26.2 The Marathon Training Website


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How To Improve Your Training

Keep on Track With The Right Schedule

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'26.2' - The Marathon Training Website: 

Running A Marathon

26 miles is a long way, and quite intimidating especially if it’s your first marathon. This  imaginary account of the race tries to capture some of the things you will be thinking and feeling as you make your way over the 26.2 mile course.


***  Arm yourself with complete triathlon gear for protection purposes.  ***

 Race day has finally arrived, and after several months of training you are anxious to get going. You wake up early, even though it was a bit of a restless night. After a cup of coffee and a slice of toast you get ready and head for the starting area. It’s a cool morning and as you look around at the other runners you notice a wide assortment of gear. From shorts & singlets to long pants and sweatshirts. Some folks are wearing a plastic bag over their running clothes to ward off the early morning chill.

Finally the starting ceremony is over, and everyone shuffles forward. The pace is slow at first as the front of the pack gradually gets going. With the race chip on your shoe however, you are assured of a correct time once you reach the actual start line.

As the first mile gets underway you feel quite good, but deliberately keep the pace a little slower than your intended average pace.

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You pass mile one about 30 seconds over which is OK – there is plenty of time to make that up.

Your goal is to run the second half faster than the first, and finish as comfortably as possible.


You pass a group of people carrying a balloon with ‘4½ HOURS’ written on it, - 50 minutes over your own target time. “I hope I don’t see them again,” you think! The sun has risen higher and the temperature is climbing. You’re glad you opted for shorts and singlet. The second water stop appears and you slow down for a quick drink even though you are not thirsty.

You settle into a steady pace and soon the 3-mile mark comes up. You check your watch and see you are about 1 minute over your average pace time. You drove over the course yesterday, and remember there is a hill just after the 3-mile mark. Here it is – and it feels a little steeper than it did in the car. Longer too!

“It’s getting warm already” you say to the guy running next to you.

“Maybe it’ll rain”! He replies.

You both laugh since it’s a clear blue sky above. You chat for a while and the next few miles go by easily. Before you know it, the 6-mile mark comes up. Wow – only 20 (.2) miles left, you think.

Your companion drops back a little as you continue at your pace. You are still about one minute slower than your pace time at the 6-mile mark. You notice a lot of people chatting to each other as they run. At this stage of the race everyone is still feeling good! Spectators along the route clap and shout words of encouragement as you go by. It all helps!

The race route wanders through an old neighborhood full of large houses and treed lawns. The shade is welcome. The miles don’t seem to go by quite as quickly as they did earlier. You’re looking for the 10-mile mark – there’s a water stop ahead and the 10-mile point is just past that. You check your time – still about a minute over. Oh well, you think, that’s OK.


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Your next goal is the halfway mark. You think about all the training you have done, so getting to the half should be no problem. It seems to be taking a long time to get there however. Finally you see the halfway water stop. You walk through, enjoying the water and the break from running. At least the miles go down from here on, 13, 10, 6…

You are beginning to feel the effect of the miles, but it’s not too bad so far. You talk to some of your fellow runners as you go along. Their previous marathon experiences are interesting to hear. 16 miles!! You’d been so busy talking you missed the 15 mile mark. You now feel you can finish the race without too many problems. You decide to pick up the pace a little to try and get back to your target time. You pull away from the group as you go up a slight incline.

Near mile 18 things are starting to get a little tough. You go up a short but steep hill, and feel like walking. Your energy seems to be getting low. At the next water stop you take some Gatorade instead of water. The sugar tastes good! You take a brief walk break and concentrate on getting to the 20 mile mark. Another runner pulls alongside, and you run together without saying much beyond ‘Hi’. At last the 20-mile mark comes up.  


To your surprise, you have made up the minute you were behind, and are actually a little under your target time. Encouraged by this you press on. You come to an incline that feels way steeper than it really is. Your companion pulls away as you struggle a little. Then you come to a downhill stretch and are able to lengthen your stride as you go down. It feels good after that last hill. Mile 21 comes up – the miles are definitely going slower at this point. Another shot of Gatorade and you keep on.

Only 5 more miles you think, and settle back into a comfortable pace. The weak spot you hit back at miles 18 and 19 seems to have passed. You keep going and reach mile 23, the end of the race definitely feels close. You keep to your pace, and try to think about other things than your weary legs.

“Looking good – only 2 more miles” you hear. You are feeling tired now but being so close you keep running. You catch up with the person you were running with a little earlier. You exchange a few words and run on together. At mile 25 your fellow runner takes off – you don’t even try to keep up. Your focus is on getting through the last mile. The temperature is much warmer now and you are feeling thirsty even though you have taken a drink at most of the water stops.

Mile 26!! You made it you say to yourself, and start to run a little quicker. The last 0.2 miles seems long though, finally you see the finish banner up ahead. Lots of people are along the route. “Good run” they say. Your name is called over the PA system as you approach the finish line. You notice the time – 1 minute faster than your goal. You have run the second half faster than the first one!

In the finish chute you meet up with your last companion. “Great run’, you say to each other. It feels really good to have completed the race without seriously ‘hitting the wall’. You pick up your medal and head off to enjoy some of the fresh fruit in the finish area. As you relax, you’re already thinking about the next marathon, and maybe cutting a few minutes off the time… 



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