From Beginner to Finish Line: A Complete Guide to Running Your First Marathon

So you think you want to do a marathon? Completing a marathon is a daunting task, but it is doable with the right mindset (and some training.) If you’re looking for first marathon advice, you’ve come to the right place!

Everything you need to know can be found in the following sections:


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Deciding if a Marathon is Right for You

First thing’s first – figure out if you really want to run a marathon.

Why You Should Run a Marathon

Deborah Dunham, veteran of 13 marathons, explains why you should run a marathon. It’s an enlightening article that everyone should read, even if you aren’t (yet) thinking of running a marathon.

Marathon’s 26.2-mile Run Tests Body, Mind

Running a marathon (fast) ranks at no. 7 on USA TODAY’s 10 hardest things to do in sports. If you think a marathon will be easy, this article will bring you back down to earth!

The Top 20 Reasons You Should Never Run a Marathon

I’m not sure how many reasons there are not to run a marathon, but this page lists 20 good ones! Just glance through this article (it’s easy to read) because it illustrates something you need to know before tackling a marathon.

When Should I Run My First Marathon?

Taking goals, age, and experience into consideration, this article helps you answer the question, “am I ready to run a marathon right now?” This is a thought-provoking article that will have you thinking about what your marathon goals really are.


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Marathon Training

If you are going to run, you have to train. These articles cover the basic principles of training and give you some example training plans.

Marathon Training Schedule – Beginners Plan

A great article covering training plan design and giving you a sample plan.

Getting Stronger For An Easier Run

Why you should do some resistance training (i.e. weight lifting) to benefit your running.

Aerobic Endurance Training

Introduces you to a variety of training methods, such as long steady distance, tempo, and interval training.

The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer

Widely regarded as the best beginner’s marathon training book, it’s just $11.41 at – a small price to pay for quality advice.


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Nutrition for Your Marathon

When it comes to serious training, you need a good general diet every day, proper fueling during the marathon, pre-run food, and post-run recovery food to perform your best.

Your Marathon Nutrition Plan

This article will break down how to plan out your race nutrition plan (i.e. how to fuel your body while running.) The goal is to help you create a simple, repeatable solution that makes fueling so easy that you forget about it.

5 Keys to the Pre-Workout Meal Everyone Should Know

Who knew breakfast could be so complicated? This is a detailed guide on what to eat before your workout.

How Carbo-Loading Can Improve Your Running

“Carbo-loading” means storing up extra energy in your body, which will kick in by giving you an energy boost when your body would normally begin to hit a lull. Believe me, your body would normally hit a lull during a marathon!

How to Eat and Drink During a Marathon

Practice makes perfect – how to choose specific foods that work with you, decide on a fueling strategy for race day, and practice it in advance to make sure it’s going to work.

Tarahumara Pinole and Chia Seed Recipes

You’ve probably read Born to Run and learned of the Tarahumara people. Well, here’s a quick guide to making their old-fashioned food that manages to fuel them through days which resemble ultra-marathons!

Marathon Nutrition Mission: 10 Great Training Foods for Runners

Here are 10 awesome foods you’re probably not eating (ever hear of dinosaur kale?) but should be.

The New Science of Recovery Nutrition

Recovery nutrition has evolved into a science that combines carbohydrates, proteins, fluids, and electrolytes to ensure the body is refueled, re-hydrated, and has everything necessary to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. This comprehensive article explains what you need to know to recover from your workouts.

Long Run Nutrition for Recovery

Not ready to go extreme with your post-run recovery? Then check out this article for practical tips on what to eat after a workout – you don’t have to be a scientist to make sense of it.

Precision Nutrition

Precision Nutrition is arguably the best-ever nutrition guide for athletes, and it’s much cheaper than hiring your own dietician.


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Running Technique, Pacing, and Logistics

A lot of new runners think running is as simple as “going running.” But there is a lot of technique and strategy involved. These articles reveal the finer details of running.

