Marathon Training Guide

Marathon training for the 1st time, or the 100th time is an amazing accomplishment. Its an opportunity to discover new things about yourself and what your body is capable of.

The Marathon, 26.2 miles….

Whether you have run a marathon or this will be your first, the goal is to enjoy training and get better. This article will help you improve your time while being your guide to completing one of the greatest accomplishments you have set out to achieve. Within the guide there will be a basic framework for preparing you to train and complete 26.2 miles as well as links to in depth articles that dive into dedicated training topics. Regardless if you want this to be easy or more advanced, this guide is sure to have you ready for your marathon and enjoying every step of the way!

Training Plans

With so many training plans available on the internet, how do you choose the right one?  At COROS, we take training plans one step further by customizing them directly to the user. The training plans will tell you how many miles to run, at what pace to run them, and be individualized based on your personal EvoLab data (tracked in the COROS App.)  Yes, that is correct, our data learns who you are as a runner, and then our training plans become customized to your ability! Now you don’t only have a training plan, but essentially a virtual coach on your wrist! Visit our website to view All Training Plans

Training Plan automatically uploading to COROS watch

Video Demonstrating How to Download Plan to Watch

16 Week Marathon Training Plan for Non-Owners

Thinking Through Your Training

As you begin your journey, it can be overwhelming.  Most Marathon plans last 16-24 weeks which is a long time to train for something. Luckily in the world of sports science, Individuals have found that breaking up the season into different blocks allows the body and mind to respond better to stress! Each portion of the season serves a different purpose. You have a base period, build period, peak season, and off-season.  Any plan that you follow should have these guidelines in place.  All of our training plans above follow these principles.  For more reading on this topic and to better understand what your body will go through, please follow this link to read about periodization!

Building Fitness

When starting on your new journey, there are three ways to improve fitness. You can increase your frequency of training, volume of training, or intensity of training. These are the three pillars of fitness. 

It is recommended that you increase your frequency first.  If you are running 3 times per week for a total of 1 hour, then you should look to increase your frequency to 5 times per week for one hour total.  These runs will be short, but you are laying the foundation for much larger volume down the road.  This would be part of your preparation phase in the section above. 

The second pillar you should increase is volume.  If you have built up to 5 days or more a week, now it’s time to add mileage. The best rule of thumb is 10% increase each week. If you ran 20 miles last week, then you should aim to run 22 miles this week. Be sure to keep your long run each week around 30% of total volume and you’ll build in a safe way! This would be classified as your base and build portion of periodization!

The last pillar is intensity. This is the riskiest of the three. The more intense your training gets, the higher likelihood that you build fatigue and possible injury.  Intensity has a place in each plan, but it should only be maintained for 4-8 weeks at a time. This is generally the added piece that allows for athletes to peak. 

For more information, click on our link on how to properly build volume.

Specific Approach

Each race is different. This could mean hills, temperature, trail, or any other physical factor. As an athlete, you want to train specifically for your event the closer you get. For races done in the heat, you will want to mix in running during the hotter portions of the day. For races with hills, you want to seek out similar terrain.  The idea behind this is that the more specific you can make your training (within reason), the better prepared you will be to handle the demands on race day!  For more information, follow our link on specificity.

Now that you have your training plan laid out, what else should you be focusing on…?

Clothing/Equipment

Let’s make sure you are as comfortable as you can be. To enjoy running, be sure to have a proper set of shoes that work for you. The best piece of advice we can give is to go to a running store and get fitted for your shoes. Secondly, pick up some light weight running clothes.  Be sure to dress appropriately for the temperature. Running in run specific clothing can make a big difference for your overall enjoyment. 

Once you have your clothing sorted out, make sure that you have the proper equipment to monitor and track your progress.  At COROS, we have multiple watches and accessories to help you from start to finish. For road running we recommend our PACE 2. This is the lightest GPS watch out there and provides users with easy to read watch faces along with access to all of the data you would ever need.  If you are planning to run trail, you will want to explore our APEX line. This allows users the “trail” activity option to monitor your activity with more accuracy. We also have the VERTIX line that is more robust. If you are planning to do only trail with some longer adventures, this may be the watch for you!  Lastly, to maximize all of your running metrics, look into the POD. This will be placed on the back of your shorts to measure left/right balance, form power, stride height, and a slew of other metrics to ensure proper efficiency. Once you have the proper equipment, you can download the COROS App to monitor your progress through mileage, VO2 max, threshold, and other data points that will be customized to you!

Warming Up 

Before your run, you want to have a proper warm up, this should take 5-10 minutes and be part of your routine. The goal of your warm up is to move in a dynamic way to raise your heart rate. You want to start simple (walk) and build into a light jog. You do not need to overcomplicate this.  Simply spend 5-10 minutes building into your run so you don’t hurt yourself.  For more information, read our article dedicated to a proper warm up.

Monitoring Fatigue and Recovery

While this can be a tricky topic for new athletes, we have created an easy to use training software for runners! COROS EvoLab allows you to track training stress from each run. After getting to learn your pace and heart rate zones, our software will help monitor your fatigue.  As your fatigue value increases, you need more recovery. If you don’t recover, you run the risk of injury or becoming stale. For more information, read our article on how to avoid a fitness plateau.

Nutrition While Running

Running is fueled through energy.  This energy either comes from fat, or glycogen.  Fat takes longer to break down, therefore you must run slower when burning fat as fuel. What most athletes will utilize is glycogen.  Glycogen is replenished by eating carbs and having your body break it down to sugars. High glycemic index foods (honey) are almost instantly utilized as energy while lower glycemic index foods (grains/noodles) take much longer to break down.  This is why you may hear “carbo-loading” as a nutrition tactic. You load your body with carbs which will pack your body full of glycogen (energy). 

So, your body is full of energy when you start, but what about during your run?  Glycogen can last for up to 90 minutes during exercise. Again, you can always utilize fat for energy, but this will require you to slow down drastically and is not advised. To ensure you don’t run out of fuel, it is recommended that athletes take in nutrition every 45 minutes if running longer than an hour. Nutrition will be unique to each individual as you will have different caloric requirements, different tastes, and different preferences as you go.  A good general rule when first starting is to take in 200 calories/hour and adjust as needed. 

Practice makes perfect with nutrition. Try different items in different conditions at different intensities. You need to dial in your nutrition for race day conditions.

Enjoyment

Marathon training for the 1st time, or the 100th time is an amazing accomplishment. Its an opportunity to discover new things about yourself and what your body is capable of. Every journey will have its ups and downs, but it’s the learning and improving that is most important.  At COROS, we hope we can help you have more ups than downs and help you through our collective experiences. Go out there, enjoy your journey, and remember that what you are doing is amazing! Go run and explore perfection!

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