Want to be a experience a marathon in cool Copenhagen? Here are some tips and advice on how to get started on your marathon journey.
Preparing for a marathon doesn’t require 12 months of training or a whole new life style. Most people are able to prepare for and complete a marathon with a reasonable amount of training.
However, if you are a first-time marathon runner, it makes sense to take the first steps of your marathon journey about 7 months out of race day.
Christian Friis, who is an elite running coach at the organizing club, Sparta Athletics & Running, gives you his best advice on how to get started, what to consider, and how to prepare for your marathon.
Do you have what it takes?
Like most other first-timers, you are probably asking yourself if you are fit enough to start training for a marathon. Are you in good enough shape, and will you be able to endure the full 42.195 kilometres? Well, even after weeks or months of training, you may find yourself in doubt.
A rule of thumb: With 6-7 months to race day, you should be able to run 7-8 kilometres without any difficulties. It is an advantage if you have been running steadily for a longer period.
If you are practising other forms of sport, it may be sufficient if you can run 5 km without stops. Most forms of sport involving cardiovascular activity contribute positively to your fitness level, so don’t be put off if you don’t run 7 km on a regular basis at this point.
A good race takes good preparations
Running a marathon doesn’t necessarily require lots of 30K+ runs. Ask yourself what you want to achieve: Do you want to “just” finish, or do you want to have a fun and memorable experience – or even a fast finish time?
That being said, know that your marathon experience depends on how well you’ve prepared.
If you haven’t done enough mileage, the last 10 or 20 km will become hard for sure. If you’ve prepared well, you will most likely have a good marathon experience.
So just get to it – and you will probably feel the determination grow as you improve and start benefitting from the training.
The very first steps
What your very first steps towards the marathon should be, depends on your current form.
Use your current training habits as a starting point. Focus on creating a good routine, stick to it and build from there.
► If you run 5K twice a week, the move on to running 5K 3 times per week.
► If you currently run 7,5K, the add a 10K long, slow run at weekends.
► If you run 5K once a week, then move on to running twice a week.
If you manage to establish a training routine and keep it during winter, you have taken a very important first step towards preparing for a marathon. It may be hard in the beginning, definitely, but most likely you will discover that it is a matter of getting passed that certain point before the routine kicks in.
So just dot it, and after 3-4 weeks you will start to feel your health and fitness improving, your body adapting and responding positively to the increased amount of training.
3 phases of marathon preparations
Training for a marathon is a proces, which can be divided into 3 phases.
#1 – basic training
The first phase in your preparations is called basic training. This part is about stability, routines and mileage. The aim is to achieve a basic level of fitness, running about 25 – 30 km per week, getting used to running steadily and thereby increasing your physical capacity. If you are training on a regular basis already, focus on building mileage.
#2 – specific training
From January / February the specific training kicks in. This is a 3-4 months phase, during which you should be running 30 – 40 kilometres per week as a minimum in order to adapt to the marathon distance. You will start determining your different paces, that is your jogging pace, half marathon pace, marathon pace and so forth, adding building bricks to your training programme consisting of shorter intervals, speed runs, and long slow distance runs.
#3 – tapering
Approximately 3 weeks ahead of race day, you should run your longest run during your marathon training programme. From here, you must begin tapering in order to recover properly and be fit for race day.
The coach’s best advice
Coach Christian Friis emphasizes the importance of making sure your everyday life is cohesive and – not just your training programme. This is his best advice on how to succeed with your marathon training.
► Take one thing at the time. Start by increasing kilometres, not the pace. The most important thing is making it through to the finish line – not how fast you make it.
► Training for a marathon is a slow, long-term proces. Forget about the intervals and don’t panic.
Don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% – 20% procent, depending on your current form.
► Be sure to vary the distance of your runs. Your body responds better to variation than repetitions.
► Remember to make time for the things you like to do. Go for a ride on your bike or take your family to the woods. Training is not everything.
► Get into a routine. It gives you stability and makes it easier to get your training done.
► Buy a pair of good running shoes for an optimal start to your training.
► Join a running community. Maybe you can join a local running club or hook up with some neighbours, friends or work colleagues? Social running gives you extra motivation.
► Don’t ignore your diet and your sleep, as you increase your training. Your energy and sleep demand will increase, and you will automatically need to focus more on your diet and get more sleep.
Run a marathon before?
You have run 1-2 marathons and now you are ready to improve your performance? Here is what you should be focusing on at this point: