SwissCityMarathon: Tips for preparation, training, and race day

The SwissCityMarathon takes participants on a 42,195-meter journey, passing by and sometimes even through world-famous landmarks in Lucerne. Each year, over 1,200 marathon runners participate. We have put together tips for preparation, training, and race day, so you can unleash your full potential at the SwissCityMarathon.

Topic Overview

Participation Criteria

Approximately 1,200 runners participate in the SwissCityMarathon each year in the marathon distance. Ambitious runners have the opportunity to start in the exclusive Performance Slot by submitting an official proof of performance. An official ranking in an event within the last 3 years in the specified qualification time is considered as proof of performance. This evidence must be uploaded during registration and will be verified.

Performance Slot Valid qualification times from the following races
Marathon Half Marathon 10K
Women: Time < 03:30 < 03:30 < 01:40 < 00:45
Men: Time < 03:00 < 03:00 < 01:30 < 00:40

Preparation and Training


At running.COACH, we consider a 16-20 week preparation phase for a marathon to be recommended. However, this specific preparation phase can vary depending on various factors such as training experience, fitness level, and ambitions.

Click here for more information on the topic:
How many training weeks does it take to prepare for a running race?


Not only the duration of preparation but also the number of weekly training sessions depends on various factors. Previous training volume, ambitions, and different daily commitments can be some of these factors. Regardless of the number of training sessions, it is important that workload and recovery are always in a good balance.

The following table provides assistance in determining the number of training sessions per week:

How many runs per week

If the number of training sessions is increased too quickly, it can lead to physical problems. Therefore, running.COACH recommends increasing the number of training sessions by a maximum of one unit per week and half-year. This allows your body enough time to adapt to the new training load.


One of the biggest dangers to your training is falling into monotony. You benefit the most from training when you can provide your body with different stimuli. Vary the volume and intensity from week to week. A good framework for training consists of at least one intense session (when doing 5 or more sessions per week, you can also include two intense sessions) and a long run. The remaining sessions can be filled with steady-state runs and recovery runs.

The duration of the long jogs should be between 75 min and 180 min when preparing for a marathon. It also makes sense to rotate your training by varying the amount and intensity from week to week.

Example: Week 1: 75 minutes, Week 2: 120 minutes, Week 3: 140 minutes, Week 4: 160 minutes, Week 5: 180 minutes – then start the cycle again. The intensity should be slightly lower than that of a steady-state run.


Long runs and interval training/threshold runs are considered key sessions by running.COACH. To ensure that the quality of the training is not compromised due to possible pre-fatigue, it is recommended to have at least one day of rest/steady-state run/recovery run between two key sessions.

Let running.COACH automatically calculate your training plan. This way, you will also receive the optimal training pace suggested.


To gauge your speed and receive regular feedback on your training progress, preparatory races can be helpful. They can be selected as follows:

  • 3-4 preparatory races spread over the last 20 weeks of preparation.
  • A half marathon as a “mandatory element,” ideally four weeks before the main race.
  • The final race should be 14 days before the main race, with a maximum distance of 10 km.
  • Race distances should progressively increase towards the main race, with the final race being shorter. For example, 10 km, 15 km, half marathon, 10 km, and the main race.

You can find a calendar with interesting races here.

Pacing strategy for the SwissCityMarathon

The marathon course consists of a loop that is the length of a half marathon, which is completed in two laps. The start and finish are located at the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Museum of Transport).

From the start, the route leads along the city’s prestigious luxury hotels and the Hofkirche (Court Church) into the center of Lucerne. Be mindful not to start too aggressively here to avoid jeopardizing your race plan shortly after the start.

With a view of the Chapel Bridge and the Water Tower, the course crosses the Seebrücke (Lake Bridge) – Lucerne’s main axis.

On the opposite side of the lake, the course passes by the famous Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern (Culture and Congress Centre Lucerne, KKL). Continuing with a view of the impressive mountain panorama of Central Switzerland, the route follows the beautiful Lake Lucerne around the Horwer Peninsula.

Subsequently, the course passes through the lively zone in Horw. The next highlights come immediately with passages through the modern football stadium of FC Luzern and then the KKL Luzern.

In the final section, the picturesque old town of Lucerne is crossed, and then the second lap begins near the venerable Hofkirche (km 22). After completing the second lap, the route leads along the Hotel Schweizerhof, past the Hofkirche, and towards the finish at the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz.

Our running.COACH running calculator can be a great help in choosing a suitable pace, as it calculates the pace based on the course profile and provides you with the corresponding time for each kilometer.

Along the SwissCityMarathon course, there are many spectators cheering on the runners. It is important not to get carried away by the enthusiasm and continue to pay attention to your own pace.


  • Try to eat approximately 3 hours before your training session, if possible.
    Avoid consuming foods that require a lot of energy for digestion. Instead, opt for easily digestible carbohydrates and avoid fresh and unprocessed foods such as vegetables and whole grains.
  • 1-2 hours before training:If you only have 2 hours left before exercising, opt for lighter meals such as a small low-fat sandwich with white bread, energy bars, rice cakes, or a small ripe banana.

You can find more information on this topic here.

  • Breakfast:The same principles apply as during training. Ideally, have your breakfast 3 hours before the race start and avoid any experimental foods – your stomach will thank you. To fuel your run, focus on consuming carbohydrates. Fats and proteins should play a minor role, as their slower digestion during the race can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • During the run:Due to the long distance of a marathon, it is recommended to replenish your energy reserves (especially carbohydrate reserves) during the run. This can be achieved through gels, solid foods, energy bars, or chewable tablets. The goal is to provide immediate energy (we recommend products based on maltodextrin). Make sure to test your nutrition intake during training!

You can find further details and tips here.

Hydration during the run

Fluid intake becomes increasingly important for runs lasting over an hour. On one hand, dehydration can be directly dangerous, and on the other hand, fluid deficiency can reduce the efficiency of oxygen transport, thereby limiting muscle performance.


Naturally, you should fill up your fluid stores before the run. However, avoid overdoing it. We recommend drinking 500ml of a sports drink (6-8% carbohydrates) 1-2 hours before the start, preferably in portions.

During warm-up, you can consume another approximately 300ml (the body’s activation prevents the fluid from going directly to the bladder).


The additional fluid requirement during the marathon can be calculated as follows:

Body weight (kg) x Distance (km) = Fluid (ml)

For example, a person weighing 70 kilograms will require nearly 3 liters of additional fluid during the SwissCityMarathon (above the normal consumption). The longer the run duration, the larger the proportion that should be replenished during the run. However, it is essential to note that the body can only absorb a maximum of 200ml of fluid every 15 minutes. Anything consumed beyond that will be “unnecessarily” carried along.

It is advisable to consume electrolyte- and carbohydrate-containing drinks.

You can find further details and tips 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 SwissCittMarathon. Remember that we can prepare a 100% customised training plan to reach your goals.

Free trial running.COACH.

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