What it takes to run a marathon


2 minute read

Spoiler: it’s not just running 🏃🏼‍♂️

A marathon is a 26.2 mile / 42.2 km run. You can run as part of a race, or just out on your own, on-road, off-road (trail), or mountain!

Training and taking part in a marathon race is a much bigger commitment than you might initially imagine. It’s not just about the running.




Most marathon training plans consist of up to 5-6 runs per week of varying types of exercise.

Hill runs are for building power in your legs. Running uphill works different muscles and uses a different technique. I also say that although most races usually aren’t hilly (some I’ve done are!), training on hills puts you in better stead for when you race on flat.

Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. These are also called Intervals. It’s an activity where you will be varying your speed in intervals. For example 5 minutes jog, 2 minute fast, repeat.

Progressive/progression run start slow and build up the pace to get faster throughout the run, for example (minutes/mile):

8:15 / 8:00 / 7:45 / 7:30 / 7:15 / 7:00 / < 7:00 / 8:00 (recovery)

Long runs (usually at the weekend) can start at 6 miles and go up to just under marathon-distance. It’s wise not to attempt the full distance during training at least for your first race. I guarantee you the atmosphere and endorphins will take you the final few miles on the day.


A training schedule can involve strength training too. I hate strength training. This training is to build up and condition the muscles used during running to give you more power overall. It also gives you a break from purely doing running activities in your week.



Running a marathon requires discipline and dedication. Sometimes you’ll be out in the rain, the cold, the dark. But it’ll be worth it.

Keeping your mind set, your goals in your head, your discipline strong will see you through your training to the start line, and undoubtedly, the finish line too.



It requires organisational skills, too. To juggle training around work, life, family commitments can be a balancing act. Training can take from between 10-20 hours of your life per week, depending on what your ambitions are and how dedicated you are.

I’ve previously written about scheduling and explained how I attempt to make this all work.



Before you commit to running a marathon, whether a race or a training run for yourself, it’s wise to have a goal in mind.

Your goal could be to run it within a certain time, or just to finish the race intact!

As you progress in your running career these goals could get refined and more ambitious - my first goal was just to finish in one piece! My current goal is to finish in under 3 hours. A big difference.


Set your targets, plan and schedule your training. Take into account the different types of workouts to do. Do them. Perform the balancing act. Remain disciplined and focused.

Run a marathon. Achieve.

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