Marathon Training: How to Train for a Marathon
This year you’ve set yourself a goal, you want to be within the 1% of inspirational people in the world who can say officially they have completed a marathon!… But wait… where on earth should you start?
Well hopefully you already enjoy running, or you may find running a marathon or even a half marathon a pretty difficult task! Here at Myprotein we don’t only provide you with all the endurance, energy and recovery supplements to fuel your ambition, we also provide you with the low down on how to train and achieve your maximum potential.
Prior to Training
Before you begin your motivational journey it is important to have a few things already in order. First of all, being realistic, you should be able to run for around 3 miles or 30 minutes without stopping, which can be practiced using periods of both running and walking.
Pre training is essential in order to avoid injury and to get your muscles into the full swing of running. By not pre training, during your intense weeks of marathon training the chances of injury are dramatically increased, which may knock you off the playing field before the game even begins.
The next step prior to training for a marathon is to make sure your kitted out with the newest most expensive gear right?
The amount of runners who waste their money on the wrong type of running gear just because it looks good or meets the new fashion trend is ridiculous, and in order to make sure you can train and prepare properly you need to be kitted out with the right type of equipment. In terms of trainers, these will be the most important pair of trainers you’ll ever purchase. Everyone runs in a slightly different way and your trainers should be carefully selected based on the way your body moves, the arches of your feet, your pronation level and the way your feet strike the ground. So make sure you take care of your number one running asset, to find out more on what type of trainer is for you please see out previous article: Running Trainers- the right type for you.
In terms of clothing, dress for your climate! If you’re in a cold area, be sure to be kitted out with running hats, gloves and skins. It’s also useful to invest in a decent water bottle, back pack, bum bag and arm strap, so you can store all the essential you may need on your journey such as Myprotein Pure Ener:gy gels.
One thing I personally swear by as a must have for marathon training to avoid injury is the Myprotein foam roller. For those of you who have never used a foam roller before- they look harmless, but the work of a foam roller is what some people relate to as a “cheap deep tissue massage”. Foam rolling, also known as self- myofascial release, certainly does not tickle, but this once ambiguous self massage technique only used by professionals, has erupted to the point where now many athletes use foam rolling for muscle recovery. It is thought that foam rolling works to release toxins and lactic acid in your muscles, releasing tightness and trigger points, preventing strain and injury.
Your 17 Week Marathon Training Plan
So now you’ve got your pre training plan in the bag, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. This won’t be easy but 16- 17 weeks is the optimum amount of time advised for marathon training, to ensure you can build enough stamina, endurance and motivation.
As a rule of thumb you should aim to be running 4 days of the week with three days of rest spread out in between. These days can be to suit your lifestyle and schedule but it is extremely important you listen to your body! Don’t underestimate the importance of rest and recovery. If you feel pain and muscle twinges, take a break, stretch and foam roll, it’s important not to take any risks as an injury may leave you unable to train for weeks. The same goes for common illness such as colds, make time in your schedule to rest and recover, having something as minor as common a cold can increase your chances of injury and increase your risk of fatigue, which may result in what began as a small pulled muscle becoming a serious chronic condition such as tendonitis. To speed up the recover process here at Myprotein we offer several dietary supplements that can aid muscle recovery including whey protein, Recovery XS, BCAA and recovery evo.
Weeks 1 to 4 marathon training
To easy yourself into it, you want to start each week with a short 3 mile run on a Monday, followed by a rest day.
The next two days, Wednesday and Thursday should consist of a 3 mile and 4 mile run.
After resting your muscles on Friday you should spend your first Saturday on week 1 running 5 miles.
Each week after that should begin the same, but on each Saturday add one mile to your run.
So on week 1 you will run 3,4,3 and 5 miles (a total of 15 mile), week 2: 3,4,3 and 6 miles (a total of 16 miles), and so on.
On your rest days, be sure to take it easy and do a lot of stretching and foam rolling, it may also be worth joining a yoga class to ensure common muscles such as your hip flexors don’t become too tight, avoiding common injuries among runners. Running is an addictive sport but sometimes less is certainly more, a marathon is 26.2 miles, but at no point within your training plan will you be running this distance, the aim of the game is to reach your peak performance on the day of the marathon!
