4 Items You Need to Pack for Your Marathon

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10 Marathon Training Tips

Marathon training can be life changing because of its impact on your lifestyle. Training encourages you to make positive choices with your diet, social life, and sleep patterns. Having support from family or friends is very helpful, so start recruiting your support team now. Maybe even one or two of them will decide to join you!

Whether you’re in the middle of training for your first 26.2 or prepping for your crack at the distance, here are some training tips that will help you toward your goal:

1. Keep a training log.

Write down your daily mileage, run times, race distance and times, and how you feel. It’s hard to remember what you did later, so write it down immediately. This will help you learn from your training, especially if you end up doing more races in the future.

2. Increase weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent.

This allows for a gradual increase in mileage and reduces the risk of injury over time.

3. Include a “cut back” week.

Every third or fourth week of training, take your foot off the gas and cut back a little. This means reducing your mileage and using it as an easy week.

4. Run three to four days a week.

Include one long run, two shorter runs for speed and strength, and an optional easy recovery run day. For speed, focus on your run pace one day a week by running slightly faster in short increments of time or distance. For strength, include some hills one run each week. Long runs are runs that increase your distance. Run these at a slow, comfortable pace, about 1 or 2 minutes per mile slower than your expected goal pace. (Here’s how you can keep them from being boring.)

5. Alternate a hard day with an easy day or a day off.

This allows your body to properly recover from the hard effort, which is when real adaptations take place.

6. Take at least one day completely off per week.

Rest, and recover. Two days a week for rest and recovery is okay when you’re new to marathon training, too!

7. Monitor your resting heart rate.

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Take your resting pulse each morning before arising or use a smart watch that measures heart rate. Keep track of it in your training log. After several readings, you will have a baseline number. As our fitness improves, our resting pulse decreases. If you see your resting heart rate spike up by 10 percent or more above your normal resting pulse, take it easy that day. This can be a sign of fatigue, lack of recovery between workouts, or an illness coming on and it is best to take the day off, sleep in, or change a hard workout to a very easy one, until your resting heart rate returns to normal.

8. Consider cross-training one or two days a week.

Performing complementary cross-training activities will increase your aerobic conditioning without additional running. Swimming, cycling, or rowing are good options. Keep cross-training activities to 45 minutes, one or two times a week, and do them at a very moderate intensity level.

9. Consider strength-training twice a week.

This can be weight training, or a Pilates or Yoga class. Or you can do workouts at home with the new Run 360 training program from Runner’s World.

10. When in doubt, always listen to your body.

If you are tired, rest. If a workout feels hard, it is hard. If you need a day off, take one. No matter what a training plan says, the real coach of your training will be your body, so tune in and take notes on what it’s telling you throughout your journey.

Written by Tom Goom, senior Physio at The Physio Rooms Brighton. Follow Tom on Twitter.

This is a blog post I wrote some time back, however recent requests for marathon training tips and on how best to prepare to avoid any running injuries made me think that this post can resurface! Let me know your thoughts (especially on point 8 as I have noticed some new running communities emerging) using @TomGoom.

Your first marathon may be some months away and your training schedule might not fully kick in for another month or 2 but now is the time to start preparing your body for the onslaught! Marathon training is tough. It’s estimated around 90% of those training for a marathon will pick up an injury. Many don’t make the start line let alone the finish line so how do you best prepare for one of the hardest endurance events around?

Some time back I attended a fantastic talk by Barry Fudge, Head of Science at British Athletics and Mo Farah’s physiologist. What was clear was the huge amount of planning that went into ensuring Mo’s success. His preparation was a year-round process with goals for every session. Now I’m not suggesting you train like Mo but planning and preparation can make the marathon training and the race itself much more enjoyable and rewarding.

So how are we going to approach this? What we need is a ‘top tips’ section…

Top 10 Tips for preparing for marathon training;

  1. Set goals – firstly you have to ask yourself what do I want to achieve with this marathon? Is it just to get around and conquer the 26.2 miles? Are you aiming for a PB? Raising for charity? Before you can plan anything you need to know what you’re planning for. Your goals will affect every aspect of your training, especially your schedule…
  2. Pick a schedule – choosing your marathon training schedule may be one of the most important decisions in terms of injury risk and race performance. If you’re too optimistic you might face a rapid increase in mileage and an equally rapid trip to the physio clinic! Set your bar too low and you may never reach that cherished PB. Deciding well in advance can make a huge difference. Runner’s World has a useful ‘Smart Coach‘ programme to help make a schedule. If possible work with a running coach to get an individually tailored approach. Be realistic about how much time you’ll have and make note of the initially weekly mileage because you’ll need to build your baseline up to that…
  3. Build a baseline – the next 2-3 months are a great opportunity to gradually build up your weekly mileage to a baseline that is close to where your marathon training will start. You’re in no rush so build-up by around 10% per week with the main goal to be running comfortably. If things start to ache, drop back for a week or two. Last year I was busy moving house in the months prior to my marathon training. My mileage dropped to less than 10 miles per week. My schedule started at 35 miles in the first week, the sudden increase made everything hurt and I never fully recovered from it! The outcome was that I picked up an injury and had to watch the marathon rather than run in it!
  4. Deal with niggles – if you have a consistent niggle that doesn’t seem to want to go away but isn’t stopping you run now is the time to nip it in the bud! Marathon training has a way of turning a niggle into a nightmare! See a physio, get it sorted and it’ll probably be gone before you lace up your shoes for that first marathon training run.
  5. Strengthen up – strength and conditioning (S&C) have a great many benefits for runners. Research suggests it can improve performance and reduce injury risk. Elite runners like Mo Farah who run around 140 miles per week make S&C a big part of their programme to help the body cope with the huge training load. With a couple of months to go before training fully kicks in you have time to build up strength. You may want to go for a general approach and strengthen calf muscles, quads, glutes and hamstrings but for best results see a physio or health professional for a personalised programme.
  6. Plan your time – one of the hardest parts of marathon training can be juggling it with life in general. Demands of work, family life, relationships and other commitments don’t just stop for a bit while you go running! Most marathon runners will have heard an exasperated love one exclaim, “you’re running again?!” as you head out for another session. Now is a good time to work out how you’ll find the balance and where you might add in another run or two without impacting on everything else. Running to or from work can be great – turn your commute into a training session. Early morning runs are useful too – you can be back before the other half wakes up! See if you can get your friends or family involved, they might be happy to run or cycle alongside you and stop you plodding the streets alone.
  7. Get your kit sorted – tried and tested kit can make all the difference. Now is the time to test out shoes, running tops, gels, hydration fluids, recovery drinks and GPS watches. Anything you don’t have can go on birthday or Christmas lists too! There can be few things more uncomfortable than realising your one pair of running socks are still damp and musky from last night’s run in the rain and having to slide your foot into them again as you have no others to wear!
  8. Get support – the running community is fantastic at supporting fellow athletes. Check out your local running shops, groups and clubs. Many will have free training sessions. Get together a little list of ‘go-to guys’ in your local area. This can include a recommended physio, running shop or coach – ask around to find out who’s good.
  9. Find some new routes – plodding the same path can get pretty boring after a while, explore your area and beyond and work out a few routes at various distances that you can plan into your schedule. After a while, you get used to knowing the rough distance to certain landmarks and can planning multiple routes around them. If you’re running a local marathon try including as much of that as possible in your training.
  10. Consider other races – having a couple of practice races prior to the big one helps you try out kit and experience a race if you haven’t before. Halfway round a marathon is not the time to discover you’re allergic to gel energy cubes! One runner I spoke to recently failed to finish because one made her so ill! Many races are organised with marathons in mind – the Brighton Half Marathon, for example, fits in perfectly with your training schedule for running the Brighton Marathon. Beware though many races book up well in advance!

How you approach the lead up to marathon training is going to vary a great deal from person to person. I find a simple 3 runs a week with 2 strength and conditioning sessions works well. Build up strength in key areas then, and as training progresses, you can then swap another run in for one of your strength sessions. The remaining S&C session then works to maintain strength and flexibility throughout. My preparation schedule looks something like this;

The aim of this approach is to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance by building a baseline, avoiding large increases in mileage and working on strength and conditioning. Rest days are utilised prior to long runs and to prevent multiple consecutive days of training.

Closing thoughts: there are always so many things you can do to help your development as a runner, sadly though there are only so many hours in a day! For some the level of preparation detailed above might be unrealistic or unnecessary for your goals. See what fits for you. The key points are – gradually build up a baseline, think about your training schedule and deal with any injuries. Good luck!

This post was originally published October 2013 with updates included August 2016.

Marathon Preparation

Training for a marathon takes intense preparation, dedication, and skill. However, poor race-time decisions can counteract all of your months-long hard work and planning. Here are a few basic guidelines to minimize any excess damage to your body — and make the race experience more pleasant for you.

How should I prepare in the weeks before the marathon?

  • Your last long run should take place approximately 3 weeks prior to the marathon. It takes that long for the training-induced muscle damage to resolve. Adding one more long run could lead to trouble. There will be minimal gain, if any, and may cause an athlete to suffer from “dead legs” during the event.
  • The mileage 2 weeks before the race should be reduced by 25% to 50% versus the previous week. You should further cut this mileage in half the week before the race.
  • This period may be when you wonder “Did I train enough?” Don’t worry. You cannot make up training in the last 2 weeks. You will not de-condition while you are tapering off. If you put in the training, you are ready.
  • Like you taper your work to restore your muscles, focus on sleep the week prior to the race. Your body will appreciate it. Even if nervousness stops you from getting sleep the night before the race, the extra sleep you got during the preceding week will make up for this.

This is a good time to review the map of the course. Visualize yourself cruising along the course, enjoying the trip.

What to eat and drink before the marathon

Make sure you are well-hydrated prior to the start of the race. Drink lots of water during the week before the race. This optimizes your hydration before you hit the start line.

Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables. This helps maximize your glycogen (energy) stores. Don’t experiment with new foods this week. Carbohydrate loading (carb loading) can be complicated. Try it some other time, perhaps before other long runs.

Be sure you have on hand your hydration and food sources for the race, including an electrolyte source. Be sure these are the same you have tested during your long runs. Nothing new on race day!

Adjust your strength training

Consider tapering your strength training for the last 4 months of training. For the last 6-8 weeks prior to an event, strength training should consist only of calisthenics, ball exercises, Pilates, or other strength training methods with minimal external resistance. The goal is not to build new muscle, but to maintain your strength going into your event.

There should be no strength training the week of an event. You need to rest your muscles and prepare them for the race.

How should I prepare the day before the marathon?

Lay out the clothing that you will wear. Do not wear a new outfit for the race — 26.2 miles is a long way to run if something is chafing you. A clothing tag can become a painful enemy very quickly.

Do not wear new shoes in the marathon. Wear a pair that you have worn during a few long runs (as long as they did not create any problems). Remember, nothing new on race day ever!

Be prepared for anything. Fill a gym bag with the essentials:

  • Dry shirt
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Tissue (you never know when the portable toilet supply will run out)
  • Extra shoelaces
  • Gloves
  • Hat or cap
  • Vaseline® (or other lubricant)
  • Extra safety pins
  • Blister care products
  • Whatever else is a must for you

You can throw your sweats into the bag prior to starting the race. Most races have a baggage check area.

