The 10 most beautiful marathons


Marathon is the supreme discipline of long-distance running. They are not only attractive for top athletes, but also for hobby runners. The choice of events is almost endless. So which marathons are the most breathtakingly beautiful ones? We have put together our top 10.


With its 1,829 meters of altitude (of which approx. 1,500 meters only start from kilometer 25), the Jungfrau-Marathon, might not be a marathon for beginners. The finish is at 2,320 meters above sea level. This means that – after you have already run 25km on flat terrain –  the actual showdown only really begins with the remaining 1,500 meters of altitude difference in ever thinner air. It is therefore important to divide up your forces well so that you don’t experience any nasty surprises at the end. But the long ascent is definitely worth it and the view is truly magnificent.



Country: Switzerland

Month: September

Course records: 2:49:02 (Jonathan Wyatt, 2003), 3:12.56 (Maude Mathys, 2017)

Number of participants: Record at 8,572


Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon

The exceptional thing about this race is certainly the midnight sun, which gives it a unique atmosphere – granted that the weather plays along, of course. The combination of snow-covered mountain peaks and the sea is also very special. The course runs almost exclusively along the sea and is therefore much flatter than that of the Jungfrau-Marathon. On this course it is therefore much easier to achieve a good marathon time.

Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon



Land: Norway

Month: June

Course records: 2:20:31 (Ebrahim Abdulaziz, 2019), 2:38:22 (Brynhild Synstnes, 2019)

Number of participants 2019: 1,022


Queenstown International Marathon

Although, for most people, New Zealand doesn not exactly lie around the corner, this running experience is definitely worth the trip. Queenstown is located in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island. On the course you will pass several smaller lakes in an idyllic landscape consisting of mountains, meadows and forest. The last 10 kilometers lead along the famous Lake Wakatipu to the center of Queenstown. This marathon is a relatively “pleasant” run with its approx. 330 m altitude, the alternating surface (tar and gravel path) and the moderate climate. According to the motto of the relaxed New Zealanders: Stay relaxed and enjoy!

Queenstown International Marathon



Country: New Zealand

Month: November

Course records: 2:23:56 (Samuel Wreford, 2017), 2:52:21 (Hannah Oldroyd, 2017)

Number of participants: 11,062 (so far registered for 2019)


Big Sur International Marathon

This marathon follows the Californian coast from Big Sur to Carmel (between Los Angeles and San Francisco). From Big Sur Station, 108m above sea level, the route goes 665m uphill and 770m downhill, so that in Carmel you almost reach sea level (3m above sea level). The endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches, cliffs and gentle hills make this marathon a wonderful experience.

Big Sur International Marathon



Country: USA

Month: April

Course records: 2:16:39 (Brad Hawthorne, 1987), 2:41:45 (Svetlana Vasilyeva , 1996)

Number of participants 2018: 3,291


Great Wall Marathon

The Great Wall Marathon is truly an extraordinary marathon and certainly one of the most demanding. Most of the course is directly on the iconic Great Wall of China! There are several meters of altitude to climb, many of them in the form of stairs. The gradient of the course is up to 10% in some places. Thus, it is not for those aiming for a fast marathon time. However, this run not only offers amazing sceneries, but also an unforgettable cultural experience.

Great Wall Marathon



Country: China

Month: April

Course records: 3:09:18 (Jorge Maravilla, 2013), 3:32:12 (Siliva Serafini, 2013)

Number of participants 2019: 645


Patagonian International Marathon

The event takes place at the southern tip of the South American continent in western Patagonia, east of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (the largest glacier area in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica) and south of Torres del Paine National Park. The landscape is hilly, quite rough and adventurous and will surely be remembered for a long time.

Patagonian International Marathon



Country: Chile

Month: September

Course records: 2:57:36 (Luke Meyer, 2012), 3:30:29 (Inez-Anne Hagen, 2018)

Number of participants 2018: 148


Virgin Money London Marathon

If you prefer to a real classic among the marathons, the London Marathon is the right place for you. It doesn’t offer spectacular natural scenery, but a city sightseeing along several landmarks of the British capital. For this day, it seems that the entire population of London is in the streets to cheer on the many runners. The London Marathon is not only popular among hobby runners, is also an absolute favorite among the world’s top runners, as it is considered to be the fastest marathon in the world. Both the women’s and men’s world records were run here.

Virgin Money London Marathon

Image: Derby Telegraph


Country: Great Britain

Month: April

Course records: 2:02:37 (Eliud Kipchoge, 2019), 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, 2003)

Number of participants 2019: 41,906


Mt. Fuji International Marathon 

The Mt. Fuji International Marathon is another jewel among the marathons. The race takes place in autumn, which means that it is relatively cool on the one hand, but at the same time the leaves on the trees have turned mesmerizing shades of red and gold. In combination with the white summit of Mt. Fuji in the background and the water of the two lakes you run around, you get an absolutely stunning landscape.

Mt. Fuji International Marathon 



Country: Japan

Month: November

Course records: 2:21:36 (Yusuke Kodama, 2018), 2:39:47 (Tomomi Sawahata, 2018)


Kilimanjaro Marathon

The event takes place in Moshi, the largest city near Kilimanjaro, which lies about 800m above sea level. The route leads through parts of the city, many small farms and villages, banana and coffee plantations and forest areas, to the great delight of the local people who cheer the runners on. The highest freestanding mountain in the world dominates the whole area in the background with its presence.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

Image: World’s Marathons


Country: Tansania

Month: Late February/ Early March

Course records: 2:13:50 (David Kiprono, 2012), 2:38:03 (Alice Kibor, 2016)

Number of participants 2018: 614


Petra Desert Marathon

The Petra Desert Marathon is a challenging adventure marathon in a beautiful desert region of the Jordan River. The race starts in an ancient city called Petra, from where the route leads around the city. The landscape consists of stone mountains, sand and bushes and the heat demands a lot of stamina from the participants. But the unique nature experience is definitely worth the sweat.