Weeks 5 to 9
Weeks 5 to 9 are going to get progressively more challenging, and it may be at this point where you may need some extra motivation. Not to worry, Myprotein can provide you with a range of pre-work out products including creatine monohydrate, out pulse V4 blend and Caffeine capsules.
On week 5 you should begin the week with a slightly longer 4 mile run, followed by a rest day on Tuesday, a 5 mile run on Wednesday, 4 miles on Thursday, and a rest day on Friday.
This time your run on a Saturday will increase by two miles each week.
On week 5 your mileage will be as followed:
4 miles, rest, 5 miles, 4 miles, rest, 9 miles.
On week 6 your mileage from Monday to Friday will be the same as week 5, but on Saturday you should aim to run 11 miles.
Weeks 7 and 8: On weeks seven and 8 your mileage will increase progressively from 4 miles on Monday, to 6 miles of Wednesday, 4 miles on Thursday and 13 miles on Saturday.
On week 9 begin the week with a 4 mile run on Monday, followed by a 7 mile run on Wednesday, a 5 mile on Thursday, finishing your Saturday with 16 miler.
Weeks 10 to 13
Now you’re getting to the section of training that requires you to focus and push yourself just that little bit further, maintaining and building up your endurance just that little bit more.
From weeks 10 to 13 begin the week with a 5 mile run on Monday.
This should be like previous weeks followed by a rest day on Tuesday.
On each Wednesday and Thursday weeks 10 to 13 you should aim to run 8 miles and then 5 miles.
On the Saturday of week 10, begin with a 16 mile run on the Saturday, on week 11 increase this to 17 miles, week 12 to 18 miles and week 13 to 20 miles.
This is the hardest stages of your training so in order to stay motivated, make sure you’ve updated you are recovering properly, have an updated playlist and some carbohydrate gels to keep you going.
Weeks 14 to 15
Weeks 14 to 16 are the last final weeks of training and the last hurdles so to speak, and this is the time to gradual begin reducing your mileage.
On week 14 try running 5 miles, rest, 8 miles, 5 miles, rest and 9 miles on Saturday.
On week 15 cut down your mileage further to 3 miles, rest, 5 miles, 3 miles, rest and 8 miles on the Saturday.
It’s here! This is the final week and the week you’ve spent the last four months preparing for. Now it is crucial you don’t over work your muscles or cause any strain so soon before the marathon, therefore you should cut down your running drastically.
On Monday start with a 3 mile run, rest on Tuesday, run 3 miles on Wednesday and go for a 3 mile walk on Thursday.
On the Friday or day before your marathon you should aim to stay hydrated, get the right nutrition and plenty of sleep for the next day where you will be running 26.2 mile. Even though within your training you have never reached the 26.2 mark, Advanced marathon runners claim that once you reach 20 miles in training you have the mental and physical fitness and capability to complete the full marathon, whereby having a 20-mile run under your belt gives you a major psychological advantage on marathon day.
A Few More words of Advice
The training advice given in this article is for beginners; however there are many more components of marathon training that are detrimental to the success of both beginners and advanced marathon runners.
Fill the Fuel Tank
You wouldn’t drive a car with an empty petrol tank would you? No. Make sure you have the correct nutrition throughout your training getting an adequate amount of calories with 60-75% of these calories being carbohydrate, as this is the fuel you will burn through most quickly.
Three days before the marathon is where you’re nutrition changes, and this information can be found in the article: Marathon Nutrition- How to Maximise your Performance and Recovery.
Go over and Under the Hill
In order to get a more realistic approach to the real thing, try different inclines and declines. Practive both hill rund and down hill runs can enhance your technique and has actually been shown to help increase speed. This is because the muscles in your feet contract and change based on the type of ground you are running on. When running up hill try maintain a consistent effort, racing up a hill may cause you to burn out and fatigue, whereas maintaining an even pace means you can keep your speed and increase your endurance and fitness.
Another good technique to maintain stamina may be to try interval training with increase periods of speed followed by slightly slower periods.
Overall, running a marathon is definitely no walk in the park and some people spend years training, so it requires incredible levels of discipline, knowledge and motivation. Nutrition and hydration should be your golden rule number one followed by recovering your muscles and your training plan. Just remember- It was the hare that beat the tortoise and sometimes less is essentially more. Fuel your motivation, fuel your ambition, you can do it!