More planning tips for the day before the race

  • Make sure you have picked up your race number. Don’t spend hours on your feet at the race expo. Despite all of the vendors, it is important to save your legs for the next day. If possible, pick up your number early.
  • By now you should have perfected your routine you used before your long runs. This is the same you should use the night before the race. Eat the same meal at the same times you have practiced, and make sure you are well hydrated.
  • Plan when you will leave, how you will get to the race, and where you will park. You don’t want to get lost prior to the race. You will have enough anxiety as it is. Plan every detail of your morning from waking up, to dressing, to getting out the door, and to the start line.
  • Many races provide water and gels or electrolyte drinks on the course. If you have not practiced using these products during your long runs, don’t use them on race day. Even small differences in sugar concentration can cause stomach upset during an event. Bring your own supply that you practiced with on race day. You must have both a fuel source, usually in the form of gels or chews, and your electrolyte source with you.
  • As you review the map of the course, find the locations of water stops, aid stations, and portable toilets.
  • Check the pollution levels at the course. If there will be higher levels of pollutants, plan ahead. Minimize exposure to pollutants on the way to the race, and warm up somewhere that is either extremely well ventilated, or indoors. Areas with tall buildings and heavy traffic can be the worst places to warm up. Pollution has a negative impact on performance, and may worsen allergies or asthma.

How should I prepare on race day?

Get up early. Plan on arriving at least an hour before the race. You do not want to feel pressured for time before the race. Other tips for race day:

  • Take in some calories. Eating whatever worked for you prior to your long training runs is a good idea. Drink plenty of water.
  • As you dress, lubricate any areas in which chafing has been a problem. If blisters or hot spots have been a problem, treat the site prophylactically (using Second Skin®, Body Glide®, moleskin, or whatever worked during training).
  • Pin on your number. Most races now have the timing chip attached to the bib. Leave this attached. You will also likely have your bag check tag attached to your bib as well. Follow the instructions in the pre-race information on how to check your extra gear.

No matter what the temperature is when you get up, chances are that it will increase during the race. You will generate a lot of heat while running. At the start of the race, you might wear old clothing that you can discard once you are warmed up. Old socks work well on the hands. Garbage bags do a fine job of providing protection in inclement weather. When you discard things, do not throw them in the path of another runner.

When you arrive at the marathon location

  • Arrive at the start expecting to find a line at the portable toilets. Since you have time to spare, don’t be stressed. Find a comfortable place near the toilet to sit and rest as you wait.
  • Don’t worry about a warm-up run. Walking from the car will loosen you up a little. You might want to do some easy stretching (if you are used to this).
  • Just before you head to the starting line, take off your sweats and check your gym bag. Make sure you have secured whatever food and/or drink that you are bringing with you and attach it to your person.
  • Head to the start and put yourself in an appropriate spot in the pack. The start of races is crowded. Do not worry about starting too slowly. The pack will thin out quickly, and a slow start will give you a chance to warm up your muscles and save you from the agony of starting out too fast.

You have worked hard to get here and you’re ready to go. Enjoy the adventure ahead!

What should I do during the race?

You have a hydration and eating plan that you have practiced on your long runs. Stick with this. Do not be tempted to change plans now. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water— that is too late. If conditions are dramatically different than when you practiced, adjust accordingly by increasing hydration on hot days if needed.

Start slowly. A fast start usually spells disaster. If you feel strong you can always start running faster later in the race. You cannot go backwards once you feel tired.

Enjoy the race. It is a long 26.2 miles, but if you smile for people taking photos and videos, thank the volunteers, and wave to the fans as you run by you will enjoy yourself so much more. Finish with a smile on your face, you did it!

What should I do after the race?

No matter what the results are, be proud of yourself. You can learn from every race. Some tips for your post-marathon:

  • Drink. Even though you drank during the race, you will still be a little dehydrated.
  • Replenish carbohydrates. There is a 2-hour window following a hard effort during which absorption of carbohydrates may be enhanced. If you can’t eat them, then drink them. A little protein mixed in improves recovery. Do not choose anything extremely high in sugar or fat, it will cause stomach upset.
  • Keep moving. Do lower intensity cardiovascular movements, such as walking, for 60 minutes after the race. This will diminish a lot of the post-race stiffness. Stretch gently.
  • Don’t plan on running during the week after the race. Walking, swimming, or cycling at an easy pace will work well.
  • You may find that a massage is helpful for post-race stiffness.
  • When you resume running, start easy — 30 minutes 3 to 4 times per week — and increase gradually from there. Most experts will tell you to avoid speed work for a month after a marathon.
  • Start planning for your next marathon. Review your training; determine what worked well and what presented a problem. Adjust your training schedule accordingly. Experience is the best teacher.

Do allow your body to recover. An extreme athletic event like a marathon is incredibly stressful on the body. The body needs the rest; otherwise, problems such as injuries, fatigue, decreases in performance, and immune suppression can result.

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Guest Blog: Monica May

Will running ever get easier?

Do you need help figuring out how to run a marathon faster?

Well, after struggling to cross the finish line on my latest marathons, I decided to finally take an action. I collected the BEST OF THE BEST running tricks, in order to make my run easier. Since running a marathon is already hard enough, it would be nice to include the right techniques to avoid making it even harder than it is.

And these amazing tips I have for you today are your absolute golden ticket to the finish line.

By using them, I improved my time on my last marathon and ran through the whole race without stopping once. These strategies are a win-win, since they’re used from famous runners worldwide. And the best thing is that you can use them right now, even if you’re a first timer. So, don’t wait a second and head on to the tips, because I’m bringing down the curtains right now!

#1 Take a Cold Shower Right Before Your Race

Brrrr… right? Well as much as this bristles my skin the moment I think about it, the fact is it helps a lot. Wondering how? Well, a cold shower will increase the blood flow and give you immediate circulation, which makes it the perfect pre-run warm up.

Not to mention the benefits of waking you up as healthy as possible.

Just another tip: don’t forget to dry your hair before heading to the race.

#2 Run Empty Handed

Nothing messes up your balance while running like a good old water bottle.

Doesn’t matter how small it is, it adds stress and extra pressure to the side it’s weighing on, so make sure to leave it as the race starts. You’ll feel much better if you’re running empty handed and don’t worry about satisfying your thirstiness – you’ll do that with the refreshments along the track.

#3 Avoid Screens The Night Before The Marathon

Texting your friends late at night may be fun, but exposing your sleep to suffer the night before your race, it’s not fun at all.

It’s so hard to run on no sleep, and by staring at the screen on your tablet or smartphone you’re increasing the chances of struggling to fall asleep.

Your body is ready to bed down and instead of that you’re exposing it to mixed signals with a light object alarming it up. So leave your phone away from you when the lights go out, and if you want a late night entertainment, read a book.

#4 Have a Shot Of Energy Gel

This will boost up your energy levels in a few minutes. Not only that energy gels are recommended by many famous marathon training coaches worldwide, they’re used by many runners too.

Still wondering why?

Well they fill your body with electrolytes, and energize it with fresh portion of glycogen. Just make sure you energize with a shot at least 30 minutes before the race starts, in order to let digestion take its place.

#5 Don’t Run With Clenched Fists

You might not know this, but what sucks up your energy while running, can actually be your fists.

If you clench your fists while running, not only that you’ll lose some extra energy, but you’ll leave tension on your shoulders, which will fast enough tense your whole body. To avoid this, think about your fists through the whole run, by imagining that you’re holding an egg in each palm.

#6 Breathe Through Your Mouth

Breathing right is one of the most important parts of this game. Often find yourself breathless on your run? Well this happens a lot, and it mostly happens because people don’t breathe right.

What you can do is focus on doing the inhaling and exhaling through your mouth.

This is because when breathing through your mouth, you let oxygen get through your whole body faster. Test this on your next run and you’ll see the difference.

#7 Wake Up Hours Before The Marathon

Cutting down an hour off your sleep won’t change a lot, but not having time to do your pre-race morning rituals will. Waking up at least 3 hours before the race can help you a lot:

– you’ll have time to shower

– have breakfast

– warm up

– wake up completely

– get to the race on time

Since these things are really important, make sure to include them in your morning rituals by waking up a bit earlier.

#8 Have Your Last Meals Like A Superhero

Don’t get confused by your last minute meals before the race, because you should only remember my dearest rule:

Eat like a superhero to feel like a superhero!

And you can do that by including these foods in your diet:

– healthy carbs

– proteins

– greens

– a lot of IRON

#9 Hit The Ground Landing On Your Forefoot

In order to decrease the impact on your whole body, prevent ankles and knees pain, and most important of all go through the whole run faster and injure-free, you have to land on the right part of the foot.

This means that when you hit the ground you should land with the front part of the foot, not with your toes, but with your forefoot.

The forefoot strike allows your whole body to take its right leaning forward posture and go through the run easier.

#10 Don’t Look Down

I bet you find yourself staring at your own sneakers while running. Well you might want to change that, because looking down provides a series of unfortunate events, starting from:

– puts pressure on your upper spine

– causes neck strain

– tense your whole body

Not to mention that by staring at your feet you’re showing off your insecurity. So try holding your head in a neutral position, by looking in front of you.

#11 Dress For Success

Never underestimate the power of the clothes! They can make your run harder in a blink of an eye. If they get wet and stay wet, you will feel uncomfortable through the whole race. To avoid this, you should avoid:

– cotton fabric (choose Dri Fit, Cool Max, Thermax, polypropylene or silk instead);

– clothes that don’t fit you right (too tight or too loose);

– weather inappropriate clothes (don’t forget to check the forecast)

#12 Run Tall

Focusing on your posture can help you a lot more than you actually think.

Running will feel easier if your back is straight, chest are up, shoulders are back and relaxed, and your posture is tall.

You will run faster, get oxygen easier and release the pressure off your back.

#13 Plan Your Rhythm

A famous marathon runner Grete Waitz once said:

“It’s all about pacing. You should make a realistic plan for your race and stick to it.” And she couldn’t said that better!

Make a plan about your pace, and stick to it.

For example, my favorite half-marathon strategy is to run at a comfortable pace the first half, and increase it as the race comes to its finish. That always works for me.

#14 Do a Session Of Yoga Before You Bed Down

Nothing can relax your muscles better than a session of yoga.

Since yoga is so much more than a regular stretching, it provides countless benefits for every runner.

If your marathon is tomorrow morning, you could definitely use its benefits, so open YouTube, type “yoga for runners” and start posing. You’d be amazed of how good your muscles react to the pre-marathon yoga.

#15 Use The Thoughts Replacement Strategy

Constantly thinking about something that hurts, won’t make the pain disappear.

Because of that, the idea is to train your mind and replace the pain with different thoughts.

For example, if you feel a pain in your left calf, try thinking about other existing parts, like your hand, or your shoulders.

When you focus on other parts, you start to feel them too, and the pain minimizes. Yes, this might be a big challenge at first, but once you learn to control it, you’re going to be amazed by its effectiveness.

#16 Don’t Run In Brand New Shoes

This is something I wish you could never experience on a race. Yes, shoes are really important, but what’s much more important is keeping your feet pain free. It’s for the best to run in your everyday running snickers, and leave the experiments for another day.

#17 Don’t Stop

Never ever stop running.

Slow down as much as you want, just make sure you don’t stop completely.

Why? Well, when you stop, it’s going to be twice as hard for you to start running again. Not to mention dropping your pace down – you’ll have to push yourself harder to get back on track.

