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How to Train For Your First Marathon or Half-Marathon


As the weather thaws, it's natural to turn your thoughts to looking fresh and feeling fit. So instead of hitting the endless treadmill loop, why not lace up your sneakers and pound the pavement or trails outside? For me, the start of spring always jump-starts my outdoor fitness routine and these easy tips help me train safely and effectively for long races in the summer.

If you've always wanted to join the exalted ranks of marathon runners, you're in luck. Many people can run a half or full marathon with dedication, preparation, and consistent training. I’ve applied these strategies in my life and seen substantial gains in mileage and endurance.

Look good while doing your body god in a Black Tank Top.

Plan Out Your Running Schedule

Before you can dream of distance running, you need to plan out your running schedule. Training for long races takes a lot of commitment and work, and the most essential ingredient is consistency. Too often, would-be runners flame out early from taking on too much or staying too long in their comfort zone.

Instead, hit that sweet spot by working your way up to longer races over time. Alternate shorter runs with longer runs, and build up your weekly mileage. It's also a good idea to pepper in a few 5Ks and 10Ks throughout your training. Doing this allows you to experience the excitement and pace of a road race while getting some seriously good training.

Listen to your body. Injuries can set you back weeks, so don't be afraid to take rest days as needed. It's also a good idea to mix in other activities, such as yoga, to keep yourself flexible and deal with the impact on your joints.

Upgrade Your Gear

Upgrading your gear accomplishes two critical things; it makes you excited to go out running in your spanking fresh stuff and it helps prevent injuries. Shoes are the most essential element. Go in for a proper fitting to take your personal needs into account. For example, I have high arches, so I need a neutral running shoe like Brooks Ravena to cradle my foot and avoid long-term stress or pain.

Run in subpar or non-specific running shoes at your own risk. Although the upfront cost might be high, great shoes will save you from injuries or fatigue. You can also get between 300 to 500 miles out of a decent pair, depending on your stride.

You'll also need several good pairs of socks that don't fall down, running shorts or tights that fit you well, and gloves and headwear for those chilly mornings or cooler evenings. As for shirts, you can spend solid dollars on form-fitting performance shirts, definitely for race day. If you’re looking to keep your expenses down on practice runs, though, you can rock crew necks, v-necks, or tank tops in super soft, breathable material that’ll serve you well. That goes for long sleeves and hoodies when the temperature’s low.

Look at feel like you're on a superhero team with everybody all aglow in healthy sweat and grayscale t-shirts.

Join an In-Person or Virtual Running Group

Running is a community endeavor, and it's far more fun in a group. There are plenty of meet-ups, social media groups, and community organizations that can help you train for races. Programs like Couch to 5K empower beginner runners and allow them to gain confidence and competence. Plus, you can make some like-minded friends who will motivate you to join up new races.

Don't be too hard on yourself if you're new to running. You might need to alternate walking and running in the beginning. Mix up your routine, find encouragement in friends, and stay positive. You got this, and you can always work on reducing your time later.

Find your groove in a Pacific Beach Tank Top.

Get a Great Playlist

Ask 10 different runners and they'll give you 10 different answers about what you should be listening to during your workouts. Some runners even prefer not listening to anything. (if you're running alone at night or on busy streets, this is certainly a smart call.)

If you do want to crank up the tunes, you can take the time to assemble the perfect listening rotation or even check out ready-made playlists. The music itself is less important than the freshness. Just make sure you're listening to songs that’ll energize and motivate you, and don't over-listen to them beforehand. Nobody wants to run to anything that feels played out.

I'll put together a playlist of awesome music specifically for my runs and only listen to it on race day. That way, I'm pumped and excited for each song and it fuels me all the way to the end.

Take these steps and you can be striding toward your first marathon or half-marathon in no time.

— Elizabeth Lavis

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