Training for a marathon is a long, exhausting process, and every individual hoping to complete the full 26.4 miles will have to sacrifice a lot of time and effort on their preparation for the race. It is not something that any individual should ever attempt outright. The immense pressure placed on various areas of the body during the length of the race can have very negative consequences, if the body is not properly conditioned for such exhausting race first. Typically, most trainers specializing in getting individuals ready for their first marathon recommend a training period of at least 16 weeks. While individuals with a previous experience in long-distance running may be able to shorten this length of time, it is important to realize that various types of physical exercise utilize very different muscle groups, and short distance run at a rapid pace can be very different than a slower paced, but the much, much longer marathon. In addition, most individuals running their first marathon will experiences a period of muscle weakness typically referred to as the wall, where their body will experience a feeling of total and previously unfelt exhaustion. Therefore, most training regimens used by marathon runners will try to ensure that such exhaustion occurs as late in the race as possible, and no matter when it happens the runner will be ready to adjust and continue the race.
As one can imagine, any training regimen for a marathon will consist of running, running, and then even more running. However, typically the first distances ran by the individual will typically be short and should be used to evaluate the person's current physical ability. It is recommended to try to estimate the time it may take the individual to complete a distance 5K, if they were to run it as a race. In addition, many trainers will also try to evaluate the maximum distance the individual may be able to cover, before they are unable to continue. Once such reference points are found, the trainer will usually devise a case-specific strategy with specific distances that should be covered each week to get the person ready for the marathon. While some individuals can start by running as much as 10 miles every other day, other will likely not be able to do so and may start with something as low as a distance of 3 miles. However, regardless of the initial distance used during early training sessions, as the individual's ability improves the distance will be continuously increased, until they are ready for the full marathon distance of 26.4 miles.