I always say to myself:

It doesn’t matter how fast you go, as long as you keep going! So keep going, because your legs are not giving up – your head is.

It’s Time For You To Shine On The Start Line!

It’s your turn now!

What you can do is:

Try at least one of these last minute tricks on your next run, and feel the results for yourself.

And most important of all – don’t forget to share 🙂

Short Bio About Monica May From Fit Girl’s Diary

Monica May is a fitness coach that one day decided to start a mission and help every girl, that loves herself enough to start living healthier.

Through her diary, she passes on her fitness story, strongly believing that every girl deserves to get the sneakiest fitness and weight loss tricks – for free.

With the power of her expertise she inspires, motivates and supports, by giving you the best workout plans, guides and tips, to finally change your life.

6 Quick Tips for Running Your Best Marathon

So you want to run a long race that takes months to prepare for? If you’re a first-time marathoner, chances are you’ve heard conflicting pieces of advice throughout your training. And if you’re a seasoned marathoner, chances are you’re still hearing contradictory info.

“Marathons, like all sports, are kind of rich in rituals,” says Jonathan Cane, a marathon trainer and the founder of City Coach, a company that trains beginners and athletes in running, swimming, and cycling in New York City. And like all good rituals, there can be a lot of debate over which ones to observe.

Should I load up on carbs the night before? How much water should I drink before, during, and after? What does recovery look like? We sat down with Cane to learn his last-minute tips for the big day. From first-timer goals to diet to avoiding distractions, here’s how to cut through the noise and get to — and recover from — 26.2.

RELATED: 9 Weird Things Running Does to Your Body

1. Set Conservative Goals as a First-Time Racer

As a first-time marathoner, it can feel exciting to focus on run times, but according to Cane, the focus should be on the basics.

“For first-time marathoners, my goal as a coach is to get them to the starting line. If you train and get to the start healthy, you’ll finish,” says Cane, who trains between 30 and 50 people of all different levels and backgrounds for the New York City Marathon each year.

According to Cane, the reason many runners don’t make it to the start and finish lines of a race is that they let their ambition get the best of them and do too much too fast — either in training or on race day — and then experience injuries.

Training time for a marathon fluctuates, but it can average from several months to a year to prepare, depending on the runner’s level of experience, he says.

“For a first-timer, 20 miles is a good goal,” says Cane. “Typically, you do that three weeks out. Then you start to do what’s called tapering, giving your body time to recover so that 20 miles can realistically grow to 26.2 on race day.”

Even though reaching 20 miles before race day is an ideal training goal for beginners, research shows, coincidentally, that running 20 miles or less in training creates a strong risk of ‘hitting the wall’ at any time of the marathon. The greatest point of risk appears at mile 21, with a steady decline.

Cane notes that as a beginner it’s important to be diligent with your training and get as close to a 20-mile race before the marathon as possible, so that you have the best chances of making it to the finish line.

“For the first one, don’t be overly consumed by time. Take it in. Enjoy it,” advises Cane, who says he’ll talk timing with runners who go on to a second marathon.

RELATED: Why Exercise Boosts Mood and Energy

2. Avoid Additional Stressors and Don’t Leave Anything to Chance on Race Day

Preparing for a race that lasts several hours can be as challenging mentally as physically. The good news is there are things you can do in the days leading up to a marathon to mentally prepare yourself.

“I think it’s important to study the course, to know where the challenging sections are physically, because those typically turn into challenging sections mentally,” explains Cane. “And to go in with a plan.”

Cane has a ritual of running the last 10 miles of every marathon alongside his runners the week before the race to help them feel familiar with the most challenging part of the course — the end of it.

“I’ve seen really smart people do really goofy things on race day, and usually that’s tied to not having everything planned out,” says Cane. “It’s an inherently stressful day.”

According to a study published in April 2017 in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, stressful situations can cause impaired decision-making and potentially lead to greater risk-taking.

Cane relates this research to runners who change their pace on race day because it seems right in the moment, even though it will cause harm at the end. “Just because you’re feeling good doesn’t mean you should deviate from the plan and go faster, because that will come back to bite you.”

Cane suggests having all of your bases covered by having every moment planned out, from what time you’ll be waking up on race day to what you’ll wear if it gets chilly.

RELATED: Can Exercising at the Same Time From Day to Day Help Keep Lost Weight Off?

3. Don’t Let Cheering Crowds Make You Go Faster

It’s the start of the race, the crowds are cheering, and you feel invincible — so you pick up the pace. Wrong. Cane strongly urges marathoners not to be fazed by large cheering crowds, which are inevitable at large races like the New York City and Boston marathons, where hundreds of thousands of people gather to show support.

A study published in February 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology found that runners who began a marathon at a pace that was too fast to maintain throughout the event slowed down throughout the marathon.

“You’ve got plenty of time to make up for a start that’s too slow, or you have plenty of time to regret a start that’s too fast,” cautions Cane. “If you let that crowd get the best of you and you start running faster than you intended to, you will pay for it in the end.”

Cane recommends channeling the feeling of adrenaline and cheering crowds during stretches of the race that are quieter and can be more challenging mentally and physically.

“Early on, appreciate the crowds but don’t let them take you out of your game. Late in the race, that’s when to let them be your friend, then you feed off their energy and let it pull you through,” he says.

RELATED: 7 Fitness Pros Who Have a Totally Balanced Approach to Wellness

4. You Don’t Have to ‘Get Ahead of’ Hydration

An ongoing debate in the world of marathons is how much water to drink, and when. According to Cane, a large concern used to be dehydration, because runners would skip water stations to avoid losing time.

“Once the negative effects of dehydration on health and performance became well known, the pendulum swung in the other direction and people began overhydrating, known as hyponatremia,” he says.

Hyponatremia can occur when too much water is consumed and dilutes sodium levels in the blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can cause swelling in the body and lead to life-threatening health issues.

Cane recommends trusting your thirst to gauge when you should drink, unless you’re competing in extreme heat, in which case you should get ahead of your thirst. You can get ahead of your thirst by monitoring the rate of sweat loss and grabbing sips at water stations every mile or two. If you notice that you are sweating more than usual and still finding yourself thirsty, you should increase that rate.

RELATED: 6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration You Should Know About

5. You Don’t Have to Deplete Your Carbohydrate Storage and Then Overload the Night Before

According to Cane, a common misconception when preparing for a marathon is that you have to “empty your tank” and then overload on a carbohydrate-rich diet 24 hours before race day to reach optimal energy storage.

While research shows that a pre-race diet rich in carbohydrates can positively influence a marathon runner’s performance, experts say you don’t have to deplete your storage; rather you should actually increase your carbohydrate intake several days before.

According to Everyday Health’s nutritionist Kelly Kennedy, RD, the body stores glucose from carbohydrates in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. This glycogen is what’s used for energy when you first start exercising, and it can help to delay fatigue.

“Several days before your race, increase your carbohydrate percentage from about 55 percent to 65 to 70 percent of your diet. This doesn’t mean abandoning protein and fat in lieu of carb-rich foods,” explains Kennedy. “You can simply increase your carb portions slightly at meals and decrease your protein and fat slightly.”

Kennedy encourages marathon runners to keep in mind that quality matters, and to focus on carbohydrates like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and dairy foods.

“You won’t be able to stock up on glycogen in one big meal, so one big bowl of pasta won’t cut it,” she cautions. “It’s also a good idea to have your largest meal of the day at lunch and have a lighter meal at dinner … and consider adding a carb-rich bedtime snack as well. This will give your body time to digest everything.”

RELATED: What to Eat Before and After Your Workout

6. Have a Recovery Plan for the Day-of and Weeks Following the Race

Cooling down and stretching-it-out are common practices when recovering from a workout, but recovering from a marathon is a bit more complex. It can be helpful to go in with a recovery plan the same way you would with a race-day plan.

How long should recovery be? Cane recommends following the rule of one day per mile raced, so for a 26.2 mile race, almost a full month of recovery.

“Take the next few weeks easy. That doesn’t mean be sedentary, but it means you’re not going to do any strenuous activity for at least a couple of weeks,” says Cane. “You need to be respectful of the challenge that you gave your body and the recovery it needs.”

Some of Cane’s Recovery Tips

  • Immediately after the race Continue moving to keep blood circulating and to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
  • First 30 minutes to a few hours after the race Replenish glycogen by eating carbohydrates and protein. Drink to replenish liquids. Ice if your muscles hurt.
  • One week after the race Continue eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest.
  • Three to four weeks after the race Refrain from a workout or challenging run. Walks and light jogs are okay.

8 Tips for Your Upcoming Marathon

by Anna and Lisa Hahner (Hahner Twins),
German long-distance runners

Many dedicated runners have been working a long time towards one goal: the (first) marathon. The race can end up being quite a challenge…

How long is a marathon?

A full marathon is 42.195 km (26.2 mi). The marathon event is the longest track and field running discipline at the Olympic Games.

Are you thinking about training for a marathon? These 8 tips from the German long-distance runner twins, Anna and Lisa Hahner, will help you turn your upcoming race into a great experience.

Get all your nutrients

“You are what you eat.” Sound familiar? There is a lot of truth to this saying. A study conducted at Aalborg University in Denmark found that marathon runners who ate right crossed the finish line faster.(1) Whether it’s a tasty beet juice, oatmeal with nuts, or delicious falafel, try to only eat fresh, unprocessed products and make sure to prepare your own meals. You can’t cook? That’s no excuse – everyone one can learn how. Plus, you can look at it as training, improving your cooking skills step by step.

You should know …

It is important to pay attention to what you eat and when you eat it when you’re training for a marathon. For instance, before a run you should avoid foods that are hard to digest, like legumes. This way you will be sure to perform your best and find out which foods weigh you down and what energizes you. Here you can find helpful nutrition tips to prepare for the marathon.

Make sure you get the right amount of macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Cross-training makes you run faster

When you are training for a race, you shouldn’t only focus on your legs. It’s especially important for runners that the core is a strong source of power. This area is connected with your arms and legs and provides stability. Your legs won’t tire as quickly and it’s a great way to prevent injuries.


Bodyweight exercises are a very effective way to cross-train. You can get a full-body workout without any equipment at all. Exercises that give you the power you need for a marathon are Lunges, Bridge, and Squats. These will complement your regular running training perfectly.

Find what drives you

Before committing to marathon training, you should be clear on what is driving your to do it. Why do YOU want to run 42.195 km (26.2 mi)? Define your goal and stay focused on it. Don’t look for excuses during training. Keep at it, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

The race is the reward for training. Yes, training is tough and exhausting – but the marathon is an amazing experience that you will never forget.

Try out different recovery techniques

After a long run – like a marathon – your thigh and calf muscles might be pretty tight. This is the time to focus on recovery. However, you should also focus on recovery during your training to perform your best. The following recovery techniques can relieve tight or sore muscles:

  • Sauna or warm baths
  • Stretching
  • Yoga


Plan recovery phases into your training (e.g. one day of training – one day recovery). This is the only way you’ll improve and see results.

Say goodbye to side stitches

You’ve got your nutrition plan, your personalized training plan, and all the necessary gear. Bursting with enthusiasm, you take off running – and are suddenly crippled by the dreaded side stitch. The only way you’ll be able to deal with the pain when it strikes is if you address the issue ahead of time: practice proper breathing techniques and check out more tips on side stitches while running.

