YOUR ULTIMATE MARATHON GUIDE
GET READY TO RUN YOUR MARATHON IN 5 STEPS
Marathon season is upon us and many runners want to test their limits, prove they can run the distance, or simply improve their times.
And you – Are you ready to endure your big race day?
As we truly believe in endurance, we prepared this ultimate marathon guide for you – make sure to check it out before lacing up your shoes! Thanks to these tips and tricks, running has never been so easy on the big race day.
1. MAKE SURE TO HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT… AND SOCKS!
Before you start running, you should invest in some good equipment that will take you that extra mile. First, you should invest in proper running shoes as these are probably the most important “accessory” when you run. A good suggestion would be to change between 2-3 pairs of running shoes, so your feet experience different cushions and pressure is redistributed in different ways. Changing between shoes will also help you prevent injuries.
Second, you might want to invest in proper running clothes and running socks. Running clothes should keep you warm, they should be breathable, and sweat-wreaking and you should just feel comfortable in them.
Finally, do not underestimate the importance of good running socks! These are essential to avoid blisters and to have good support for your feet. DANISH ENDURANCE offers a wide range of running socks, reaching from compression socks/sleeves to low-cut or quarter socks – all of them are good choices especially for protection against blisters and faster recovery. Check them out here 😉
2. GET STARTED WITH BASE MILEAGE
Ok, so you have decided to run your marathon. Running 42,195 km requires a lot of preparation.
And you want to make sure to start off with the right training.
The first step is to start off with “base mileage”. Depending on whether this is your first marathon or whether you are an experienced runner, you should start your training plan 12 to 20 weeks before your actual marathon. This means that you should build up your weekly mileage by running three to five times per week. Beginners should keep their weekly mileage between 60-80 km during the months leading up to the marathon.
Needless to say – you should listen to your body!
We don’t want you to get injured before your marathon, and we want to give you the best possible experience. Without mileage in your legs, you will simply have a hard time running that marathon.
Your base training should be done in a relaxed and easy pace. This will improve your endurance and will help you build an aerobic base. Mileage is one of the best metrics for success. Or simply put – the more you are able to run, the faster you are likely to race. Again, this depends on which training level you are at, so take care when you are building your weekly mileage.
3. ADD ON TO YOUR TRAINING
LONG RUNS: Within your base training, you should at least have one long run per week or every 10th day. A long run can vary between 18-25 km (depending on the level you are at) and it will help your body adjust to longer distances, as well as to build strength and endurance.
The distance of the long runs should increase as you progress in your training – of course, always be careful not to injure your body! A good practice to avoid overtraining is to create a sort of “cycle” that will keep your body in good shape (e.g. run 18 km one week, 19 km the next week and so on, and then go back to 18km again).
Your last long run should be a maximum 32 km. Make sure to schedule this long run at least 4 or 5 weeks before your actual race, so you have proper time to recover from it.
SPEED WORK: An additional thing you want to focus on in your training is speed work. Speed work can be a variation between intervals or tempo runs. Intervals are repetitions of a specific, short distance and tempo runs are longer intervals, where you focus on keeping a certain pace for a longer time than with the intervals. You should do the speed work between 2 or 3 times a week.
Incorporating speed work will enable you to build an anaerobic capacity. Anaerobic exercises are high-intensity speed work that helps you build speed and strength, whereas aerobic training builds your endurance.
A proper mix of long runs and speed work will be the best for your overall fitness and endurance! This kind of workout teaches your body as well as your brain to sustain challenging work over a longer period.
4. REST AND RECOVERY
Tapering is one of the most important elements of marathon training and you should start to implement it the last 21 days before the race. Tapering simply means that you cut back mileage, get more rest and sleep, and eat well.
Tapering allows muscle glycogen storage to return to peak levels. Metabolic enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones that have depleted during training will return to their optimal ranges. Muscle and connective tissues will repair and strengthen. And, the body’s immune system improves dramatically, too. In short, tapering allows your body to prepare for peak performance.
For many, it is hard to implement this tapering since a lot of runners might fear that by cutting back, their performance will suffer. But, by reducing mileage you can recover even faster, thus allowing you to reach peak performance. Studies have even shown that the aerobic capacity doesn’t change at all, which means that it is the rest and not the workouts that make you stronger during these last weeks before the race.
5. MASTER YOUR NUTRITION
You won’t be able to run long without a good nutrition plan. Here you go with some guidelines that will help you to do your best at the marathon!
EAT PROTEINS: Leading up to the big day, you should consume adequate amounts of proteins. Proteins will help you to maintain muscle mass and support your recovery. Leading up to the big day, you should consume adequate amounts of proteins. Proteins will help you to maintain muscle mass, support your recovery and help build up your bones. This is because proteins are an important component of every cell in the body and your muscles are, after all, made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient”, meaning that your body needs a relatively large amount of it. During your marathon preparation, your diet needs to help your muscles recover faster after workouts. Protein-rich food includes eggs, tuna, milk, cheese, almonds, chicken, lentils, quinoa, yogurt, beans, etc. Try to eat high-quality protein for every meal to support your body!
CARBS ARE YOUR FRIENDS: In the days before the race, you should make sure that your fuel storage (muscle glycogen) is full. This means that you should eat more carbohydrates before the race. Carbs are the biggest source of energy: once digested, they are broken down to sugars and released into the bloodstream where they are carried around the body to our cells and stored as glycogen. This acts as the primary fuel source for exercising muscles. To put it simply, if you don’t eat any carbs, the body will utilize fat and protein for energy which is an inefficient energy source for your marathon. Foods such as bananas, dried fruits, pasta, white toast, plain oats etc. are good for carbo-loading.
REDUCE FIBERS & STICK TO YOUR EATING HABITS: Do not exaggerate with fibers: they slow down your digestion and risk to sit in your stomach for a long time. Also, make sure not to experiment with something “new” before the race – you can wait to try those spicy Mexican tacos! Eat as you normally do and always keep a good balance between eating and exercising.
BE CAREFUL WITH ENERGY DRINKS: During the race, you should intake water and energy drinks to keep the body going and make sure that your energy is high. If you are not experienced with energy gels you might want to avoid these, since they can make your stomach feel bad! Make sure to use energy gels in your training before the actual marathon, so your stomach can get used to them.
READY, SET, GO!
As with any other race, you should feel excited and happy about your upcoming marathon! All the training you have put into the race will finally show. So, make sure to take your time to enjoy your race! We wish you all the best for your next marathon!
About the author:
My name is Signe Flarup Øllgaard and I am a 25-year-old runner from Denmark. I have always been interested in athletics and running, and over the years I have fallen in love with the track. I mostly run middle distance races, such as the 5000m and 10,000m. I have some experience with running longer distances. In 2017, I ran a half marathon, which went quite well, ending up in third place. Additionally, I have run two marathons and although this is not my distance, I have some good advice that I would like to share with you, so you can go out with your head held high on race-day!