Training for a First Marathon in Six Months Time

by Sarah

I am 19 and not very fit at all. I have never done or attempted to do running of any kind. I have signed up for a marathon six months from now.

I am just wondering whether you would recommend starting off with varied pace training like 1 min walk, t2 min jog and so on so forth or whether you think it is better to go out and run what you can and concentrate on improving distance?

Also whether you think six months is enough time for training?


running tips

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for your marathon running questions.

In general, I would recommend a longer period of training before you run a marathon.

E.g. you could start off with my Beginners Running Program 3 that gets you to run 30 minutes within 12 weeks.

Then you could move on to the 10k Running Program.

And then the Half Marathon Running Program.

That would give you a solid base to then get ready for a marathon in a 12-13 week running program.

All in all, it would take 48-52 weeks to get there.

However, that's not said that you can't do your marathon in six months' time.

With a combination of running and walking (run/walks) as I prescribe in my beginner running programs (see the link above) you can quite quickly build up your mileage.

It's a good, safe way for absolute beginners to start running.

I get e-mails all the time from people who have successfully completed my running programs and are well on their way to long-term health and fitness. Check out the reaction below:

"I did it! One day before the end of the program (Beginners Running Program 3). I changed the plan for weeks 10-12, because I was having a hard time with the second, third and on runs. I always felt great in the first one, so decided to make it just one run and see how far I could go. I started with 13 minutes, then each run added 2 minutes.

However, a few times I felt good enough at the end to keep going, so did a few more, ending up with 30 about a week ahead of schedule. This is a great program and I have recommended it to friends.

I love that it starts out so easily, because it helps with the confidence. I've never run 30 minutes without stopping, ever, even though I've exercised for many many years. I've also never enjoyed running. I still may never really enjoy running. But, I feel so good now that I may just have to keep at it!

Thanks for the program!

An added bonus I've lost a little bit of weight too. I combined the running program with Pilates and walking, and of course a well-balanced diet (fresh fruits, seasonal veggies, whole grains, and protein. Of course, keeping the "all things in moderation" frame of mind, and allowing indulgences too).

Thanks again!

As you see, a happy user. And once you can do 30 minutes non-stop you'd be better prepared to take on the challenge of a marathon running program. Although I still wouldn't recommend it, there are programs available that get you to the starting line in as little as four months.

So, take two months to get up to at least 30 minutes of running, then take four months for the remainder.

It won't be pretty, but with a run/walking strategy during the race and plenty of dedication over the next six months you can finish a marathon (without aiming for a time).

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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