Be prepared for everything

Power snacks, blister pads, sunscreen… Have you thought of everything? To help make your upcoming race a complete success, we have put together an equipment checklist for you. That way nothing can go wrong.

Tapering and the last 7 days before the race

Training for a marathon takes a lot time and energy. If you want to be able to run your best on race day, you should give your body the rest it needs before the race. Get great tips on tapering and learn what you need to pay attention to during the last 7 days before the race.

Train your mental toughness

You need a lot more than strong abs and legs: You also need to be mentally prepared. What we are talking about here is mental toughness. From the “High” to the “Twinge of Panic” to the “Silver Lining”: Do you know the 7 phases of a marathon? Be prepared for all the emotions you might experience during the race.

A marathon is like life. There are highs and lows – sometimes things go downhill, but there are incredible highlights, too. And that’s what you have to remember during a race. Think about the moment you cross the finish line; it is indescribable…

About Anna and Lisa Hahner:

The twin sisters Anna und Lisa, also known as the “Hahner Twins,” are German marathon runners. Their career began in 2012. Anna’s personal best in the 2014 Berlin Marathon was 2:26:44, Lisa finished the 2015 Frankfurt Marathon in 2:28:39. The Hahner Twins also ran for Germany in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.


Quick Marathon Preparation Guide 101

So, you want to run a marathon? Congratulations! Deciding to run and complete a marathon is a big commitment. So we have prepared this quick marathon preparation guide to assist you from pre-race day up to race day itself.

Mental Preparation

Many runners take the marathon distance as a personal challenge, to put their limits to the test or to just prove that they can do it. It is not all for personal gain or selfish intentions, some run for charity too.

Whatever the reason, you have to find the “why”. Willpower and determination will only carry you that far but your “why” is going to help you through your training and on race day. Find out what is it that is really driving you, write it down, hold on to it and constantly remind yourself of it in the months to come.

Learn to cultivate self-discipline as well. When your body says no and when you’re low on motivation, know that you have committed to this and that you have to get your training runs in.

Physical Preparation

Get physical clearance. Before embarking on this life changing experience, consult your physician for any physical limitations.

Training mileage is high. Before committing to a marathon, it is advised to have a strong base of mileage. Running consistently over a few months (about 20-30km a week) is a good start. Join a few 5km, 10km or even half marathons to get the feel of it. With a solid base, transitioning to marathon training would be easier.

Injuries usually arise when you do too much too soon. Be aware of your own limits and train accordingly.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Training Routine

Your marathon training plan will depend heavily on your fitness level. It can range from anywhere between 12-20 weeks of preparation.

These are the basic elements in a standard marathon training plan:

Easy Runs

Performed on most days of the week. This will be the base where you build on your weekly mileage. The average runner should have a mileage of at least 60-80km per week in order to finish comfortably. Easy runs are performed at a pace whereby you are still able to hold a conversation. The build-up to the peak mileage during training should be gradual. Doing too much too soon is a recipe for disaster.

Quality Runs

This includes tempo and interval runs.

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs are done at a comfortably hard pace. It is close to or about 10 seconds slower than your 10km race pace. Tempo runs are done at your lactate threshold, the highest speed at which your blood lactate levels remain steady. It places just enough stress for the body to raise the lactate threshold. Tempo runs prepare the body and the mind to adapt to hard running over longer distances. It also works to build on endurance. These runs are usually performed continuously for a certain distance or time. For example, 8km done at threshold pace or 30 minutes of running at threshold pace.

Interval Runs

Interval runs improve your VO2 max – the maximum volume of oxygen that your blood can deliver to your muscles when running at high speed. This type of training aims to increase tolerance against lactic acid build up and allows lactic acid to be cleared more efficiently. This results in improved speed and performance. These runs are done at hard running paces over shorter distances with recovery phases in between each bout. For example, 5 x 1km repeats with 2-3 minutes of recovery between repeats.

Long Runs

Long runs of about 20-30km should be done once a week. You can start off with 18km and slowly make your way to a maximum of 30km. It is not advisable to go beyond 30km as it places unwanted stress on the body.

You can play around with the paces during a long run. You can start the first 20km at an easy pace, followed by the last 5km at your marathon pace. This will help your body to adjust to longer distances, train your mind to push in a fatigue state and enhance the use of fat as fuel.

Strength Training

Running a marathon is not all about running. Incorporate some strength training to strengthen your core, legs and improve on overall posture and running efficiency. A strong core will help you to hold proper form over longer distances.

Rest, Cross Training and Recovery

Many people tend to underestimate the importance of REST. It is where the “magic” happens. Rest allows the muscles to recover and also keeps injuries at bay. Cross-training comes in when you need a mental break from running while maintaining your aerobic fitness (cycling, swimming etc.). You can also cross-train on your active recovery days. This will improve blood circulation to the muscles without putting additional stress on them.


Nutrition is essential for a healthy body. It becomes even more important when you’re training for a marathon. Eating proper foods can give you the energy and fuel you need to survive your training.

There is no one size fits all nutrition plan. Eat a wide variety from the main food groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. You have to adjust your nutrition intake depending on your training volume. Remember to eat enough (not too much) to fuel your training and to recover before your next session.

Make sure you are taking in adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals (Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium etc.) too .

Your post-workout meal is just as (if not more) important as all your other meals. A good mix of carbs and proteins should do the trick. This would help replenish muscle glycogen stores and aid in muscle building. Try not to go too long without eating (within the next 30min – 1h after your workout when protein and glycogen synthesis is highest) as this could delay recovery rate and your body may start to breakdown muscle tissue.

It is not always convenient to eat within that time frame and you may not have an appetite to do so. The solution? Pack your favourite snack (preferably healthy)!


Always remember to drink before and after your run, especially if the weather is hot. It is also good to hydrate throughout the day. Avoid over-drinking. A good measure is to drink when you’re thirsty. Your thirst mechanism is well developed and sensitive, it is good to obey it!

Lifestyle Changes


Sleep is a big part of training. If you don’t have enough sleep, your body cannot recover from the stress of training. Training is the stress that is placed on our bodies for it to adapt; adaptations that will ultimately make us faster, stronger and fitter. All these take place when we are sleeping and resting.

Without adequate rest, you will begin to feel sore and weak which will have a negative impact on your training. This indirectly affects your self-confidence if you are unable to perform or hit particular training times.


Preparing well for a marathon comes with a few sacrifices. You may have to train a little more, sleep a little more and commit your weekends to long runs. This could mean less time spent with the people around you. Make sure you surround yourself with family and friends that will support and understand your race goals. Having a good support system will complement your overall marathon training. With proper planning and time management, you need not give up much of your social life.


This is the number 1 feeling in marathon training: FATIGUE! You’re going to be tired, all the time. You’re going to feel lifeless.

You just have to embrace and deal with it. Get to know that feeling and work around it. It is going to be a long term relationship. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Trust me, you will need it! You may not see it now but it will all be worth it on race day!

Photo Credit: 123RF

Choosing Your First Marathon

Race Venue

If you plan on running a stress-free first marathon, pick an event on home ground. Just thinking about where to park and where to drop off your baggage can place significant amounts of unwanted stress on you. Look up the race venue on the race guide/website before race day. Know where the designated parking spots are and other important stations (aid station, information tent, porta loos etc). When you’re familiar with the area/place, you are less likely to be filled with anxiety on race day.

Race Course

Pick a course that you will enjoy. If you enjoy hills, go for it! But if you plan to run as fast as possible, pick a relatively flat course. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is similar to the type of terrain that you trained for. For your first marathon, it is good to pick an event that is well-organised. Don’t go for low budget events where water stations/aid stations are poorly arranged throughout the course! Also, you wouldn’t want to complete your first marathon knowing that it was under or over distance. Your best bet would be to go for AIMS-certified routes. A big, well-known marathon event is always a good choice as you’ll have the crowd support!


Weather on race day affects performance. If you train mostly in hot and humid weather, don’t pick an event happening close to winter. If you plan to run overseas, go over a few days before race day to allow your body to acclimatise to the weather conditions. Make sure you wear proper attire that would suit the weather. You can’t always guarantee perfect race day weather. Hope for the best but also be prepared for the worst!

Sign Up!

After surveying and picking out the place for your debut marathon, don’t forget to sign up as soon as possible! Speaking from experience, do not procrastinate. These days, running events are very popular, especially the bigger more well-known events! It is not uncommon for these races to sell out with the first few hours!



Slowly cut down on mileage 2 weeks out from race day. This is when your last long run should take place. Scale back on the intensity too so that your body is well rested and fully recovered for race day!


Carbo-loading involves significantly increasing carbohydrate intake a few days prior to a race. There is evidence that higher pre-exercise glycogen levels delay fatigue. Although there are a few limitations on the studies performed on carbo-loading, it is safe to say that runners will benefit from it prior (final 3 days) to racing or running longer distances.

The recommended amount is 8-12g per kg per day.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Race day checklist

Proper Running Gear/Attire

What you wear on race day should have already gone through a period of “testing” during your long training runs. The GOLDEN RULE is to not try anything new on race day, from what you wear to what you eat. Make sure you have proper running shoes and Dri-Fit clothing that wicks sweat away from your skin. Opt for shorts with pockets to store your gels or carry along a small pouch. Don’t forget your race bib!

Energy Gels

Energy gels/drink are easy to carry and are useful to replenish glycogen stores on the run. This reduces the dependence on the liver for maintaining blood glucose concentration, and provides the brain and muscles with an external source of glucose. Aim to take in about 50-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Only take in what you have tested during your training runs to avoid stomach upsets!

Miscellaneous Items

This includes your watch, MP3 player, cap, bandanna, hair tie, lucky charm or anything that you are used to having with you during training/race day. Lay them out the night before so that you won’t forget to bring them along on race day. Sometimes, it is not the “thing” that matters but the thought of having it that gives you the sense of security.

When you’re nervous and filled with anxiety, the last thing you need is the thought of not having something that you usually run with (watch, iPod etc.). On race day, it is your mental strength that matters. A small detour from your ritual/routine could throw you into paranoia.

Setting Your Goal

The best thing about running your first marathon is that there wouldn’t be a past record for comparison. Whatever time you complete it in will be your Personal Best. Set some goals. It can be as simple as simply completing the marathon distance or maybe you have a set time to complete it. Whatever the goal, make sure that it is realistic and achievable.

Start Preparing for Your First Marathon

This is everything you need to know to complete your first marathon! Time to plan, train hard and let your body surprise you on race day! Feel the rush of adrenaline on race day and look forward to completing your first marathon.

How to prepare for a marathon

Fancy a challenge? Or maybe running a marathon is one of the many bucket list items you’re itching to tick off. With running season in full swing and a number of marathons, obstacle courses and mud runs waiting to be ran, it’s time to get prepped and start training.

We caught up with Grenade® athlete and osteopath Adam Whatley to find out his top tips on preparing for the run of your life. From warming up to stretching the muscles, have a read and get yourself ready for that start line.

“Many people like to challenge themselves and often this brings about the desire to do a marathon. Many keen runners often do regular marathons to work on progress and be personal bests,
whilst others take part in the marathon for a personal challenge or to raise awareness for a charity of choice. During this article, I’d like to discuss preparation training for a marathon, along with tips on injury prevention.

Preparing for a marathon

At the very beginning, set yourself realistic expectations, and think about what your limits are. However, with the right training and preparation, anyone in good health can do a marathon.

