5 Things I’ve Learned Training For A Marathon


This weekend sees the long-awaited return of the Virgin Money London Marathon to the capital’s streets. After a two and a half year hiatus (for obvious reasons), 50,000 runners will take to the official course with a further 50,000 completing it virtually. DOSE writer Lizzy will be amongst them. Here, she shares her experience of training for a marathon and of what prepping for the big day has taught her…

Training For A Marathon

Why do people love running marathons? The sense of achievement? The crowds on race day? The shiny medal? Those are all great prizes but for me, it’s the months of prep that I love. That slow progressive build, seeing your fitness quietly grow at the same pace as your hunger levels and blisters. This marathon will be my seventh London and my 12th overall, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned in training over the past decade.

Plan it, Pin it, Stick to it

When I was first looking for a suitable marathon training program as a 26.2-mile rookie, I found the most valuable resource in The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer. Plain-talking no-nonsense advice on everything from kit to marathon nutrition and everything in between. Most important is that much-needed marathon plan to get you from nought to 26.2 in time. I followed it religiously – the suggested mileage each week, building up long runs, tapering, nutrition – and guess what? It works.

Training For A Marathon - London Marathon

Tie your laces, Fill your ears

They say training for a marathon is just as much a mental game as it is physical. Heading out of a weekend to run for two hours or more at first seemed…well, boring. And then I discovered my secret weapon: podcasts. Whatever your taste, filling those endless hours pounding the streets with your favourite shows has a magical way of distracting you from what your legs are having to do. My own marathon training companions this time around? My Therapist Ghosted Me, Off Menu and Shagged Married Annoyed. Perfect distraction technique.

You do you

No one – and I cannot stress this enough – cares what you look like when out on your training runs. When I first started heading out on long runs on a Sunday, I thought every other runner I encountered must be able to detect that I was a complete marathon novice making it up as she went along. But now, after over ten years of passing other runners when out on my miles, I’ve realised that I pay very little attention to what anyone else is doing – I’ve got enough to worry about myself.

Abstinence is a choice

Anyone training for a marathon must be living like a monk, right? No. Now, going out on the beers the night or during the week before a marathon is definitely not recommended. But otherwise, it’s all about balance. For me the perfect marathon training diet includes anything that keeps you motivated and happy during those months of hard work. Run the miles, eat the food, drink the drinks.

Nothing new on race day

After months of prep, the worst thing you can do on race day itself is try something new. New trainers, new food, new podcasts. I learned this the hard way in Berlin four years ago. I thought I’d try some snazzy new Nike running tights, which proceeded to fall down all the way around the course. Stick to what you know, and what you’ve done in training and you’ll be peachy.

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By Lizzy

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Hettie Holmes

A destination for healthy hedonists that fuses the worlds of fitness, healthy food and drink.