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How to Prepare for your 1st Marathon

Posted by Action Gear on

Written By Thato

With annual marathons and runs being rolled, many people are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking one. From shorter distance family fun run to professional level ultra-marathons, there’s something for everybody.

I’m sure running for a marathon has crossed your mind at some point in your life, but running one is not as easy as it looks. Tons and tons of preparation, both mentally and physical, have to be put into consideration before making a decision to enter your 1st race. Questions to ask yourself are, am I ready to spend a few hours running, am I aiming  for a good time or to just finish.  

Find a good reason to enter a race because that same reason will keep you motivated during the race. Finishing a challenging marathon can be a self-gratifying and rewarding experience that may serve as a confidence and overall life booster.

Before you decide to take the challenge, be aware of what your body limits are. Do you normally go for a jog or will this be a 1st time running over a long distance. A person accustomed to putting stress on major joints is more likely to complete a marathon that someone who is not accustomed to it.

One of the most common causes of injury during the Comrades Marathon is trying to do too much too soon. Set a running routine to practice at least 8 months before if you are a first time runner.

Running about  20 – 40 KMs a week will help you ease into a proper running schedule. Running a few shorter distances like 5ks, and 10Ks and progressively increasing distance will also help your running plan.

Head to your local sportswear shop to seek advice on a selection of running shoes that best work with your foot type and running level.

Choose the right race, marathons range from countryside runs to large spectator races. Choose one with in your comfortable running range. Why not plan your race around a getaway to a new location for an extra thrilling experience.


Set up your Marathon Training Programme. Training for a marathon is based on 3 main steps.

Step 1 – Base Distance

Most marathon plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. In this time, you will be slowly building your running endurance, while adding good recovery time for your body to handle the new training load. As a beginner, you should aim to build your weekly distance up to 60KMs over the 4 months leading up to race day. When building base distance, never increase your weekly distane by more than 10% from week to week. 

Step 2 – The Long Run

Your next step is to build up to a weekly long run. This should be done once every 7-10 days, extending the long run by a mile or two each week. Every 3 weeks, scale it back by a few KMs so that you don’t over-stress your body 

Step 3 – Rest

The final part of any smart marathon training plan is rest. Don't underestimate the importance of this element. Most runners are happier and less injury-prone with a few rest days built in to each week.

Rest days mean no running. They let your muscles recover from taxing workouts and help prevent mental burnout. The greatest enemy of any new runner is injury, and the best protection against injury is rest.


Nearly all marathons include water and aid stations along the way. The best advice for race day is to stop at each one of the tables for a few seconds and gulp down some water and, when available, sport drinks that replace electrolytes.

During the Race Tips

  • Start slowly.
  • Bring a friend to the race and have them wait on the sides lines at a certain spot for a good motivational boost.
  • Enjoy the energy of the spectators and meet new friends along the way.
  • Its a good a idea to make use of a fitness watch that will help you keep track of your vital stats like heart rate, running pace and running times. Good options are the Garmin FR70 and The Sunnto Ambit 2 HR.
  • Have fun.

Finishing a race is an experience that not only gives you awesome gratification but it is a metre stick for your fitness level that can lead to a healthier life style. Enjoy the race and have the lifelong conversation topic it will give you.

Action Gear also offers a range on accessories to aid in your running, and training needs. For our range of outdoor and indoor fineness tools, visit our homepage under the running tab.

*Please note that the information published in this article is of pure reference, opinionated and entertainment value. When preparing for race/marathon/training programme/training routine, please consult a qualified doctor and fitness professional. 

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