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Q&A: How to Approach Your Second Marathon

This is my second marathon. How should my training be different this time around, if at all? Does it depend on whether I had a good race or a bad race?

Most first-time marathon runners go into the race with the mindset that they will only run one marathon in their lifetime. They think of it as something to cross off of their bucket list. However, for a lot of runners, that first marathon can be such a positive and rewarding experience that they wind up wanting to run another one (or ten).

The first time someone is running a marathon, they are typically taught not to aim for a specific time. They are told to just finish and to enjoy the experience. The second time around, you know your body can run the distance and now you can start to train for a personal record (PR). Sticking with a good training program, which builds up your mileage over a four-to-five month period and includes interval and hill training, can be beneficial. Interval training and hill repeats can help to shave seconds to minutes off of your pace per mile, helping you to achieve that PR.

Another thing to consider during your second marathon is nutrition. How did you feel while running your first one? Did you have enough energy? Did your legs cramp up at any point during the race? This time around, you can try different foods and beverages when you do your long runs to see if they help you.

The second time around, make sure to find time in your busy work and training schedule for stretching, strengthening work for your core and lower extremities (mostly in your hips), and cross training. All three will help you to be a stronger runner while helping to prevent injury.

The answer is relatively the same for whether you had a good or a bad race for your first marathon. If you had a bad race, look back at your training and see if you skipped any distance runs. The first time around, the distance runs are the most important, because you have to teach your body how to function for long distances. If you had a bad run because of your stomach, look at your nutrition during your training and your race. If you had pain or any injury during your first marathon, make sure you strengthen, stretch, and cross train this time around.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your training! Good luck!


Erin Corbo

Erin Corbo, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Integrative Care Center. She is a lifelong runner and has completed one marathon and numerous half-marathons. Erin specializes in runner’s injuries, as well as general orthopedic injuries.
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