How to train for a marathon?

Only six months after I had completed a Start to Run podcast, I was training for my very first marathon. Well… my first three actually. Since I would be in marathon shape, I could run as well three marathons in a few weeks, I thought. It was only one of the mistakes I made when I ran the marathon of Rome, Paris and London in five weeks time. 

Running a marathon is on many people’s bucketlist, but only few ever reach the finish

Marathons

Maratona di Roma

after a 42,195 kilometer run. I have to admit, it’s a demanding distance and training for it requires a lot of time and perseverance. But for those who have completed a half marathon several times and the challenge of it has disappeared, there is only one bigger goal in your running career: finishing a marathon.

Training

Your marathon training begins when you are able to run 21k without any difficulties. From that point, ten weeks before the start of your race, you switch to five runs a week. The following schedule is based on running a marathon under four hours.

Week 1 & 2

Day 1 – Run 1h20 slow pace

Day 2 – Interval training 10x 400m

Day 3 – Run 1h15 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 1h30

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Run 2h

Week 3 & 4

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval training 3000-2000-1000 with 800m slow pace run in between (2 sessions)

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 1h30

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Run 2h

Week 5 

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – 8x 1000 meter

Day 3 – Run 1h30

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 30 min

Day 6 – Run 3h

Day 7 – Run 30 min

Week 6

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval training 200 – 400 – 100 – 600 (4 sessions)

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 30 min

Day 6 – Run 1h30

Day 7 – Run 2h30 min

Week 7

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval 10x 200m

Day 3 – Run 1h30 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 3h30

Week 8 

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Run 45 min

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – Run 1h45 min

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 3h

Week 9

Day 1 – Run 1h20

Day 2 – Interval training 3000 – 2000 – 1000

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 2h15 min

Week 10

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Run 45 min

Day 3 – Run 45 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Marathon

Don’t forget! 

  • Keep strictly to your training schedule. Don’t run more to avoid fatigue in later
    Een marathon lopen is afzien, maar brengt eeuwige trots met zich mee

    Running a marathon is hard work, but is something to be proud of the rest of your life

    stages of your training

  • Running a half marathon without drinking or eating might be possible, but running a marathon without isn’t. The notorious ‘hitting the wall’ is something every marathon runner has heard about. It happens when your carbs reserves have run low (shortage of glycogene). You can avoid it by eating a carb rich diet the weeks before your race and replenish your energy level during the race.
  • Try out which foods work best for you during your training. Energy drinks and gels may be helpful to some, but cause stomach problems to others. Don’t eating anything on race day y’oure not used to.
  • Keep your own pace. Anyone who is used to running races has seen it before. The race has started and you’re being sucked into the mass, and before you know it, you run beyond your capacities. Make sure you follow your own schedule and check times often. Don’t run faster, even if you feel good.
  • Don’t skip resupplying posts. Not even in the beginning of the race.

DSC08986Extra tips

  • Choose a marathon that fits your desires. Do you love running in a city? Or do you prefer a run in a natural environment?
  • Set goals during your race. For example, when passing a famous landmark.
  • Don’t underestimate the consequences of a marathon on your stamina. Make sure you get plenty of rest afterwards.
  • Take the weather forecast into account.

 

Check out our e-guide ‘How to run a marathon in 40 weeks’

How to run a marathon in 40 weeks

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