I found a nice little article on Runner’s World.com that shares some great tips for training for a marathon, especially for your first time. Click the link for the full article, but below are the basics:
1. Run just enough
“Stay healthy” is the most important piece of marathon training advice, and the most often ignored. It does you no good to train hard, and then get sick or injured. Better to be slightly undertrained, but feeling strong and eager,than to be overtrained. The trick, of course, is finding that fine line between the two.
2. Build your training slowly
Increase weekly mileage by just 10 percent per week. Extend long runs by just one mile at a time up to 10 miles, then by two miles at a time if you want. Take recovery weeks as well as recovery days.
3. Recover, recover, recover
You don’t have to train hard seven days a week. You have to train smart three or four days a week. This was proven in a 1994 study at the University of Northern Iowa, where four-time-a-week runners performed just as well in a marathon as those training six times a week and covering 20 percent more total miles.
4. Do your long runs
This is a no-brainer. The newer you are to marathoning, and the slower, the more important your long runs. You simply have to get accustomed to being on your feet for three, four, or more hours. There’s no magic length. Most experts recommend stopping at two and a half to three hours.
5. Practice your marathon pace
6. Extend your tempo-run distance
Gradually extend your tempo runs, slowing by a few seconds per mile from your four-mile pace. “The longer the tempo run workout you can sustain, the greater the dividends down the road.”
7. Eat your carbs…
To stay healthy and recover well during marathon training, you need to fuel your body efficiently. First, consume some carbs–gel, sports drink, and so on–during long, hard workouts to keep running strong. Second, eat and/or drink a good helping of carbs as quickly as possible after workouts. This will replenish the glycogen (energy supply) in your depleted leg muscles. Add a little protein for muscle repair.
8. …and pay attention to iron
Running increases iron loss through sweating and pounding. You don’t have to be a meat-eater to run a strong marathon, but you do have to consume enough iron. Cooking in an iron skillet helps, as does consuming iron-rich foods with vitamin C, which increases the body’s iron absorption.
9. Sidestep injuries
Rest and/or cross-train for several days a week at the first hint of a problem. And include core training in your regimen.
10. Taper for two to three weeks before the marathon