As a novice in marathon training there is still much for me to learn about a runners lifestyle. However 3 key things have kept me (so far) injury-free and ahead of schedule for the big Chicago Marathon.
Not only do people still underestimate the importance of investing in a good pair of running shoes, but they are also not counting the miles put on the shoes after a run. It is extremely important to be fitted by a shoe specialist (if possible) to make sure that you are 1. running in the right shoe and 2. understand your own running form. Running experts recommend that no shoe should live beyond the 400-mile mark therefore it is of the utmost importance to keep a tally of how many miles have been run in the shoes.
As any onlooker can see, being a marathon runner doesn't necessarily mean your body snaps into shape from the running alone. It wasn't until I made the conscious decision to drink more water and start eating according to my training that I really started feeling great. It is important for any marathon runner to understand exactly how many calories are burned during a run and balancing your diet accordingly. My Fitness Pal is a great app to get any athlete started in the right direction for health conscious training.
Stretching of any kind is essential to keeping your muscles safe and healthy for those long runs, but understanding what your body needs and when is a must. Personally, I attend bikram yoga twice a week to make sure my muscles get a nice 90 minute stretch along with some core and balance work. However heavy stretching before a run is not recommended by running enthusiasts. Take your stretch intensive sessions on an off day or after one of your short runs.