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The Sport Information Resource Centre

If you’re planning on running your first marathon this year, before you start your training, it’s important to create a training plan. Your training program should include answers on how much you are willing and able to train, your experience as a distance runner, and what your fitness level is before the race. Make sure your running plan fits your real ability, not the ability you wish you had. Everyone is different and it can be difficult to find what works for you.

Goal Setting – Knowing what kind of goals to set and knowing how to see what goals are realistic for you are two very important things that aren’t that hard to understand when you really look at them.

  • Process Goals – These types of goals involve activities that focus on mastering the task and increasing one’s skill level.
  • Outcome Goals – These goals relate to the finished product or stated differently, goals you hope to accomplish in the marathon.

Distance – Almost every runner gauges his or her training by weekly mileage. Good training plans will have a suggested daily and weekly running goal. The schedule should be well laid out, and easy to track in your running log. If a day or two of training is missed due to injury or illness, don’t try to squeeze two days of training into one. It’s best to just pick-up where you left off and continue; lost days are simply lost.

Long Runs – Your training program should have a gradual build up in your weekly long run distance. This long, slow distance run is the most important part of your running week and you need to develop the ability to complete your long runs without over-taxing your body. For beginners, a slow pace is best so that you focus on simply clocking up miles without the risk of injury from pushing too hard too fast.

Recovery/Rest Days – Giving your muscles a day off from running helps them get stronger. If you want to do something on rest days, try a low-impact cross training workout. Nutrition and eating the right foods at the right time also play a vital role in recovery. Take recovery days equally as serious as your running days.

Keep in mind that there is no magic formula to follow to reach your potential. The above information includes best practices so that you can create an optimal training schedule as well as maximize your enjoyment of running.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Avery G. Finding Your Personal Marathon Training and Racing Zone. Marathon & Beyond. January 2007;11(1):117-132.

2. Beginners Welcome. Running & Fitnews. November 2006;25(1):3-5.

3. Haugaard Rasmussen C, Oestergaard Nielsen R, Serup Juul M, Rasmussen S. WEEKLY RUNNING VOLUME AND RISK OF RUNNING-RELATED INJURIES AMONG MARATHON RUNNERS. International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy. April 2013;8(2):111-120.

4. Heintz A. Choosing the Perfect Marathon Training Program. Marathon & Beyond. January 2010;14(1):44-55.

5. Karp J. The Right Way to Train for a Marathon. IDEA Fitness Journal. November 2013;10(10):28-31.

6. Stevenson R. Marathon Training for Beginners: It’s All About the Mileage. Marathon & Beyond. September 2011;15(5):22-38.



The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.