To be successful in marathon running, it is important to focus on increasing your general fitness and durability first. Rather than trying to increase your marathon pace, and the goal of your marathon training plan should be to sustain marathon pace for a longer periods of time. This will allow you to maintain a faster pace on race day and focus on what is most important: sustaining that pace throughout the marathon.
To effectively prepare for marathon training, it is important to first build up your fitness and durability. This initial phase should last for 4 weeks and can include a 5k or 10k race. During this phase, you should focus on increasing the length of your long runs and incorporating gym work to build strength. Running on hills can also be beneficial as it helps to improve ankle flexibility and glute activation. The strength gained from hilly runs can be converted into speed during the marathon training phase. By focusing on these elements during the initial phase, you will be better prepared to start marathon training and have a solid foundation to build upon.
During this phase, it is important to establish a routine and maintain some of the training from the previous phase to retain the fitness and strength that you have built. This includes keeping up with 5k and 10k sessions, hill work, and strength training. While it is not necessary to allocate all of your training time to maintaining these elements, it is important to continue incorporating them and not neglect them completely. The long runs should also become more structured and serve as practice for race day fueling. By maintaining a balance between building new assets and preserving what you have already built, you will be better prepared on race day with a full range of assets at your disposal.
YBy this phase, you should have developed a rhythm and found your marathon effort level. The focus of this phase is on increasing your ability to sustain that effort for longer periods of time. For example, if your half marathon pace is 6.00 per mile, you may be able to sustain a pace of 6.30 for 15-16 miles at the beginning of this phase. The goal is to gradually increase the distance you can maintain that pace, eventually closing the gap between your marathon pace and your half marathon pace. Consistent gym work and recovery routines will help you stay healthy and able to put in the hard work needed to prepare for the marathon. A well-structured training plan can also help you maintain a higher intensity and bring your marathon pace closer to your current half marathon pace. Those who make mistakes in this phase often "run" a marathon but are not able to "race" it to their full potential.
During the final weeks leading up to the marathon, it is important to focus on freshening up and maintaining good health. This may involve tapering your training slightly and incorporating activities such as yoga, physiotherapy, and massage to ensure that your body is in the best possible condition for the race. It is also important to work on your psychology and plan in advance for race day to reduce any nerves or pressure you may be feeling. While the final weeks should still involve some training to maintain your fitness, the main focus should be on ensuring that both your body and mind are prepared for the marathon.
Now that you have put in all of the hard work, it is time to put your training into action on race day. The buildup is the most challenging part, and race day is an opportunity to execute the well-planned strategies and routines that you have developed. You should have a solid fueling strategy, warm-up routine, and mantras to help you through tough moments. With all of the preparation that you have done, you should be fully ready to take on the marathon.