­val­ued as it will pro­vide time for heal­ing, which the body needs for training. 

Get­ting to the finish

As on race day, there will be ups and downs dur­ing the train­ing. Be aware that it will not always be easy. It may be sur­pris­ing that the same run may feel dif­fer­ent from day to day or week to week. The prepa­ra­tion for and com­ple­tion of a marathon is long and chal­leng­ing, how­ev­er it is a great accom­plish­ment. Hope­ful­ly, some of these ideas will be use­ful along the way. With the right mind­set and cus­tomized prepa­ra­tions, goals can be met at every mile. 

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing aches and pains dur­ing exer­cise or train­ing, call 630−967−2000 to sched­ule an appoint­ment or request an appoint­ment with one of our phys­i­cal ther­a­pists online.

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