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How do I get faster over a Marathon?

Improving your marathon time is a challenging but rewarding goal that requires dedication, proper training, and smart strategies. Here are some tips to help you get faster over a marathon distance:

Establish a Strong Base: Before tackling marathon-specific training, build a solid foundation of running fitness by consistently running and gradually increasing your weekly mileage.

Set Clear Goals: Define your specific marathon time goal and create a training plan that aligns with that target.

Structured Training Plan: Choose or design a marathon training plan that includes a mix of long runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, and recovery runs. Follow a periodized approach, including base training, speed and tempo phases, and a tapering period before the race.

Long Runs: The long run is the cornerstone of marathon training. Gradually increase the length of your long runs to improve endurance. Practice running at your marathon goal pace during some of these runs.

Speed Work: Include interval and track workouts to build speed and improve your VO2 max.

Intervals can be shorter (e.g., 400m repeats) or longer (e.g., mile repeats) to target different energy systems.

Tempo Runs: Tempo runs help increase your lactate threshold. Run at a comfortably hard pace, which is slightly slower than your marathon goal pace.

Hill Training: Incorporate hill workouts to build strength and improve running economy.

Strength Training: Include strength training exercises to improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on core, leg, and upper body strength.

Nutrition: Consume a balanced diet with an emphasis on carbohydrates for energy. Proper nutrition before, during, and after your long runs and on race day is crucial.

Hydration: Stay properly hydrated during training and on race day. Practice your hydration and fueling strategy in your long training runs.

Rest and Recovery: Give your body time to recover. Adequate sleep, rest days, and recovery techniques such as stretching and foam rolling are important.

Mental Preparation: Develop a strong mental game. Visualization, positive self-talk, and mental toughness are crucial for a marathon.

Race Strategy: Plan your pacing strategy carefully. Start at a conservative pace and aim for negative splits (running the second half faster than the first). Follow your race plan but be prepared to adjust if necessary.

Simulated Races: Before the marathon, participate in one or more shorter races or time trials to practice race-day routines and gauge your fitness.

Taper: Reduce your training volume and intensity in the weeks leading up to the race to ensure you're fresh and fully recovered on race day.

Race Day Preparation: Get a good night's sleep before the race. Eat a familiar pre-race meal. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Plan your hydration and fueling strategy.

Race Experience: Experience and race more marathons. The more you run, the better you become at pacing, dealing with the mental aspects, and optimizing your race-day strategy.

Remember that improving your marathon time takes time and consistent effort. It's a long-term goal, and not every race will result in a personal best. Stay patient, learn from your experiences, and continue to refine your training and racing strategies to achieve your goals.

Matt Fox is the Head Coach at the Sweat Elite Coaching Academy and the Founder of Sweat Elite. Matt is a 2:20 Marathoner with over 18 years of training, racing and coaching experience.


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