Marathon Training Tips

03 October 2022
Trail Running

Use these tips for a 12-week plan.

Perhaps one of the most brutal, and committed runs you can undertake is a marathon. An awe inspiring distance of 42km, and training requires utmost dedication and consistency. For first timers, it’s highly recommended that you spend at least 12 weeks prior training to tackle the race properly.

Regular training in a controlled, well planned manner is one of the keys to help you complete the distance. General rule of thumb from running experts is to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% to mitigate illness and injury from too much training.

Our team have got some tips to help you with your 12-week training routine.

Planning Long runs

Long runs are the foundation of all marathon training programmes. They are an important way to prep your body for the demands of the marathon distance. Gradually increasing the long run each week could assist muscles, ligaments and tendons to withstand mile after mile of pounding. They are also a key factor in increasing your confidence in your ability to go the distance.

Understanding Tempo sessions and races

If you are aiming for a particular time in a marathon, then tempo sessions and races are a must. Tempo sessions will get you running at, or faster than, marathon race pace but over a shorter distance. Aim to reach no more than 20km in your tempo run during your build up to the marathon. They most closely simulate the conditions you will encounter in the race itself and as such are an invaluable part of training.

Adding Trail running into your plan

Not only is it beneficial to involve varied pace and length sessions, but its also a HUGE benefit to include Trail in your weekly plan. Not only does it get your body accustomed to a completely different load (compared to flat roads), but it keeps your mind in the game too, Trail requires extra thinking and awareness of your surroundings on every step. This is also the reason why Trail Running shoes are vastly different to Road Running shoes, with more vigourous outsoles for grip, and additional midsole padding for rock protection.

Incorporate speed runs into your training plan

Along with tempo runs, speed sessions will push you to become faster and stronger. Vary your distances each week, start with 5 to 10 fast runs/sprints for 1 minute, with a 2 minute recovery. Gradually increase the speed distances until you reach 1km with a 1 minute recovery. There is no doubt that these sessions are hard, but they are important for strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Managing Hill runs

You can increase your running strength by incorporating some hill running into your marathon training plan. We recommend reps to increase endurance. When performing these sessions make sure you warm up sufficiently by slow running for 2 to 4km. Try to find hills that take at least 2 minutes to get up. Run up the hill at a good speed – you shouldn’t be flat out or going too slowly, just get on your toes and push yourself. Once at the top, take a breather and slowly jog/walk back to the start, ready for the next repetition. Aim to complete each hill rep in the same time to make sure you are putting in enough effort. Aim to run 4 to 8 hills depending on your current fitness level.

Strength Training

We recommend putting aside one day a week to strength work. Leave the running shoes at the door and concentrate on finely tuning your body by doing weights. Weight training, in the form of lunges, squats, deadlifts and core work, is very beneficial to runners – not only to maintain muscle but also to strengthen the body and prevent injury.

Don’t forget about recovery runs

Recovery sessions are a very important part of the plan and as such, must be run at the right intensity. These runs will help clean out the lactic acid and rebuild the structure of the muscles after hard training. Under no circumstances should recovery runs turn into fast runs. You should be running slower than your long runs, preferably on a flat surface. Enjoy these sessions and make the most of going slow.

Taper Weeks

The last 2 weeks of a 12-week training program are referred to as taper weeks. This is your opportunity to take your foot off the pedal, and completely scale back your running. Suddenly your 20km runs will become 6km. Many runners fall at this last hurdle, thinking that they should cram in extra miles. This is a huge mistake. Tapering is possibly the most important part of the plan. You want to arrive at the start line, chomping at the bit, full of energy and with fresh legs. Tapering gives you all these things.

During the last 2 weeks do not, under any circumstances, train more than the plan stipulates. This is when your body will replenish glycogen stores, as you eat carbohydrates, ready for race day and mentally you will have a break from running. Make the most of it, buy a book, sleep in and try not to over-think race day.

Snacks and Food for marathon training

Fuel up for your training sessions by adding carbohydrate rich foods like pasta, rice and oats. Upping your protein intake is also considered important as this can help build muscles and support recovery. Try to consume your food around 30-60 mins before you head out so it’s had time to digest but will have that awesome energy boost you’re looking for.

Within 30-45mins of a training session, we also suggest eating a recovery snack high in carbs and protein – this window of time is pretty important as it helps your body recover and rebuild faster.

Stay Hydrated

This is a no brainer – even on your days off – keep drinking that water. During training sessions its recommended that you have 3-4 sips of fluid for ever 15 mins of running, but never to exceed 600ml

Don’t forget the right kit

Stocking up on the right training kit means you can focus on the run, rather than what’s on your feet and body. A good quality pair of sneakers is a must, as is robust training clothes with moisture wicking technology like our running shorts for men and women than can resist long distance runs.

Finally, don’t forget to ENJOY YOUR RACE!