Ready, set, go! But how?

Passed the Start-to-Run stage of 5k and eager to go for longer and faster running tracks? Ready to train for your first or next (half a) marathon? Yet unsure of what’s the correct pace and frequency of your training, or curious to hear about best practices for your marathon training? Together with our sports doctor, Dr. Ruben De Gendt, and running coach, Stefaan Engels, we set up the ideal running scheme to get marathon-ready.

First of all, it’s of paramount importance to start on time. Depending on your physical condition, at least a minimum of 12 to 16 weeks is required. Yet, for once, more is more. For instance, we start 40 weeks in advance. Preparation is key, and practice makes perfect.

Of course, the earlier you start, the more time you give to your basic physical condition to strengthen itself. Basically, there are three training elements that will help you improve your running efficiency, especially when training for (half) a marathon.

1. Long-distance endurance training

LSD trainings, long slow distances, will get your legs used to the many kilometers following. LSD trainings come at 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate, an ideal aerobic training. You train in your fat burning zone, which allows your body the necessary time to transport oxygen to the muscles. In the early phases of your marathon training, distances of 10 to max. 15k per track are ideal. Aim at 40k per week up until 12-16 weeks before the marathon. As of then, you should increase, preferably even double, the distance to 60-80k per week.

Exemplary case of Daisy & Elien

40 weeks ahead of our 42k marathon, we run the symbolical minimum of 42k/week. Our aerobic training zones are fairly similar which allows us to train perfectly together. At a speed of 8 to 9,5k/h, Daisy runs in the heart zone of 135-155 hr and Elien 145-165 hr. We run 3 to 4 times a week, each time a distance of 10 to 15k at this pace.

2. Interval training

In high-intensity interval trainings, we increase the heart rate to 70-80% of its maximum. This training is part of the extensive aerobic training zone. A full interval training is 10k minimum and in between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half long, during which we alternate short periods of high speed running with short and slow recovery runs. The combination of LSD with interval training will, in the long end, allow you to run faster with less effort.

Exemplary case of Daisy & Elien

Every interval training is preceded by a warming up run of 10 to 20 minutes in the aerobic training zone (remember, 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate). Similarly, you end your training with a similar cool down run.

Type 1. Warm up – 10 times 3 minutes interval, in between 2 minutes recovery run – Cool down

Type 2. Warm up – 2 times 12 minutes interval, of which 30 seconds interval alternated by 30 seconds, in between 10 minutes recovery – Cool down

Type 3. Warm up – pyramid interval, subsequently 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 minutes interval, in between 3 minutes recovery – Cool down

3. Power and resistance training

Strong legs and speed are improved by power and core stability trainings. Alternate your running and cardio trainings with power classes.

Exemplary case of Daisy & Elien

We are both great fans of the Les Mills trainings: Les Mills BodyAttack, BodyPump, and BodyStep. Three times a week, we aim at 1 to 2,5 hour trainings of this kind: cardio - sports - power core training.

Let's get sweaty!

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