1. Running shoes
The one thing you definitely need to run a marathon (unless you are brave enough to go barefoot) is a comfortable pair of trainers. Get yourself down to your local Sweatshop to get fitted for a pair. If you don't know where to start, our tips on choosing the right running shoes should help.
2. Comfy run kit
Comfortable and sweat-wicking run kit is essential for your first 26.2 mile slog, so choose your beginner running kit wisely and always opt for comfort over style.
3. How to breathe
It sounds obvious, but breathing in (and out) can be daunting. Don’t forget to breathe! Our breathing tips for beginner runners should help you inhale!
4. Follow a marathon training plan
Select a training plan to suit your needs and get busy! Click here to find the right marathon training plan to suit your needs.
5. Connect with likeminded people
New to running? Now is the time to enlist the help of a friend! A fellow runner to chat to will cruise away the miles and make it much easier to keep on running. Plus as the bigger miles arrive in the build up to your marathon you're going to need a friend to lean on when all your family gets bored stiff of your marathon chat. If you don't know any runners, head over to our forums and make some new friends!
6. Join a running club
A running cub is an excellent incentive to train and meet likeminded people who can offer you sage marathon advice. Still not sure? Our four great reasons to join a running club should convince you.
7. Set a marathon goal
To ensure you make it across the finish line in one piece grab a pen and paper, sit down and outline your goals. From simply getting round the course alive to breaking an age record, irrespective of your goal in sight if you write it down and make a plan, you are much more likely to succeed. Read our smart goal setting for runners
8. Pace yourself
They key to an effective long distance race strategy is down to good pacing. Not sure where to start? Read long run training explained and prepare to conquer 26.2 miles.
9. Experiment with energy gels
Practicing your race day nutrition in advance is vital to ensure you don’t get sick on the day and pace your gel or food intake to give you enough power to get across the finish line. Practice like mad in advance until you're confident you've found the perfect food to suit your needs. Read our race day fuelling tips
10. Add some speed work
Marathon training is not all about the long slow runs. Adding speed work into your training will pay dividends on the day, so get some faster runs into your training. Try these speed sessions
11. Don’t stress
In the run up to your first race it’s all too easy to get bogged down by stress. From work to family to balancing your hectic training schedule, stress can become overwhelming, so take a deep breathe and follow our 7 step guide to beating stress
12. Safeguard against injury
Injury is a runners worst nightmare. A few simple steps in advance will safeguard you against injury and stand you in good stead come race day. Here are the most common running injuries and how to avoid them
13. Cross-train like crazy
Never underestimate the importance of mixing it up. Swap your running shoes for a bike, swim or any manner of different fitness activities to boost your power and prevent long run ennui kicking in. Click here to read the benefits of cross-training for runners
14. Stretch it out
New to running or massively increased your training? You’re putting your body through a lot. Stretch it out. Your thighs will thank you later. Try these three essential post-run stretches for runners
15. Rest is best
It’s actually the days in between the hard training when the magic happens. As your training plan progresses resist the urge to cram more in, and treasure your rest days. When you're not pounding the pavements, take a chill pill!
16. Head for the hills
Even if your race of choice is entirely flat, you will benefit from adding hills into your training regime. Aside from benefitting your cardio fitness, learning to run uphill makes running on the flat seem that little bit easier. Get busy on the inclines and you won’t regret it. Read hill training explained to get started.
Drinking to thirst is a good rule of thumb, but if you’re not sure read our race day hydration tips for runners
18. Taper time
Ignore the demons on your shoulder telling you to cram in the miles. If you’ve followed your plan and you’re on good form, two weeks before race day put your feet up and relax. You have a big challenge ahead so now is the time to chill.
19. Carb-load to win
Pre-race fuelling is essential to fuel your muscles and reinforce your energy stored for the great task ahead. Read our carb-loading tips for marathon runners and eat your way to running success.
20. Stick to the plan
From kit to nutrition to mindset, don't change a thing in the week before your race and make sure you stick to your plan. Trust us, now is definitely not the time for new shoes, chafing nightmares or experimental diets.
On the eve of a big race or a long training run you don't want to expend any energy, but a walk won't do you any harm and warming up cold muscles will actually help you perform better on the day. Here's how
22. Smile like a rock star
When the big day looms it’s all to easy to forget why you signed up it the first place. Unless you’re an elite runner, chances are you’re doing this for fun. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself, ease off the pressure and have fun. Smile every time you see a camera and not only will you feel fabulous, but your post race pictures will be less grimace and more rock star runner. Our race day survival tips are a great place to start.
23. Lube up
Apply Vaseline or your lube of choice liberally to nipples, toes, bra straps and any other place you might feel the chafe and stick to this routine. Running a marathon is challenging enough without the added misery of chafe! Read our tips on preventing and treating blisters
24. Don’t play catch up
You can’t cheat a marathon, so respect the distance and put in the training. Resist the urge to cram the miles in at the last minute. It will leave you exhausted and unprepared for race day.
25. Fuel up post-race
Post race day and any long run it's essential to eat well, not just to fill your belly but to fuel your weary muscles and enable you to recover quicker. Try our essential post-race nutrition tips
26. Treat yourself
You’ve just run a marathon, something only a tiny percentage of the population are capable of, so you deserve a reward. Book that manicure, buy those box of pastries and treat yourself to that large beer. You’re a marathon runner and you earned it.