Training for a marathon

Nancy Heijnis
4 April 2022
Reading time: 10 minutes

Spring has been in full swing for a while and that means the marathon season is just around the corner. This weekend it’s ‘the’ weekend of the Rotterdam Marathon! This is the largest marathon in the Netherlands when it comes to the number of participants. Perhaps you have already registered, or perhaps you find a marathon very exciting. Training is key. You are not doing your body any favors when you run a marathon untrained. Everything is possible! As long as you start on time. Have you always dreamed of putting your perseverance to the test by completing a marathon? Today we tell you how best to train for a marathon.

How many km should you run in a marathon?

What is the distance of a marathon? A marathon consists of 42.195 kilometers. That’s quite a lot! The fastest runner was Eliud Kipchoge and completed a marathon in 2:01:29 hours. That means that it takes an average of 2:50 minutes to cover a kilometer. This is of course not for everyone. It takes an average marathon runner about 4 hours to complete it. To achieve this feat, you would have to run approximately 10.5 kilometers per hour. But at the Rotterdam Marathon, for example, you have 5:30 to 6:00 hours to finish it. If you find a full marathon too far, you always have the choice to run a half (21.0975 km) or a quarter (10.55 km) marathon.

How do you train for a marathon?

If you are a less experienced runner, you should really take the time to train for a marathon. More haste less speed. Your recovery time will also be longer than that of an experienced marathon runner. That’s why novice marathoners need 20 weeks or even more. Take into account about 5 training days per week and you may not increase the number of kilometers more than 10% per week. Experienced marathon runners need a training schedule of 12 to 16 weeks with 4 training days. Search the internet for a marathon training schedule. It is now full! Which marathon schedule suits you depends on your level, how much time you have to train and what your target time is.

What do you eat to prepare for a marathon?

When you run a marathon, you mainly benefit from carbohydrates and a good fluid supply. Carbohydrates provide the energy you need to move. It consists of one or more sugar molecules and is stored in the muscles and liver. This is also known as the glycogen store. After an intensive run you should supplement these carbohydrates with, for example, fruit or grain products such as rice and pasta.

Before a marathon, you want to maximize the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. This is also known as carbo-loading or carbohydrate stacking. Your body can use the reserve energy effectively during such an endurance run. This way you can prevent the effect of ‘the man with the hammer’ during the marathon. Many runners only eat a large amount of carbohydrates the night before. In practice, it appears that the reserves in the muscles and liver are not filled enough. According to Monique Ryan, author of the American bestseller Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, it’s best to start carb stacking a few days in advance. The advice is as follows: eat about 8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight three days before the race. You can store about 600 to 750 grams of carbohydrates in the body. Keeps the number of calories the same during carbo-loading. That means you eat less protein and fat.

The day before the race it is best to eat a good plate of pasta. This way you can be sure that you are eating a carbohydrate-rich, but low-fat meal. (At least, then you should of course leave the cheese). The last meal is best eaten 3 to 4 hours before the competition. This way you have enough energy, but you do not suffer from a full stomach while running.

As an amateur athlete, it is important that you eat enough during training and before competitions. This way you prevent a hunger pang, which would only be really annoying on the big day! Also, don’t just experiment with feeding schedules yourself. If you really want to go for it, it is advisable to ask for help from a nutritionist.

Marathon training tips

So everyone will start at a different level when they start training for a marathon. We have listed a number of tips that can help you train for the marathon:

  • Start each workout with a warm-up and end with a cool-down to prevent injury.
  • Alternate the surfaces: one time on the asphalt, the other time on a soft surface. This also prevents injuries.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your run.
  • Practice carbo-loading some time before the race. This way you know in advance how your body reacts to carbo-loading.
  • The best carb loading product is our carboloader from Vitargo! These super-fast absorbable carbohydrates disappear from the stomach within 10 minutes.
  • Replenish your glycogen stores and provide your body with the necessary minerals with Vitargo Electrolyte.
  • Also try a workout gel for extra energy!
  • Alternate between endurance training and speed training. This way you can improve your running pace!
  • Do a very long run every 7 to 10 days.
  • Walk with a friend and double the fun.
  • Make your own motivational music list on Spotify
  • Help your muscles recover smoothly with Whey proteins.
  • Also consider other supplements such as: multivitamin and magnesium for optimal recovery.
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