Tips From Running Coaches to Help You Smash Your Marathon PB

Strength and Conditioning Coach, Andy Page offers his top x5 tips on how to train for a Marathon.

Training for a Marathon can seem like a daunting challenge. Surely to accomplish this goal, we should be training as hard as we can for as long as we can, right? But can this approach hinder my training? 

S&C Coach, Andy Page offers advice on how to get the most out of your Marathon training and avoid unnecessary time out.

Know your body

As marathon lovers, we all enjoy getting out for a regular run, but do you know how your body will react to a serious increase in weekly mileage when marathon training?

Getting an overall Physiotherapy assessment, Strength & Conditioning plan or Podiatry review (for your running gait), can give you peace of mind that your training the right way for your body.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop training in the weeks leading up to a marathon, for example, due to injury and here at Pure Sports Medicine we see plenty of those runners.

You wouldn’t hop in the get behind the wheel of a car without learning first to drive, first and its much the same with training; being proactive before you start training is the most effective way to not avoid losing that valuable training time. 

Mix up your pace

The days of training with only long runs are long gone (excuse the pun) and the modern runner will run over a variety of distances as part of their training.

The days of training with long distance runs only, are long gone (excuse the pun) and the modern runner will cover a variety of distances as part of their training. Too much volume (distance) has been correlated to Patellafemoral pain (knee pain) and IT Band syndrome in runners.

Doing a mixture of short runs at high speed (e.g 4 Sets of 4‑minute runs), threshold runs (220-minute blocks at faster speed than normal marathon pace) and mixed interval runs (Fartlek training) will improve your fitness quickly and keep you injury free. It is best to keep these types of runs on separate days, however, rather than finish off a long run with faster work; freshness is the best way to maximise your speed work. 

Train your gut

Just like we our lungs and our legs, our gut needs to adapt to the demands placed upon it. Race day nutrition is often one people target and attempt to eat as much as they can the night before for fuel, and go down with stomach cramps after 20 miles.

Treat your long runs in the month leading up to the race like mini marathons with your diet. Eat meals high in carbohydrates in the preceding 3 days and eat/​drink at regular intervals during the training runs (e.g. every 5 miles if comfortable). The muscles need a few days of high carbohydrate food to be fully stocked and practising regular food intake on the run will help prevent that upset stomach on race day. 

The best supplement is a healthy diet

It is often overlooked in the search for an extra few minutes off your PB but a healthy diet during the training period will make a bigger difference to your time than any supplements.

The evidence for caffeine, beta alanine and sodium citrate is promising for endurance athletes but compared to healthy diet during training is insignificant.

A healthy diet will also help stave off cold and flu which can mean a week or more of missed training, particularly since most people are training for the marathon during flu season! 

Don’t panic

We’ve all been in the same position; it’s one month out from the big day and you don’t feel fit enough. The following week you crank out twice the distance of previous weeks to make up for it, end up stiff, sore and at worst injured.

Chasing fitness is the easiest way to break down in the lead up and a planned progression is the best way to ensure you are at your best on the big day. Only increasing mileage by 15% max week to week, planning an easy week (40 – 60% of your max distance) every month and avoiding too many hard runs in the last 2 weeks is far more sustainable. 

At Pure Sports Medicine we specialise in prepping for endurance events, so if you need any guidance please speak to one of our team.