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Top Tips for Training for your Marathon

Posted on September 30th, 2019 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

For many people the desire to run a marathon or take part in a big sporting event is all about the personal challenge. To test your limits both physical and mental, prove you can do the distance, lose weight and get healthier or simply tick it off your bucket list. The personal drive has to be present in order for you to get over the finish line.

However as with all big events there comes one simple questions. How do I go about training for it?

Getting Started:

If you have just decided that a marathon is your new goal then there are a few simple things you need to consider before you take even the first step of your first training run:

  • Do you have appropriate shoes?
    • As you are going to put a lot of mileage onto your shoes, you need to wear appropriate ones. You also need to considered if your feet pronate, supinate or are neutral. This will determine the type of shoe that you need to wear because if you wear the wrong shoes for your foot it can lead to numerous problems and injuries later on.
    • For more information on appropriate footwear it is best to contact a podiatrist.

  • Do you have any injuries
    • It could be an old injury, new, or anything that might start to flare up as you start to increase your mileage.
    • It is a good idea to consult a health care physician, a physiotherapist or Biokineticist should you have any issues that need to be addressed. They can assist you in correcting any bio-mechanical abnormalities, strengthening and stretching the appropriate muscles and advising about any training program tweaks or cross training exercises you should be considering.

  • How much time do you have before the event?
    • One of the most common causes of injury leading up to a marathon is upping the mileage to early. It is advisable to start training early. This will ensure you can develop a good base and up the distances you run slowly. If you are starting from scratch then you need to develop a good running base for roughly a year before you start a serious training program for a marathon.

  • Start small.
    • The best thing to do is to start with shorter goals before a marathon. In the early stages of training start with a 5km race and slowly over a few months build up to 10 and 21kms. These shorter races are a great way to start physically and mentally preparing for the marathon event.

5 Important areas to consider:

  • Base mileage:
    • It is advised to slowly build up the mileage you run each week. Most training programs range from 12-20 weeks. It is advised that you do 3-5 runs a week. Each week increasing the total mileage slightly.

  • Long run
    • Once every 7-10 days a long run should be done. Each week increasing the distance of this run slightly by 3-5 km. Then every 4th week decrease the distance again so as to avoid injury and allow the body a recovery week. On the 5th week increase the distance again.
    • For most training programs the maximum you will run in training is around 32 km. On race day all being well you will be able to do those last few kilometers as your body will be in good shape and will have recovered from training during your taper.

  • Speed Work
    • Speed work can be done either using interval training or tempo running.
    • Interval training:
      • Run a specific distance (usually around 400 m) as fast as you can.
      • Then run the next 400 m at a recovery pace.
      • Repeating this 4-10 times.
    • Tempo running:
      • Run a longer distance, between 5-15 km at a challenging pace that you struggle to maintain.
    • Both types of training will increase your bodies work capacity and make your normal running pace feel much easier. It will also improve the speed at which you are able to run long distances at without becoming exhausted.

  • Cross training
    • Cross training is importance to prevent injury. It can be a variety of different things from strength training, cycling, or even rehab exercises.
    • As with anything in life to much of one thing is bad. The same can be said for running. Including leg strengthening and stability exercises, as well as doing some cardio work on the bike can help improve your fitness levels, strength, as well as your running form and ability.

  • Rest and Recovery
    • Maybe one of the most important and overlooked aspects of any training is rest and recovery. For your body to adapt to any form of training it needs time to rest and recover.
    • Taking 1-2 days off from training each week or including 1 day of active recovery is essential. This will allow your body to adapt, prevent injury and allow you to stick to your training program.

For more information on training, and on how to prevent injury as you take on your marathon don’t hesitate to contact us.


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