How Do Marathon Runners Train

When it comes to marathon training, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every runner is different and requires a training plan tailored to their individual needs and goals. As someone who has completed multiple marathons, I can attest to the fact that training for a marathon is a challenging but incredibly rewarding endeavor. In this article, I’ll share my personal insights and delve into the details of how marathon runners train.

Setting goals and creating a training plan

The first step in marathon training is setting realistic goals. Whether it’s finishing your first marathon or aiming for a personal best, having a clear goal will help you stay motivated throughout the training process. Once you have your goal in mind, it’s time to create a training plan.

A marathon training plan typically spans over several months and is divided into phases. It includes a mix of different types of runs, such as long runs, tempo runs, speed work, and recovery runs. The plan gradually increases mileage and intensity to build endurance and prepare the body for the demands of running 26.2 miles.

Long runs and building endurance

Long runs are a cornerstone of marathon training. These runs gradually increase in distance over time and aim to build endurance. During long runs, it’s important to maintain a comfortable pace that allows you to cover the desired distance without burning out. These runs simulate the physical and mental demands of running a marathon and help develop the stamina needed to complete the race.

I personally found it helpful to incorporate some form of fueling strategy during long runs. Consuming energy gels, sports drinks, or real food at regular intervals can help maintain energy levels and prevent hitting the dreaded “wall” during the marathon.

Speed work and improving race pace

In addition to building endurance, marathon training also involves incorporating speed work to improve overall race pace. Tempo runs, interval training, and hill repeats are common forms of speed work that help develop speed and efficiency.

Tempo runs involve running at a comfortably hard pace for a sustained period, usually at or slightly faster than marathon race pace. These runs help improve lactate threshold and increase the body’s ability to maintain a faster pace for longer durations.

Interval training involves alternating between periods of hard effort and recovery. This type of training helps improve cardiovascular fitness, speed, and running economy.

Hill repeats are another beneficial form of speed work. Running uphill challenges the muscles and cardiovascular system, leading to increased strength and improved overall performance.

Rest and recovery

Rest and recovery are just as crucial as the actual training. It’s during periods of rest that the body adapts and grows stronger. Adequate sleep, nutrition, and hydration are essential for recovery.

As a marathon runner myself, I’ve learned the importance of listening to my body and taking rest days when needed. Overtraining can lead to injuries and burnout, so it’s crucial to find the right balance between training and rest.


Training for a marathon requires dedication, perseverance, and a well-structured plan. As a marathon runner, I can attest to the physical and mental challenges that come with the training process. However, the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line is truly unparalleled. Remember, every runner’s journey is unique, so don’t be afraid to tailor your training plan to suit your individual needs. Lace up your shoes, create a plan, and embark on this incredible journey of marathon training!