Your first 26.2 . 15 Essential Information for
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Not sure how to fuel? Scared that your shoes aren’t perfect? Or just worried you won’t make it in one piece? Let the running experts impart their knowledge.
Public Service Announcement: It’s London Marathon Weekend. Feeling inspired seeing all the amazing runners lace up tackle 26.2 and Googling training tips for a marathon? Well, you are at right place.
Running a marathon is no small feat. You’ll end up with black nails, Dom for days, and a totally incomparable sense of pride, accomplishment, and sheer enthusiasm. It’s like nothing else – and yes, absolutely anyone can do it (if you train).
So, where to start? It’ll depend on your fitness level — if you workout four times a week and run semi-regularly, you might want to try a different plan than someone who’s never run before.
But there are some universal marathon training tips that apply to everyone. We’ve Asked the Run Coach and Athlete johnny melorrun coach Steve VernonAnd fit personal trainer Sean Cazabo To share the fifteen most important things you need to know before your first race—including what not to do on race day (we’re looking at you, brand new running trainers or accidental alarm snooze).
Don’t miss our guides to the many benefits of running, or expert lecturers on how to run faster while you’re here.
Training Tips for a Marathon: 15 Needs to Know
If you’re thinking about running or you’ve trained for your first one, you’re probably feeling a combination of excitement, nerves, and what runners call “marnoia”—marathon paranoia, aka. A slight nagging feeling that you haven’t done enough in training.
1. First things first: Pick a plan (and stick to it)
Want to run a marathon? First, choose a training plan (there are plenty of free options at the likes of Runner’s World). At most twelve, sixteen or 20 weeks and the big day will gradually build up your body to be able to deal with the coming distance.
As Kazab points out, research has shown that those who have a specific workout plan are significantly more likely to achieve their goals. Similar to smashing up your weekly home workouts or gym classes, a running training plan will guide you through several weeks of training with expert guidance. Plus, as the instructor emphasizes, having a solid plan kicks off the decision-making process, so you have to stay focused on each session.
“There are many training plans out there that claim to be the best but, realistically, the best plan is the one you can stick to and the one that fits with your lifestyle.”
Use this: When choosing a plan, try and look at the number of sessions per week and make sure it is something you are doing know You can cling.
2. Practice Your Goal
Knowing how to run longer can seem daunting, and this is one of the most important tips. As Kazab says, without a goal, you can’t score. Whether yours is to finish – that’s an achievement in itself – or a goal for a certain amount of time – impressive too – remember not to compare yourself to others. This is your marathon, and your journey.
“Having clear, specific, measurable, and intentional goals will help you develop a clear action plan,” he explains.
Use this: Whatever your goal is, write it down and make it clear.
3. Don’t Hurry Too Much
FYI, a lot of running injuries are caused by doing too much, too quickly.
Use this: Remember to pace yourself. Whatever fitness base you’re on, build your running up gradually – our running tips for beginners feature can help.
By the time you’ve ticked off most of your miles and followed (most) of your plan, you’ll have done enough. Marathon training is a fine balance between too little and too much. Yes, rest is as important as training. Also, trusting your training is often just as important as the training itself.
4. Remember to Strength Train Too
You might assume that training for a marathon simply means running weights, right?
Wrong. “Weight training is something endurance runners often neglect but its importance for both injury prevention as well as performance improvement has been proven time and again,” Kazab explains.
Use this: Add one to two full-body strength training sessions a week – the workouts on Fiit’s Marathon Prep Collection are specially designed with runners in mind.
5. Prioritize Sleep
Sounds easy, in reality not so much. “A consistent sleep routine is one of the least likely ways to improve your recovery,” explains Kazab.
Use this: Where possible, make sure you get a good night’s sleep before all your running. The growth hormones released in your sleep are important for tissue repair and recovery, so sleeping in bed for seven to eight consecutive hours will only benefit. Wondering how you can sleep? Our guide to treating insomnia is here to help. Fitness editor Elle Head swears by her Sunrise alarm clock for optimal closed eye.
the day before the race
6. Plan in advance
One thing to keep worries away? Have a clear race plan, and also a clear post-race plan, advises Mailer.
Use this: “As well as planning the race, make sure you plan to meet with friends and family after the race,” he advises. “The finish line is often very congested—knowing where your loved ones will be after the marathon will help you get past the tough mile.”
