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How to Train for a Marathon as a Beginning Runner

Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat (Nor easy on your feet….a marathon is 58,000 steps for me.) It may seem like an unattainable goal if you’ve never done it before, but I assure you it is not. It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other. But if I can do it, so can you.

Just close your eyes right now and visualize yourself crossing the finish line. Wouldn’t that feel amazing? It’s a wonderful feeling when they put that metal around your neck. You have never worked so hard for a silly banana. Almost anyone can train for a marathon if they really put their mind to it. I have seen some pretty amazing people accomplish so much out there on the course.

I know you have what it takes, so here are some tips that I suggest on how to prep for a marathon:

How to Train for a Marathon as a Beginning Runner

Pick a Race

Choose a race that will be fun if it’s your first time. Possibly one that doesn’t have strict time limits if you are concerned. My first race was the Disney Challenge in Orlando. It isn’t about winning, it’s about accomplishing your goal. There are a lot of people there to support you during your run and a fantastic finish line with everyone cheering you on. Some more favorites are the well supported local races in your community. Sometimes these smaller ones have more to offer and easier to have friends nearby to encourage.


If you don’t already have a 2017 planner, now’s a good time to get one. To stay on track, jot down what you want to accomplish each day. There are several training schedules you can choose from. I’ve included links to a few different training plans from various sites so you choose the one that will work best for you. You will see similarities in all of them but the training time and level of the runner varies (i.e. runner has run half marathons vs. a couple miles.) Some will have strength training, cross-training and hills in the mix and all will have rest days. USE THE REST DAYS. They are there for a purpose. You need to recover especially from the long runs.

12-week marathon training schedule

16-week marathon training schedule

18-week marathon training schedule

18-week marathon training schedule

20-week marathon training schedule


Your training days should vary between short run days, medium run days and long run days. You will have days of rest to help your body recoup. Make sure you take your rest days. Don’t work out on rest days as they are just as essential as the training days. In addition:

  • Always stretch and workout before and after running so that you don’t injure yourself.

  • The before stretches should be more of a loosening/warming up. I like to swing my legs back and forth to get the blood flowing. I also stretch all of by body, even upper body. You would be amazed at how much the rest of you gets worked. If your legs go 58,000 steps your arms swing back and forth that much too!

  • Pick a time of the day that works well for you. Morning is always mine. Most races are first thing in the morning too. Honestly, I’m just too tired at the end of a long day to go for a run. If I don’t do it in the morning, I won’t do it. The morning runs often invigorate me before work. Longer runs are on the weekends. Just remember to pick a time that will allow you to finish your goals without being stressed.

  • Take water with you if you are running more than a mile. To stay hydrated, drink 6-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.

  • I should be better at this. When I go on long runs around my neighborhood I drop off bottles of water along my path. However, there are some packs you can wear around your waist that work great. If it’s hot, you might want something to put electrolytes back in your body, like sports drinks. I often water these down a lot. Too strong and it upsets my stomach.

  • If you experience soreness in your knees or shins, ice them four times a day for 15 minutes.

Motivational Tips

When training for a marathon, you not only need physical endurance, but psychological endurance. Remember the following:

  • Keep looking forward. Don’t focus on the fact that you are only running x amount of miles. Focus on how many miles you will be running with some practice.

  • During a long race I break it down into sections. NEVER tell yourself, “Well one mile down….25 more to go!” I like to look at it in groups of manageable miles, especially when you get to the end. “Five more miles left, that’s just like running up to the corner and back on my training runs….piece of cake.”

  • If other priorities and life gets in the way of a workout, keep moving forward. Try to never miss the long run days and sacrifice the short days if you must miss a day. It happens and it’s okay.

  • Stay motivated and keep the proper mindset. Training for a marathon is hard. Have friends or peers to cheer you along in your progress. Find a running buddy to train with. Find a community of runners to motivate you. Surround yourself with positivity and those who will help you meet your goal.

  • Be sure to wear your name on your shirt. Nothing more encouraging than hearing your name yelled out, “Run Eugene Run!”

Stay tuned for a blog on what to do on the day of the marathon. See you on the other side of the finish line.

Run Eugene Run is a 501c3 charity raising funds through running, to fund diabetes awareness and research. Eugene is a diabetic, coach and runner. Click here to read Eugene’s story. Follow Eugene on Facebook or Twitter as he trains for his next marathon. Click here to donate.


D. EUGENE THOMPSON, Marathon Runner

Eugene Thompson is a Type 2 Diabetic. After years of struggling with his weight, lack of energy and a little denial, Eugene got off the couch, started a diet and began running. Did he run! In 2015, he ran a total of 13 marathons in 11 different states. During his travel, he began talking to people about his Diabetes and what motivated him to run. And yes, he heard a lot of …Run Forest Run! That is what inspired RUN EUGENE RUN. Now, Eugene inspires others to get off the couch, run and eat right.

RUN EUGENE RUN is a charitable organization founded in in Hampton Roads Virginia, with a goal to educate and inspire those suffering from diabetes. Through running in marathons, coaching, dietary plans, public speaking and online messaging, RUN EUGENE RUN will reach those living with diabetes and help raise money for diabetes research.

Click here to contact RUN EUGENE RUN

Eugene Thompson is President / Founder/ Senior Architect of Ionic Design Studios in Virginia Beach and Richmond, Virginia. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, children and grandchildren.


The information in this blog and on the RUN EUGENE RUN website is for information purposes only. The organization is a charity, not a medical organization. Please consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or changing your diet.


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