How To Run A Marathon Without Any Training

How To Run A Marathon Without Any Training

If you’re not a runner, training for a marathon might seem like an extremely daunting task. With a few creative tricks, however, you might be able to make it to the finish line without any training at all.

Photo by padsbrother

A few years ago Andrew Gertig ran the San Francisco marathon without any training. He finished in just 4 hours and 28 minutes. How did he make this happen? Gertig says he made it through with a few Advil before the race, well-timed walking and water breaks, the periodic banana, and interesting conversations to distract from the pain. He says: “Just because something seems hard and you don’t feel prepared does not mean that you can’t do it.”

If you want to give it a try, Gertig recommends that you don’t plan on finishing to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. We recommend proper stretches so you don’t hurt yourself if you’re not used to running long distances (or any distances). Be sure to take breaks when you need them, pace yourself, and you may find you can accomplish something you never thought you could.

How to hack a marathon if you aren’t a runner [Andrew Gertig]


  • That is quite possibly terrible advice. It seems that taking ibuprofen before a marathon you haven’t trained for can cause permanent kidney damage, and there are plenty of other things that can go wrong.

    Apart from this one, keep up the good work Lifehacker 🙂

  • I’d suggest you need a baseline level of fitness before attempting this.

    And start the race very, very slowly so you don’t burn up your reserves in the first 10 ks.

    As someone who over-trained for my first half-marathon and ended up with a stress fracture, I wish I’d given this a go!

  • Before there are too many comments pointing out why this isn’t a good idea it should be noted that the author himself added this to the start of his article:

    “[UPDATE: Please do not take this post as a recommendation for you to try to do what we did. Thanks, hope you enjoy!]”

  • I love LH but this article is irresponsible. I have run a marathon and the requirements on your body are huge.

    A 4.5 hour marathon represents a reasonable pace and a high fitness level beforehand (75% or marathon runners would finish between 3 and 5 hours). The tone of the article suggest you can bounce off your couch after 20 years of sloth for an easy morning jog of 42 KM.

    • I did exactly that for a sponsored charity run. I was wrecked for a week, but that was to be expected. And it was all aches and pains, no serious damage. I finished, and raised $11,000 for KHA. And I’m the least fit person you’ll meet. Wish I knew about the Advil trick..

      In one day I’ve seen LH called unethical and irresponsible, for no reason. Seriously? Are you that bored you need to be pointlessly outraged at stuff on the internet?

      • Not pointlessly outraged, T, concerned for people’s kidneys! 🙂 (the damage can take years to actually show, I think)

        Good on you for raising $11k!

  • You might like to update the article.
    In the comments on the website, he adds this comment:

    “I was 22 and in really great shape. I had an accident 10 months prior to the
    race where my right Achilles tendon was severed most of the way through.
    Once I was done with my physical therapy I worked harder than ever to get
    into shape and was running 2 miles everyday at an almost sub 6 minute pace
    before I ran the marathon. This is all probably pertinent to the story, but
    didn’t want to make the post too long. 🙂 ”

    So while his story isn’t as impressive his friends still is.

  • This is really terrible advice. For anybody who’s done a marathon you’d also realise that the training is as much an enjoyment and accomplishment as the marathon itself.

  • … Just to +1, this is awful, awful advice. It’s a cute story that a few years ago, some guy on the intarwebs totally ran the SF marathon with a couple of advil and no training – but it’s incredible ill advised for anyone to actually try and do this.

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