You’re experiencing a mix of nerves and excitement.

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

The sweat is appearing on your forehead and with one final burst of adrenaline….

You’ve hit the ‘submit’ button to complete the purchase and you now have a place in your first marathon.

Oh crap. What now? You’ve not really thought this far ahead. You put your shoes on and go for a run as that has to be the first thing you do right?

It’s ok, all this is perfectly normal. Here is my guide on how to start training for a marathon.


You’ve probably got lots of questions flying around your head like how long will I need to train for? How fit do I have to be? Do I need to join a gym? What shoes will I need? How far will I have to run in training? 26.2 miles is a long way, will I be able to do it?

I would imagine that you’ll lots more questions flying around in your head and that’s ok.

Training for a marathon can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you look at social media. I want you to relax and let me talk you through the essential things I’ve learned from 20 years of marathon running.

       1. How long will I need to train for?

Wisdom would say to start training up to 6 months out if you’re starting out or maybe 3 months if you’re a regular runner. I recommend 16 weeks regardless of level and base my training plans around this. 16 weeks gives your body adequate time to adapt to the training and be in good shape for race day. Even if your goal is “just to get round”, you want to feel that you can do it to the best of your ability, enjoy the experience and go away feeling proud of your achievement. 

    2. Will I need a training plan?

You will need a training plan to make sure you’re in the right shape for race day and that there’ll be no nasty surprises. There are lots of training plans available, some free, some you pay for. They will all get the job done. I always recommend going for the one that’s achievable for you not only in terms of expectations but is flexible enough that you feel confident you can easily fit into your schedule.

It doesn’t have to be crammed full of sessions like speed work, hill reps and tempo runs that you may have read about or heard of, it just needs to fit your requirements. If you would like something that’s exclusive for you, I can create one for you.

I dare you to run a marathon and not have it change your life – Susan Sidoriak

   3. What shoes will I need?

It’s safe to say that you will need a pair of good running shoes. After all, you’re going to be running hundreds of miles in them! You can ask a dozen runners and get told about a dozen different pairs/brands they all think are the best shoes out there.

And they will be correct. 

I would suggest going to a running shop and get fitted for a pair. We all have different running styles and some need more cushioning than others so it’s best to get someone to check your running style, try on a few different pairs and go with the ones that feel the most comfortable and that you feel you can run in them.

You will know when you’ve got the right pair for you.

   4. 26.2 miles is a long way, will I be able to do it?


Ask not if you can do it but how you will do it. How would you like the marathon to be for you? What kind of experience would you like to have? Why do you want to run a marathon? What’s the story you’d like to be able to tell everyone the following day?

Whether this is your first marathon or your 10th, it’s exactly the same. Think of what you want to get from the whole experience and go after that. It could be the only marathon you ever do and so you want to give it your best shot. I always run a marathon as if it’s going to be my last.

The marathon journey isn’t so much about the miles you run as the changes it will make to your life.

I can guarantee you right now that the person crossing the finish line with a big smile on their face, wiping back the tears of pride, coming to terms with the magnitude of what they’ve just achieved will be different from the person looking out the window on a rainy February Sunday morning summoning up the enthusiasm to go and run.

It will be worth it. All of it!

A pair of shoes, comfortable clothing, a training plan and a belief that you can do it are all you need to start training for a marathon. All the other fancy bits and pieces you will see other runners using are not essential and only worth it if you really need them. 

What’s the biggest question you have about training for a marathon?

Would you like a training plan that’s exclusive to you? Have a look at my training plan options

Are you going to be running the Edinburgh Marathon in 2019? Would you like to be in my exclusive training group? Get in touch here for more details