5 MIN READ
From knowing what to eat and buying the right shoes to knowing how far to run and when to start tapering, there’s loads to think about.
Don't worry, all marathon runners have been there, and we've polled some of them to help us compile this list of 26 marathon training tips to help you reach the finish line.
No need to panic, marathons are rarely ‘bad’ for people, but a check-up before you commit to an intense marathon training plan is never a bad idea.
Then go tell everyone you know that you’re running a marathon. Vocalising your goal keeps you accountable to yourself and inspires others to keep you accountable in reaching it.
You’ll want to consume a well-balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates to fuel your running training as well as protein to speed up recovery. Also, have a water bottle within reach at all times to stay super-hydrated throughout your entire marathon running training schedule.
This way, you can tell your tempo run from your intervals and communicate more effectively when comparing notes with other runners. Shopping for clothes gets easier when you understand what sweat wicking means and why it’s so important, too.
If it’s raining, go. If it means getting up early, go. If it means putting off watching that last episode of (insert your favourite TV series here), go.
Invest in a pair of trainers that fit your feet and are lightweight but with appropriate support. Then invest in a pair of appropriate socks. Check out our range of running clothes for men, accessories and running clothes for women.
Strength conditioning will reduce your chance of injury and increase your speed. Explore our online fitness studio for at-home training inspiration.
All the better if they’ve run the marathon you’ll be running. There’s no better insight available about what it’s like on the course – and navigating the whole marathon distance – than from someone who’s run it.
Find friends – or make new ones – online, or in person, who are training for a running race. Align your schedules and set up a WhatsApp group to share progress. The camaraderie is invaluable.
Pre-plan your day to help you complete your run, whether that means laying out clothing the night before an early morning session, or doing your shopping on the weekend for healthy meals all week that support your calorific output.
Your slow training runs are supposed to be slower. Revel in this reality and just take it easy.
Monitoring your speed, time and heart rate helps fine-tune your training. Bonus: often apps will spout motivational encouragement for you as you’re running. Some even have zombies.
Flying solo can also put you in a great headspace. Being inspired to get out there and pound the pavement alone can be good mental practice for the big day, and help you keep a pace true to your goals.
Running with a group helps to keep you motivated, often with a side order of healthy competition.
The joy of the successes of each session will keep you moving forwards towards the Big Goal, the marathon itself.
Yoga will do nicely.
Because nobody likes a surprise hill at mile 22.
Self-explanatory, yes? (Um, in case it’s not: try to train on a course similar to the one you’ll be racing on – or harder than the one you’ll be racing on, if you’re super hardcore.)
Read up on fitness expert tips and advice. Watch Chariots of Fire. Put motivational post-it notes on your bathroom mirror reminding yourself that training is an evolution, not a destination. Translation: you’re already winning just for training.
Or a 10k. This gets you well-versed on what race day will feel like and provides a temperature check on how you deal with adrenaline rush or running with all those other people around. A general rule is to do a half marathon distance run about a month before your marathon.
This trains you to increase your effort and battle effectively through fatigue.
This is the time when you wind down the week or so before your marathon. You need the rest so that all the benefits of your training can take effect. No matter how confident you’re feeling, this is not the time to see if you can squeeze out an extra five miles on top of your final long run.
Further to tapering, stay off your feet the week before the marathon and ease into a mindfulness routine, acknowledging everything else going on in your life. This is also not the time to move house or start a new course at school. Practise a calm mind.
Not to be confused with fat-loading. Since you’ll be tapering, you won’t need to eat more than usual, you just need to stock your muscles with plenty of complex carbs. The Internet has a bottomless source of killer recipes for this express purpose.
You’ve created a plan for race day, and even if the best runner you know suggests a different approach, stick with what you know.
Where the mind goes the body will follow. You are going to train. Then you are going to make it from the start line to the finish line. Repeat.
If you’ve read this far, then we're guessing you’re pretty committed to this. Which means now’s the time to sign up, get processing and start your marathon training. Check out our run training hub for tips and guidance every step of the way. You’ve got this.