3 Key Points to Completing a Marathon

Training for a marathon can be an intimidating venture. Preparing your body for those 26.2 miles may seem daunting, but these three 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 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 No. 1 rule? Because if you don’t enjoy running, you won’t be able to build your training consistently; if you cannot stay healthy, you cannot complete the necessary amount of training.

What are the keys to marathon training?

Among many things, I like to track the following data for my athletes:

  1. Resting heart rate -which helps you keep an eye on recovery.
  2. Heart rate on multiple runs – which 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.  

  1. Even split running running the same pace the entire run.
  2. Negative split running – the second half of the run is (a little) faster than the first half.
  3. 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.


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.  

  1. You have practiced in everything you are wearing.
  2. You have developed your long run.
  3. You have mastered the appropriate goal race pace and heart rate.
  4. You have a fuel and hydration plan.
  5. 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.

Best wishes!

marathon runners

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