Training for a marathon is a process that takes a lot of time. To get yourself into peak condition for a long distance run, you will need to gradually ease your body into the kind of intense endurance challenge that a marathon provides. It is a good idea to set up a running plan at least a few months ahead of your chosen marathon event so that you can safely progress to the kinds of lengths and speeds you need to reach while staying safe and protecting your muscles from damage.
You should plan on running at least five or six days per week throughout the training process. It is much better for your muscles to run shorter distances often than to overdo it with one or two very intense days of exercise per week. By pushing yourself a little bit farther each day, you are giving your muscles time to recuperate every night from the small amount of muscle trauma that is a necessary part of gaining power. This allows you to go into every workout with more strength than you had when you started the day before. It is a good idea to start with six short runs per week, and then gradually lengthen your route on a few days so that you are eventually running two long distances and four shorter ones each week. Your longer runs should be spaced equally through the week, so that you are running long distances on, say, Sunday and Wednesday. This kind of schedule will give you ample time to recover from the exertion of your long runs so that you don’t injure yourself. Your short runs don’t need to be very long, as merely three to six miles will be enough to keep you fit between endurance runs. Work your way up to your goals over the course of a few months, and by two or three weeks before your event, you should be able to start concentrating on speed rather than distance.
This kind of rigorous training schedule can seem like a lot more hard work than it is fun. To stay motivated, it is often a good idea to take the time to appreciate how much progress you are making. If you are training with a big goal in sight, it can sometimes feel like you will never get there. However, it is crucial that you don’t try to rush your training process, as a large number of running injuries are likely to happen in precisely that kind of scenario. It is important to be good to your body by taking your time, but it is also important to be good to your mind by appreciating how far you have come. As a part of your training schedule, plan to reward yourself at several points along the way with a massage, or with a lovely and healthful meal in a nice restaurant. This will help you continue to feel enthusiastic about your training process, even when the going gets tough.