1) Give yourself plenty of time

This goes without saying. The more preparation time, the more your chances of success. One of the most common causes of injury is increase mileage too soon. Consistency is the key – run at least
20–30 miles a week regularly with regular rest and recovery, before committing to a marathon.

2) Shorter races

Start small and choose a 5-10k race, or even a half marathon, to mentally prepare yourself for the full race.

Marathon training

Here are the key points you need to understand and work on:

Base mileage

Build your weekly mileage gradually over time, running 3-5 times per week

Distance running

Do a long distance run every 7–10 days so you can train your body to adjust

Alternate speeds

Practice intervals running to increase your power and aerobic capacity

Rest and recovery

Finally, do not collect adequate rest to enable full recovery. This will enable your muscles to deal with increased load gradually whilst preventing injuries. Remember, running a marathon is not about running as far as you can in small spaces of time. But, rather allowing for gradual progress.

Progress with distance running

Building up your weekly distant running. This should be done once every 7–10 days, extending the distance runs by a mile or two each week. Every 4th week skip a long run to allow your body to recover and to prevent injury. Gain confidence and allow your body to adjust to longer distances. Gradually build your peak distance run at around 20 miles.

Allow for rest days with NO running! This will allow your muscles recover, aid mental prep and allow for performance gains. Over training will inevitably lead to injury, and injury will set you back
weeks or could even ruin your preparation. Adequate rest and recovery will enable your protection against injury. I often recommend doing soon some very light activities which focuses on flexibility and functional mobility. Light cycling, swimming, yoga, resistance training is also a good idea, if your
energy is up, but do not overwork. A couple of weeks leading up to your marathon, you should reduce your workload and overall mileage to let your body rest.


Fundamentally, your trainers need to be practical and comfortable. It may require trying on a few pairs, until you find some which suit. It also is recommended to drop into a running store to get correct fitting. It is often recommended that your running shoes be about one size bigger than you normally wear. This allows for the swelling that can occur with long-distance running.

Core strength and conditioning

This is extremely important for injury prevention in running. This particularly applies to biomechanical control and functional joint strength. Long distance running can often lead to problems and injuries through our kinetic chain – lower back, hip, knee, ankle and foot. Furthermore, strength and balance at the ankle and foot can help prevent injuries in those areas as well.

Common running injuries are often related to fatigue and often presented in tendinitis. Tendon injuries either mild or severe can often be related around the foot and ankle, knee or lower back. Other common running injuries include planter fasciitis, Iliotibial friction syndrome, hip bursitis or shin splints. To help prevent these common injuries you should include balance and functional control exercises in your weekly strength training. If you have been struck by a mild injury or concern – a little rest and rehab early on gives you the best chance for a quick recovery so you can get back out on the road pain free. Ignoring there is mild injuries will often lead to injuries becoming worse and more long-term.

Below are a few simple stretches and movements to add into your exercise regime to help prevent injury during your marathon training:

Calf stretches

Calf tightness is common, especially for runners. It’s important to regularly stretch this area when training for a marathon to avoid injury.

Glute stretch

Weak gluteal muscles can often lead to excessive anterior pelvic tilt which, in turn, can lead to increased lumbar curvature and a number of running injuries. Not only can weak glutes lead to running injuries, it can also lead to reduced efficiency and performance during running.

Hip flexor

Hip flexibility is key when training for a marathon or just for recreational running.

Are you planning on taking part in any runs or marathons this year? Can’t decide which you want to give a go? Well, head over to our blog to read all about the best runs to sign up to this year. For more training tips and advice on how you can avoid injury in the run up to your event, follow Adam over on Instagram.

Can you finish a marathon running just three days a week? It’s something all marathoners new and old have wondered, but it seems too good to be true, with almost every training plan out there suggesting five to six days of running to get you in shape for the starting line. But for the time-strapped or injury-prone, these programs can quickly seem overwhelming.

Luckily, you can race 26.2 miles on just three running workouts a week—and you might even finish it faster than you think. How? Because two guys figured it out a long time ago.

The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) program was first imagined when exercise science experts Bill Pierce and Scott Murr decided to enter a few triathlons way back in the mid-1980s. Just one problem: They hit the wall when they added biking and swimming to their running. The demands of three-sport training were too much, so they cut back their running from six days a week to four.

To their surprise, they didn’t slow down in local road races. So they cut back to three days of running. “Lo and behold, our 10K, half marathon, and marathon times didn’t suffer at all,” says Pierce, who has run more than 30 marathons and has a best time of 2:44:50. (Murr, for the record, holds a marathon best of 2:46 and has completed multiple Hawaii Ironmans.) “The more we discussed this—and we discussed it a lot—the more we became convinced that a three-day program, with somecross-training, was enough to maintain our running fitness.”

Then they wanted to put it to the test with others.

In the summer of 2004, FIRST advertised a free marathon-training program that would last 16 weeks and culminate with the Kiawah Island Marathon. Twenty-five subjects entered, agreeing to run one long run, one tempo run, and one speed workout each week—and no more. Instead of extra miles, participants were encouraged to do two additional days of cross-training. At the marathon that December, 21 of the 25 finished the race, with 15 setting personal bests. What’s more, a postrace lab testing showed that the runners had improved their maximal oxygen uptake, lactate threshold running speed, and reduced their body fat.

And you can make this program work for you. Here, we break down the nine key pillars of the FIRST marathon training program that we first featured in the August 2005 issue of Runner’s World. (All of these elements are described with more detail in Pierce and Murr’s book, Run Less, Run Faster, which was re-released in 2012).

1. Keep Running Fun

Pierce believes that a three-day running week will make running easier and more accessible to many potential runners and marathoners. “Our most important objective is to help runners develop and maintain lifelong participation in running,” says Pierce. “Our second goal is to help them achieve as much as possible on a minimum of run training.”

The restrictions on mileage will decrease overtraining and burnout, and with several days of cross-training, it should cut your injury-risk substantially. This may lead to faster race times.

2. Run Three Times A Week…And No More

In FIRST, runners do only three running workouts a week: a long run, a tempo run, and a speed workout. Each of the workouts has a specific goal—improving aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, running economy, or running speed—rather than simply filling a mileage quota.

In Murr and Pierce’s second book, Train Smart, Run Forever, an appendix details the exact mile times to aim for on each of the three running workouts, according to a runner’s individual speed. Here are some samples for different pace groups:

For a 20:00 5K runner (predicted marathon time: 3:14:37)

· 2-minute speed intervals at 5:45 pace

· 5-mile tempo at 7:00 pace

· Long runs at 7:30-7:45 pace

For a 24:00 5K runner (predicted marathon time: 3:53:33)

· 2-minute speed intervals at 7:03 pace

· 5-mile tempo at 8:15 pace

· Long runs at 8:50-9:00 pace

For a 30:00 5K runner (predicted marathon time: 4:51:56)

· 2-minute speed intervals at 8:59 pace

· 5-mile tempo at 10:11 pace

· Long runs at 10:45-10:55 pace

3. Build Your Long Run To 20 Miles

The marathon training program builds up to two 20-mile workouts, the second one taking place three weeks before your marathon race date. But covering 20 miles is the easy part. The harder part is the pace—60 to 75 seconds slower per mile than your 10K race pace.

“It’s true that our long runs won’t let you admire the scenery as much,” says Pierce. “But they aren’t painful either. They just push you a little beyond the comfort zone. If you’re going to race a marathon, you have to do some hard long runs to get the toughness and focus you’ll need on race day.”

4. Run Three Different Kinds of Tempo Runs

The tempo run has become a mainstay of many training programs, but this program carries the concept a little farther than most, adding more variety and nuance.

FIRST runners do three different kinds of tempo runs at varying paces: short (three to four miles), mid (five to seven miles) and long (eight to 10 miles). “We’ve found that the long tempo run is particularly helpful,” says Pierce. “You’re basically running at your marathon goal pace, so you’re getting maximum specificity of training, and improving your efficiency at your goal pace.”

5. Put More Variety in Your Speedwork

Many runners tackle the same workout every week, or do no speedwork at all. The FIRST runners do many different speed workouts at different paces, generally taking just a 400-meter jog between the fast repeats. Pierce has just one more rule for speed training: Start modestly, but after a month, try to get the total distance of all the fast repeats to equal about three miles or 5,000 meters (i.e., running 5 x 1,000 meters, or 12 to 13 x 400 meters).

6. Cross-Train Twice a Week…Hard

In this program, cross-training shouldn’t be viewed as a recovery from running, but a substitute for it. Therefore, if you slack off, you could miss out on some potential training benefits. “We believe that if you do cross-training correctly, you can use it to increase your overall training intensity without increasing your injury risk,” says Pierce. “At the same time, you can still go out and run hard the next day.”

7. Remember to Stretch

The beauty of a less-is-more training plan is that it frees up your time to do more muscle maintenance, like rolling, stretching, and icing. In Train Smart, Run Forever, Murr and Pierce emphasize the importance of static and dynamic stretching. The book states, “The goal of any runner is to develop symmetrical strength and flexibility, stable running form, and pain-free, injury-free running. A consistent habit of stretching should be included in a runner’s workout routine.”

Murr and Pierce suggest dynamic stretches like side lunges and leg swings before the run; foam rolling and static stretches like pigeon pose after the run; and deep hamstring and lower back stretches on cross-training days.

8. Don’t Try To Make Up For Lost Time

Stuff happens. You’re in the middle of a 16-week program and you get sick; you sprain your ankle; you have to go on several last-minute business trips. Result: You miss some key workouts. Then what? “You can’t make up what you missed,” says Pierce, “and you certainly shouldn’t double up on your workouts to catch up with your program.

Often, if you had a slight cold or too much travel, you can recover and get back where you want to be relatively quickly. But if you have foot pain or ITB syndrome, you’ve got to take care of your injury first, and get healthy again.” This can take weeks, and it’s really tough if you’ve been looking forward to a big race—but you shouldn’t attempt a marathon unless you’re fully prepared for it. Reschedule another in a few months’ time.

9. Follow a 3-Week Taper

The FIRST program builds for 13 weeks, with the second 20-mile long run coming at the end of the thirteenth week. After that, the program begins to taper off, with 15- and 10-mile long runs during weeks 14 and 15.

The speedwork and tempo runs taper down just a little, with a final eight-mile tempo run at marathon goal pace coming 10 days before the marathon. Pierce notes, “It’s the right amount of time to make sure you’ve got the maximum spring back in your step.” If you feel sluggish doing just the easy running in the final week (this is very common, by the way), do five or six 100-meter strides or pickups after the Tuesday and Thursday workouts. Get in some extra stretching afterward as well.

This was adapted from Run Less, Run Faster. The original version of this article first appeared in the August 2005 issue of Runner’s World.

The countdown until the big Spring Marathons is on…

115 days until the London Marathon.

102 days until Boston.

101 days until Brighton Marathon.

94 days until Manchester Marathon.

A lot of the London Marathon training plans start this week, 16 weeks out from the big race. Maybe you’ve already started prepping for your spring race, or have made the decision to finally fulfil a New Year’s Resolution to run 26.2 so have just signed up? I know that training is on a lot of people’s minds as we enter 2019, so I’ve rounded up the best marathon training plans to help you reach the finish line of the marathon, whatever your goals!

