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What you need to know about training for a marathon

February 11, 2016
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Taking on a marathon is no easy feat – the training can seem somewhat gruelling and you need to make sure you prepare your body for the challenge in a healthy and safe way. Speedflex trainer Paul Lyons shares his top tips for successful marathon training exclusively with HELLO! Online

Scroll below for the full list of tips

marathon© Photo: iStock

Allow plenty of time to train ahead of race day

Have a structured and progressive plan

You need to build up all aspects of your fitness alongside building up the miles to get towards race distance. Training should be varied including elements of endurance, strength, speed, power and flexibility in the programme.

Include endurance training 3-4 times a week

Use these running sessions to build up the distance you can cover over the weeks leading up to race day – this gives the body time to adapt and get fitter and stronger. Increasing intensity and distance progressively will help to increase cardiovascular fitness and get the body used to the increase in mileage and intensity.

Make sure to do flexibility and core exercises

These will help to ease aches and reduce muscle soreness – tight muscles can affect how efficiently you run. Core strength is important to protect the body – it makes the muscles stronger and reduces the risk of injury.

half marathon© Photo: iStock

Include endurance and strength training in your routine

Include strength training sessions 1-2 times a week

Use resistance training exercises to build muscular strength and endurance. Your focus should be on lower body exercises including variations on squats and lunges. Distance running can break down the muscles and cause a loss of strength so including strength training alongside endurance running can help maintain strength levels.


The combination of cardiovascular and resistance training in one has multiple benefits to overall fitness. A group exercise concept like Speedflex could help you to see results quickly, and its low impact nature means there is no risk of injury or post exercise pain following a session. HIIT will strengthen the muscles you rely on for running, help you exercise longer without getting tired, and help you to develop speed and power. It can also improve your cardiovascular recovery (how quickly your heart rate drops after exercise).

Don't forget to finish a workout with a recovery session

This is key the more training an individual does – opt for cross training activities such as cycling or swimming. Another bonus is recovery sessions add variety and give the body a rest from constant repetition, so you can refresh and challenge the body in a different way. Not to mention they build strength and flexibility in the muscles that running doesn’t utilise and can prevent injury through correcting muscular imbalances.

marathon training© Photo: iStock

Training can be quite a gruelling process

Stay hydrated

It is important to maintain hydration levels by drinking regularly in training - any water lost through sweating needs to be replaced to avoid dehydration and weight loss after training and races. Drink regularly throughout both.

Consider your pre- and post-workout meals

Eat a carbohydrate based meal to provide slow release energy 90 minutes to 2 hours before you go running, and refuel post-workout with a protein based drink and a main meal within 1-2 hours after exercising.

Get the right shoes

Running shoes should be comfortable and stable. Try half a size bigger to reduce the likelihood of your shoes rubbing - pair with fitted running socks with sweat wicking fabric to reduce the chance of blisters.

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