7 Apr 2016

How to Train For a Marathon

Marathons are bloody hard work. Our intern Madi who runs track back home in the States wanted to share with you her tips on training for a marathon. So here are Madi's top marathon training tips!

Sign up far in advance

This way you have yourself committed, meaning you won’t be able to back out during training. Training for a marathon will be difficult at times but if you are signed up before you even begin training there is small chance you will give up. Signing up before you begin will keep you motivated and disable you from quitting on your goals. Also, signing up far in advance gives you time to train and get yourself prepared for the big race.

Start slow

Work your way to higher mileage. Give yourself a week-by-week mileage plan and bump up the miles by 10 as the weeks progress. If you start with too many miles you can end up with injuries that will disable you from continuing your training. The best way to get you started in training is to start low and build yourself up.

Train for a half first

If jumping into a marathon with little running experience scares you try out a half marathon first to get yourself used to running longer distances. Running a half first, however, can make a full marathon seem a lot longer and more dreadful. Decide for yourself if you think you can handle a full marathon, it is all about personal experience and preference.

Set goals

Have weekly goals that will allow you to reach more miles and get stronger in preparation for the big race. Goals will make training seem worth it and you will become more and more successful as you continually reach your goals.

Train with a buddy

Having a person to go through the work with will not only serve as motivation but as a bonding experience as well. Along the lines of motivation, you hold each other accountable and will push each other to keep going even on weeks where you are struggling to reach miles

Understand you will have “off” weeks

There are going to be days and even weeks where you just want to give up. You will find yourself shortening some runs, or walking. It is okay. Training for a marathon is tough and it can take a toll on your body, so understand that there will be lows in your training. The best advice I can give you is that even when it is hard, keep going. You will feel extremely rewarded when you reflect on all that you have accomplished, so when the going gets tough the tough gets going.

Weekly long run at a conversational pace

These long runs are the most important to your training. Getting runs like this in is very important for you to succeed. You can do these runs at a comfortable pace that allows you to converse with a training partner or enjoy the scenery.

Tempo runs

These are vital in your training. Tempo runs are longer runs at a fast pace. Although these may be your most challenging runs, they are the best for your training. Running longer at a faster pace will make your other runs feel like a breeze. Runner’s World shares a complete list of when, why, and how to do tempo runs. 

Track workouts

As a veteran cross-country runner, I am familiar with training for longer runs. Track workouts are speed workouts that are vital to your training. If you are a new marathoner don’t spend as much time on this type of workout. Focus more on this workout if you have a marathon or two under your belt already. If you have already completed a marathon in the past and are looking to drop your time by a few seconds or minutes, these workouts are the best way to do that.

One of my favourite track workouts for getting some speed in your legs is called a 'lactic special'. This workout is tough but so good for your training. It is a circuit you repeat 4 times. Each circuit is a tempo pace; if you are feeling well you can bump up your pace. Start with three 300-meter runs, when you complete one jog back to the start line and go again. Once you have completed these three, you have one 400-meter tempo run. That completes the circuit; you will then do this 3 more times. It is a very tough workout but it will get you in perfect shape for the marathon. Check out Runner’s World for the importance of speed workouts in marathon training. 

Stay Healthy

This is so important in your training. Your body is going to experience some big changes and it's going to need extra care. In order to avoid injuries you need to take care of yourself. Make sure to stretch after every run, your body needs this in order to recover after each run. Eating healthy is also another important thing to remember when training for your marathon. Healthy diets are extremely important when it comes to running, eating healthy gives your body good energy and sufficient nutrients your body is going to need when you are working this hard. 

Stay Motivated

Marathon training is an immensely rewarding process if you keep yourself in the right mindset to keep going. Sometimes you will want to skip workouts, or eat Maccas for dinner but in order for the training to go well you need to keep yourself committed. In order to keep yourself motivated, start a journal and document your progress. Write down how the workout went but also how you are feeling with the process of training. Looking back on previous journal entries will give you the motivation to continue going. Remind yourself why you signed up in the first place, set goals and reach them. If you keep yourself in it you will reap the benefits at the end. 

If you're about to start training for a marathon, let us know how it's going! Comment about any other tips you have for marathon training, we would love to hear it! 

We hope this helps, if you are training for a marathon in the future, we wish you all the very best!

Speak soon,

Team Onsport