Marathon training tips – use our running programmes!

Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK
07 January 2019

Marathon training is upon us. If you’ve got your sights set on the London Marathon finishing line in April, you’ll no doubt be gearing up for some focused months of training from here on in. And we’ve got just the thing to help you out – two marathon training programmes that are specially designed for if you’re a beginner or intermediate runner.

Our training programmes cover everything you need to know about slow runs, steady runs and tempo runs, as well as advice about frequency, intensity and time for each training run you do.

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Marathon running programmes

Beginner running programme

Click on the image below to see the full programme (PDF 0.2 MB, opens in a new window).

Image of Bupa's beginner marathon running programme

Intermediate running programme

Click on the image below to see the full programme (PDF 0.2 MB, opens in a new window).

Image of Bupa's intermediate marathon running programme

Marathon training tips

While the time after Christmas and New Year is full of motivation and a chance to return to, and improve, fitness levels, it’s also a hard time of year to train. The weather and dark mornings and evenings can make it tough to get out there and into your trainers. So I spoke to Michelle, who ran the London Marathon for the first time last year, to get her tips on how she did it.

Q. January is a tough time to train – how did you mentally prepare for long training runs in the dark, cold and rain?

A. I called on the support of family and friends for encouragement and a pep talk when I needed it. I visualised race day, wrapped up warm, and always had something nice to come home to (like a good meal, a hot bath and a movie, or seeing or calling a friend).

I had an epic playlist to keep me going which I was always updating, and I would pick a scenic route, or just a route I’d never done before, to keep myself occupied. I found it could actually be really beautiful being out on my own in the crisp cold, running through a new park or countryside. I loved being alone in the elements and discovered icy ponds with swans, open fields glittering with frost, and quiet mountains where I could hear a pin drop. That never would have happened had I not been forced to go out and train in the winter.

Q. How did you look after yourself during your training to help keep yourself feeling fit and energised?

A. Nutrition and sleep were really important to keeping me feeling energised. I had to teach myself to eat a bit more, and to eat the right types of food, to fill myself up. I also had to start having more salt to stop me getting headaches from dehydration.

I scheduled in plenty of rest to allow my body to recover too. Hot baths, lots of stretching and foam rolling, yoga once a week and a sports massage when I could afford it. I had one before my half marathon race and two in the month before the marathon, but I would have had more if I could have as they really help.

Q. Did you get poorly at all during your training months and if so, how did you deal with getting back on track?

A. I didn’t get sick as such, but I did get a few niggles and pains which worried me so I went to see a physio for a sports massage and to get their advice. I made sure I was doing foam rolling, stretching and core work to keep me strong too. There were times when I felt completely exhausted during my training and sometimes a lie-in or a day watching movies was just what I needed.

Q. How did you approach training – did you tick off your runs each time on your training plan?

A. After looking at a few different training plans, I told myself I’d have four training sessions a week. One short run, one sprint intervals session, one medium run and one long run. I decided to focus on distances and improving my overall fitness. I wanted to listen to my body and be flexible with my schedule, so depending on what I had going on that week and how my body was feeling, I’d just make sure I had done one of each by the end of the week. I usually saved my long runs for the weekend because they were the ones that took a lot of planning and recovery. That meant I had a bit of flexibility and could listen to my body each week. Plus I did lots of stretching and yoga because I found that helped me to not feel so achey and not get injured.

Q. Any other tips or thoughts for people who are stepping up their training in Jan?

A. Stay positive and focussed on your goal. Other things that helped were to run with a friend or with a group sometimes. I met other people who were running the marathon at a running club and that was a huge boost. It was great to meet people who were going through the same thing as me.

I followed people on social media who were training too. I found that really motivating, as I saw other people’s highs and lows and didn’t feel so alone. I even met a girl on the start line that I had connected with online. We ended up chatting until the race began which was amazing! I also read some running books which I loved and found hugely motivating. Just don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Stick to what works for you.

Wishing you all the luck in the world and hope you reach your goal! Let us know how you get on over on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Natalie Heaton
Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK

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