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When to Start Training for a Marathon

Like many aspects of training for a race, the amount of time you will need to properly prepare for a marathon should be based on your running history. Based on research it is recommended that intermediate to advanced runners would have success starting to train for a marathon 6 months out from race day, while beginners would be more successful beginning 12 months before their marathon.

I know, I know, 12 months seems like a long time. But when you give your body enough time to learn your body’s reaction to running you are more likely to be successful come race day.

Training for a marathon requires so much more than just getting the miles and workouts in. Some of the factors that can take time to practice and perfect include:

  • Learning and practicing optimal nutrition and hydration during your everyday life and while running.

  • Allowing your body time to adapt to increasing mileage.

  • Perfecting your mental game.

  • Practicing optimal recovery processes.

  • Incorporating strength and cross training workouts.

  • Adapting to hard running workouts.

Benefits of starting to train earlier can include:

  • Decreased risk for injury.

  • Increased ability to absorb and produce force (making you faster).

  • More time to incorporate hard running workouts.

  • Safely and slowly increase your mileage to find your “sweet spot”.

All of these factors and more take time to incorporate into a training plan and the longer you have to figure out what your body needs the more time you have to plan for a successful race.

Elite runner, Makenna Myler, ran in the NY marathon earlier this month and after finishing posted a post race self reflection on Instagram. She said the biggest lesson she learned from this race was that she needed to train with the nutrition and hydration bottles she planned to use during her race, during her training too.

Up to mile 20 she said she was on cloud nine and feeling great while running, but unfortunately it didn’t last. Earlier in the race she was unable to drink her nutrition drink because the liquid was too thick for the bottle she used on race day. After mile 20 the lack of nutrition caught up to her and her mile averages decreased from 5:40/mile to 7:30/mile, her quads had started to shut down, and she knew she wasn’t going to hit her goals for this race.

Even though we might not all be elite runners like Makenna, I think we can all learn something from her race too. The more you are able to train with what your race day conditions will be the more successful you will be. Finding out what small details need to be adjusted takes time, the earlier you start to train for your marathon the more time you have to figure out what small things need to be tweaked to help you be as efficient as possible come race day.

Happy Training!

Sierra Myers

Plateau Racing Running Coach & Personal Trainer

If you have questions about coaching please reach out to us on our website,

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