Training for a marathon in 2024? Here’s 5 essential tips I swear by

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So you’ve signed up for a marathon? Amazing. Entering yourself into a marathon event is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Now you just have to get your best running shoes on and commit to the training part.

If you’re using a plan to get you to race day and through those 26.2 miles then it can be a little daunting seeing how many runs a week you will be doing and the mileage. But, if you’ve found a plan that is tailored to your running ability and lifestyle then you absolutely can reach that finish line and have an amazing time while you’re at it.

Whilst I am in the depths of a 16-week marathon training plan right now I’ve picked up a fair few things that makes the training easier to manage and the experience enjoyable. Keep reading to find out my five essential tips for training for a marathon.

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Work out your goal

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A question like, ‘what is your goal?’ is thrown around a lot in life and whether you like the question or not it is worth considering when it comes to marathon training. Knowing what you want out of the experience will help with your overall motivation and help you to physically and mentally prepare for the actual event. 

Some simply want to tick off a marathon event from their bucket list and not worry at all about what time they get but just soak up the incredible atmosphere. Other people may be running a marathon to raise money for a charity and the fundraising total is their goal rather than their race time. Meanwhile, others set out to finish a marathon within a specific time or get a qualifying time for a marathon major.

Setting out from the get-go what you want from the race will help you outline a plan that supports this and no matter what the end goal is for you, there is a purpose to all those miles you clock up in the training phase.

Block out time for your training

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Sadly, your training runs won’t make time for themselves. That is down to you.

To ensure that you actually tick off each training run, it will be really beneficial for present you and future you to look at your training plan before the start of each week, work out when best each run fits into your schedule and then if you are following a plan and have the option to, download each running workout to your running watch. 

I love being able to sync my Runna marathon plan with my Garmin watch because it means all I have to do is shove my running gear on, click go on my watch and follow the training session step by step.

Listen to your body

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No matter if this is your first or seventh marathon, this distance is tough on your body and the training will test you in order to make you stronger. 

Running intensely seven days a week won’t get a you a PB, but it will put you at greater risk of overtraining and injury. I have learned the value of checking in on my energy levels and overall health status via my running watch, otherwise I find I hit a plateau in training as my body tries to tell me something.

I use a Garmin Fenix 7S which gives me detailed feedback on how my body is performing and responding to my training. I can view all sorts of useful bits of information like my training readiness, my body battery levels, my sleep quality , or when my period is due - all of which impact my training. The more I pay attention to these stats the better a runner I am becoming as I know why I may have felt sluggish or weak in a training session and what I need to tweak to avoid this in the future or simply whether I need to rest more.

Find good entertainment

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While running is a great way to clear your mind, you can tire of the sound of your own thoughts when you are running 20-30 miles a week. Similarly, it’s easy to get sick of your same old music library. It doesn’t hurt to spend a spare half hour or so creating a running playlist to make sure you have songs on your device that make you feel motivated or happy while you pound the pavements. Plus, once you have done this you can download your favorite beats onto your Garmin and head out for a run without your phone. We’ve explained how to add music to your Garmin watch for anyone reading this and not yet taking advantage of this great feature.

Don’t forget, it’s not just music that can provide a good form of entertainment for you while running. So can a great podcast or an audiobook. I find I like a podcast or three to listen to on my long runs but I love listening to electronic dance music for a tempo training session. The more you experiment with what you listen to on your runs the more you will find what works for you.

Don't try to do it all yourself

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A marathon is an incredible achievement to accomplish as an individual but this doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. The training will take up a fair bit of your life and it can get a little lonely at times, especially if you don’t know anyone else entering the same marathon event as you. 

So, say yes to that friend who asked if you want to go for a run and catch up. If it’s shorter than your training plan says, start the run with your friend and then finish it on your own. Join a run club, whether that’s a work run club, an official group or one you start with friends, the company will make a difference to your training. Or, if you’d like a coach and can afford one, get yourself one to support you in your training. If you can’t afford a physical coach but still want to feel like you have guidance during your training, there are plenty of great running apps out there to help with this or you can find detailed running plans on your Garmin watch to follow.

Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.