I’ve been training for the TCS New York City Marathon for 9 weeks now and I have received so many questions so far that I decided to come up with a fun Marathon Training Tips Q&A where I will explain marathon training tips for first timers, the secret behind my marathon training diet, how my gym sessions are going and my marathon training schedule so far.
Marathon Training Tips
#1 How does a marathon training schedule for beginners work?
The key in my training for the marathon is consistency in both my running training and my bodybuilding plan. I hesitated to run the TCS NYC Marathon at first, because I was convinced that both running and bodybuilding doesn’t mix too well. I’m 9 weeks in and I haven’t missed a leg day yet. My marathon training schedule includes 16 weeks of training. So far I’m running 4 times a week and hit the gym 5 times a week (3 leg days, 2 upper body days). I train my legs the same days as I’m running except the long run day. 2 days are complete rest days where I literally do nothing.
On weekdays I run 3 times (1 regular run, 1 intervals training, or speed workout and 1 run “as I feel”) and on the weekend I run the most important training run of the marathon training schedule: the long run. I has built up from 7 miles up to 15 miles and it will reach a peak at 20 miles.
Soreness is pretty rare. My legs have become much stronger over the past years and I feel like there is a perfect balance between muscle mass and the ability to use those muscles within my marathon training right now. Marathon training for beginners would probably not include such hard gym session as I perform them. But I made a decision that I wanna be good in both worlds running and bodybuilding.
#2 Marathon training nutrition: What do you eat while training for a marathon?
Let’s make it short: A lot! My Marathon Training Tip: But only a lot of good stuff. Most runners make the mistake that they tend to eat a lot of garbage only because they just burned 1000 calories or more during their long run. Training for a marathon is hard work for your system and it needs to get fueled properly. While training for a marathon but also while actually running the marathon it is important that your muscle glycogen levels are very high.
Very high muscle glycogen levels can be achieved by just eating more carbohydrates. I’m eating 4 small meals a day with high amounts of protein and enough carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice) and greens such as spinach or broccoli. Especially the day before my long runs I make sure that my carbs bump up a bit.
Also I’m used to running on empty stomach when I’m running shorter distances up to 6 miles. Everything over 6 miles requires a light breakfast (banana, oat meal, rice cakes) to make sure that I have enough energy. Hydration is also as important as a healthy diet which is why I drink up to 2 gallons of water a day (mixed with BCAA’s for muscle protection).
#3 Marathon Training Tips: How to eat and drink while running.
This is actually something that you have to learn early on while training for a marathon. Eating and drinking while running can be tough but it is necessary when you want to run your best 26.2 miles. Some runners prefer energy gels, others love blocks (they taste like gummy bears).
Learning how to drink while running can only be practice while actually doing it. Sign up for a race and take advantage of the fluid stations along the course. Understand what your body is asking for and when and learn how to drink out of that little cup without stopping. My body for example needs Gatorade on long runs – water doesn’t do anything to me. You can also place your water on the course you are running or take it with you (running belts are helpful). I start using gels after mile 6 and continue with it every 3-5 miles until I’m done and drink as needed.
#4 What is your goal time?
Honestly I can’t remember how many times I have been asked that question already. Of course I have a goal time in my head, but as a first time marathoner I don’t want to freak out about it. If you never ran a marathon before to me finishing the 26.2 miles is a big accomplishment.
#5 What is your opinion on marathon training and alcohol?
I posted an article about running and alcohol just recently. Marathon training and alcohol is not the best mix, but I always recommend doing things in moderation and never forget to enjoy life. Dinner with your loved ones with a glass of wine is totally fine when it’s not every night. Excessively drinking and marathon training will probably lead into the wrong direction. But I guess that only dedicated runners take the challenge and sign up for a marathon. I’m convinced that these people know exactly what is good and what is bad for their bodies while prepping for a race like that.
#6 What is your marathon running mantra?
Not sure if I have a real mantra. I do have a couple of motivational quotes I keep telling myself though, when things get rough. Focus on how far you came already. Why would you stop now? To only come this far? No! Picture your parents, your siblings, your best friend at the finish line waiting for you. Picture them waving at you up on the hill – go get them.
Sometimes I even call them on my long runs. Another “mantra” is picturing myself running towards the finish in Central Park on Nov 5th. Most of my long runs take place in Central Park and I even finish my runs on the same position to “feel” the marathon vibes. It helps a lot.
#7 Supplements for marathon training?
Marathon Training Tips: Believe it or not, not all supplements are total waste of money. I never go anywhere without my BCAA’s or my glutamine. Calcium, vitamins and fish oil capsules are also essentials for me. Here is a full list of supplements for runners and why they will help you for sure.
#8 What is your ultimate marathon training advice?
Run the first two to three miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than goal pace. This preserves precious glycogen stores for later in the race so you can finish strong. Yes, practice that in your long runs already. The most common mistake runners do is to start out too fast. If your body feels tired take a break and rest. Don’t force yourself when your body is telling you different.
My favorite out of all Marathon training tips is to enjoy the journey to the fullest and trust your training. You will experience bad days, up’s and down’s and throwbacks. It’s all part of the process and you will shine on race day regardless.
If you have more questions about my marathon training please leave them in the comments.