So you're walking home, munching on a bag of chips, when all of a sudden a pack of bodies breezes by. Runners in training. You watch them glide ahead of you in awe - their toned muscles tightening and flexing as their feet hit the ground, their sweat glistening and running in rivets down their supple necks, their chests heaving… wait, wait, we're not that kind of website. That vision is enough, however, to make you toss the chips in the garbage and make a resolution: you must run a marathon.

Good for you! The benefits of marathon running include:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved health
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Increased discipline
  • Quality time outdoors
  • A chance to show off to the opposite sex that you can do it
  • Of course, great-looking legs (Never underestimate the power of lean, muscular legs.)

This SYW will assume that you've never run a marathon before and that you're seeking explanations of some broad details of how to get started on the road to your physical and psychological salvation (cue "Chariots of Fire" background music). While you will not become a marathon runner overnight, you will notice weekly improvements if you follow our sage advice. Of course, there will also be times when you don't feel like you're improving at all. If that happens, remember to give it some time, you'll be rewarded in the end. Wow. We're almost better than Hallmark.

If you can't wait to break a sweat, skip the steps and check out this how-to video.



The definition of a marathon is a race that is 26.2 miles. To translate for all of you who are inept at math, it would take you nearly half an hour just to DRIVE that distance at 60mph, let alone run it. But don't despair; it actually isn't as difficult as it sounds (notice we didn't say that it's not painful…). You just need to approach it with the right attitude, one step at a time. Literally.

  • Ideally, you should expect to spend at least 26 weeks in training. Of course, this will vary depending on what shape you are in currently. It might take a bit longer if your idea of exercise is fetching a pop tart out of the toaster, and a bit less if you are regularly involved in some sort of fitness program.

  • Don't be intimidated by the idea of running a competitive marathon right away. Most people start out with 3 to 6 mile runs and work their way up. These races are often surrounded by a much less competitive atmosphere, and are a great way to get used to the feeling of running alongside tons of people. With a marathon as your ultimate goal, you can begin by "training through" (that's running lingo) these smaller runs.

  • Remember, we're talking about your body and your health here. As always when starting a vigorous exercise routine, you should consult with a physician beforehand. If you have a heart condition or weak knees, we suggest that you keep away from running and try something less vigorous. Like eating.

  • It's a good idea to do some serious research before you begin. If you know people who run, talk to them to find out what advice they have to give. If your friends look at you like you're crazy, then it's time to expand your social circle.

  • Find out what running clubs and organizations exist in your area. Many offer classes, which can be very helpful, as well as provide the safe option of running in groups. A site to help you do this, as well as locate coaches and trainers, is the Road Runners Club of America. Go to the "clubs" section to find your local chapter.