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Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Dos and Donts of Training for a Marathon

Are you looking for marathon running tips? In this brief articles I will point out some of the dos and donts of training for a marathon i.e. things to be aware of whilst you prepare yourself for the big day. 

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If you are reading this then I’d like to commend you for not under estimating the task ahead of you. I know of a lot of people who decide to take part in marathons but then go about the wrong way preparing for that marathon. One common mistake made by newbies is that they believe they need to increase their miles (mileage) every day. There are a lot of other misconceptions that people harbor with regards to preparing for a marathon. Read on below for marathon dos and don’ts. 


Mental Preparedness

Mental preparedness basically ties in with every activity one wants to undertake in life and marathon training is no exception. It is fundamentally one of the best tips for running marathon successfully. You must know in your mind there will be days when you are pumped up and prepared to run the extra mile, and there will be days when you tell yourself “you deserve” the rest after all the hard work you’ve been doing.

Telling yourself you deserve a rest is a lie that you should not even entertain. If you have a marathon training schedule you should stick to it no matter how you feel. If your schedule says you are running 7miles and you suddenly feel like you can do 13, don’t; stick to the 7 because you doing 13 will affect tomorrow’s schedule.Being mentally prepared will help you to become disciplined when ,  ‘as they say’ the going gets tough.

The factors that tie in with mental preparedness that you should remember are discipline, determination, positive attitude and motivation. Make sure you have all these and you will be fine. Let’s look some more of the dos and donts of training for a marathon below. 

Diet and Weight Gain

There are people who notice an increase in their weight when they start marathon training and are following a recommended marathon diet. One thing I will say to you if you notice your weight increase is that a scale cannot differentiate between fat and muscle. An increase in weight does not necessarily mean an increase in fat it could  very well be an increase due to a build-up of muscle tissue. So don’t worry about slight weight gain, you can only worry if its excessive weight gain then you know it’s time to revise that diet that you’ve been following.

So what should a marathon runner really be eating…?Because when you are running you use up a lot of energy that is stored in the body as glycogen, carbohydrates form top of the list of what you should be eating. Some examples of foods that you can eat here are bread, cereal, rice, pasta and of course vegetables.

Because you are exerting so much pressure on the body you need to eat lots of protein as well to help with muscle repair and muscle build up. Examples of protein rich foods that you can take are meat (beef-fillet steak), pork chops, cheese, eggs, milk, peanut butter, fish and yoghurt. 

The examples of the food above are common everyday foods. There are other carbohydrate and protein rich foods so you are not limited to these. You can consult a local dietician and they can give you a chart of the types of food and the categories they fall under to make your diet routine easier to manage.

Because it is quite easy to be dehydrated you also need to take lots of fluids regularly.  Pure water is preferable to all the energy drinks out there.

The Actual Training

Do not run the same number of miles at the same pace every day of your training schedule. You should vary the distance and the pace between the days. Here is an example of how you can structure you training schedule. 

Monday: 7 miles at the speed you intend to run during the actual marathon

Tuesday:  5 miles at medium pace

Wednesday:  9 miles at the speed you intend to run during the actual marathon

Thursday: 7 miles at speed pace

Friday: 7 miles at an easy pace

Saturday: 17 miles endurance run.

Sunday:  Rest day

This is a training schedule that I follow when I do my own marathon training and with time I have adjusted and become used to it. After a while really covering these distances becomes 2nd nature to the body. So if you are newbie, don’t worry you’ll get there too.

Do NOTs… 


  • Alcohol has never been the friend of any athlete.  Try and avoid the intake of alcohol totally and if you can’t, then drink moderately, no more than 3 glasses a session.
  • You should never go for a session without stretching first. This loosens up the body and prepares it for the workout. 
  • Do not continue with a program if you experience continuous pain in your joints and muscles over a number of days. Yes; the 1st 2 -3 days will be accompanied by aches and pains but after that the body should adapt to the new routine.
  • Do not run with shoes that are meant for other sports even though they might be training shoes, use the ones that are specifically designed for running and make sure they are comfortable.
  • Don’t over exert yourself just because the program says so. We all have different metabolisms and yours might take longer to adjust or reach program targets. If you feel the strain when training then do take a breather.

This was just a brief guide of things to remember when you have started on a marathon training program where we were basically sharing some of the dos and donts of training for a marathon. It is quite easy to forget these simple things once you become obsessed with sticking to a program. Just  like your workout which eventually becomes a part of you as you repeatedly do it, do read this guide now and then to remind yourself of the important stuff and you will always cross the finish line ahead of the pack.


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