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Berlin Marathon – Preparation, Training and Race Day Tips

The Berlin Marathon has a very special place in the world of running. With its flat and fast course through the vibrant capital of Germany, it is one of the most prestigious marathon events in the world. In this article, we will give you valuable advice on preparation, training and the big running day so that you can give your best at the Berlin Marathon and maybe even achieve personal best times.

Topic overview

Entry criteria

Approximately 45,000 runners start the Berlin Marathon every year. The time limit for the Berlin Marathon is extremely demanding.

  1. Qualification by time
    Men:
    up to 44 years: under 2:45
    up to 59 years: under 2:55
    from 60 years: under 3:25
    Women:
    up to 44 years: under 3:00
    up to 59 years: under 3:20
    from 60 years: under 4:10
    More
  2. Drawing lots
    The majority of the 45,000 starting places are allocated in this way.
  3. Charity runners
    To register for the Berlin Marathon in this way, an amount of approximately $1750 must be donated.
  4. Tour operator
    Another way to register is to apply for a starting place through a marathon travel agent. Registration
  5. Jubilee Club
    All athletes who have successfully completed the Berlin Marathon at least 10 times are guaranteed a starting place. So loyalty pays off.

Preparation and training

WHEN SHOULD YOU START PREPARING FOR THE berlin MARATHON?

At running.COACH we recommend a specific build-up of at least 16-20 weeks. However, depending on how much training experience you already have, your fitness level and your ambitions, this preparation period may vary.

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

WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF WORKOUTS TO DO PER WEEK?

Just as the length of preparation varies, the number of weekly training sessions for the Berlin Marathon also depends on various factors. Your previous training level, your personal ambitions and the demands of your everyday life can all play a role. It is crucial to find a balance between training and recovery.

Here is a useful chart that can help you determine the optimal 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 with regard to the Berlin Marathon requires a healthy dose of mindfulness. It’s important not to increase this too quickly as this can raise the risk of injury. Our recommendation is to increase the number of training sessions by no more than one session per week per six months. This will give your body enough time to adapt to the higher training load, minimising the risk of overuse. Your long-term health and performance come first!

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

Monotony can be one of the biggest enemies of your training progress. Therefore, it is crucial to vary the amount and intensity of your training from week to week. However, a solid base should always include intensive runs (from 5 units per week, you can also do two intensive workouts) and long runs in your weekly schedule. The remaining training sessions can be completed 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 for the Berlin Marathon

The route of the Berlin Marathon passes many of the attractions of the German capital. Note that the high number of participants makes the first few kilometres a challenge. It is therefore even more important to start a little cautiously and not spend too much energy on slalom running.

In general, the course in Berlin is considered extremely fast, so it is often chosen for world record attempts. The flat course profile makes it possible to run a very balanced pace. Our running.COACH time calculator can be a great help in determining your pace.

In the streets of Berlin, there are many spectators cheering on the runners. Here, too, it’s 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 Berlin 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.

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