Posted on 21 Comments

Your Full Marathon Training Plan – 20 Weeks

If you’ve decided this is your year for taking on the challenge of the marathon, you’ll need to make sure you plan your training effectively. This guide is here to help you prepare for this exhilarating event, and includes an example 20 week marathon plan to get your started.

WHAT IS A MARATHON?

A marathon is a road running race that covers a demanding distance of 26.2 miles (42.2km), usually undertaken in one go. Marathon events take place throughout the year, all across the U.K., as well as in most countries across the globe. The event is technically a race, particularly for the professional runners who take part, but for many runners it’s seen as a personal challenge and a demanding goal to aspire towards. Some participants take part with a goal of simply completing the course, whether that’s by running, walking or by wheelchair, while others focus on finishing in a particular time, perhaps even improving on their last marathon time.

In recent times many marathon events have been cancelled, but that hasn’t stopped enthusiastic runners from continuing their training and running their own marathons. Even without the official events, there are many ways to challenge yourself, and you can still enjoy all the benefits that come from running a marathon.

WHY IS TRAINING FOR A MARATHON IMPORTANT?

Running 26.2 miles is no walk in the park, and even some of the fittest runners find it to be an intense challenge. This event will take its toll both physically and mentally, so it’s extremely important to prepare your body and your mind before taking part. Your muscular, cardiovascular and energy systems need to be built up over time so they’re in the best position for running continuously for (on average) four to five hours straight. Proper preparation means you’re less likely to experience injury or exhaustion, and your body will take less time to recover afterwards.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN FOR A MARATHON?

This very much depends on your starting fitness and ability levels – if you’re a complete running newbie, then you’re best starting with training for 5k and 10k events, and even considering a half marathon before you jump straight to the full marathon. For first time marathoners, you should generally expect to spend around five to six months training for the big event. This may seem like a long time, but as mentioned above, it’s vital to take the time to gradually strengthen and prepare your body for such a long-distance run. We’ve set out a 20 week marathon plan below, but you’ll need that running experience before getting started.

WHAT IS THE BEST TRAINING PLAN FOR A MARATHON?

There are a host of different types of training plans available to suit different fitness levels, time frames and objectives, so finding the perfect one for you starts with working out what you want from your marathon.

A good rule of thumb for marathon training is to run three times a week, including one long run a week that builds up over the months. You should also include a couple of days set aside for strength or functional training and at least two rest days to recover (which could include some gentle yoga or stretching to work on your flexibility and mobility). This will ensure that while you’re building up your running ability, you’ll also be strengthening your muscles so they’re in the best shape possible to power you forward for the entirety of the run.

Also, when the weather is bad, you might be tempted to do all of your training on a treadmill, but it’s worth factoring in plenty of outdoor runs so you can acclimatise to the different types of conditions you might face on the day. Running inside can be very different to running against the wind, through rain, or in hot sunshine, so ideally you’ll want to have a good idea of what to expect should you face any extreme weather on the day.

Likewise, think about the route your planned marathon will be taking. If, for example, there are hills or different types of terrain on your marathon route – then try to factor these into your training plan, so your body can get used to tackling different gradients and ground types.

Before getting started, make sure to read our ‘what to know about training for a marathon guide’ – it includes tips to ensure your health, preparation and diet are working in your favour.

TRAINING TO BOOST YOUR MARATHON PERFORMANCE

For those looking to improve speed and beat a previous marathon time, you’ll want to integrate tempo runs (also known as threshold runs). These are runs where you boost your speed or energy output, pushing yourself harder to improve your body’s capabilities. One way to do this is to set your running tempo to around 80-90% of your maximum heart rate – which is where your lactate threshold usually falls. This will be much faster than the pace you run the actual marathon, but is a great way to enhance your fitness levels. It works by helping to boost your lactate threshold and helps your body to become more efficient at clearing the by-products of lactate production which cause fatigue.

THE FREE PUREGYM 20 WEEK MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

Our 20 week marathon training plan is targeted at first time marathon runners but also assumes you are already able to run 10km. If you’re not at that fitness level yet, we suggest checking out our guides to training for a 5k or running a 10k before picking up with this plan. Likewise, a safe starting point could also be our 13 week half marathon training plan, before you immediately start on a full marathon.

Runs are split between:

  • Easy runs (Mondays) – keep at a relaxed pace throughout
  • How you like (Wednesdays) – choose if you’d like to incorporate a few minutes of faster paced running, or make this a tempo run – or just stick to an easy run if that’s working best for you
  • Long runs (Saturdays) – longer distance-based runs that will build up to a maximum of 20 miles, with some ‘shorter’ long runs to allow for recovery

We’ve also recommended two ‘workout’ sessions each week. Use this time to focus on building strength – through activities like functional training or strength training (check out our guide to learn more about strength training for runners) – or for low impact cardio like cross training, that won’t put too much additional pressure on your joints and knees.

As always, don’t forget to warm up before each training session (a brisk 5 – 10 minute walk, or some dynamic stretches can do the trick here) and to cool down afterwards (ideally some static stretches to promote blood flow, reduce stiffness and boost your flexibility).

