Marathon Training Tips: Advice for Everyone

There are so many marathon training tips that people need when they are training for a marathon it is hard to categorize them all. So this page is a catch all for the marathon training tips that don't fit very well anywhere else on this website.

Mileage Buildup

As you are training for a marathon, your weekly mileage naturally increase. Also your long run distance will increase as well. You need to be careful not to increase your mileage too much. This can lead to overtraining, burnout, and injuries. To minimize problems, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 to 15%. This goes the same for your long runs as well. If you’re following one of the plans on the Training Plans page, you don’t need to worry about this. But if you’re one of the ones that like to modify an existing plan or create your own, keep this in mind. marathon training tips

Running Surfaces

If at all possible, don’t run on concrete. Concrete is the hardest surface that you can run on. It offers no cushion for knees or joints and can trigger and aggravate shin splints. Run on the softest surfaces possible.

Grass may be the softest, but it can be very uneven and can hide holes or other potential hazards. If you’re going to run on grass, make sure you’re familiar with the area and the surface where you'll be running to avoid hazards. Hard packed dirt surfaces, like wide trails or walking paths, are good for cushioning the impact to knees and joints. But with these, you need to watch out for unevenness and rocks or roots. Also rain may wash away dirt and leave gullies and expose more rocks and roots that can wreck havoc with ankles.

Another hard packed surface are school tracks. Some are still made from hard packed dirt. The more modern ones are made of recycled rubber. Tracks are great places to run. If you run on tracks, run in the outside lanes to minimize the "tightness" of the corners that you're running around. Continuously running around corners no can take its toll on knees and ankles. You may want to run a few miles one way, then reverse for the next few. You might also try running on the grass just outside the track which is generally flat, but pay attention to drain holes for water and water sprinklers. marathon training tips

Treadmills are a good alternative for foul weather running. They offer some cushioning and generally tend to flex under the weight of the runner which reduces the stress on joints. marathon training tips

Asphalt is softer than concrete and is probably the most used running surface. Asphalt road surfaces also can pose some concerns. If you’re running on asphalt, you’re close to traffic. Make sure you’re running against traffic so you can see what’s coming. Also, make sure traffic can see you. If you run in the early morning or later in the evening, have some reflective clothing or a light so you’re visible. marathon training tips

Running on asphalt means you’ll be running on the edge of the road and that is where loose gravel and road debris accumulates so watch out for it. And unless the edge is bordered by a sidewalk, it might tend to be rough and uneven. And lastly, many roads have a fair amount of crown to them, meaning that they are higher in the center than the edge to help water drain. The road crown means that you will be running on a slanted surface. Too much slant can wreck your ankles and knees.


You can incorporate racing into your marathon training schedule. Take a weekend where you would normally be doing speed work and substitute a 5k or 10k race instead. Don’t do this too early in your training schedule. Wait until you have built up some mileage and are at the point of doing at least 4 to 5 miles during your speed workout. Substituting races is a great way to gauge performance and get motivated for your marathon. Remember to start slow and pick up your pace later in the race. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race and go out too fast. It’s almost impossible to recover from starting out too fast, but you can always pick up the pace later. marathon training tips


You cannot run a marathon or successfully train to run a marathon if you “kind of” want to do it. You have to fully intend to do it. Your body will not go far if your mind does not want to. And maybe more importantly, you have to believe that you can train for, and run, a marathon.

The story has been told about the 4 minute mile barrier. Prior to May 6th, 1954, it was commonly believed that man could not run a sub 4 minute mile. Medical journal articles were written attesting to this fact. But on May 6th Roger Bannister proved everyone wrong. He did not believe the common assumptions. And in fact, within a year 4 other runners had broken the “impossible” barrier. The idea that the 4 minute mile was impossible went away. So other runners could now believe they could do it, and they could also fully intend to train to do it.

Once you believe you can do it and fully intend to do it, then you just need to do it. Immerse yourself in running. Subscribe to a running magazine like Runners World. Read about marathon training on the web, like what you’re doing on this site. Find some running blogs and read them. Find a running club and participate in group runs. marathon training tips

Next thing you know, you won’t be able to go through the day without thinking about your next run or your next race. Training for a marathon takes lots of planning and preparation. So do your training homework, make your plans, and analyze your progress. But, don’t let that get in the way of simply enjoying the running. marathon training tips

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