16 Mar

Whether you’re planning your first, fifth or fifteenth marathon, the biggest determinant of your success will be your training. The effort you put in weeks and months before the race will be reflected in your experience on the day; preparing well is therefore essential.


  • Have a plan. There are lots of marathon training plans available, and experienced runners can even create their own. Having a schedule helps to keep you on track and tells you what progress you can expect to make as the weeks pass.
  • It’s important to increase your training slowly and consistently to minimise the risk of injury. Setting realistic targets also helps to prevent you doing too much, too fast, too soon and becoming disillusioned with running. Small, achievable increases are part of a good running schedule.
  • Whatever your training program, variety should be a key element. Include some tempo runs, some runs at race pace and some long runs.
  • Long runs may seem boring or feel difficult to fit into your schedule, but you need to get used to running for hours at a time, ahead of race day. Make long runs part of your training to avoid a shock on the day. There aren’t any hard and fast rules as to how long your long runs should be, but consider how long you expect to take to complete the marathon and build on your times as your training progresses.
  • An intake of carbohydrates during long, hard runs will provide you with much-needed energy to help you run and finish strongly. Try an energy gel or sports drink for an easy-to-carry, quick hit. Another helping of carbohydrates – whether a meal or snack – after training will support your body with recovery. Protein assists muscle repair, so include a small amount of protein after long or hard runs, too.
  • A commitment to regular training is ideal, but don’t forget to taper your training as race day approaches. According to Runner’s World, a Ball State University study found that tapering can improve performance. Even if you’re feeling invincible, don’t assume more is better: aim to scale back the training around three weeks before race day.
  • On a similar note, don’t overdo it when it comes to your running schedule. There is definitely such a thing as over-training and it can leave you tired, ill or injured for the race itself. Rest and recovery days are an essential part of training: feeling constantly exhausted is not.
  • Pay attention to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t just carry on regardless. Increasing your rest days and seeing a sports professional such as a physiotherapist early on can prevent a niggle from becoming an injury.
  • New runners hoping to tackle a marathon will find it very helpful to complete a half-marathon first. Schedule a half-marathon around a month before race day, if possible. The rest periods around a half-marathon can be beneficial, as well as the mental boost of the achievement. It can also count as one of your long runs!


If you haven’t picked a marathon yet, there’s still time: Melbourne has several marathons taking place over the comings months and into next year:


Shepparton Marathon takes place in Princess Park, Quinan Parade, Shepparton on August 31; you’ll need to be well-trained for that as it’s just under a month away.


Later in the year, on October 12, Melbourne holds its Melbourne Marathon Festival. There are distances for all runners, but marathoners will begin at Batman Avenue in the city and end at the iconic MCG to collect their finishers’ medals.


For a run with a view, try Mt Dandenong’s Roller Coaster Run. At around 43km, it’s a fraction over a marathon. It’s also a trail run, so will require some specific training for the uneven surface, but it’s not until March 21, 2015: plenty of time to get used to off-road running!



Please enter a valid name.

Please enter a valid email address.