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Do you need to run the marathon distance in training?

By Brad Beer

A frequently asked question that I get from aspiring marathon runners is:

“Do I need to run the marathon distance in training before attempting to complete my first marathon?”

The simple answer is no. There is  no need to run the 42.195 kilometres in training before you complete your debut marathon.

Certainly the longer the preparation that you have leading into your debut marathon the better. A longer training program allows you to incrementally increase your running volume week by week, so that come the marathon, you’re able to take on a longer run in training than someone that started with a shorter preparation.


For example, your longer run may include a distance upwards of 30 kilometres, perhaps around the 35-36 kilometre mark.

Another factor that determines the longest run scheduled in a pre-marathon program is the previous running history of the runner attempting their first marathon. The more seasoned runner,  should be able to ‘handle’ more longer runs in distance (and duration) as part of the marathon preparation.

Compare this to the runner who is new to the sport and is embarking on their first marathon. This runner may not be able to include runs of 30kms or greater into their program as the ‘base’ of training will be reduced. This runner is also more susceptible to ‘spiking’ (suddenly increasing) their running training, which is typically a key injury causation (see Step 5 The Power of Rest in You CAN Run Pain Free!).


In summary, you don’t need to run the marathon in training, however, try for as long a run as you can safely achieve before you tackle your first marathon. That doesn’t mean cramming your volume, as that can spike your load on your body and potentially lead to injury. Seek the guidance of your health professional and good luck with your first marathon!

If you would like to learn more about preparing well for your first marathon, read my  ‘5 Keys to Preparing Well for Your First Marathon’.

About Brad


Brad Beer is a Gold Coast based physiotherapist who throughout his career has delivered in excess of 25,000 physiotherapy consultations. In 2006, Brad founded a physiotherapy group called POGO Physio which, since inception, has treated over 16,000 people.

Recognised as a leading authority on running injury prevention and rehabilitation, Brad himself is an avid runner and is passionate about seeing people unlock their true running potential.

Brad believes that all runners can and should experience pain and injury free running. In 2015 Brad released his first book You CAN Run Pain Free! A Physio’s 5 Steps to Enjoying Injury Free and Faster Running to educate runners that it is indeed possible to enjoy the many benefits of pain free running. Brad’s clients include age group, novice, beginner, and elite athletes. Brad has assisted his clients in winning multiple Australian, world, and even Olympic medals.

Follow Brad’s running advice online:

POGO Physio |
Website |
Twitter | @Brad_Beer
Instagram | @Brad_Beer

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