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Competition Marathon

London Marathon – Preparation, Training and Race Day Tips

The London Marathon is known for its picturesque course, which passes some of London’s most famous landmarks. It is also one of the six Major Marathons. We’ve put together some preparation, training and race day tips to help you run the London Marathon to your full potential.

Topic overview

Entry criteria

About 50,000 runners start every year for the London Marathon. Of these, a maximum of 6’000 starting places are allocated via the time limit. The majority of the starting places are distributed to the registered runners by lottery.

  1. Qualification by time
     Age  Men  Women
     18-39 sub 3:00:00 sub 3:45:00
     40-44 sub 3:05:00 sub 3:50:00
     45-49 sub 3:10:00 sub 3:53:00
     50-54 sub 3:15:00 sub 4:00:00
     55-59 sub 3:20:00 sub 4:05:00
     60-64 sub 3:45:00 sub 4:30:00
     65-69 sub 4:00:00 sub 5:00:00
     70-74 sub 5:00:00 sub 6:00:00
     75-79 sub 5:15:00 sub 6:20:00
     80-84 sub 5:30:00 sub 6:40:00
     85+ sub 6:10:00 sub 7:10:00

    The time limit does not guarantee a starting place, but increases the chances of getting one.

    More information

  2. Drawing lots
    The majority of the 50,000 starting places will be allocated in this way.
  3. Charity runners
    To register for the London Marathon in this way, an amount of approximately $2,000 must be donated.
  4. Tour operator
    Another way to register is to apply for a starting place through a marathon travel agent.Registration

Preparation and training

WHEN SHOULD YOU START PREPARING FOR THE LONDON MARATHON?

At running.COACH we recommend a specific build-up of at least 16-20 weeks. However, this time can vary depending on several factors such as training experience, fitness level and ambitions.

You can read more about this here:
How many weeks of training it takes for a running race?

WHICH IS THE OPTIMUM NUMBER OF TRAININGS TO DO PER WEEK?

Just like the duration of preparation, the number of training sessions depends on various factors. Previous training volume, ambitions and various everyday commitments can be some such factors. It is important that training and recovery are in a healthy balance.

The following table offers some guidelines for determining the number of training sessions per week:

Beginner Jogger Intermediate Ambitious Professional
Improve performance 4 4 5 8 12
Maintain performance 3 3 4 5 7
Just for fun 2 2 2 3 3

Increasing the amount of training requires a healthy amount of caution. This should not happen too quickly. We recommend increasing the number of workouts by no more than one session per week per six months to give the body time to adapt to the new training load. This minimises the risk of overload.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING SHOULD YOU DO IN PREPARATION FOR THE LONDON MARATHON?

Monotony is one of the biggest enemies of training progress. So vary the amount and intensity from week to week. For the basic structure, however, you should always include intensive runs (from 5 units per week, you can also do two intensive workouts) and long runs in your weekly plan. The remaining units are filled with endurance runs and recovery runs.

The duration of the long jogs should be between 75 min and 180 min for marathon preparation. Try to cycle your training by varying the amount and intensity of training from week to week.

Example: Week 1: 75min, Week 2: 120min, Week 3: 140min, Week 4: 160min, Week 5: 180min – restart the cycle afterwards. The intensity should be slightly lower than for an endurance run.

THIS IS HOW YOU SPREAD THE WORKOUTS OVER THE WEEK

Long jogs and interval training / threshold runs are considered key units by running.COACH. In order to keep the quality of your training high, you should have at least one day of rest / endurance run / recovery run between two key sessions.

Let running.COACH calculate your training plan automatically. In this way, you will also receive a suggestion for the optimal training pace.

DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE PREPARATION RUNS IN YOUR TRAINING PLAN

You can improve your speed and get regular feedback on your training progress with the help of preparation races. These can be selected as follows:

  • 3-4 preparation races spread over the last 20 weeks of preparation.
  • Half marathon as a “compulsory element”, ideally four weeks before the main race.
  • Last race 14 days before the main competition, maximum 10 km.
  • Race distances increase towards the competition, final race shorter. E.g. 10 km, 15 km, half marathon, 10 km and main race.

You can find a calendar of interesting races here.

Create with running.COACH a tailor-made and dynamic running training plan that prepares you optimally for your running goals, based on your current fitness level. Try running.COACH for free for two weeks after your first login!

 

 

Pacing strategy

The route of the London Marathon passes many of the landmarks of the English capital. Note that the large number of participants makes the first few kilometres a challenge. It is therefore even more important to start slowly and not spend too much energy on slalom running.

There are some hilly sections on the London Marathon route, for example in the Greenwich and Canary Wharf areas. It is important to maintain a steady and controlled pace on these sections. This is where our running.COACH calculator can be of great help to you, as it calculates the pace table based on the course profile and gives you the appropriate time for each kilometre.

In the densely populated areas along the route of the London Marathon, there are many spectators cheering on the runners. Again, it is important not to get carried away by the euphoria and to continue to watch your own pace.

Nutrition

THE FOLLOWING POINTS SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT WHEN EATING BEFORE TRAINING:
  • Have your last meal 3 hours before training. In order to use as little energy as possible for digestion, easily digestible carbohydrates are recommended and fresh and unprocessed foods such as vegetables and whole grains are discouraged.
  • 1-2 hours before exercise: If you only eat in the last 2 hours before exercise, lighter meals such as a small low-fat sandwich with white bread, sports bars, rice cakes or a small ripe banana are suitable.

You can find more on this topic here.

TIPS FOR THE RUNNING DAY:
  • Breakfast: Again, this should ideally be eaten 3 hours before the start and without “surprises”. The focus should be on carbohydrates. Fats and proteins should play a distinctly secondary role whenever possible, as they can lead to gastrointestinal problems due to slower digestibility during the race.
  • During the race: During the marathon, it is advisable to replenish the micronutrients lost during the race (especially the carbohydrate reserves). This can be achieved through gels, solid food, energy bars or chewable tablets. The goal is to provide immediate energy (we recommend maltodextrin-based products). Be sure to test your food intake during the training sessions!

Further details and tips can be found here.

If you are worried about stomach problems negatively affecting your race, see our article on stomach problems during the run.

Hydration during the run

Fluid intake becomes more important after an hour’s run. On the one hand, because dehydration can be directly dangerous, but on the other hand, a lack of fluids also leads to oxygen transport becoming less efficient and thus to a reduction in muscle performance.

BEFORE THE RUN:

Try to fill your stores without overdoing it. We recommend drinking 500ml of sports drink (6-8% carbohydrate) 1-2 hours before the start – preferably in portions.

You can have another 3 dl or so during the warm-up (the activation of the body means that the fluid does not go directly into the bladder).

DURING THE MARATHON:

The additional fluid requirement generated during the marathon can be calculated like this:

KG body weight x KM distance = ML fluid

A person weighing 70 kilograms will consume almost 3 litres of additional fluid (above normal consumption) during the London Marathon. The longer the run, the greater the amount of fluid that should be replenished during the race. It is important to remember that the body can absorb a maximum of 2dl of fluid every 15 minutes. Anything drunk in excess of this is carried along “unnecessarily”.

It makes sense to consume drinks containing electrolytes and carbohydrates.

Further details and tips can be found here.

Packing list and choice of running clothes

To make sure you don’t forget anything, we recommend you take a look at our packing list.

You can see from our table which clothes we recommend for which conditions.

We wish you good luck during your training for the London Marathon. Remember that we can prepare a 100% customised training plan to reach your goals.

Free trial running.COACH.

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