Train for a Marathon: to Finish, to Qualify for Boston or set a PR

By Raymond Britt

Finishing a marathon can be an ultimate achievement, but it takes desire, dedication, enthusiasm, understanding and a positive attitude to complete those 26.2 miles on race day. But it's not easy, and it's why runners seek coaching and marathon advice. We're here to share advice, tips and experiences.

Beginnings: From non-runner to Boston Qualifier

I was not born a runner. I was not one of those athletes who ran cross country, or loved to run for fun. Frankly, I could not understand why people enjoyed running. I wore corrective shoes as a child. I had asthma. It seemed too late in life to start running.

Then I watched the Boston Marathon. The race and the runners captured my attention with their fitness, their attitude, their drive, their commitment, their emotions, their exhaustion and ultimately their pride at the finish line. Despite my prior lack of interest in running, I decided at that moment that someday I would run a marathon. And maybe someday after that, I would run Boston.

At age 34, that first someday arrived, as I lined up optimistically at the start of the 1994 Chicago Marathon. I had no idea what my experience over the next few hours would be like, but I knew I'd be a different person at the end.

Well it was everything I thought it would be, and more. And less. I struggled to the finish line in under five hours, somewhat proud to have finished, though feeling disappointed with my slow time. And physically, I was a wreck, hobbling to my car. But I was wearing a finisher's medal, which eased the muscle pain a bit.

The next day, I vowed to become a better marathoner. And I did, shaving 97 minutes off that debut finish time to qualify for the Boston Marathon one year later.

Since then, I've completed 48 marathons, 8 ultramarathons (ranging from 31 to 78 miles), and 29 Ironman Triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile marathon).

That's 85 official marathons (or longer), on courses like Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and others all over the world. The best news: I've been able to run all those races with average training of less than one hour per day. I've got the details to prove it in my training plans.

Because of that background, runners reach out to me for coaching and running advice. In my experience, on their journey to their first or best marathon, runners want specific insight about a variety of topics: annual training plans, what happens on race day, what it looks and feels like on the course, and even mile-by-mile splits from actual race performances to illustrate, in detail, the good, the bad, the ugly and the great of the race day experience.

I've found the best way to provide runners the insight about how to run a marathon, based on real-life racing experience, is through the links above: my articles, training plans and annual training and racing performance summaries that provide insight about how I prepare for Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Madison Marathons.

Good luck in your next marathon. Be Epic.