Completing Your First Marathon – 4 Training Tactics to Finish in Triumph!

completing your first marathon

Completing your first marathon is the focus in this article, rather than trying to improve your time.

Running a marathon will put you in an exclusive club.

Training for a marathon is a great motivator for getting up and running consistently week after week.

And that feeling of crossing the marathon finish line for the first time will stay with you for ever.

But how do you make sure that dream of completing your first marathon doesn’t turn into your worst nightmare?

Blogger and writer Karthik Reddy shares below the four tactics you must get right if you want to cross that marathon finishing line for the first time in triumph.

Have the Right Marathon Training Gear

marathon training gear

You need a pair of running shoes that fit well and correspond with the gait analysis you should have at your nearest specialist running store.

They don’t have to be the most expensive pair, but do choose a well-known tried and tested make. Keep an eye out for end of season sales.

For example, you may be able to get your hands on a pair of Nike running shoes that’ll get you off to a promising start.

But don’t forget to change your shoes every 300-400 miles to avoid getting overuse injuries.

Your running clothing should also be chosen carefully. You want fabric that breathes well, wicks away moisture and helps to reduce odour.

Products made from merino wool are the best in terms of natural fibres, otherwise stick to synthetics.

Synthetic fibres are better because they tend to glide against your body. This reduces friction and reduces the chances of chafing.

If chafing is still an issue, you can buy specialist anti-chafing sticks or apply Vaseline to the areas that are most likely to be a problem before you go out.

Keep safety in mind when choosing your clothing. Make sure that you wear bright colours, so that you’re more visible to other road users.

Personalise your Marathon Training Schedule

marathon training schedule

Start off by setting up a realistic marathon training schedule.

If you’ve just started training, you’ll need to give yourself four to six months to get yourself ready. Your body needs to be conditioned.

When you’re motivated in the beginning, you’ll be eager to train hard.

It’s important to start off at a level that you are comfortable with, though.

Increase your training load gradually – It will be easier to maintain your motivation and reduce the risk of injuries.

That could mean running every other day and gradually increasing the distances run over that period.

While we all have different bodies and lifestyles, for a new marathon runner, around 15 miles a week is a common starting point.

Once you adapt to that training load, you can gradually increase your mileage and build it up to around 30-40 miles per week.

You won’t be able to get off the couch and run 20 miles on the first day, but you’ll need to be able to before marathon day.

The most important thing is to be guided by your body.

Your schedule will fail you if you don’t get sufficient rest and recovery between sessions.

This includes meeting your nutritional needs and staying well hydrated.

While it’s normal to feel a little stiff and sore initially, prolonged recovery periods are an indication that you need to cut back on training for a while.

Even during peak training, you should give yourself at least a day off so that you can recover properly.

Get yourself a foam roller for use before you run, and afterward. This helps to loosen your muscles.

Train Smarter

smart marathon training

If completion is your marathon goal, then training is relatively simple as ‘time on feet’ becomes the most critical factor.

Building this endurance is key when you’re not competing against the clock.

Make sure you train hard enough to get the blood pumping, but not so hard that you cannot carry on a conversation while running.

The distance run needs to be carefully monitored as well.

It might be tempting to run the full marathon distance as you reach peak fitness, but this is unwise.

There’s a significant risk of injury or burnout and you want to be fresh and full of running on the day of your marathon.

Varying the pace when training adds improved stamina and speed-endurance to your increasing endurance.

Running segments of your long run at marathon pace (the pace you could sustain over the full 26.2 mile distance) is highly recommended.

It adds specificity to your training, boosts confidence and helps you judge your speed better on the big day.

After all, you don’t want any nasty surprises during the race.

You can also train your body to run six miles or so at a ‘comfortably-hard’ intensity in tempo runs and five mile or 10K races.

Speed training improves leg turnover and can help you maintain good running form for longer as the marathon wears on.

Remember though that completion is your primary goal, so do these sessions sparingly, with plenty of recovery to avoid show stopping injuries.

Build mental toughness for marathon running

mind over marathon

When you first start out, motivation is usually high. If it isn’t then reconsider why you’re training for a marathon in the first place!

As the training weeks go by, however, motivating yourself to run the distances required for the marathon event can get harder.

A key factor for marathon success is consistency, but you don’t want this to result in monotony from a mental perspective.

A good way to keep yourself motivated is to find a running buddy to train with and keep you accountable.

By sharing a common goal to do what it takes to complete the marathon you’ll both work harder to make sure you both succeed! 

If this is not possible, join an online marathon running community.

And don’t forget to announce your marathon aspirations on social media!

It’s also important to switch things around to prevent you from getting bored.

Change, or at least reverse your routes, and run in scenic surroundings whenever you can.

These tactics help keep you excited about your training and prevent training plateaus that come from repeatedly running the same route.


These tactics for successfully completing your first marathon may seem obvious and yet many runners overlook them and don’t reach the finish line.

So have realistic expectations and make sure you listen to your body during your marathon build up.

Once you’ve joined the ‘marathon finishers club’, you’ve earned the right to work on improving race times…

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