Can you go from couch to marathon in 6 months?

Yes. Many beginners training for a marathon will take 4-6 months to train safely for their first race. Athletes who have (essentially) never run before, will be closer to 6 months, where those with some 5k experience might be able to shorten it to 4.

A combination of running, walking and cross training allow for someone who has little to no experience train effectively in that time period.

Naturally, nothing worth doing is easy, so don't confuse possible and simple with easy - as training for any marathon will have it's physical challenges.

Training will take a toll, so it's important for any beginner to learn to properly rest, recover, stretch, hydrate and fuel their body throughout training.

So, if you really are starting from the couch, you might still be asking...

How do I start training for a marathon with no experience?

The first step is acclimating your body to training. If you're not accustom to physical activity, going from 0->15 miles a week will be a daunting task.

But there are 3 key ways to make it easier:

  1. Embrace walking - Walking is forward movement, and forward movement is progress in a marathon. It's also much easier on your body compared to the pounding of running - which, as a novice will be a welcome reprieve from the hard days.
  2. Fuel properly - Eating the right food (and the right amount of food) makes a huge difference in training. Like a car needs gas (er.. ignore Tesla for a second), your body needs the proper fuel.
  3. Listen to your body - Ignore those that say "never rest! follow the plan or else!". The reality is some times you're supposed to do a workout and your body is simply telling you that you shouldn't. Listening to your body will help you prevent injuries, and enjoy the process more.

How much time does it take to train for a marathon?

Consider an average of an hour a day, or 6-8 hours a week a good target for beginners training for a marathon.

Some weeks will be less, and some peak weeks with your longest runs will be slightly more. Generally though, it breaks down to 1 hour per day across 4 sessions during the week, and 1 long run during the weekend, which could stretch from 1->3 hours over the course of training.

The key to marathon training, especially for first timers, is consistency of moving (almost) every day. Not so much a few days of really high mileage.

How do beginners get started with marathon training?

Slowly. Too many articles suggest beginners need to run 35-40 miles a week before jumping into training. In reality beginners need to simply commit to being able to move for 1 hour a day, even starting with walk/run combos.

Commitment and consistency are more important than previous experience here, and with a 6 month time frame, anyone can tackle a well designed beginner marathon training plan.