Race Day: How to run a marathon | 13 of 26 Marathon Series

This is the last of three articles within the marathon blog series, that are are designed to give you some general information about the three most popular distances that people run as part of their marathon training. This week’s article is on the marathon itself; which is 26.22 miles (or 42.195 kilometers).

Read previous articles: How to Run a Half MarathonHow to Run a 10K

The marathon is by far the most famous of running events, with it being one of the original olympic events from 1896. It has now become the “must do” distance for any runner and if you’re reading this you’ll probably agree!

For most runners, the event takes a long time, with the majority of runners taking between 4 and 5 hours to complete the event; the current world record as recognised by the IAAF is 2:02:57 by Dennis Kipruto KIMETTO of Kenya for the men’s event and 2:15:25 by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain for the ladies event.

So how to do you go about completing a successful marathon? A good start is reading this blog series and setting realistic goals, here are our best tips to help you have a successful marathon:

Marathon Tips

  • Set a realistic goal – If this is your first marathon then consider simply finishing it a success. Too many people set themselves unrealistic goals and then are disappointed when they don’t hit them. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed). Take into account your race times for other distances and then set yourself two target times, using a race pace calculator. Set one time as a fall back time that you would feel happy to achieve and then set an ambitious time target that is possible, but difficult. This way you aim higher than your base target time and will normally finish somewhere in between the two target times.
  • Put in the miles – This sounds obvious, but you can’t expect to complete a marathon without having put in the miles in training, whilst a very fit athlete who doesn’t run may be able to run a reasonable 10k without any training this simply isn’t possible on a marathon. As a general rule you need to be accustomed to running at least 40 miles a week for 3-4 months before a marathon attempt. It’s recommended to have run a half marathon to experience the feeling of a competitive long distance event and it’s also recommended to have run at least 20 miles in a training run to experience such an endurance feat. Without completing at least these basics you are setting yourself up to fail.
  • Have a good reason not to quit – Many of our customers have said the one thing that got them through their marathon is knowing they were doing it for charity or even more powerful is doing it for someone you know or knew, visualising this throughout the hardest points in your training and the event will give you that motivation to realise that quitting isn’t an option. Even wanting to prove someone wrong can be a powerful motivator to success.
  • Taper – We often speak to new runners that don’t understand the concept of tapering, they still believe that running as much as possible in the lead up to the event will help. It is now widely accepted that tapering your training in the lead up to an endurance event will make a big improvement in your performance. Check out this great article from Runner’s World on how to taper for a marathon.
  • Preparation – There are so many preparation factors to consider, we could write here for pages, but most will be covered over the course of the entire marathon blog series. The key things to have sewn up in preparation are:
    • Your nutrition in the months leading up to the event and during the event.
    • Carbo loading for the event.
    • The right running gear, this includes: biomechanically fitted running shoes (most important) that have proven themselves throughout your training, a professionally fitted sports bra (for the ladies), technical socks and apparel.
    • Your hydration plan for the event, i.e. how much water you will consume and at which water stations.
    • A good recovery plan, for example, taking a couple of days off from work after the marathon and a day off before, to help recover and relax. As well as having your post run food plan in place.

So good luck with your marathon, remember simply completing it is an impressive feat in itself, don’t beat yourself up over a missed time, simply learn from your mistakes and try again; you can do it!

Have you got any more tips for our readers? Share your experience and learnings with us in the comments below…

Here is the next blog article in our marathon series:

14. Prepare for the Elements

The Marathon Series

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Ryan has worked in the sports industry since 1999 and has a wealth of experience across most subjects. Ryan holds a BSc in microbiology and has studied sports physiology in great detail in his own time. His main areas of specialisation are: footwear construction, footwear technology, strength & conditioning and anatomy & physiology. He splits his 13 hours a week exercise between, Kickboxing, MMA, Crossfit, Rock Climbing and Running.