Tips For Your First Marathon

By: Toni Kengor

By: Toni Kengor


When I started training for my first marathon in 2013, I was still a very new runner. My previous racing experience consisted of running one race, a Half Marathon (the Pittsburgh Half)... and that's it! 

Disclaimer: I was terrified to run a 5K and avoided signing up for races for that reason... well, until my college besties guilted me into training for a half with them. 

My training process was simple: Finding a program online from Hal Higdon, and following it each day and each week until race day. Oh, and googling everything under the sun about things like fueling and still not being 100% sure what to do (the frustrating part).

Fun fact: My social media training updates consisted of only 2 propped new gear pics (shoes, water belt, fuel), and a watch selfie from my first and only 20 miler. So crazy how times have changed!


I promise all of this is all relevant, so keep reading! 

Everything was simple then... and that's the approach I think more need to take when training for their first 26.2. My top tips will include that along with a few of those things that I struggled finding on google.


Don't stress so much about time goals. Instead, celebrate the distance you're training for! Social media can put an "unsaid pressure" on runners to go after a certain time for their first 26.2. It's not bad to have a general idea of where you may finish, but I see too much of a focus on time & goal marathon pace. The marathon distance is a totally different beast, and the distance is something you should feel proud of for accomplishing alone! 

Practice flexibility. There's a lot of life that happens in 16+ weeks. So, as it does be okay with moving your training schedule around as needed. Agility is key, and just because you may have to be in the practice of it often, doesn't mean that you're training isn't being effective!

Get fit for shoes & rotate them! My biggest mistake while training for my first full was my shoe game. I purchased them based on how they looked and didn't know getting a gait analysis done to find the right shoe was a thing! Fast forward post marathon, I got IT Band Syndrome - found out the cause was from being a neutral gait and training in a stability shoe.

It's also important to rotate them every ~400 miles. CLICK HERE to check out our blog post to learn more about finding the right shoe! 

 Every training run isn't a race. Keep your easy runs easy! There's a lot of training to be done, and miles to be ran. 80% of your weekly mileage should be done at an easy pace. The simplest way to gauge if you're running easy pace is the talk test. You may have heard the term "conversational pace" and that's the same thing! This means, if you're running with someone, you should be able to speak in sentences. If you're only able to get a word or two out at a time, you're going too fast.

Lean on people if you have questions. From workouts, to regular training tips, it's nice to have someone (a friend or coach), or a group of people as a resource. One thing I wasted a lot of time on was tirelessly searching on google about all the things. How to do certain runs. What watch to get to track distance. What fuel to take and when. It was exhausting! 

HAVE FUN - Take it all in on race day. I'm not saying you have to do this - but I didn't even wear a watch for my first marathon (see pic above). I just ran the distance, took in the experience, and it was one of the most memorable days of my life!

Toni Kengor