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Tips for training to run a marathon

Written by Fiona

February 16 2018

Running a marathon requires training, a good diet, dedication and the right kit. Here’s some advice on preparing for the 26.2-mile journey.

Get advice

Preparation is key and asking the right people the right questions will help immensely as you train for a marathon. Many people start by running a 5k, then a 10k, then a half-marathon before building up to a marathon. It will take at least 20 weeks of dedicated training to train for a marathon once you are fit enough to run the other distances.

You will probably choose to follow a training plan that is tailored specifically for marathon runners, and set goals to keep you on track.

Talk to your doctor about the health implications of running a marathon, if you are in doubt, to check whether they feel it is an appropriate thing for you to do. Your GP will most likely give you a checkup and consult your medical history, then give you any advice they feel may benefit you. Your doctor may also recommend you visit a dietician for nutrition information.

Talk to other marathon runners, as they will have experienced advice. You can also look up advice on fitness blogs, such as WhatProtein, to get nutrition and workout advice.

Your focus in training should be building stamina and muscle mass, not losing weight, so it’s not advisable that you cut your calories in training.

Balanced diet

 The amount that you eat will vary depending on your activity levels each day, but you also need to keep your diet stable and eat healthy balanced meals throughout the week.

It can be tempting to eat the unhealthy foods that you have been craving on your rest days, but your diet is just important on those days as it is on high-intensity training days.

Fish is a great staple for your diet, as the omega 3 fats will help to reduce muscle inflammation. Try to keep the amount of meat in your diet to a minimum, and remember that white meat is preferable to dark meat, as it contains less saturated fat.

Eggs, chicken and turkey are all great sources of protein, which is especially useful on running days, and will aid tissue repair.

Eating a handful of nuts, such as almonds, as a snack will also be advantageous for tissue repair and you will benefit from their high calcium content.

Spices such as ginger are said to help to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), while it’s claimed that Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea is a good choice as it is full of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Spinach is another abundant source of antioxidants and makes a great base for salads or smoothies.


The only person who is going to get you through the rigorous training needed for a marathon is you. However, motivation can be aided by meeting up with a club or friends to train.

Choose a friend or group that is planning to do a marathon, or who is happy to run the same training distances as you.

If you sign up to raise funds for a charity this can help with motivating your to train, too.

The right kit

 Good footwear is vital for avoiding injury and helping you to run on your chosen terrain, tarmac or trail. Head along to a specialist running shop for advice on the right trainers.

Clothing should be made of fabrics that are light, breathable and comfortable. Running makes you sweat so you do not want to be training in clothing that ends up damp, cold and clingy.

Many people sear by compression shorts, running rights or calf sleeves.

An outer layer that is windproof and waterproof will be helpful for times when you need to train in the cold and wet.

Add a buff or beanie hat to your head to protect your ears and keep you warm and gloves for your hands when temperatures are low.

If you train well and build up carefully, a marathon is a great challenge for many runners.

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