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Marathon training plan for beginners in 2020

Running a marathon could be fun. But, it also could be very daunting and out of this world. Imagine yourself running for 26.2 miles. Need I say that again?

Yes, a marathon race is 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. Don’t run away yet. 

Don’t worry. There will be other crazies on the same route you are on. It should be a little comforting knowing that other runners surround you as you roll through the miles and miles on the course. Hundreds sometimes thousands of people along the course, so don’t worry, you will not be alone. 

Something of this magnitude will give you a sense of pure joy that comes as you cross the finish line. The weeks or months it takes you to reach that point, however, will be less exciting.

Most would recommend at least 15 weeks of Marathon training for beginners. Or is highly recommended, so you are both physically and mentally prepared to endure the 26.2 miles of awesomeness! 

With the right 16-week training plan, the right nutrition, hydration, and tapering plan, you can finish the finish under 5 hours. To help you get race-ready no matter your athletic ability, these tidbits are good enough to help you get through the Marathon training plan for beginners so you can start and finish the training and the race injury-free.

What is the best free Marathon training plan for beginners? 

If you’re a complete beginner, it’s ideal, to begin with, a training plan that is designed specifically for beginners. A training guru that I follow is Hal Higdon. He has a program for every athletic ability or running experience. Whether you want to finish fast or JUST FINISH. He’ll have one for you that will help you accomplish that goal.

Tailored training plans are crucial to avoid runners burn out. From an easy run training pace to a tempo run training pace, it can be difficult for beginners to work out on a fast run. 

Here are a few running lingoes to help you understand a lot of the verbiage you will read about in almost every training plan:

Long Runs: You should focus on the long run on weekends, which builds from 10 km in week 1 to 32 km in week 10. These are the ones that you have to make them a must for the Marathon training plan for beginners.  

Run Slow: Do your long runs at a comfortable pace that will allow you to converse with a training partner at least during your beginning. If you finish long run at a pace slower than your early pace, it indicates that you have to start slow. It is better to start slow during these long runs as the motive is to cover the prescribed distance. 

Walking: It is typical for first-timers or beginners to walk during the marathon. You can also walk during marathon training runs too. During your race, the best time to walk is when approaching a hydrating station; this allows you to breathe and to be sure to get your water.

Strength Training: Sundays in the training guide are for strength-training. The best strength training exercises are swimming, cycling, or walking. You don’t have to cross-train the same way as you do on the other weekdays. You could also include walking and cycling or swimming and riding an exercise bike in a gym. It will help you recover after your Saturday long runs. 

Midweek Training: Marathon Sessions during the week should be done at an easy and comfortable pace. As the week passes, you can add on the weekday mileage also builds. You can add up the numbers, and you will find that you are doing the same mileage during the week as you do during long runs on the weekends.

Races: Normally, It’s not a good training strategy to race in too many races-especially, for the first time marathoners. Races can get in the way if you taper before the race and need extra recovery later. But in some times racing is convenient as it leads to introduces newcomers a racing experience. 

Rest: Days designated to rest are very important. Just like they say, don’t skip leg days. In running, do not skip rest days. It allows your body to recover, to regenerate and get stronger during rest. This also helps prevent injury. 

In case you feel tired at any stage, take an extra rest day to boost your energy as its an important part of the training plan for beginners. But it is suggested to doing a half marathon in Week 8, this helps get your body mentally prepared for the long-distance running.

If you’ve got a few races and used to running, then you can go for long-distance and check for the time using a training pace calculator to work out that would be a best-suited plan for you. 

How long are marathon training programs?

If it’s your first marathon, then it is recommended to begin about 16 to 20 weeks out from the marathon, with three to five times run a week. 

Don’t worry about getting the mileage when you get started, you will increase your mileage as you get closer to race day. Sometimes running can get boring. I always recommend incorporating cross-training into your training plan. Running can get very boring, especially for the newbies.

On the other days, you can do some low-intensity exercise such as yoga or pilates, most importantly, rest your legs, giving them time to fully recover. 

Which types of shoes should I buy for the marathon?

Before you begin marathon training, it’s a good idea to get your gait checked, and yourself kitted out with the best pair of shoes for the running beginners that will last the distance.

As a marathon runner, your feet will love or require some very comfortable, high-performance running shoes, both for training and racing. If you want to push your limits at this kind of distance and mileage, then you should get the shoe engineered for extra support. 

Trust me when I say, having comfortable shoes for the miles and miles or hours and hours of training. Your body and feet will appreciate it. In fact, in the last three weeks of training, be sure to run in the shoes and outfit you will race in. Do not try anything new on race day.  

The taper, carb loading, finishing, post-race recovery, and beyond!

Be sure to have pay attention to tapering or reducing of miles within the last few weeks leading up to the race. You want your body recovered and fully rested on race day. 

Hydration and carb loading is key to smart and strategic planning of leading up to your race. You should be sick of water by the race week. I recommend carb loading all week. Get in the habit of drinking a gallon of water a day once you start marathon training.  

It doesn’t have to be every meal, but eat a lot of clean carbs. Eat well-balanced meals, have simple carbohydrates in your diet, whether you are feeling it or not. 

Prepare your gear the night before. I usually put together a checklist and ensure you have everything. Running gear (clothes, shoes, water belt, energy chews/gels, race bib, timing chip, running socks, etc.)

You should get good sleep as it will help your body recover to keep your immune system strong, which will be vulnerable during the post-race after the marathon. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

Your last carb-loading meal should be at dinner the night before the big day. If you eat anything, I recommend yogurt, banana, or bagel at least 2.5-3 hours before the marathon start time. Do not try to force hydrate the morning of the race. I usually have black coffee up to an hour before the race starts.

Some other things to consider during your training cycle, is that if you plan on using energy gels or chews, test them out on your long run. Read into the different kinds and what each one is specifically for. I will share more on that in another post. 

I have said it earlier in this blog, do not try anything new on race day. Break in the shoes, the shorts, the shirt, socks, the hat during your training runs. You might want to switch things up if it is not comfortable. 

I hope the information I have shared will help you prepare or give you some insight on the work and mentality you need to successfully complete a marathon. Good luck and good training.

Comment below if there is something you would like to add that would help beginners and add value to the running community. 

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