Running Makeover: How to Train For Your First Marathon

Be careful about where you add mileage to your week, though. If you add an extra 2 miles to your easy recovery run, that's not going to give you as much fitness bang for your buck than if you were to add that distance to your second longest run of the week. Running more on your workout days is another way to be smart about running longer.

More: Should You Run More Miles?

MP + T = A Successful Marathon

Don't you love runner acronyms? MP means "marathon pace," or your estimated marathon pace per mile. You should focus one workout a week on practicing this pace, and making sure it feels second nature before the marathon.

More: 2 Workouts to Make Marathon Race Pace Feel Easier

T stands for "tempo," or a comfortably hard pace that you could hold for about an hour. If you've run a 10K in 60 minutes, for example, then your 10K pace is also your tempo pace. This pace is faster than your MP but it's still aerobic; it adds even more endurance fitness to your marathon program.

When you combine these elements of training—a progressively longer long run, a bump in weekly mileage, and endurance-focused workouts like marathon pace and tempo runs, you'll be ready to succeed at your first marathon.

More: What Are Threshold and Tempo Runs?

But hopefully it's just a stepping stone to a wonderful relationship with 26.2 miles. If all goes well, you'll love the experience and continue to make dramatic improvements to your finishing time.

One great example is Matt, who took over 100 minutes off his marathon PR (not a typo!), and qualified for the Boston Marathon. He ran his first 26.2-mile race in 4:53, but then learned five key lessons to run almost two hours faster. The Boston Qualifying Blueprint will show you how you can use these same lessons to make your first marathon a smashing success.

Check out part 1 and part 2 of this series. 

More: How to Run a Faster Marathon

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