Some things to consider when picking a marathon training plan;

  • Don’t overcommit to running more days/miles than you can fit into your life AND recover from. Some plans are 3 days a week, some are over 100 miles per week. Look at your schedule, figure out what you can commit to and what would be realistic for your experience, pace, and life.
  • Plans should be flexible, work, family, friends, illness can get in the way. You should be able to move things around, miss a run or two over the 16 weeks, and not be too stressed (or behind).
  • Try to include some strength and stretching into your routine, make sure to factor that in when looking at plans.

Hal Higdon

I used the Novice Supreme for my first marathon and it was perfect. I was nowhere near a runner when I signed up for the London Marathon in 2012, so this was a great, simple plan for me. I think his Novice plans are brilliant for first-time marathoners, without too much jargon or too many runs. You can also up the ante with his Intermediate or Advanced plans.

3 Runs a Week

I followed this 3 Runs a Week marathon training plan for the Berlin Marathon a couple of years ago, and until last February it was my Marathon PB of 3.49.

Run Less, Run Faster

For those without a lot of time, or who tend to get injured with high mileage training plans, this workout might Each workout, including your cross training, is very structured. You run 3 days a week and cross train 3 days a week. In my opinion it’s probably not the best for your first marathon unless you’re a seasoned half-marathoner.

Nike+ Running Plans

I wish they had something like Project Moonshot (Nike’s New York Marathon build up plan in the US) but this free training plan is informative with all of the sessions explained in a mini glossary, a pace chart, an 18 week build up with info around what you’re doing and why.

Runner’s World SmartCoach

Creating a plan that’s tailored to you using the Runner’s World SmartCoach, you can select the number of weeks you have to train, your training effort, your weekly mileage etc and boom – a plan made for you! I haven’t actually used one of these plans but know plenty of people that have and who loved them.

My Asics

You can have fun with this online tool, messing around with how many days you want to run, your pace level and when your marathon date is to create a plan that works for you. I actually prefer this plan to the SmartCoach because of it’s simplicity and flexibility.

London Marathon Plans

Written by ex GB athlete, Martin Yelling has written a beginner, intermediate and advanced training plan specifically for London marathon runners. They are done based on time rather than distance, so great for those without a lot of run tech.

The Hansen Method

Almost the opposite of the ‘Run less, Run faster’ philosophy, this programme gets you to run more often (up to 6 days a week) with lots of easy, shorter distance runs. The long mileage caps out at 16 miles, so good for those with less weekend free time for 20 mile slogs. Interestingly I’ve had a LOT of 16 milers in my training plan for Phoenix, which has made the distance feel like less of a big deal, however I’m not sure how I would feel having only run 16 miles in preparation for 26 miles.

Heart Rate Training

The Maffetone Method or Low Heart Rate Training utilises the idea that we should be working in the ideal maximum heart rate zone during our aerobic training, a number we can work out by subtracting our age from 180 (there are some adjustments to this that you can read about here) For a lot of people this will mean slowing their runs down considerably, which might not work for some people but could be perfect for those coming back from injury, dealing with any chronic conditions etc. My friend Amanda wrote a much more in depth review of this training method – check out her blog here.

Rogue Running Training Group

I love the Rogue Running podcasts, their no BS approach to running and training. I often listen to it on my long runs or when I’m lacking motivation. They have a group podcast training group, 1:1 plans, and for those who live in Austin they have in person group training. I would totally join their group if I lived in Texas!

Personalised Plans

Having a coach write a plan that suits YOU is one of my biggest recommendations if you want to make major leaps in your running and have big marathon goals (if you can afford it, prices vary wildly it seems!). Finding the right coach for you, that understands your hopes and dreams, but also the reality of your training life and current fitness. I like having someone to hold me accountable, to adjust workouts based on performance and schedules, and to be in it with me!

I feel I have to say this as it has been on my mind for a while, but just because someone runs a fast marathon, does not make them a good running coach. Look for someone with qualifications, experience and knowledge, ask them about the training methods, their thoughts and above all the personalisation of their plans. One approach does not fit all runners, and any coach work their salt respects that, and your time availability and goals.

This blog sharing the Pros and Cons of working with an online coach and shared some of my top coaching recommendations in this post.

What training plans have you followed in the past? Or are you planning on following this year?

The Free Marathon Training Plan in 2019 By 10 Helpful Marathoners

Every runner has their own approach in terms of training themselves for a marathon. They create their master plan on how, what and when to prepare for the upcoming marathons.

We are super excited to speak to some of the most avid and elite marathoners in the running community and have them share with you their marathon training plan. So if you are training for a marathon race or want to know how to train for a marathon effectively, this article is definitely a must read.

Is Running a Marathon Hard?

Yes, running a marathon is physically hard on the body. A study on half marathoners and marathoners have shown that dehydration had not made the marathoning difficult. However without proper and adequate training, it’s very tough for a runner to complete a marathon race.

Proper training like the gym training includes the use of machines and weights to develop power and strength in the muscles of your legs, which can help to prepare the muscles for the stress imposed by the long races.

Some common marathon hazards such as blisters, chafing, sunburn, heat illness, muscle strains and sprains and extreme fatigue make the marathon race harder.

Although running a marathon could be tough, it has also become addictive as many runners aims to improve their best marathon timing from year to year.

What Does It Takes To Train For a Marathon

A marathon mostly is around 42.195 kilometres or 26.2 miles. For an average marathon training plan, it’s usually 16 to 20 weeks long. Typically, you will need to run three to five times a week and increase your mileage as your race day get closer.

On the other days, you can work on low intensity exercise such as yoga or Pilates and, most importantly, rest your legs to allow them to fully recover. It is important for runner to stretch their hamstrings, hips, quads and calves. (See: Simple Yoga Tips and Tricks Before You Hit The Road)

Which Training Plan Suits You the Most?

Remember to start slow if you are new to running. It is best to start with a training plan focused on getting you round the course, and not worrying about finishing your run or race in a certain time.

If you have run a few races and are used to running longer distances, gradually you can increase your running distance. In a long run, remember to listen to your body to avoid injury.

What pace should you be running?

Each training plan includes different techniques of runs, which require you to alter your pace to avoid burning out.

It can be challenging to work out how fast to run because everybody have their own training plan and ability to achieve their race or marathon goals.

What Is an Average Time for a Marathon?

It takes years of hard work and training to get elite-level times like the fastest marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge. For an average runner in Singapore, the marathon time is about 4:30:00. To hit a sub 4:00:00 race, runners need to maintain around a 5 1/2-minute per km pace.

Marathon cutoff times vary depending on location, but typically hover between six to seven hours.

How to Train for a Marathon?

It’s important to be honest with yourself about what level of runner you are. New and older marathon runners will need more time to build up to the long run and require more time to recover from the demands of training.

These runners may need a 20-week marathon training program, with an average of running five days a week, and never increasing their weekly mileage by more than 10 percent each week.

For the elites and seasoned marathoners, a 12 and 16 weeks training plan, running at least four days a week would be sufficient.

If you are someone who rarely run and suddenly get hit by extreme motivation one day to sign up for your first marathon, please be patience. You may need more than 20 weeks to develop a relation with running and build a safe, sustainable foundation. You can consider hiring a good running coach to speed things up, and you may be ready for your first marathon race in 6 – 10 months later.

Next, you will have to fix on a marathon training plan. A good training plan should include things like:

  • Build up to long runs (at least 32km)
  • Rest day following by a long run
  • Cross-training with speed work and hills running
  • A pre-race taper

What is the Best Marathon Training plan?

Marathon training plans differ and there is no consensus on which marathon training plan is the best. However there are some key attributes to consider.

  • Length: You will need more time to adjust to the training load if the plan is longer. A longer training plan also requires a greater time commitment and focus.
  • Starting Mileage: A good marathon training plan needs to begin with an initial mileage that matches your existing fitness level. It’s important to skip the initial few weeks of training if you are already fit to prevent becoming detrained.
  • Escalation: The faster the plan ramps up the mileage, the less time you have to adapt and supercompensation and also indicates a higher risk of burnout and injury.
  • Longest Run: Some running expert advised a longer longest run as this could provide better preparation. However, some argued that it’s only true if you build up to these longer runs gradually enough that you can recover well.
  • Recovery and Rest: An important aspect of a good marathon training plan is the amount of rest and recovery you get. With sufficient rest, you will be able to adapt and supercompensation. Running 3-4 days a week is optimal.
  • Monotony: A training monotony can evaluate the ratio of training days to rest days, or easy to hard days. A higher level of monotony is associated with increased risks of overtraining syndrome and reduced fitness benefits.
  • Easy Days and Training Days/Week: To maintain training monotony at a low level and obtain the best recovery, running 3-4 days/week is recommended. If you wish to run more frequently, it’s important to make the easy days as easy as possible.

Training Plan of 10 Marathoners

Let’s take a look at the marathon training plan for the following 10 awesome marathoners.

Marathoner: Amer Hamzah Arshad

Bio: Male, 45 year-old, Head of Chambers (Criminal) of AmerBon Advocates
Best Marathon Time: 3:25:17

RS: How do you prepare yourself with an upcoming marathon?

Amer: When I got a slot to run the Berlin Marathon in 2017, I decided it was time to have a more structured training plan. I hired a coach who came up with a proper training plan. The aim was to do a sub-330 marathon. When the time came, I did 3:29:50. Last year, I was happy that I improved my time to 3:25:17 in London marathon.

RS: Can you share with us the details of your marathon training plan?

Amer: When training as a marathoner in any endurance sports, there are few essential things that one must take note.

Have a proper training plan as a general rule, my marathon training plan consists of various types of running; easy run, tempo run, interval, and long run.

Closer to the race day, I would also do other form of speed or hard session such as mile repeats. I make sure that my hard session is done every alternate day with an easy run in between so that I would be able to recover in time for the next hard session.

In terms of, I would spend 6 – 10 hours per week of my training. With the exception of long runs, my easy run and hard session would normally be an hour or slightly more than an hour.

In terms of mileage, I would run anything between 60 – 100 km per week. I do incorporate strength session to ensure that my muscles could withstand the planned training loads, and to prevent or minimise injury.

Do not forget to stretch after your training sessions, it is very beneficial to stretch after training include the elimination of lactic acid, prevention of injuries, and increasing muscle flexibility.

I also do remember to have a proper rest and recovery, it is also an important aspect of a training plan because it allows the body time to repair and strengthen itself in between workouts.

Ideally, I would like to sleep nothing less than seven hours every night, so that my body feels fresh and ready for the next day.

Marathoner: Runnermumgo

Bio: Female, 46 year-old, Housewife
Best Marathon Time: 4:55

Runnermumgo: To prepare for an upcoming marathon, I’ll discuss with my husband the days and times I need to train. We also share our calendars, so we can see each other’s schedule. Since we are both busy, sharing calendars means that we can still make plans for dates and time for our kids on top of me keeping to the training sessions. Training time is important to me, but it is also very important to keep family stuff a priority.

RS: Can you share a breakdown of your marathon training plan?

Runnermumgo: My current training plan for a second marathon is 16 weeks long. I run 4- 5 days a week with recovery in every third week. Most runners do their long run a weekend, but my long run is on Monday.

It’s practical because the kids are in school and I can run in peace. The plan is based on time rather than length (miles or km). The longest time being 3 hours for my long run.

I like this concept because no matter what your pace or distance is, 3 hours still 3 hours of time on your feet. The plan also has speed work such as threshold intervals, hill repeats, half marathon pace and marathon pace runs. My weekly run is about 40 – 60 km.

