Working up to Running a Marathon

Author: Wildfire Sports & Trek  Date Posted: 20 June 2024

Maybe you’re looking to up your game from your weekly Parkrun, or a daily 10 km jog. Either way, setting your sights on a half marathon or full marathon is a great way to stay motivated or get inspired as we face cooler weather and shorter days.

As you start to hit your running stride, why not set yourself a goal this year to complete 1 of the 120 marathons organised around Australia?

Gold Coast Marathon Promotional ImageImage by Gold Coast Marathon (6-7th July 2024)

If you’re already running 10-15km distances, then we have some tips for gradually moving up to 21 or 42 km:

  • Follow a Training Plan: Start with your base mileage and gradually increase your distance each week - this could be by 500m or 2km. Include a mix of long runs, speed work, and recovery days.
  • Nutrition: Focus on a balanced diet with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Practise your race-day nutrition during long training runs. This may include bars, gels, chews, or electrolytes on top of water. Why practice before and not just smash some gels at the halfway point? Well, not all nutrition products agree with all stomachs, and there may not be toilets close enough if your body doesn’t react well... Plus if you're prepared with your nutrition strategy you'll understand how much you need and when, to make it to the finish line without collapsing from a sugar crash.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated during training, and practice drinking on the run. Through sweat and breathing, you’ll lose a lot of moisture in your body which needs to be replaced to keep muscles flexible and move salts and lactic acid around your body. 
  • Cross-Training: Incorporate activities like cycling, swimming, or strength training to improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury, as well as improve your form. Increasing strength in your lower limbs and creating a more stable core can make a big difference to avoiding injury and upping your speed.
  • Rest and Recovery: Prioritise rest days and get enough sleep to allow your body to recover. If your body feels exhausted, maybe don’t do the 20km you have scheduled and instead do some easy cross-training or take the day to recover. A slow walk or a massage session can be helpful for gently stretching muscles and loosening tension.
  • Tapering: Reduce your mileage in the weeks leading up to the marathon to allow your body to rest and recover.
  • Mental Preparation: Visualise the race, set realistic goals and develop a positive mindset. Think about why you want to do this, do it with a friend, set micro goals on your run: “I just have to keep going to the next post… Great! Now I just need to keep going to the next kilometre…Almost at 15km!” Consider how you encourage and speak to yourself. Every now and then take a look at those around you. If they’re hurting or you are, offering a simple smile or thumbs up can help you both, and circuit break any negative thoughts.
  • Gear Testing: Test all of your gear -especially shoes and clothing- on long runs to ensure comfort and avoid surprises on race day. Do you chafe, get blisters, or sweat a lot? We can help you find a product to help.
  • Pacing Strategy: Plan your pacing strategy based on your training and goals. Avoid starting too fast and risk collapsing at the end. Be the tortoise, not the hare.
  • Injury Prevention: Listen to your body, address any aches or pains early, and consider consulting a physical therapist or coach for guidance.
  • Race Day Preparation: Familiarise yourself with the course, check the weather forecast, and plan your transportation and logistics for race day.
  • Support System: Involve friends or family in your training journey for motivation and support. Joining a running group or club can also provide encouragement and accountability.

Remember, preparing for a marathon is a gradual process that requires dedication and patience. Make sure to adjust your training plan based on your progress and how your body responds. Good luck with your marathon journey!