Marathon Tips For Beginners

So you’ve decided to tackle the beast! 26.2 miles. Besides having a sound training plan and working with a knowledgeable coach, here are a few tips you should consider.

First off: Gear. Use it. Know it. Love it. LOVE YOUR GEAR. Any small gear issue will be exacerbated over 26.2 miles (and even more so in an Ultra) so it’s important that you know your gear and know what to expect from it. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

Shoes: Do they fit properly? Do they feel good to you? Do they cause any hot spots during long training runs?

Socks: Do they fit properly ? Do they slide down after too many miles or when they get wet? Are they moisture wicking?

Shorts: Have you done long runs in them? Do they cause any chaffing? Do they have pockets for gel packets?

Shirt: Does it fit well? Is it moisture wicking? Does it cause any chaffing?

Bra(ladies): is it supportive? Does it provide “coverage”? Do the straps dig into your back? Does it put pressure on your neck ?

Your next item of importance? Caloric intake. You burn roughly 110 calories per mile (give or take). This all varies from individual to individual based off of your fitness level, race speed, age, sex, and various other factors, but let’s use me as an example. I’m a 5′ 10″ 140lb male.

In general, we burn 1 calorie per kilogram of weight per kilometer run. To find your weight in kilograms, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.

For me 140lb /2.2 kg/lb = 63.3kg

Calories burned during the marathon = 42.195 (marathon distance in kilometers) x 63.3 (weight in kilograms) = 2,670 calories total calories burned during the race.

The faster you run, the more carbohydrate you will burn as fuel. I’ll be running at at least 70% of my VO2 Max, which puts me close to a ratio of 65% carb cal / 35% fat cal burned. If I burn 2,670 calories / 26.2 miles = 102 calories per mile. 102  calories x .65 (65% carbohydrate as fuel per 102 calories burnt) = 66.3 calories from carbohydrate per mile run. 66.3 carbohydrate calories per mile x 26.2 miles = 1,737 calories from carbohydrate during the race.

Now we need to figure out how much glycogen can be stored in your body. Leg mass (where usable glycogen available for running is stored) is roughly 21% of your total body mass for males and 20% of your total mass for ladies. Take your weight in kilograms (your body weight in pounds divided by 2.2) and multiply that by 20 or 21 percent. For me that would be 63.3 kg x .21 = 13.29 kg. Multiply the amount of carbohydrate calories you can store per kilogram to find your potential storage. For me, 13.29kg (leg mass) x  80 (carb cal stored per kg.) = 1,063*

If I only have 1100 calories (max) stored as glycogen in my legs and I’m going to burn 1700 carbohydrate calories, I need to figure out how to consume roughly 600 more carbohydrate calories throughout the race to try and make the wall as bearable as possible. No easy feat! It’s important to practice this in your long runs and Marathon Pace work. As a beginner you’ll be running on the lower end of the effort spectrum, simply worrying about conquering the distance. In that instance it’s not quite as important to worry about the specific numbers, but keep the importance of fueling in mind.

Last, but not least… Body Glide! This could arguably be added to your gear list, but it makes such a big difference, it deserves it’s own mention. I can’t stress it enough. Find a body lubricant you like and lather up! Toes (even in between) thighs, nipples, armpits, anything that rubs and any spot you believe may get chaffing; lube it up! I’ve seen people’s nipples bleed. I myself have had the inside of my thighs bleed. If you forget this, it will not only be one of the most painful runs you have ever completed, but THE most painful shower you have ever taken afterwards (unless you’re a burn victim).


Those are our tips for beginning marathoners! Of course, there are many more aspects of training and racing to be considered, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel you would benefit from some guidance.



* Referenced equations: Humphrey, Luke. Hansons Marathon Method. Boulder: VeloPress, 2012. Print.