Marathon training: how to choose a marathon

16 November 2017 by
First published: 31 January 2018

Marathon training: how to choose a marathon

Running a marathon is an amazing challenge, and one that more and more people are taking on each year. However, if you’re a first timer it can be difficult to know how to get started, and even something as simple as choosing which race to run (there are hundreds!) can seem a little daunting. Luckily we’re here to help, and we’ve put together our top tips for choosing the right marathon for you.

Timing is everything

If you’re going to run 26.2 miles, you’ll need time to get race ready. Most marathon training plans suggest you put in 12 weeks or more of training (depending on your fitness and previous running experience) before the big day, so making sure you give yourself enough time to train is crucial. Big marathons also tend to fill up quickly, in some cases up to a year in advance – you can never accuse marathon runners of not planning ahead!

Location, location, location

When it comes to where, the world is quite literally your oyster! From bagging a place in a ‘marathon major’ (like London, New York or Chicago), to taking part in a small off-road race, there really is a marathon for everyone. So ask yourself what’s important to you – do you fancy a run-cation where you combine your marathon with a holiday somewhere exotic? Or maybe you want to take part in a race close to home so your friends and family can holler encouragement along the way?

A question of logistics

It’s so easy to get excited and sign up for a race without really thinking about how you’re going to get there! It sounds nerdy, but it’s worth checking out in advance whether public transport to the start line is accessible and affordable, whether hotel rooms are available (if the race is far from home) and exactly how early you’ll need to get up to make the starter’s gun.

Phone a friend

Word of mouth isn’t just a good way to find a plumber. Ask around and find out what races other people have run and loved. Don’t know any marathon runners? Don’t worry! There are lots of ways to connect with other runners such as joining in UK Run Chat’s weekly Twitter conversations or seeking out a local running club or group. You can also check out some of the great running blogs that are out there for hints and tips (we love The Runner Beans, Marathon Marcus and The Marathon Girl).

Show me the money

You know how people say running is virtually free? Well, when it comes to marathons, things really add up! Entry fees can vary hugely from race to race, then there’s transport to the start line (and home again!), plus accommodation, food, a cool souvenir t-shirt… you see where we’re going with this one. Work out your budget before you decide on your race to keep stress to a minimum.

Speed demon, technical wizard or explorer

Looking to PB? Then it’s worth scoping out a fast, flat course that really lets you show off that Speedy Gonzales impression! If speed isn’t your thing then maybe the technical challenge of a tough off-road marathon would suit you better. Or perhaps you love exploring new places and a marathon in a big European city would let you indulge your wanderlust and your love of running. Whatever your style, there’s a marathon out there for you!


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