What Does It Take to Win a Marathon? (Part III)

Speed Work

Speed work is a voluntary element to put into your training program. It can enhance your aerobic capacity and make your easy runs feel truly easy. Tempo runs and intervals are the most common forms of speed work.

Intervals are a set of repetitions of a short, specific distance run at a considerably faster pace than usual, with recovery jogs in between. For example, you might run 5 X 1-mile repeats at a hard pace, with five minutes of walking or slow jogging between the mile repeats.

Rest and Recovery

Rest days mean NO running AT ALL! This allows your muscles to recover from strenuous workouts and help stop mental burnout. The biggest enemy of any hopeful marathoners is injury and the number one protection against injury is rest.

If you are just dying to do something active on your rest days, try cross-training. Cross-training includes hiking, walking, swimming, lifting weights, cycling, yoga, or any other active pursuit that isn’t high-impact.

14 – 21 days before your marathon, scale back on the intensity of your runs to allow your body to rest for marathon day.


Almost all marathons have aid stations and water along the marathon route. If you’re going to bring your own water on race day, purchase a hydration belt or pack well in advance and get use to running with it on. Never, ever try it out on the day of the marathon.

During training, you’ll be doing lots of runs without the advantage of aid stations. Several techniques to consider:

  • Bring your own water using a hydration belt or pack, or even handheld bottles
  • Do a short loop course or long runs so you can put water in one spot along the way
  • Create your long run route to bypass water fountains
  • Put water bottles along your route the night or morning before the marathon

What Does It Take to Win a Marathon? (Part II)

The Building Blocks of Marathon Training

The principal elements of marathon training are:

Base mileage. Increase your weekly mileage over time. Run 3 to 5 times per week.

The long run. Do a long run every 7–10 days so your body can get use to long distances.

Speed work. Practice speed runs and intervals to improve your cardio capacity.

Rest and recovery. Sufficient rest aids in averting mental burnout and injuries.

Base Mileage

Most marathon training plans are from 10 to 25 weeks. 1st time marathoners should try to build their weekly mileage up to 55 miles over the four months leading up to the marathon.

3 to 5 runs a week is enough. A majority of these runs must be done at a relaxed pace. You should run at a simple enough pace to be capable of carrying on a conversation.

When constructing base mileage, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from week to week.

Your next step is to increase to a long run every week. This should be attempted every 5–10 days, increasing the long run by 1-2 miles every week. Every 3 weeks, snip off a few miles so you don’t overdo it and risk injury. For instance, you could run 13 miles one weekend, 14 miles the next, then 15 miles, and then 13 again before moving on to 16 on the 5th weekend.

Doing these runs at a considerably slower pace than usual increases confidence, allows your body to get use to longer distances, and schools you on how to burn fat for fuel.

Remember, always let your body warm up and cool down with a couple of easy miles at the start and finish of any workout.


What Does It Take to Win a Marathon? (Part I)

For many runners, the wish to do a marathon is about individual challenge. You could want to prove to yourself that you can go the distance or test your limits. Perhaps someone has talked you into it. Maybe you’d like to get healthier, raise awareness for a charity, or simply lose weight.

Regardless your reason, keep a grasp on it and remind yourself of it often during the upcoming months. When the weather is nasty or your legs get tired, sustaining your motive will aid you in getting out the door.

For a summary on how to get going, such as stretching techniques, proper mechanics, and shoe selection, keep reading.

Getting Started

Know your limits. The 26.2 miles in a marathon will have you at a considerably higher risk for injury than your daily runs. Talk with your doctor before starting any training program.

Begin early: Conventional wisdom suggests that would-be marathoners run regular base mileage for at least 12 months before starting a marathon training program.

One of the usual causes of injury is developing weekly mileage too fast and too soon. Don’t undervalue the significance of steadily running between 20-40 miles per week on a regular basis before starting to train for a marathon.

Begin small: Running a few shorter races, such as 5Ks, 10Ks, or a half of a marathon, is a great way to prepare mentally and physically for your 1st marathon.

Selecting a First Marathon

Marathons range from low-key, quiet races on backcountry roads to spectator-lined city races with thousands of runners. To assist you in getting use to the race’s vibe and recognize your preference, run a couple of shorter races, volunteer at marathons, or cheer on a friend.

Selecting a marathon close to home may give you “home field advantage” with the chance to run on familiar streets. Nonetheless, selecting a race somewhere else can keep your motivation fire burning.