What A Marathon Runner Does

As a marathon runner myself, I can attest to the dedication, discipline, and sheer determination required to take on this challenging sport. Participating in marathons has not only tested my physical strength, but it has also pushed me to overcome mental barriers and achieve personal goals. In this article, I will delve deep into what it means to be a marathon runner and the journey it entails.


Training is the cornerstone of marathon running. Months of consistent and structured training are necessary to prepare your body for the grueling 26.2-mile race. This includes a combination of long runs, speed work, tempo runs, and cross-training to build endurance, speed, and overall fitness.

Long runs are the foundation of marathon training. These are typically done once a week and gradually increase in distance over time. They are essential for building the aerobic capacity needed to sustain a steady pace throughout the entire race.

Speed work, on the other hand, involves shorter, faster runs that improve your ability to maintain a faster pace. This could include interval training, where you alternate between high-intensity running and recovery periods, or fartlek runs, which are unstructured speed workouts that incorporate bursts of speed throughout your run.

Tempo runs are another critical aspect of marathon training. These runs are done at a comfortably hard pace, just below your anaerobic threshold. They help to improve your lactate threshold, allowing you to maintain a faster pace for a longer period without accumulating fatigue.

In addition to running, cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, or strength training play a vital role in injury prevention, overall fitness, and muscle balance.


Fueling your body properly is paramount for marathon runners. A well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential for optimal performance and recovery.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for endurance athletes. They provide the fuel needed to power through long training runs and races. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should be the main focus of a marathon runner’s diet.

Proteins are crucial for muscle repair and recovery. Lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, tofu, and beans should be incorporated into every meal. Healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil provide sustained energy and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Hydration is also vital for marathon runners. Drinking enough fluids, including water and electrolyte-rich sports drinks, helps prevent dehydration and maintains proper muscle function. It’s important to listen to your body and hydrate before, during, and after training runs and races.

Race Day

The culmination of months of training and preparation, race day is both exciting and nerve-wracking for marathon runners. The atmosphere at the starting line is electrifying, filled with a mix of adrenaline and anticipation.

Before the race, it’s essential to have a detailed plan in place. This includes pacing strategies, fueling strategies, and mental strategies for overcoming any challenges you may face during the race. Many marathon runners set specific time goals or aim to beat their personal records.

During the race, pacing is crucial. Starting too fast can lead to burnout, while starting too slow may hinder your ability to achieve your desired time goal. Sticking to your training pace and gradually increasing your effort as the race progresses is key.

Proper fueling during the race is also important. This often involves consuming energy gels, sports drinks, or other easily digestible carbohydrates at regular intervals to replenish glycogen stores and maintain energy levels.

Mental fortitude plays a significant role in marathon running. The fatigue and physical discomfort that arise during the later stages of the race can be challenging to overcome. Mental strategies such as positive self-talk, visualization, and focusing on smaller milestones can help marathon runners push through these tough moments.


Being a marathon runner is a transformative journey that requires dedication, discipline, and mental toughness. The training, nutrition, and race day strategies all play essential roles in achieving success in this challenging sport. The sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from crossing the finish line of a marathon is truly indescribable. So lace up your running shoes, set your goals, and embark on the incredible journey of becoming a marathon runner!