The Marathon is Back: How You Can Run a Marathon in 2022

Two runners smile after a race.

Races are back in full force this spring, after pandemic related cancellations and postponements kept us waiting for two years. Now that some of the world’s biggest marathons are back, many runners find themselves wondering if they too can tackle the distance.

If you’re ready to take on 26.2, read on to find out how to get started.

Get the Right Shoes and Gear

The biggest thing you’ll need to get started on your marathon journey is a reliable pair of training shoes that can handle the increasing amount of miles. And, of course, you should dress for success with comfortable (and perhaps stylish) apparel that make you feel good and allow you to run comfortably.

The shoe model you select as your workhorse trainer shoe should be based on your gait style and your preferences (and maybe your budget, too!). If you’re interested in maximizing your race-day performance, then you should consider investing in a pair of shoes enhanced with carbon-fiber plates. Check out our running shoe buyer’s guide to learn more about our favorite picks.

Every shoe fits and feels slightly different, so visit a Fleet Feet store, if possible, and try on several pairs before buying.

Two runners race down the road.

Follow a Plan, Hire a Coach, Train with Friends

The first step to running a marathon is picking a race that’s at least four months away. The very next step is figuring out what training plan you’ll follow and who you’re going to train with for the duration of the program. Getting a friend or co-worker to sign up for the same race can make the journey much smoother and more enjoyable! Training for a marathon is a long and challenging journey that can have plenty of pitfalls, so having some weekly structure and camaraderie will help keep you on track to reaching the starting line on race weekend in prime physical condition and mentally invigorated.

Most coaches recommend following a periodized training plan with a 16-week marathon buildup that includes building an aerobic base of fitness, a once-a-week long run that increases to about 20 or 22 miles, fine-tuning your training with faster workouts, and tapering about two weeks before the race. One of the biggest keys to success is properly managing the volume, intensity and fatigue you’ll be enduring without overtraining and getting injured. There are no shortcuts to marathon success but having the guidance of a coach — no matter if it’s a local coach or an online coach — as well as the accountability of a training group or training partners can help make the process of putting all of those puzzle pieces together slightly easier.

Two runners high five during a race.

“Training for a marathon is such a process, and it needs to be, but I think sometimes people just get ahead of themselves and they can become overtrained or mentally overstimulated,” says Emma Bates, an ASICS-sponsored pro who finished second at the 2021 Chicago Marathon in a personal-best time of 2:24:40. “For me, it’s just about being patient in my training, being in touch with what I am doing every day, and not getting ahead of myself. I trust the plan my coach sets out for me, but I also listen to my body and let him know when I’m feeling tired or rundown so we can make adjustments.”

You Got This: Trust the Process and Enjoy the Journey!

Sara Vaughn

Training for a marathon should be fun and engaging, but it will also be difficult and taxing along the way. Early on during your journey, you will feel very tired as you ramp up your running volume. At times, increased strength training and speed work will make you sore and achy. As much as your fitness will be increasing, you’ll feel slow and sluggish fairly often as your body (and mind) adapt to the increased training load.

The biggest keys are being as consistent as you can in your training and keeping things fun, says Sara Vaughn, a Puma-sponsored elite runner and mother of four who won the California International Marathon in 2:26:53 last December in her debut at the distance. Sure, there will be days where life gets in the way or you’re under the weather and want to skip a workout, she says. That’s not only OK, but normal and necessary. There’s not one single workout or run that will make or break your training, so you’ve got to make sure your process is consistent more than anything else — as well as fluid and adaptable — on your way to race weekend.

Keep a smile on your face, maintain a positive outlook and know that you’re on your way to something great, Vaughn says. Trust your training without second-guessing yourself (or your coach) and without stressing about what you did yesterday or about your race date that’s several weeks away.

“You don’t have to feel perfect or amazing for every workout,” she says. “Half of the workouts I do, I think, ‘I don’t know if I am any good or not.’ But you’re still stacking up fitness and stacking the bricks and making the steps you need to get to the marathon. Just keep working at it every day and you’ll find a few weeks down the road that you’re much more fit than you were, and maybe than you ever were before. That’s what marathon training is all about.”

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