Training for a Marathon – from a mid-pack endurance athlete


Training for a Marathon – from a mid-pack endurance Athlete 

With just over 6months to the Cork City Marathon it’s time to think about training to give yourself enough time to prepare


Getting to the Start line

Running 26.2miles (42.195km) is a huge achievement for anyone from a beginner runner to an elite. It doesn’t matter the time it takes; this distance is a huge physical and mental feat.


Only about one percent of the population has run a marathon. Some even say running a marathon is life changing and I would agree with this caveat: It is not crossing the finish line that changes you, it is getting to the start line that changes you.


How do you train for a marathon? 

Well, the simple answer is you get out and run… but more importantly you need to give yourself enough time to build up. No matter if you are an absolute beginner or a veteran of the distance you need to give yourself time to build and condition yourself to complete the task.


How long does it take to train for a marathon?

12 to 16-week marathon training plans assume you already run 20 miles a week, with a long weekly run of 8-10 miles. If you run less than 20 miles a week, choose a plan that is at least 20-24 weeks which will give you the proper base miles. Most beginner plans consist of about 4-5 runs spread throughout week including the usual long run (usually on a Sunday)


How long should my long runs be?

It’s important that as you build up your weekly mileage that you are letting your body recover after each run and taking rest days as REST days. Starting off your long run might only be 5-6 mile (8-10km) but in the 3-4 weeks leading into race day your long runs should be hitting close to 20miles(30km) Another thing to note is that when working from a plan (which i would advise) remember to run you slow runs SLOW and the fast tempo runs FAST. This will allow your body to adapt and improve at your race pace. DO NOT run every run like you are racing, you will burn out.


How do I fuel during training and nutrition for race day?

This is a little more complicated as everybody is different, it takes a little bit of experimenting throughout training. Regardless of what fuel you choose I would advise aiming for 30-60grams of carbs per hour of running. That means during training for your short runs as long as you have eaten during the day i wouldn’t be taking 4 gels for an hour run.  However, on those long runs start to experiment with gels or liquid carbs to see what suits you best and what your stomach can tolerate. When it comes to race day it’s important to stick to what you were using during training. Avoid any surprises by not changing to a new brand or even flavour of gel. Last thing you need is stomach issues out on the course. I recommend tailwind nutrition



What if I don’t have time to train or stick to my program every week?

While yes, it’s important to be as consistent as possible, especially at this distance don’t be too hard on yourself for missing a session or for only doing 6 miles when the program said 10 miles. Just keep going, don’t try to put in an extra session just because you missed one last week.


What about running shoes?

Having a dedicated pair of running shoes is super important. Don’t dig out an old pair of runners that were under the stairs because “ah sure, they’ll do ” This is the only part of running i would tell you to spend money on. I would go as far as to suggest going to a running store to find out exactly what kind of runners you need. And as you get more into running you might need a training shoe and a racing shoe to go between. Look after your feet!



Does running a marathon hurt even with sufficient training? 

Yes….there’s no denying it running a marathon is going to hurt at some point. But trust in your training. Your body and mind are capable of much more than you think. And remember the medal and bragging rights you will have afterwards, as well as the after party.

Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction

Don’t hesitate to stop me in the gym to ask any other questions.

Enjoy the journey and see you on the start line.


Colm –