Note: Before starting any new exercise regime or marathon training guide, or taking up running for the first time, make sure that you speak to a health professional if you have any existing medical conditions.

A marathon is the ultimate challenge for a runner and is an exciting way to motivate yourself to up your training and focus on an important goal. A marathon is 26.2 miles and 41.2 kilometres and can take runners from 2 to 10 hours to complete depending on your running pace and endurance. Paul Tergat from Kenya is the record holder for the fastest marathon, after completing the race in 2 hour 4 minutes. A marathon requires both fitness and mental strength and training is essential to building up your endurance and stamina. It is advisable to run a half marathon before signing up to a marathon as you will need a considerable amount of training to run a marathon without any previous running or race experience. Once you have completed a 5K, 10K and a couple of half marathons, your mind and body will be ready for the next challenge.

Runners who sign up to run a marathon usually run to help raise money and awareness for a charity or cause close to their heart. With this in mind, Alder Hey’s Children’s Charity have created a marathon training plan designed to help you to run a marathon in as little as 8 weeks. Mixing cardio with weight training, our 8-week marathon training plan will help runners who are training to run a marathon in the UK, improve their overall level of fitness and safely increase their workout routine in time to run a marathon.

For days that include a cardio workout, we would suggest an activity such as swimming, cycling or working out at the gym on a cross trainer, as this type of workout provides a full body exercise that will strengthen and tone the body.

While training to run a marathon, it is important to pay close attention to your overall health and wellbeing. It is OK to miss a day of training if you don’t feel well or you’re not in the mood to train. Your body will let you know whether you are pushing yourself too hard or too quickly and missing one day of the 8-week marathon training guide is better than quitting due to exhaustion or frustration. Training when you feel unwell can also cause injury and this can set you back days if not weeks, which may lead to you pulling out of the race completely. If you injure yourself while training, you must seek professional medical advice as soon as possible.

Download Our 8 Weeks Training Plan

Check out our warm up and cool down tips and our delicious meal ideas for runners too!

Warm Up Inspiration

Warming up before your marathon training is important as it will prevent you from injuring yourself during training.

  • Here are some fun ways to warm up before a workout or run:
  • Speed walk for two minutes, followed by 5 burpees. Repeat for 5 minutes.
  • 10 jumping jacks followed by 1 minute of knees to elbows. Repeat for 5 minutes.
  • 10 squats followed by a fast 1-minute run and 5 lunges on each side. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Did you know that we have our very own Alder Hey Running Spotify playlist that you can listen to while training to run a marathon!

Cool Down Inspiration

A cool down exercise will help to bring down your heart rate slowly and safely, meaning less chance of injuring yourself or feeling faint after running for a long period of time. A cool down will also aid recovery.

Here are some interesting cool down ideas to try:

  • 10 minutes of yoga, focusing on breathing deeply and slowly.
  • 10 squats, 10 lunges and stretching out your core for 5 minutes.
  • Swimming breast stroke for 10 minutes.

Delicious and Nutritious Meals for Runners

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important when leading a healthy lifestyle, but even more so while training to run a marathon. Fuelling your body with the right number of calories will help to prevent the loss of muscle mass as you increase your weekly training routine and burn an increased number of calories while running. Carbohydrates such as brown rice, lentils and pasta are all key ingredients to incorporate into your new training food plan.

Here are some delicious meals to try at home:

Run for Alder Hey

If you are planning on signing up to run a marathon, we would love you to consider running for Alder Hey Children’s Charity. Every penny that’s raised for Alder Hey goes towards life changing research and support for thousands of children and their families.

You can find our handy sponsorship form here.

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