10 tips for marathon training

Author: Kat Shaw

Read Time:   |  July 13, 2022

Sports Scientist Kat Shaw shares her 10 tips for marathon training to support you all the way to race day

The marathon is a difficult distance to master but whatever your reason for taking one on, training is key to success. With the right advice you’ll master the marathon training plan runs and cross the line having achieved something amazing.

We asked Lucozade Sport’s resident Sports Scientist, Kat Shaw, for her tips for good marathon preparation.

10 tips for marathon training

1. Taper your training

Taper your training in the final couple of weeks leading up to the race. What is tapering? Simply put, this means cutting down the length of time and distances you are running but increasing your resting time. During this time, incorporating more shorter duration ‘race pace’ efforts is recommended. Completing shorter interval type training to maintain fitness but allowing increased periods of rest is a great way to do this.

2. Mimic the marathon route

If you know the course involves some hills or gradual inclines/declines, be sure to practice these. They may require you to alter your running style or stride length, placing different demands on the body. If you can’t do this outside, you can alter the incline on a treadmill. Becoming familiar with the race route will also help you mentally prepare for what is to come.

3. Build your strength

Although running is likely to make up the majority of your training, other forms of exercise can also help you to achieve your marathon goals. Strong muscles are important to help you maintain your form during a race, particularly when you begin to fatigue. Focused resistance training can help build strength in the main muscles used in running, and exercise such as swimming and cycling can help build and maintain fitness without the same impact on the joints.

4. Don’t panic

Try to stick as closely as possible to your marathon training plan. But, if you fall behind, don’t panic. Cramming too much running towards the end of your training plan will make you more likely to sustain an injury. Instead, think about maintaining fitness as you approach race day, rather than constantly trying to add to it. Seek advice from coaches, physiotherapists and peers whenever you need it!

5. Time your runs

If possible, try and complete your long training runs at the same time of the day as the race itself will be. This allows your body to become accustomed to waking up and exercising at that time of day. It also means you can practice your nutrition strategy the night before, morning of and during the run so you know what expect come race day.

6. Find your optimum stride

Everyone has their own running technique that works for them. Use the shorter runs at the start of your training plan to try out different stride lengths and find what feels best for you. You can also look at getting your gait analysed by experts. They will look at your technique, suggest places that could be altered for greater efficiency and also find the best running shoes for you that support your running style.

7. Train as part of a group

If you know someone else doing a marathon, try to team up for one of your weekly training runs. It can be really helpful to have a friendly face motivating you to stick to your plan, and can make the miles more fun. If you’re going it alone, even a parkrun can offer that sense of camaraderie, so consider adding it into your weekend runs.

8. Practise your fuelling

What you eat before, during and after a race can be key to your performance and recovery. But don’t wait until race day to try out your marathon nutrition! Practice different strategies in training to find what works best for you – especially when it comes to mid-run snacks. Then you can replicate this on race day, without having to worry about a dodgy tummy.

9. Stretch

When you increase your running volume you are likely to experience tightness and soreness in the muscles. This is more frequent during the early stages of your training when the body is still adapting to the greater workload. Completing regular stretching sessions, especially during your cool down after training will help keep the muscles and joints supple and reduce some of the soreness you may be feeling, getting the body ready to go again for your next session. Maintaining flexibility will also decrease your risk of injury.

10. Enjoy yourself!

Most of us run because we enjoy running. Training for a big race like a marathon can sometimes take a toll on our enjoyment, as there are a lot of miles to cover and a lot of things to think about. If you find yourself resenting running, mix things up. Try a new route, treat yourself to some new fun running gear or get some friends involved.

Kat Shaw

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