Top tips

  1. Make Time
    You will need to allow time to train for a marathon, especially towards the final months when your training runs will last hours rather than minutes. Make sure you discuss your choices with your family so that everyone knows what you would like to do. Try to plan your space and time for running into your daily/weekly schedule as you would do any meeting - in that way you are less likely to skip it.
  2. Build Gradually
    First time marathon runners or beginners shouldn't try to do too much, too soon. Even before you do any specific marathon programme it's important to get the base training in, which means getting used to being on your feet for a reasonable length of time. The emphasis should be on the enjoyment of running as well the length of time you're running rather than the speed or the distance. If you end up running too fast, you'll probably end up running not as far as you intended to. If you've got some friends to go out with, time tends to go a lot quicker which means that you can spend more time running.
  3. Keep Motivated
    It's important to keep motivating yourself during the lead up to an event, especially when the training gets tough. For some people motivation can come from visualising themselves crossing the finish line with crowds cheering. Others think of their fundraising targets and how many people they will be helping by finishing the marathon. For many the motivation will come from the individual targets they have set themselves; maybe just finishing the marathon, or finishing within a certain time. Keeping these personal challenges fresh can help you focus on your training and current running. Talking with people who've done the event and looking at the event publicity will help keep the event foremost in your mind. Getting a piece of new kit can also be a boost, as long as you keep an eye on those pennies!
  4. Join a Club or Run With People
    For some people running with a club, parkrun or even a group of friends can be a huge source of inspiration, enjoyment and learning, though it's not essential for marathon success. Time and distances tend to pass faster and it can provide that extra motivation needed to get out training in the first place. Plus, it's often just good fun being with people!
  5. Enter Local Races
    This allows you to set yourself targets and gives you a series of motivational goals as you build towards that marathon distance. Not only are races good training tools but you'll also be getting that all important buzz of an event which can't be replicated on a training run - go on, get the competitive juices flowing! If you're new to running then 5km parkruns are an ideal introduction, after which there are many races from 10k to half marathon all around the country.
  6. Learn to Fuel Yourself Properly
    Each of us are different but all runners will need some sort of sustenance to keep them going over 26 miles and often 4 hours or more. Try to work out what your body needs on your longer runs. Some people find regular water sufficient, others find that certain energy drinks provide a real boost. Consider also taking on solids, either in gel form or something easily digestible to give your body energy. Try to trial when your body needs these supplements and take into account that you may be better served drinking and eating some time before you start to feel too hungry, tired or thirsty.
  7. Get the Right Equipment
    Investing in a pair of quality running trainers is a must to ensure you enjoy your running and avoid injury. Any specialised running shop will help you to make the right choices for your feet. Also use your longer runs to check that your shorts and t-shirt don't chafe, and also consider whether a vest may give more ventilation than a normal t-shirt.
  8. Avoid Injury
    Running places significant strains on your body so try to keep injuries at bay. Building in regular stretching and strength work will help keep on top of things, while getting a feel of when your body is overtraining is also a useful skill to acquire. Cross training i.e. doing different sports and exercises will help maintain fitness levels without overusing the same muscles used in running. Also, make sure you warm up before running or use your first minutes running as a gradual warm up.
  9. Enjoy Your Running
    This should be a given, but running can be tough at times and it's easy to start seeing your run as a duty rather than a pleasure, so make sure you keep things in perspective when training and try to balance the need to train with basic enjoyment of running, even if that means missing the occasional session, slowing up, doing a different route, or finding new people to run with.