Always be cleared by your doctor before beginning any training program.
Training for a marathon can be an intimidating venture. Preparing your body for those 26.2 miles can seem daunting at first, but these 3 high-level ideas can help you to break down your approach and strategy, allowing for more effective training.
Build Base: The foundation to complete 26.2 miles
If you want to complete a marathon, you need to gradually and safely increase your weekly mileage and your long run. You must respect the distance and prepare.
All training should follow my top two rules:
Rule 1: Have Fun
Rule 2: Stay Healthy
If you follow these rules, you are more likely to train consistently and prepare more effectively for a better marathon experience. Why wouldn't increasing miles be the #1 rule? Because if you don’t enjoy running and stay healthy, you won’t be able to build your training consistently for the many necessary months.
Among many things, I like to track the following data for my athletes:
- Resting heart rate - This helps you keep an eye on recovery.
- Heart rate on many runs - This helps you understand how hard you are working, and if the pace is appropriate.
Learn Pace: Discover, practice and perfect even and negative split running.
Over the course of training, we determine goal marathon pace based on factors including age, health, experience, training and both resting and training heart rate. For most, you don’t go out faster than the pace for your best long run.
Even and negative split running helps you learn pacing and to not go out too fast.
- Even split running - You run the same pace the entire run.
- Negative split running - The second half of the run is (a little) faster than the first half.
- Marathon pace runs - Long(ish) runs at goal pace. I recommend monitoring heart rate.
Understanding proper pacing and heart rate is a very useful skill to a successful marathon. I would also strongly suggest practicing both hydrating and fueling in training, to learn the skill and minimize race day surprises. Some long runs should include goal marathon pace segments (maybe 10-12-15 miles) followed by evaluation. Appropriate marathon heart rate will vary by individual, but is probably 75-85% of max heart rate or less, depending on preparation, etc. Heart rate should be pretty steady on marathon pace runs.
I call this “Plan-Observe-Adjust”.
Execute Race: Carry out the race you practiced! Have Fun!
It is very easy to go out too hard in a marathon and blow up. Your training will instill the confidence and discipline to execute your marathon.
In training, you will build your mileage so you have the confidence to complete 26.2 miles.
- You have practiced in everything you are wearing.
- You have developed your long run.
- You have mastered the appropriate goal race pace and heart rate.
- You have a fuel and hydration plan.
- You have tapered and are rested for the race.
Now all you have to do is execute exactly what you practiced.
Want to learn more?
Read my 10 tips for training for a marathon here.
Pictured above is Diana, one of Coach Mick's clients. Diana has been a running athlete with CoachUp/Coach Mick for two years. Starting as a beginner new to running, Coach Mick has helped Diana progress into running her first marathon, with hopes of becoming a Boston qualifier. Diana says, "Your [Coach Mick's] advice and training plan have me a month from running a marathon at 45 years old. I have enjoyed the journey, and it has changed my life to feel strong. In two years, I went from not running a meter to running a full marathon. A good coach and persistence can take you to wherever you want."
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