7. Check Your Kit
Again, sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people run around for safety pins or Vaseline come race day. running shoes? the inspection. gym leggings? the inspection.
Use this: “The day before the race, check the final kit,” shares Mailer. “Pin your number on your vest and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything you need on race day.”
A basic (but not comprehensive) list might include:
Melor likes to make notes on her phone a week before the marathon to make sure she’s ready.
8. Prepare yourself mentally for difficult situations
Tough patches are inevitable in a marathon—how do you deal with them (but our guide to redefining negative thoughts can help).
Shares Vernon, “These tough bits can sometimes come earlier than you think, so it’s good to think about how you’ll overcome them with positive self-talk and remind yourself of hard work and training.”
Use this: Have a clear action plan for how you’re going to overcome negative thoughts and feelings mid-race. “If you’ve done the job there’s no need to panic, so just slow down and let it pass,” advises Vernon.
9. Break Up Mileage
This is really the key. “The overall distance can be tough, so break it up with process goals,” recommends Vernon.
Use this: Whether you aim for ten miles, fifteen, twenty-five, and then distance markers for the finish – or instead focus on landmarks or where to cheer with your friends and family is up to you. “You can reward yourself by listening to some of your favorite fuel or motivational songs – anything that gives you a boost,” advises Vernon.
10. Sort Your Refueling
On the topic of refueling – make sure you check what works for you before race day. Mailer explains that you’ll need to refuel less and often—as a general rule of thumb, you’ll need at least 30 grams of carbs per hour minimum.
Use this: “If you’ve eaten well and hydrated in the first 48 hours, your glycogen stores will be optimized, but you’ll still need to drink and fuel,” he explains. Try to sip the drink at regular intervals and have some fuel in the form of a sports drink, gel or dessert at least once every hour.
Our expert-led explainers on what to eat after a workout and the best protein powder can come in handy here.
11. Eat Simple
On the topic of nutrition, don’t eat anything different in the week leading up to race day. “The last week before a marathon is not the time to make changes to your diet,” shares Mailer.
Use this: Instead, eat foods you know well. Dress up your fridge (or bag) with pots of oatmeal and basic carbs you know work for you.
12. Give Yourself Enough Time
You don’t want to scramble around pre-race like we touched on, so make sure you’re prepared.
Use this: “Get up very early on race day and give yourself enough time to go to the bathroom, eat, and get to the start line so you don’t rush,” advises Mellor.
Also note here: It’s normal not to get a good night’s sleep the night before a race. You’ll be nervous – it’s bound to happen.
13. Don’t Try Anything New
Again, you may have heard it before but would be surprised at how many people do it. “Don’t wear anything new to the marathon—this includes running shoes, gym leggings, and any other workout kit,” explains Mailer.
Use this: Select trainers that you’ve worn and broken before, advises Athlete. “Break out any new kit for a couple of weeks before running in them,” he advises. “I like to do a final dress rehearsal for two weeks, which includes running in the kit and planning the mornings for the trainers’ races.”
14. Remember to steady the first half of the race
It’s likely you’ll have a goal in mind depending on your training—make sure you don’t set too fast, as you’ll regret it in the second half of the race, shares Vernon.
Use this: “Run steady for the first half—it’s easy to walk away from the crowd with adrenaline and hear your family and friends on the road, so be smart,” he says.
15. And finally… enjoy
Because, after all, that’s what it’s about, right? “Make sure you enjoy the race,” insisted Vernon. “We all know the marathon is tough for all abilities, but you can still enjoy it by soaking in the incredible atmosphere along the way and sharing the journey with fellow competitors on the road,” he says.
Use this: Smile when you start to suffer…. It’s worth a try if it works for world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, says Vernon.
What is Marathon?
Simply put, a long-distance running race of 26.2 miles or 42 km. “That’s over eight parkruns, or 105.5 laps of a running track,” explains Vernon. “Either way, it’s a long Way!”
Is it normal to feel nervous before a marathon?
short answer? Yes, explains Mailer.
“Feeling nervous pre-race is completely normal and it’s worth remembering that thousands of runners are going through exactly that,” he shares. “Nerves are good – they show you care. Remind yourself of the tough sessions you worked in and trust that you gave it your best shot. This is all you can do,” he concludes Removed.