What's the Plan for My First Marathon?


My first marathon is coming up fast, I start training in four days(!) and will be running the Twin Cities Marathon in 129 days(!!!). I thought it would be good to write-up I'm planning to do for training and nutrition for my first marathon. We'll see how it works out between today and the marathon.

Training Plan

I'm not using a beginner training plan for my first marathon. I looked at Hal Higdon's novice marathon training plans but it didn't seem to be enough mileage for me. I did a novice plan for my first half marathon and when I moved up to an intermediate plan for my next one I felt much more prepared with more miles on my legs.

So, I decided on Higdon's Intermediate I marathon training plan, which gives me slightly higher mid-week mileage, two weekend runs and two 20 mile runs. I looked at Intermediate II as well, but I thought the even higher mid-week mileage and third 20 mile run was a little bit too much to jump into for my first marathon.

Here's what my weekly schedule will look like for most of training (with the miles already programmed into my Polar watch):

Monday: Cross-training (elliptical and weights)

Tuesday: Run

Wednesday: Run

Thursday: Run

Friday: Rest (adding in 30 minutes of yoga)

Saturday: Run (with most being pace runs of 11:00 minutes/mile)

Sunday: Long Run

Additionally, I'm planning on doing 20 minutes of foam rolling everyday. Like I mentioned in the posts about post-run recovery and gear must-haves, I feel like making extra effort to get foam rolling in made a huge difference in how I felt training for the Lake Minnetonka half. And I'm sure it will be necessary (along with my monthly massages) to keep my body in tip-top shape during marathon training.

One new thing I'm trying out with marathon training is bullet journaling. I already sync up my runs to Smashrun and Strava but I feel like having a physical record will help me stay on track with some of my non-running goals like foam rolling and drinking enough water.


Nutrition Plan

I was originally not planning on upping my calories until I started marathon training on Monday. But, Tuesday I went out for a planned 3 mile run that turned into a 2.5 mile run. I stopped it short (luckily I was right by the apartment) because I started feeling light-headed and shaky.

As soon as I got my post-run smoothie in (protein powder, banana and water), I felt almost 100% back to normal so I thought it might have been a combination of not eating enough food and noting drinking enough water. Even though I've been eating the same macros as I was before, now that I'm not doing heart rate training my runs feel more taxing. And I haven't been paying as close attention to what I have (or have not been) drinking).


So now I've upped my carbs and calories for two days in a row to help build up extra fuel for marathon training. I'm trying out the following macros for the first part of marathon training:

  • Carbs: 320g
  • Protein: 120g
  • Fat: 60g
  • Calories: 2,300

So far, I'm feeling good (we'll see how my run after work goes) but I have to make an effort to get in all of those carbs. I think a big part is that we don't have a lot of higher carb foods just hanging around the apartment (I was using fruits and vegetables for a large part of my carbs) so I've got to get some grocery shopping to supplement with.

My plan is to stick with these macros until August and re-evaluate then when my weekly mileage will be 35+. Of course, if it feels like my runs are suffering I'll evaluate upping my macros before then. I'll be taking measurements before I start training and when I switch macros and at the end (just to see how my body changes with this new distance).

That's it for now on my marathon training plan. I'll most likely have Instagram posts up daily at @jennifer.l.thiel about how training is going and weekly recaps of each training week will go up on Mondays. Plus, look for some marathon milestone posts during the summer like my first run past 13.1 miles and running my first 20 miles.