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14 tips to running a top marathon time

Photo: Bobby Gavin

Photo: Bobby Gavin

Running a marathon is one of the most brutal feats of endurance any human can endure. 26.2 miles of intense agony. 

Luckily anyone, as long as they train and prepare, can run a marathon either for charitable reasons or for personal success. 

But what about recording a quick time? 

Here are 14 tips to doing so...

1. Train by running up hills 

During your training for the marathon, attempt to include at least one run going up and back down a hill. This will help build strength in your legs and increase your stamina before you begin to tackle faster longer runs. 

2. Make sure you get good form 

Good form is the key to success. You are going to be using your shoulders and arms a lot during your 26.2 mile run, so its imperative that you get rid of the tension in your shoulders and arms. For your shoulders, make sure you keep your shoulders dropped for better breathing. In terms of arms, they should be bent roughly 90 degrees and should be swung naturally forward and back whilst you run. 

3. 180 strides

In order to beat the sub two and a half hour time, coaches have recomended that you should be aiming for 180 strides a minute. To check your stride rate, for 10 seconds count how many times your right foot hits the ground, double that number to get total footfalls for 10 seconds and then times by six for your minute stride rate. For most runners, this pace will seem undaunting and quick, but slowly introduce this pace in your sessions and you should be able to hit it. 

4. Be Training 

As I said at the start, you cannot run a marathon and not do the training. It is vital that you treat yourself and think of yourself as an athlete during training. It will make things a lot easier. 

5. Warm Up 

Not to sound like your old PE teacher at school, but it is absolutely crucial that you warm up properly before a run. Especially if you are in your mid thirties and fourties, the warm up will increase the amount of time you can run, and subsequently the amount of speed you can get. 

6. Recovery 

Similar to the warm up, recovery is one of the crucial aspects of training. Make sure you eat and drink the correct food and fluids following a run and make sure you give your body plenty of time to relax before going on the next training session. 

7. Coaching 

If you are serious about running under two and a half hours, then why not consider getting a coach who can really help you go the extra 26.2 miles. 

8. Speed 

In order to build up speed and stamina, one of the key aspects of training is slowly building up your speed training. Starting slowly, before working up the gears and getting your race pace. 

9. Longer runs 

This is probably the easiest one to do. Start off your training with short distance runs before gradually increasing the distance. Enough of these longer distance runs combined with speed and pace training should be enough to see you get round in time. 

10. Run your race pace 

When out on training runs, you should be attempting to hit your race pace in order for you to know how quick or slow you have to run. 

11. Injury 

This links in with recovery, if you are a novice who is running a marathon for the first time, you have got to realise when your body needs a break and a rest. When you begin to feel pain in the same spot whilst running, its time to stop and rest until the pain has subsided. Otherwise you could be injuring yourself to such an extent that all your hard work goes out the window. 

12. Don't overrace and don't overtrain 

Simple enough. Don't push yourself too hard. Understand your body and know its limits. 

13. Pacing 

Start out just a few seconds above or right at your goal race pace, not faster. Attempt to maintain that pace for every single mile until roughly 11 and then if you are still feeling pretty good, push yourself just a tad harder and get the quickest time you can. 

14. Be Smart 

Running a marathon is hard work, don't underestimate the challenge in front of you. Listen and read tips, prepare properly and don't over do yourself and you should be fine. 


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