In this blog we hear from two time Virgin Money London Marathon runner Marathon Marcus, as he talks us through his marathon preparation.
When I first started out I didn’t really understand the subtle nuances of marathon training paces, and ran every session as hard as I could. It’s only when I started working with a coach that I learned this approach wasn’t conducive to a good training base as it leads to fatigue, burnout and injuries. Since starting with a coach I’ve learnt that marathon training programmes have three main principles of running below, above, and at race pace.
Another important point that I have learned is that marathon running mainly consists of aerobic effort, and with a small part made up of anaerobic effort. So as a rough guide I use the 80/20 rule, with 80% of my runs at easy pace and 20% are harder sessions.
This year I am also running the Boston Marathon on 16th April, so I am having to vary my training to fit two different courses. The first half of Boston is downhill, and the rest is quiet undulating, so I’ve included more hill training in my runs to ensure my legs are stronger for the race. One aspect I’m incorporating is faster runs down hills to get my quads conditioned for the first half of the race.
The Virgin Money London Marathon course isn’t as undulating, but it’s still important to incorporate some hills in your runs once a week, as it’s good conditioning to run quicker. Ultimately I try to run sections of my long runs that will replicate the marathon course, as it is good mental and physical preparation.
As I get closer to race day I try to conserve my energy, eat what I would normally eat and top up my carbs with energy gels. I don’t believe in having a big pasta meal the day before as it’s heavy and could cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues. My tip is always to avoid foods you don’t normally eat the evening before a long run.
On the day of a marathon I eat what I normally eat at home which is porridge, plus a glass of water with electrolytes. To prevent GI issues I try to eat a few hours before the start and just before the race I’ll have an energy gel.
When it comes to the mental preparation, my coach has helped a lot. He reminds me of all the work I’ve done in training and to go out and enjoy the race. Additionally I visualise myself going through the race, including facing the tough moments I will encounter on the course and at the end of the race. Talking to my coach about brief points pre-race is a good boost, as it gives me confidence and helps settle my nerves.
To follow my journey in the build up to London and Boston Marathons, I’ll be documenting my training via my Instagram profile @themarathonmarcus.