During the month of August I ran 198 km, 21.85 hours. I do cross training to support my running. You train not just as a runner, but as an athlete so that you become efficient and help avoid injuries. I spend about 30 – 45 mins of bodyweight workouts 2 – 3 per week.

These include plyometrics, core, planks, pushups and lower body, such as calf raises, walking lunges, squats, etc. I also do yoga, Pilates, stretching and rolling.

I keep hard days hard, easy days easy. Hard days being speed work, plus bodyweight workouts, easy days being easy recovery run plus yoga or stretching. These allow my body not too sore or too tired for my next speed session.

Marathoner: Lisamarie Griffin

Bio: Female, Personal Trainer/Running Coach,
Best Marathon Time: 3:49

Lisa: Great question, I usually sit down with a notebook and sets little goals/milestones. But the main prep I do is in my mind, this is where the marathon is truly ran. Strong mind = strong run.

RS: How does your marathon training plan look like?

Lisa: My normal training plan is a simple 16 weeks in 4 months. For the first month, I will go for shorter runs with some tempo training 3 – 4 days during the week. During the weekend, I will go for one long run about 10 – 15 km.

The second month, I will have three runs during the week with speed training or tempo runs. During my midweek. I will go for about 6 – 10 km long run. On Saturday, I will go to the park and run with other runners.

As for Sunday, I will just run for 21 – 30 km. The third month, again with three runs during the week with speed training and tempo run. This time I include boot camp in it to boost up my training.

During the midweek, I will stick to 6 – 10 km run. I also go for Saturday and run as well with the other runners. I will run for 21 – 35 km on Sunday. Long run are every other week and the other is 21km, so the body can properly rest.

The fourth month, I will do a normal training and not running on Saturday. But on Sunday, I will be running for 40 km. So as the race getting closer, the last three weeks slowly tapering down and I will add hiking, swimming, and a weekly session of speed drills.

During the race week, I will go for a run about 8 km to relax my body and get ready for the marathon.

Marathoner: Berlin Del Rosario

Bio: Female, Software Engineer
Best Marathon Time: 4:58

Berlin: I would draft a running calendar and try to keep up with it. For my first marathon, I did not set a goal. My only goal then was to finish the race without any injuries. For my second marathon, I hoped to cut down an hour of my first official time. So I planned to train in a sub 7 – minute pace.

Berlin: I have a simple training plan. Two short runs (3 – 5 km) on weekdays after office hours and a long run on weekends (around 10 km) that gradually increases until I have reached around 30 km.

I will gradually increase my mileage every week. But I would have shorter runs on weekends every other 2 – 3 weeks to make sure I get proper rest.

Usually, Mondays are my rest day. I will do this for 5 months, then I would have my tapper runs 2 weeks before the marathon. I also do strength and cross training in between runs every week. The usual core, upper body, and leg workouts such as planks, push ups, squats.

Marathoner: Derek Li Shi’An

Bio: Male, 37 year-old, Family Physician with Raffles Medical Group
Best Marathon Time: 2:41:20

Derek: I give myself around 12 – 16 weeks to prepare for a marathon. I do not do any cross training. Only running and stretching. Over the whole training block, the mileage will increase slowly over the first 4 – 6 weeks. Thereafter, I will hold a steady, high mileage all the way until the last 2 – 3 weeks of tapering for the race.

RS: What is your marathon training plan for an upcoming marathon?

Derek: As a general rule, the training load gradually increases throughout the whole preparation cycle. The first couple of weeks are about increasing the volume up to a high level and getting the body used to be run high mileage again, without getting any injuries.

For me, that is around 140 – 160 km a week. The basic scheme is a long run once a week, one short duration higher intensity interval day, one longer duration lower intensity interval day, and the rest is all easy runs in between. I aim to do 10 – 11 runs a week.

Initially, as I am increasing the mileage, the intensity of the workouts is usually lower and shorter. Once I am comfortable with the mileage, the intensity and duration will slowly increase. Sometimes, I will incorporate some higher intensity into my weekly long run as well. An example of a short interval workout should be like 10 x 400 m with 200 m jog recoveries at the 5k race effort.

A long interval would be something like a 3 x 3 k with progressively harder intensity. For a long run, I may make a progressive effort where the last 5 km would be close to the marathon race effort.

I got myself a coach in the last 2 years, so he dictates my training plan for me and saves me the trouble of second guessing myself when I try to create my own workouts. I don’t really keep track of the number of hours of running, but it is usually around 10 – 11 hours a week.

Marathoner: Agnes

Bio: Female, 36 year-old, Personal Trainer
Best Marathon Time: 3:11

Agnes: I follow a training plan which includes running and strength training sessions.

Agnes: I would run 5 – 6 times a week. My marathon training plan would include: easy running (two times a week), one interval session, one tempo run, one running strength session in every week – uphill repeats and one long run on the weekend.

The training load and mileage would gradually increase over the time. To my running plan, I would always implement strength training, at least once a week.

My marathon training plan would change up and is not typical.

Marathoner: Fajar Arifan

Bio: Male, 37 year-old, Musician/Drummer in Alexa The Band
Best Marathon Time: 3:42

Fajar: I always plan the year ahead at least 6 months before joining a marathon. I put the marathon as one of my a races of the year. Towards the race day, I can squeeze in other B and C races to support the training plan for the big race.

Fajar: Nowadays, I do more training for IRONMAN, so if I am doing a marathon, I do lots of recovery session in swim and bike form. My mileage per week, usually starts from 45k going towards 70k on peak weeks, that include one tempo one interval and one long run every week.

Recovery or easy session with swim or bike 2 – 3 times a week after each hard session. I usually started training three months prior to the race. In my marathon training plan, I gradually increase the intensity and duration towards peak week. Also, I will taper it down two weeks before the race.

Marathoner: Romela Cruz Sonon

Bio: Female, 40 year-old, Business Woman
Best Marathon Time: 6:00

Romela: I really do not have proper training. I just go out, run for an hour almost every day. I join almost all of the local races and virtual races to keep me motivated. Virtual races have been one of my goal pushers, since I need to run to be able to submit a run.

Romela: Now, I am preparing for a marathon this November. I have a running coach that helps me to train for my marathon. Here is my training program for Week one:

  • Monday – 7 km
  • Tuesday – 7 km
  • Wednesday – 10 km
  • Thursday – 7 km
  • Friday – 9 km
  • Saturday – 16 km
  • Sunday rest

I will gradually increase my mileage each week. On top of that, I do incorporate core and strength training at the gym.

Marathoner: Katharina Klaeser

Bio: Female, 31 years-old, Key Account Manager
Best Marathon Time: 3:50

Katharina: I start my training plan usually 3 to 4 months before the marathon where I run 5 to 6 times a week and different length and pace. From short tempo runs, to hill run as well as one long run per week to get the mileage in. I also do strength exercises and mobility work. Stretching is important too!

Katharina: I will do 6 runs in a week. Usually, I start with 50 km per weekend at my peak, which is usually one month before the marathon, it goes up to 100 km in a week.

The usual runs are 1 – 2 hours and long run last up to 3 hours. The maximum distance in one run is the 32 km. I will include strength training which focuses on lower as well as upper body parts to get my entire body prepared for the race.

Nutrition is important too, and I try to eat healthy and balanced. One month prior to race no alcohol. A set of my marathon training plan is going for a 8 km easy run on Monday. Tuesday, speed track about 10 x 400m. Wednesday, I will go for a 15 km endurance run.

As for Thursday, I will rest my body so I would not get injured. Friday, I will go for a tempo run about 10 km. Saturday, I will go for the hill run for an hour and Sunday, a long run for 25 km.

Normally, I will add more mileage after one month prior then the mileage goes down.

Marathoner: Kalun Nam (Kal)

Bio: Male, 42 years-old, Graphic Designer
Best Marathon Time: 3:07:43

Kalun: Usually, I would plan to do a 16 week training program for the marathon.

Kalun: My training plan is pretty basic, I will run for 5 to 6 days a week. I will break down a simple training plan of mine below. Normally, I will gradually increase my mileage and tapering down before two weeks closer to the race day.

  • Monday: Easy recovery run three to six miles
  • Tuesday: Track workouts, for example (20 x 400m), (10 x 800m), (5 x 1,000m), (4 x 2,000m) or (2 x 3,000m)
  • Wednesday: Easy recovery run five to eight miles
  • Thursday: Three to five mile tempo run
  • Friday: Rest or easy recovery run
  • Saturday: Long run from ten build up to twenty two miles
  • Sunday: Rest or easy recovery run

How to train for a marathon?

Training for a marathon takes patience, discipline and determination. We hope the above mentioned training plans shared by the marathoners could be a source of reference for you when you train for your next marathon race.

What is your marathon training plan? Share with us in the comments below.

More About Marathon Training Plan

How many weeks does it take to train for a marathon?

It takes usually 16 weeks long to train for a marathon but can be as short as 12 weeks and up to 20 weeks or more.

How much should I run to train for a marathon?

You should run at least 3 – 4 days per week and clock 20km to 100km when training for a marathon. You should gradually increase mileage in every week/month, depending on your training and body.

Be honest with yourself about what level of runner you are. Beginner and older marathon runners will need more time to build up to the long run and require more time to recover from the demands of training. Next find a good training plan and stick to it. You can also consider hiring a marathon running coach to assist you.

What is the best marathon training plan?

Marathon training plans differ and there is no consensus on which marathon training plan is the best. However, there are some key attributes to consider such as length, starting mileage, escalation, longest run, recovery and rest, monotony, and easy days and training days per week.

9 Things No One Tells You About Training for a Marathon

Running is hard.

Seasoned veterans will tell you that the difficulty and the subsequent feeling of accomplishment is what keeps them coming back for more. When I decided to get off the couch and train for a marathon, all I could focus on was how difficult it felt and how impossible 26.2 miles seemed. Looking back, I wish someone would’ve told me the following things that can and likely will happen when you train for a marathon. It would have made the experience less stressful knowing that I wasn’t alone in the emotions and physical changes.

Fear will replace excitement

Making the decision to run a marathon is a big deal. Regardless of whether you’re one-and-done or planning to run multiple marathons, it’s something that less than one percent of the population has done—and that, in and of itself, makes the commitment to train exhilarating. Once it fully clicks that you frequently drive less than 26.2 miles a day, that excitement may be replaced with fear. This emotion is normal and will hopefully wane! Warning: For some, the fear might not wear off until you cross the finish line.

Not everyone will be supportive

When you make a big decision in your life, you want your friends and family in your corner. Of course, not everyone in your life is always going to be supportive. Maybe it’s a friend who would prefer that you join them at the bar on Friday night instead of heading to bed early for your long run the next day. Perhaps it’s that nagging negative aunt that tells you how you’re harming your body and ruining your knees. Find the motivation from within to keep going when others are suggesting you should stop.

Digestive issues are common

Step away from WebMD! You do not have some mystery illness that has suddenly entered your life just when you wanted to run farther than you have ever run before.

Your body is having a lot of firsts during the marathon training process and it may take time for it to adjust to everything that is happening. Fuel your body with nutrient dense foods and steer clear of anything processed. You may find that foods you formerly tolerated with ease don’t agree with you when you have a long run the next day. This isn’t just you, digestive issues plague many runners.

You’ve only gone and done it. You’ve committed to running the big one. A marathon. The full 42.2km. And make sure you keep that 0.2km in mind, because trust us when we say that you won’t believe how long the final 200m can feel on race day.