How to Get the Benefits of Barefoot Running (Without Taking Off Your Shoes)

Even if you have no interest in the whole “run barefoot” idea, this article presents important running technique advice you must know in order to run better and lessen your chance of injury.

5 Tips for Marathon Pacing

Here are 5 simple tips to help you pace yourself properly during a marathon.

Pace Calculator

This is a neat tool – just enter your race distance and finish time, and it will show you your pace (which could be the pace you ran or the pace at which you need to run in order to meet your time goal.)

Even Pacing in the Marathon

This article explains the difference between “average pace” and “even pacing” (and which one is more important.)

How to Run Your First Marathon

This one covers the process of a marathon, as in, the days leading up to the marathon and what you’ll do on race day. It’s written by Olympian Jeff Galloway who knows a thing or two about proper preparation!


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It takes serious motivation to train for and complete a marathon. Here is how to get (and stay) motivated!

Motivation: 101 Reasons to Run a Marathon

Really, they cover 101 reasons – at least one of them is sure to get you motivated!

How to Overcome Mental Fatigue

You’re bound to get bored of running at some point. This will keep you going.

Saint Ralph

This is a great inspirational movie that may seem a little far-fetched, but it makes you believe anything is possible.

Team in Training

There’s just something special about being part of a group (especially when it’s for greater good than just yourself) that forces you to get out and train.

63 Ways to Make Running Fun

If you’re running as much as you should be, there’s a good chance you could get burnt out and want to quit running. That’s not going to help you reach your goal, so the better thing to do is make your running more fun and exciting – then hopefully you won’t want to quit!


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Clothing, Accessories, and Getting Outfitted

Shoe selection and proper clothing choice are vital when you’re going to be spending 3-6 intense hours in one outfit! (Not to mention the countless hours of training.)

How to Choose a Running Shoe

There’s a lot to consider when first shopping for a running shoe.

Running Clothing Buying Guide

Advice for choosing running shorts, socks, tops, and other accessories.

Sports Bras for Running

For the women here – how to choose the right sports bra for running.

How to Carry Energy Gels With You

Here’s a guide on how to carry energy gels with you, even if you’re wearing nothing but skimpy running shorts and a singlet.

How to Carry Food and Water When Running

This guide shows you how to carry food and water with you on long runs.


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What I Wish I Knew Before I Ran

This section is arguably the most important for you to read. It’s a collection of the tid-bits of advice I never found until after I ran a marathon.

First Marathon Survival Guide

A totally awesome guide to surviving the marathon, the rain, the large crowds, and the porta-potties.

3 Tricks to Prevent Nipple Chafing

Chafed nipples really suck… unless you know how to prevent nipple chafing.

Recovering from Boston

It takes a little while for life to get back to normal after you finish your marathon. This article sheds some light on creating a post-race plan.


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First-Hand Accounts of Marathon Experience

Learn from other runners’ experiences so you don’t make the same mistakes they did!

What I Learned From My First Marathon

Derek ran the Rochester marathon and has six lessons to share with you.

Things I Learned Running My First Marathon

Russell, an Ohio resident, decided it would be fun to run his first marathon in Las Vegas. This is what he learned.

My Most Unforgettable Marathon (And What I Learned From It)

This is an epic story from Patti Catalano Dillon about her first marathon back in 1976.

What I Learned from Running Marathons

Tina has only run two marathons, but there is a lot you could learn from her advice!


By the time you’ve gone through this list, you should be ready and raring to go! (But if you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below!)

Good luck!

Photo credits: Robert Couse-Baker | CrossFit Fever | Steven Depolo | RVWithTito | Dawn (Pink Chick) | lululemon athletica | Ella Baker Center | dbking

2 thoughts on “From Beginner to Finish Line: A Complete Guide to Running Your First Marathon”

  1. Wow! You know that saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know?” Well that’s me when it comes to marathons! Thanks for this.


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