NN Running coach William Kiplagat boasted a long and distinguished marathon career spanning 15 years. Here the 2:06:50 performer, former Rotterdam Marathon winner and Kenyan World Championship representative offers his words of wisdom of how to prepare and run a marathon for the first time.

1 – Prepare gradually

“For the marathon runner making their debut, it is important to build up slowly as part of your preparation. If you have only run shorter distances in the past, it is important to gradually step up the mileage. Start out for say a long run at one and a half hours. The next week edge it up to one hour and 40 minutes and continue in this way. The ideal preparation period for a marathon is six months, maybe longer.”

2 – Focus on your own race

“I would say to anyone running their first marathon whether an elite or a recreational runner not to focus on time and to concentrate on your own race. It is important to be comfortable and not become distracted by what those around you are doing.”

3 – Rest is key

“It is hard sometimes to find the time to rest but when training for a marathon this is very important. A one hour sleep after a long run can help the body recover better for the next training run.”

4 – The easy runs count

“After a hard run or a speed session you shouldn’t forget the importance of an easier run to follow. You may be tired but sometimes the easier run can rid the body of lactic and also build more mileage in the legs.”

5 – Iron discipline will reap rewards

“To run the marathon you need to be very self-disciplined. You cannot wait for someone to push you. As a runner, you must be very self-motivated and control yourself. To be able to run the marathon properly requires great focus and discipline. An inability to do this will lead to failure.”