6 Marathon Training Tips

Whether you're running your very first marathon or struggling to push through your pre-marathon nerves— these training tips will help you be successful come race day.

Marathons are probably the first thing to come to mind when people think of running races.  They are designed with endurance runners in mind, and they require some serious training. A marathon is 26.2 miles long. Here are some tips to help you train for your best marathon yet.

Choose your gear wisely

If 26.2 miles isn’t enough to help you justify buying new running gear, consider all the ground you’ll cover during training too. Having the proper gear (clothing and running shoes) will help take your training and race experience to the next level. Besides the 26.2 miles during the race, you’ll cover huge amounts of ground in your training too.

The difference between, a pair of basic training shoes and a pair of shoes designed for road running can have a big impact on the quality of your training. Running in the right pair of shoes can also prevent injuries. Depending on your pronation style, we may recommend ASICS GT-2000™ or GEL-CUMULUS™ shoe for daily training, the MAGIC SPEED™ shoe for speed, and the METASPEED™ Sky or Edge models for race day. If you’re unsure, we recommend visiting a run specialty store where trained staff can recommend the proper running shoes based on your gait.

Consider the weather and terrain of your marathon route. Clothing and accessories can change the outcome of a marathon. Will you need a jacket? What will the conditions be at the start of the race compared to the rest of the route? Layering can be key if the temperatures are expected to fluctuate. With all the time you’ll put into training for a marathon, investing in the correct equipment is vital.

Mix in rest and recovery

Recover, recover, recover. When training for a marathon, it’s crucial to get adequate rest. Many runners skimp on recovery after intense workouts, thereby not allowing for good-quality training later on. Physical training stresses the body, and recovery is where the magic happens and adaptation occurs (aka we get stronger and capable of handling more). The definition of rest is different for each runner. For a highly trained runner, it may be simply 30 minutes of easy running, but for others, it may be a day or two completely off from training each week.

Don’t neglect your long runs

Your weekly long run is without a doubt the most important run of the week. Make sure you gradually increase the length of the long run each week (your training plan should do this for you), but take a deload week every 3 to 4 weeks to let the body absorb the training. (A deadload week is a week to recover to help you avoid overtraining. The idea is a week to unwind, catch up on sleep, relax, and come back stronger the following week.) Bonus tip: Vary your long runs! Mix in some marathon-pace running with easy miles. A long run is also a good time to practice your race nutrition, outfit, and footwear.

Follow a balanced diet 

What you should eat before your race depends on your preferences and what your body can tolerate. Before any run, you want to avoid excessive amounts of fat, protein, and fiber, as they’re harder to digest and can cause stomach issues, like bloating and cramping, during your race. It’s a good idea to play it safe and eat something you’ve eaten before a run with no discomfort.

The amount of pre-race food we need is very person dependent and based on our individual hunger cues and body size. Generally speaking, though, marathoners should aim to eat at least 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates before the race. This looks like 1 cup of cooked oatmeal with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 banana, and 8 ounces of orange juice. This may seem like a lot, and if that’s the case, you can absolutely split it up into two meals, depending on what time the race starts. You still want to give yourself at least two hours to digest your food. (Whatever fuel you ate prior to your longest training run would also suffice.

Learn more: The Secret Key to Marathon Sucess

Understand your local terrain

Each runner has a different comfort level and appreciation for the environment. Some runners enjoy hills and others, flat land. Urban runners can benefit from wearing flatter shoes, while outdoor runners may want shoes with larger soles.

Remember to taper

Tapering is when you gradually decrease the amount you run prior to the event – generally two to three weeks before. This provides runners rest and recovery after weeks of intense training. Many runners use this technique because it repairs muscle occasionally damaged during a heavy training period.