Marathon Beginner Tips

Marathon Beginner

Are you a marathon beginner?

This week I have been thinking of what are some simple fundamentals that beginners can follow to better their efforts.

It is easier for advanced level runners to know the basics of training but I can’t expect a beginner to want to do 100 mile weeks or to know what anaerobic threshold training and the risk of sounding like a raving lunatic.

There are athletes who simply want to finish a 5K, lose 5 pounds or complete their first half-marathon.

If you are a marathon beginner you have something many veterans don’t have and that is stress over past races.

Focus On Now

Veteran marathoners can be sometimes too caught up in their past performances.

We can learn something from you in that when you are a marathon beginner everything is new.

You are not thinking back to a few months or years ago when you ran that marathon and were on record pace for 20 miles than crashed and burned.

No one wants to think about failures in their racing.

Think of how many things we focus on, concern ourselves with now that we have been running a few years.

Let Go Of Worry

I need to hit this pace and hit mile 10 at the pace and if not I will not reach my goal.

We worry about the race and our strategy before we even toe the line.

Beginners can teach us all a thing or two.

I remember my first marathon, I had no flipping clue how I was going to run it.

It was just a fun experience and of all places, it was the 2002 New York City Marathon.

I had no mental barriers leading into the race. I had never run 26.2 miles before. I just wanted to give it a shot.

It has been on my heart all week to provide a large list of beginners running guidelines to set new runners up for success.

Let’s get started.

Focus On These Tips

Marathon Beginner Tip #1

Don’t Be In A Rush. This is crucial. Know this, you will succeed but be patient, let your body adapt to the stress your giving it.

Running progress takes time and a great deal of patience.

Marathon Beginner Tip #2

Get More Sleep. As a beginner, ensuring you are getting proper rest will not only help you to recover from your workouts but also ensure your in a more positive mental state.

Marathon Beginner Tip #3

Start Slow And Build. Try 5 minutes running followed by a 5-minute walk and repeat 5 times.

Running does not have to be complicated and as a beginner just focus on building on the mileage you run with each passing week.

Beginners, athletes just starting out, need to take their focus off of trying to jump into doing 3-5 mile runs right off the bat.

Less stress equals better results and that goes for all levels of runners. A systematic, not rushed approach will yield fitness results but you have to let it come to you, not force it.

Marathon Beginner Tip #4

Try Pool Running. If the thought of running every day intimidates you early on as a beginner, take a couple days out of the week and pool run.

Pool running is simply getting in the deep end of the pool or to a depth slightly above your height and swing your arms and legs as if you were running on dry ground.

This will take the stress off your joints and tendons most effected for beginner runners.

Marathon Beginner Tip #5qualifying time for boston marathon


The power of visualization is the biggest asset you can bring to your training. We, as runners, spend the majority of our time and effort training the physical aspect of your preparation but how much time is invested in mental training?

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran of the sport visualizing what it is your want to achieve is critical.

Marathon Beginner Tip #6

Do NOT set limits on yourself. My collegiate coach, Jack Hazen (2012 London Olympics Head mens and women’s’ distance coach), came to my high school in 1992 and said something I have never forgotten.

A newspaper reporter asked him of what he thought I could do in the future.

His answer was,

I will place no limits on Nate cause he sets none on himself

I am telling you the same.

There are no limits aside from those you place on yourself and no one has the power to say you are limited to a certain time.

It is up to you how badly you want to work for your goals.

I have always trained and raced believing anything could happen on the perfect day, placing limits on yourself takes the joy away from what your doing.

Marathon Beginner Tip #7

Find A Coach. The best thing about starting off as a beginner runner is you don’t know what to expect, what may work, what won’t.

A coach can provide a roadmap to get you to your goal.

Marathon Beginner Tip #8

Alternate Your Pace. These forms of runs are called fartleks, swedish for ‘speed play’. It makes running interesting and can be fun.

You can alternate 1-minute runs of a harder pace with 1-minute of easier running and do this for 10-20 minutes.

A good technique I have suggested to beginner runners over the years is running light pole to light pole.

Sprint to one light pole and jog to the following and repeat.

Once you gain fitness you can make your fartlek runs more demanding by extending the amount of time you are running at harder paces and shortening the recovery between these harder efforts..

For example, doing 2-minute runs at a harder pace followed with only 1-minute of jog recovery and repeats this 5 times.

Marathon Beginner Tip #9

CIMG2760Find A Team To Be A Part Of.

If your a female of color, the Black Girls Run team is one of THE top teams for women in the United States.

There are numerous meet up groups across the country you can become a part of as a beginner.

Find one near you and this is a sure way to find more enjoyment as a beginner in the sport of running.

If you are a part of a team you have others to help hold you accountable for your goals.

 A strong support structure is so important, surround yourself with these people.

Marathon Beginner Tip #10

Do Sit Ups. A strong mid-section will help support your body while running and help you combat fatigue, especially in the beginning stages of your running program.

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Marathon Beginner Tip #11

Drink Coffee. This may not be your personal favorite but studies have show that coffee can improve athletic performance.

I always drink a cup of coffee before my morning runs, workouts and always the morning of a race.

It has just been a routine of mine, especially since joining the Army where early morning starts are the norm.

If you like coffee it is a great option.

Marathon Beginner Tip #12

Have Fun. The greatest thing about beginner runners is you have no limitations.

You, as a beginner, don’t have past races you are fighting to better.

You have joy in what you are doing and that is what we all, as veterans of the sport.

My professional coach for three years, Lisa Rainsberger, sent me a message on my Facebook page about her daughter, who is only 14.

how to avoid hitting the wallShe ran a 17.11 5K recently but what she said was priceless.

She does not wear a watch, trains only by the number of minutes on her training schedule and she has learned to feel and embrace the pain that running offers. I love that about her. She is so green and raw and undisturbed. My little 14 year old is a gift.

Marathon Beginner Tip #13

Throw away the watch. Sometimes worrying about pace, especially early on in your running program, can cause more harm then good.

It is ironic that I ran my fastest marathon, 2.19.35, without even wearing a watch.

You can map out your running route but as soon as you know the distance just focus on doing your runs and do away with knowing what pace your running at early on in your build up.

It will take your mental focus off of concerning yourself with pace and just getting in consistent mileage as you build your fitness.

Remember, you never want to lose the want to get in better shape. No need to let anything get in the way of that.

Marathon Beginner Tip #14

Keep Your Sense Of Humor. Keep things light in training will help you so much as you get fitter and start asking more from yourself in workouts.

Laugh and enjoy the experience, take a break from the running and watch something silly.

It will give you a break from the routine and keep your spirits up. Running is hard work and anyone wanting to lose weight or run their first race has to put forth some effort but don’t forget to keep things light hearted. Fast don’t lie??…

Marathon Beginner Tip #15

Pray. You may or may not be a believer but Christ says this in the Scriptures, “With man this is impossible, not with God, ALL things are possible with God”.

I firmly believe there is a higher power that lives in us.

If you look at the Tibetan monks and martial artists they have trained their bodies in such a way that nothing can penetrate their flesh. They call it ‘chi’ or the body’s life force.

Have you ever been a flow state? Where you didn’t even realize what you were doing and time seemed to just fly? I have always believed that getting these mental and physical state is a near-God-moment.

This is a simple yet extremely powerful tip to for runners, beginners and veterans, focusing on Bible verses that will encourage, uplift and get you into the winners mindset.

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