Top tips for surviving marathon training

Signing up to and starting training for a marathon can feel very daunting and you might be asking yourself “where do I start?”. We want to make sure you have the best experience you can so we’ve called on our friends at runningwithus to share with us their tips to surviving marathon training! They’ve written the fool proof guide below to prevent making those age-old mistakes and keep your marathon training simple and fun!

Correct trainers & kit

In this instance, “all the gear, no idea” is better than no gear at all! Investing in a proper pair of running trainers, and running kit made of running specific technical fabric, from the word go will prevent injury and make your running experience more comfortable. Go to a running shop and ask for a ‘gait analysis’ so that the trainers are properly chosen and fitted to your foot and running style.

Avoid going from zero to hero

Starting with 3-4 runs a week is a great place to begin if you are just starting out, with rest days between your runs. Be prepared to walk/run if building fitness, gradually reducing the amount of walking as the weeks progress.

Your long run at this stage could be anything between 30 minutes and 90 minutes depending on how long you have been running and your level of experience, it might be a structured mix of run/walking for example 10 minutes easy run, 5 minutes brisk walk.

Planning/Patience/Progression

Remember these and apply them to your running at all times! Plan your running: how many times a week, where, when, long term, mid-term, short term goals. Be patient: improvement will come but it is a progressive process!

Any of our training plans will give you this but you need to get those runs ring-fenced in the diary and make them a priority!

Set intermediate goals

12-16-20 weeks of solid training can seem pretty daunting but adding some intermediate targets, like some half marathon races in February and March for example, will help you to check your progress and focus your training.  You could look to run one of these at full half marathon pace and another at your goal marathon pace, with easy running before and after, to make up a clever key long run.

Training plan

Get yourself a training plan to support your goal. The plans we have produced with HIGH5 are specifically design to not only get you fit, but to get you marathon fit. Just running faster and harder alone won’t get you there. Follow a plan with all the key elements you need to cope with the physical demands of running 26.2 miles. This includes, weekly threshold running, hills to build strength and marathon pace and effort towards the end of your key long runs. 

Invest in a simple stopwatch

Whilst GPS watches are fantastic at providing you with loads of useful information on your training volumes and heart rates, recovery etc. a very simple stopwatch, which tells you how long you have been running for does the trick. It will help you to structure lengths of runs or blocks of run/walking and you’ll see our plans are based around time and perceived effort to help you with this.

Safe, sensible, interesting

Choose routes that are all of the above. Incorporating lots of  ‘off road’ such as grass or trail alongside tarmac running is most desirable as this is kinder to the body and joints. Don’t be afraid of keeping hills in your route – hills act as ‘speed work in disguise’ and can provide crucial strength you’ll need in the final 10km of the marathon. 

Pace yourself…The tortoise was right!

Many new runners say to us ‘but I can’t even run for a bus’… that’s because when you run for a bus you are usually charging along at full pace hoping it won’t leave you behind. When starting out with running you should ‘run at the speed of chat’, as if someone were next to you and you were able to chat away to them while running.

Basic core exercises

These are vital as a strong body will support the running and prevent injury. These only need to be very simple exercises that can take minutes in your living room. They don’t take long and will make you a stronger, less injury prone runner.