And finally, we’ve included two rest days each week. These are very important – don’t be tempted to skip these. You need to allow your joints time to recover and your muscles time to heal and strengthen. If you still want to stay active on these days, maybe consider some yoga or light stretching to work on your flexibility or mobility without impacting on your overall recovery. Find out more about rest days with our ‘why rest days are important’ article.

Posted on 6 Comments

Marathon Training Guide For (Total) Beginners

Are you considering taking on the challenge of a marathon, but not sure where to start? Are you looking to set yourself a mammoth goal, despite being a total running beginner? Then this guide is for you. We’ll help you with everything you need to know to go from couch(ish) to running a 26.2 mile marathon over the course of several months. Even if you’re not signed up to a marathon event, you could still consider running a virtual marathon with this plan.

CAN BEGINNER RUNNERS COMPLETE A MARATHON?

This is a big question, with lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to consider. Could someone who has never run before jump straight into running a marathon? Well, they could try, but it’s incredibly unlikely they’d finish without causing themselves major injuries or health issues. Can a total beginner train over time to run a marathon? Absolutely, if they’re prepared to commit to months of dedication and preparation.

Training is the key here – we’d recommend training even if you’re simply looking to walk a marathon, as you’d still need to prepare your body for the long distance and different weather conditions. So it’s even more important if you’re aiming to run the whole thing.

This may sound intimidating, but by creating a month-by-month plan and committing time each week to training, it is totally possible to go from couch to marathon in the space of a year.

WHY WOULD A TOTAL BEGINNER WANT TO RUN A MARATHON?

A marathon is a huge challenge, and an incredible goal to work towards. As places in marathon events are limited, once you know you’re taking part, you know you’ll be part of something special and exciting, but also difficult and strenuous. So why might beginners want to run a marathon?

  • Personal achievement – knowing you’ve spent time and effort preparing for such a challenge, is an incredible feeling in itself, let alone the fantastic pride when you finally cross the finish line.
  • Motivation – having a set goal to work towards means you might be more likely to stick to your fitness routine. Committing to a big event gives a purpose to your training that can boost your motivation and keep you running, even on days where you’d rather stay home
  • Health – running is a fantastic way to boost your physical and mental wellbeing – in fact, even running for 30 minutes can help to battle health issues, boost your mood, improve your sleep, strengthen your heart and lungs and give you focus. Learn more about some of the incredible benefits of training for a marathon with our guide.
  • To raise money for charity – most people who run in official marathon events tend to be raising money for a specific charity or cause. In some cases, your entry is secured through charities, and you commit to raising a certain amount for them in order to participate. In others, runners might be raising money or awareness for a cause close to their heart.

HOW TO TRAIN FOR A MARATHON AS A TOTAL BEGINNER

If you’re thinking about starting your marathon training from total beginner level, then the key is to take it gradually. If you rush your training, you’ll be putting your body under a strain it’s not fully prepared for and you’ll risk injuring yourself, which in turn will prevent you from training. By easing your way through a training plan, you’ll build up your strength, fitness and endurance in a measured way that means you’ll be fully prepared to take on the challenge of a marathon.

THE BEST PLAN FOR BEGINNERS’ MARATHON TRAINING

As a beginner, we recommend starting with a smaller goal and stepping your way up to a marathon. Give yourself a set amount of time to reach 5K, then 10K, and even a half marathon distance, before pushing on to achieve the full marathon. As such, the best plan is actually a combination of three of our popular training plans:

  • Start with our 5K training plan – it takes 6 weeks and will guide you to running for around 30-40 minutes without stopping.
  • Then pick up with our 10K training plan, which starts focusing on building up distance rather than time, taking you from 5K to 10K over the space of 8 weeks.
  • Finally, move on to our 20 week full marathon training plan, which picks up where the 10K plan finished, guiding you from running 5 miles right through to completing your first 26.2-mile marathon.

If you’re not sure about aiming for a full marathon, our half marathon training plan is a good follow up to the 5K plan and includes a blend of focusing on time and pace for some runs and distances for others. You build up to running the 13.1 miles or 21 kilometres of a half marathon over 13 weeks. This could be a good starting point and, from there, you can see if you’d like to continue to the full marathon or not.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO TRAIN FOR A FIRST MARATHON?

Our plans above will take you around 8 months, from complete novice runner right through to crossing the finish line of your first marathon. This might seem like a long time, but you have a long way to go, and it’s important to pace your training carefully.

We also recommend factoring a little extra time into your training for any times you may be ill or have other commitments that might interrupt your plans. So we’d recommend planning around 8 ½ – 9 months to train for your first ever marathon.

Posted on Leave a comment

Best weight loss and fat burner juice

Juicing for weight loss is not only an here to stay but is very effective because the number of fruits/vegetables you can have in one drink far outweigh the number you can have whole, thus ingesting more nutrients. If you can garner more nutrients; you will not only be healthy enough to go to the gym but can indulge in an overall more active lifestyle which is have numerous benefits.