For many people, their first marathon is a genuine life highlight. And it’ll be a real test of your physical and mental strength. Once you cross the finish line, you’ll feel a sense of euphoria that’s hard to match – but you have to get there first.

Assuming you have at least four or five months before race day itself, you have plenty of time to get yourself into shape for a marathon, but it’s always better to start as early as possible to give your body time to adapt to the rigours of regular running. If you’re still six months or more away from race day you don’t necessarily have to dive straight into a full training plan yet – but getting out for one or two runs a week now, and gradually increasing the distance over time, will make starting a plan so much easier when you do begin to ramp up your mileage in preparation for the race.

This guide contains everything you need not only to finish a marathon, but to finish it in grand style. For some that means flying over the finish line with a huge new personal best; for others it means not having to crawl the last two (point two) kilometres.

Marathon Training Plans

Find the right training plan – one that suits both your target time and current fitness – and you’re halfway there. The other half is following that training plan closely, which is admittedly a lot harder than picking it.

You might wonder why you can’t just go out and do whatever running you want when training for a marathon. It’s just running after all, so doing a load of running in the build-up will help you, right? Not quite. A structured plan involves a variety of runs that prepare you to complete 42.2km in as smooth a fashion as possible. It also builds up gradually to reduce your risk of injury. If you just go out and run at the same (probably too fast) pace all the time, your training will become a real chore and you’re likely to burn out or get injured well before your race.

Coach has a range of 14-week training plans for all aims and abilities, and each of them involves several types of run. There are interval sessions to help build your speed, tempo runs to improve your ability to sustain your marathon pace, and long runs to build the endurance required to complete 42.2km in one go. Each plan also includes a lot of easy running, which helps to condition your body for the marathon while also allowing it to recover from your harder runs. The balance of all these is key – even if you’re an experienced runner, that balance is very easy to get wrong if you’re simply winging your preparation for an event.

Now you’re presumably convinced by the merits of following a marathon training plan, it’s time to pick yours. Below you’ll find more info on all our free training plans to help you find the one that’s right for you.

14-Week Beginner Marathon Training Plan

You don’t need to be running already to tackle this plan, but you do need to be active in some way, as you run a steady 5K at the end of the first week of training. It’s ideal for an especially busy marathoner, as you only need to commit to three runs a week plus one core workout. The target marathon finish time is five hours, but you can run much quicker on this plan if you discover an innate running talent.

14-Week Beginner-Intermediate Marathon Training Plan

This plan is good for both regular runners tackling their first marathon and those who are looking to bring down their time. You do four runs a week including a couple of sprint or hill sessions – just the ticket for improving your marathon pace.

14-Week Advanced-Intermediate Marathon Training Plan

If you have the time and existing fitness to tackle five runs a week, you can fit in a variety of quality sessions – including hills, sprints, easy runs and long runs – which will stand you in good stead whatever your target marathon time is.

Picking Your Marathon Running Shoes

Let’s start at the bottom. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the shoes you use for your marathon training, so it’s important to get the right ones. If you already have a preferred style and brand, then stick with them – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it is broke, in that you are uncomfortable in your shoes or pick up a lot of injuries, or if you’re a beginner runner with no shoes at all, then it’s worth getting your gait analysed.

Many running shops perform a gait analysis for free. A quick run on a treadmill will help an expert ascertain if you overpronate (where your foot rolls too far inwards when it lands) or underpronate (it doesn’t roll far enough), or if you are a neutral runner. More advanced gait analysis will also look at how your entire body moves when running, but this is probably only worth doing if you are suffering from a lot of injuries and then it’s best to visit a physio for advice.

Once you know the right type of shoes for you, test some on a treadmill in the store if possible. Going for whatever feels best is a good rule of thumb, even if it runs counter to advice from others.

You want a well-cushioned shoe for marathon training, because you’ll be racking up a lot of distance. If you can stretch to more than one pair, then it can be worth getting a lighter, less cushioned pair too, for faster interval sessions in training, and maybe race day itself – although be wary of using the ultra-light shoes favoured by pros, because they might not be cushioned enough for regular Joes.

One last point in this section – do not, under any circumstances, buy a shiny new pair of shoes at your marathon expo and wear them for the first time on race day. That goes for all your gear – you want tried-and-tested stuff that won’t annoy, chafe or injure you.

The Running Gear You Need For A Marathon

When it comes to your marathon outfit, it’s worth investing in technical garb that wicks sweat away and doesn’t irritate. Don’t forget to extend these principles to your socks and underwear. You might only run one marathon in your life, so it’s worth splashing out on some top-quality kit to make sure the memory isn’t ruined by blisters or *shudders* chafing.

You’ll also need a method to carry some kind of sustenance with you while you run. There will be drinks on the course, but if you’re using energy gels or bars, you should bring ones that you’re used to with you to avoid any stomach… unpleasantness. A running belt with space for your gels, phone and headphones is a useful purchase. You could buy a running armband instead, but in our opinion belts are better.

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How Can Tech Help You?

When you’re preparing your body to complete a marathon you should follow a training schedule set by a qualified run coach. This plan will invariably have you running multiple times a week and doing different types of runs – some long and slow, some fast and short, and various other combinations of distance and pace. It pays to follow a plan as closely as possible, and that’s where tech can help.

To follow a beginner marathon training plan like Coach’s, you could easily get by with nothing more than a stopwatch to make sure you’re sticking to the time the training plan is asking you to run for and a GPS run tracker on your phone to make sure you’re sticking to the distance asked of you. GPS is the American satellite system that phones, sat navs and the like use to establish your location. A GPS run tracker simply uses this information to map your progress, telling you how far you’ve gone and how quickly.

If you don’t mind spending the money, fitness trackers offer a highly convenient combination of stopwatch and run tracker. Just make sure to buy one with connected GPS (where the fitness tracker connects to your phone and uses its GPS signal) or built-in GPS. Virtually all fitness trackers have that capability now but it’s worth double-checking.

When you’re training by running sessions at different paces, it’s extremely useful to have that information on your wrist. A tracker with a heart rate monitor – again, virtually standard – can help you gauge if you’re putting in the right amount of effort in, even if you’re struggling to hit the required pace that day for whatever reason (a hilly route, a bracing headwind, feeling a bit run down, etc).

The more you spend – trackers go up to around £600 – the more likely it is that your device will offer other features like coaching you through each run, providing insights into your running form and the effect of your training, and helping you to tweak it for the better.

If you’re new to running and are taking a fundraising, one-and-done approach to a marathon, free running apps like Strava, Runkeeper or Nike+ Run Club that allow you to track your runs and review them later are your best bets.

If you have been running for a while and want to make the step up to marathon distance or are training towards a target time, we’d recommend a basic GPS running watch like the Garmin Forerunner 45 (£169) or tracker like the Polar Ignite (£174.50, pictured below). These reasonably priced watches are able to track all your stats and coach you through guided workouts and training plans, although Garmin is yet to release a full marathon training plan.

Spend around £300 and you’ll get a tracker with not only a vast array of running stats but also smart features including music storage and streaming. Pair it with wireless running headphones and you can cover all the training mileage with your choice of entertainment and without your phone. The best running watch at this price is the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music (£299.99), a terrific device that will satisfy the key needs of any runner as well as having space for music and the ability to wirelessly sync playlists if you have a Spotify Premium account.

Most will find all they need for less than £300, but if you want to treat yourself to more advanced navigation features and training feedback, check out the high-powered watches available for £500-plus. The Garmin Forerunner 945 (£519) and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (£599.99) are our top picks for runners if money is no object. Both will give detailed feedback on whether your training is productive or if you’re overdoing it, and what kind of training you should do more of – interval work or recovery runs, for example.

On top of that, these watches have music and full colour maps on board, so you can always find a new route to liven up your training – trust us, it can be a real shot in the arm when you’re running three or more times a week. The Fenix 6 Pro also has Garmin’s new PacePro feature, which will help you pace your race perfectly, providing individual mile or kilometre split targets to keep you on target for your overall goal.

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How To Fuel Your Running

During your training the main general dietary advice is to ensure you’re eating enough carbs to fuel your exercise, protein to help your muscles rebuild and recover, and fruit and vegetables to keep your immune system in good shape – especially if you’re training in the winter.

You need to also start thinking about in-run nutrition and hydration when your training runs are longer than 90 minutes. Make sure you increase your carb consumption before those runs, and consider carrying gels or another source of carbs with you to restock during the run. Running gels are popular because they are easy to carry and consume on the move.

Staying hydrated is also vital, and this means topping up electrolytes like sodium as well as glugging down plenty of water. Sports drinks contain electrolytes as well as carbs, or you can buy tablets you dissolve in water to create an electrolyte-rich drink.

For your final few long runs before the marathon you should be trying to replicate the nutrition you will be using on race day itself so your body gets used to the gels and drinks. Gels in particular can upset your stomach, and how they affect you varies from brand to brand, so keep trying till you find one that works for you.

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How To Avoid Injury

When training for a marathon most people do a lot more running than they have ever done before. Hopefully this should not be news to you. Given that the most common cause of running injuries like plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, shin splints and achilles tendonitis is a rapid uptick in the amount of running done, it’s not surprising that lots of would-be marathoners are struck down with injury during their training.

A gradual, managed increase in your training mileage is key to avoiding injury. If you’re following a training plan, this will be taken into account. If you don’t follow a particular plan, try and avoid massive increases in your total weekly distance – making consistent increases of around 3-5km is a good rule to follow when marathon training.

If you miss a couple of weeks for whatever reason, you’ll also need to adjust your plan accordingly. It’s unwise to go in at week eight, for example, if you missed six and seven. Instead look at what you did in week five and build a little faster than on the plan, maybe catching up with the plan by week 12 or so. This is especially true for your long runs. If you haven’t run for two weeks and try to knock out the 25km listed on your plan when you’re not ready, you are asking for trouble.

Strength training that focuses on your legs and core will also help prepare your body for the demands of running a marathon. Exercises like squats, calf raises and lunges will strengthen your legs, while yoga and Pilates are good options for both stretching your tired muscles and building core strength. You’ll also find a foam roller becomes essential.

Another thing to check if you are picking up niggles constantly is whether you’re wearing the right kind of running shoes for you.

Some injuries are completely unavoidable, of course, and even if you do everything you can to prepare your body for the demands of marathon training it can break down. Be sensible about it if that does happen – go and see a physio, and don’t worry if it ultimately means that you can’t run your marathon. There will always be another race, as long as you don’t destroy your body by running through the pain.

What Should You Do Besides Running?

Cross training is a key part of any marathon training plan. We’ve touched on how strength training, yoga and Pilates can reduce your risk of injury, but that isn’t the only reason to add some cross-training to your weekly schedule. Strength and mobility work will also improve your performance when running, so they are essential for anyone training to beat their best time.

You can also swap some of the running in your training plan for other cardiovascular exercise like cycling, swimming or the cross-trainer. As long as the session is intense enough, you’ll get the same cardio benefits as you would from running, and it might help break up your training so you don’t get bored. Furthermore, if you’re starting to feel a niggle it might be worth swapping your run for a session in the pool or on the exercise bike, which will allow you to get your training done while giving your body a break from the specific impacts of running. And if you’re training during the UK winter, you’ll probably be only too glad to head indoors for a workout once in a while.

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Preparing for marathon training

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