Do I have to run the whole way? No, it’s not compulsory to run the entire marathon distance! Whether you run the whole way will depend on many factors including your personal goals, your fitness, your motivation and how you feel on the day. Many people stop and walk at times during the race. Some runners even adopt a planned run-walk strategy throughout the race to ensure they complete the distance. For example, run 7mins walk 3mins, or walk through the aid stations.
How long do I need to train for in the build up to a marathon? A successful marathon finish is all about building solid foundations and consistent running. If you are a regular runner and already run 3-5 times per week then a 12-16 week progressive training plan working towards your personal marathon goals should be sufficient to get you in great shape come race day. If you are new to running then you may need an additional 4 to 6 weeks where you progressively build the time that you are able to run for and then have a 12-14 week focus on top of that building specific preparation towards the marathon. You can’t cram marathon training! You’re in for the long run, literally.
I only want to get round. What’s the minimum about of training needed? That really is a very individual question as progression, ability and fitness vary considerably. The minimum you need to do is to invest enough energy, passion, time and commitment to do what it takes to reach your personal marathon aspirations. In terms of frequency running 3 times a week, progressing the duration of these runs with one of them being a ‘long’ run over a period of 12 -16 weeks should be sufficient to see you toe the start line and make the finish line.
Do I need to run the whole marathon distance in training? How long should my longest run be? Long runs form the backbone of successful marathon preparations. That said you don’t have to run the full marathon distance in training before the event. The accumulation of months of training in advance of the race will see you reach the start line ready to make the finish line. The marathon is a long endurance event and so your training preparation should see you build up your ability to keep going for long periods of time. As you get fitter your runs should get longer until you are able to cover in the region of approximately 20 miles in one go 4 weeks before the race. Consistency is key with long runs and you should look to string together a series of weekly ‘long runs’ as a vital part of your preparation.
What are the best types of training for me to do? There are lots of training types out there, intervals, long runs, steady runs, easy runs, fartleks, threshold running. The best way to prepare for a marathon is with consistent, regular running that is appropriate, progressive and planned. Stamina is the thing you will need most of come race day and so long runs, steady runs and threshold runs are the most important types of training ‘the money miles’ to ensure you ‘bank’ in the lead up to race day.
How do I know what my marathon pace is? The best way to find out your marathon pace is to practice it in training. When you start training for a marathon you may have no idea what this should feel like, but, you need to trust your training and your instincts and you will find your pace as your training continues and you get fitter and stronger and your stamina grows. The pace should feel comfortable and you should feel in control. The fitter you get as the weeks progress the more ‘in tune’ with your body you will become and so you will develop an understanding of what different paces feel like. Timing your runs and knowing the distance of your runs will mean you are able to work out what pace you are running at. For example., if you cover 6miles in one hour then you are running at “10minute miling”. Once your runs get longer try entering a half marathon race, doubling your finish time (in minutes) and adding 10% to predict your marathon finish time.