Petra Desert Marathon



Country: Jordan

Month: September

Course records: 3:15:03 (Salameh Abdel Karim Al Aqra, 2009), 3:43:25 (Inez-Anne Haagen, 2015)

Number of participants 2018: 121


We would like to emphasize that this list is subjective, and it was very difficult for us to make a selection. If you would like to add other marathons to the list, you are welcome to tell us in the comment field below. 😉


Article by: Marion Aebi

Interview with marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge


Interview and pictures: Jürg Wirz – this blog entry was provided to us by the Swiss magazine FIT for LIFE.

He ran the marathon faster than anybody else before him – and he believes he can become even faster. FIT for LIFE visited the 34-year-old Kenyan at the training camp in Kaptagat in preparation for the London Marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge, at the latest since your fantastic world record last September in Berlin in 2:01:39 hours you are the biggest marathon runner of all times, unbeaten in the last ten marathons, including the Olympic victory in Rio and 2:00:25 at the Breaking2 attempt in Monza. What has changed in your life since then?

It’s gotten a little difficult. Every new achievement, every record comes with a new responsibility. Many people want something from me: sponsors, media people, but also the fans. I try to meet their wishes as well as possible, but I can’t make myself available for every single one of the sponsor appearances, interviews, autograph requests or selfies. I have to be selective. I hope my fans understand that. In the end they are also only happy if I show a good performance.

Does this increased attention also bring more pressure?

No, I’m not feeling any more pressure than before. I am the same as before Berlin. I am still primarily a runner. I only make other commitments if the training doesn’t suffer from it. During the week I am at the camp in Kaptagat where it is only about focusing on the training and nothing else.

If you think back to the race in Berlin: was this the perfect competition, the optimal result? Your coach Patrick Sang said that you had reached the top of your form at exactly the right time this time.

I can’t and won’t comment on what Patrick says. He is the teacher, I am the student. He dictates the training and I implement it. We never discuss the training, I trust him one hundred percent. He is the best coach I can wish for – and he has been for almost 20 years. But he is also a friend and my life coach. Was it the perfect race? On that day with these conditions: yes.

In Berlin you were already ahead after 25 kilometers without a pacemaker, you ran the second half in 60:33 minutes, 33 seconds faster than the first and you became faster and faster on the last kilometers; would you even have had more reserves?

Let’s not speculate, please. As I said, on that day it was the optimum. But I never said I didn’t believe I could run any faster. However, it depends on so many factors: I have to be in top form again at the decisive moment, the weather has to fit.

Your motivation is still unabated then?

I am convinced that I can continue running at this level for at least two more years, but I have no guarantee. I need to stay healthy and get through training without injuries. There is no lack of motivation; I am still very hungry. I want to go down in history as the best marathon runner, and for future generations I want to be a role model as a runner as well as a person.

You keep stressing this: it is the love of running and challenge that drives you, and the fact that you want to leave a legacy behind. But you have already achieved everything. What are the remaining goals?

I love running, it’s that simple. The Olympic Games next year in Tokyo are still a big goal for me – and yes, I might be able to improve the world record even further. Every day is a challenge, you’re always faced with a new one. And when I have achieved something, I look forward to the next goal. That’s the way to go. That’s my way of thinking, my character, that’s how I work.

On April 28, you will run the London Marathon, which you have already won three times. Was it easy to choose London again, or was there another option up for discussion?

This is the work of the management and the coach. They look at the different possibilities and tell me which one they think is best. After Berlin they thought London was a good choice and I agreed. I am happy to be able to run again in London. Especially since it comes to a meeting with Mo Farah. He is one of the greatest runners of all time. What he has achieved on the track is incredible, and now he is also a top-drawer marathon runner. It will be a real challenge, but that’s what I love. And for the fans it will be great to watch the race.

How has the preparation been going so far? Any changes, maybe new training impulses?

Everything has been going according to plan. And no, no changes. Again, we stuck to the training program that has worked for the last few years. For track training or driving games there may be small adjustments from time to time, but nothing of great importance. Before I start with the three-month training program, I just go jogging for a month and go to the gym three times a week, where I do strength training and aerobics for two hours.

What about nutrition, any supplements?

I still eat normally like any other Kenyan and do not take any supplements. The only exception is sports drinks.

And what about performance tests or other scientific training aids?

I often run with a heart rate monitor because I want to know how my heart behaves under the various strains. But I never analyze it with any specialists, it’s just for me. Before the Breaking2 project, the Nike people measured my oxygen volume and other things – I had to run on a treadmill for the first time in my life – but that was actually more for them than for me. It didn’t affect my training.

Since the Breaking2 project, your shoe, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite, has been a constant source of discussion and speculation, not least because Nike himself claims that the shoe would save four percent of energy. What do you think?

All I can say is that the shoe that I have assisted developing is the best marathon shoe I have ever had. In London, I’m going to run with the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, the same model as in Berlin. Last year in London the stock material came from a 3D printer. But to be honest, to me, the whole shoe discussion is pretty boring. The biggest advantage is not during running, but in the recovery. It relieves the muscles and allows you to train at a high level more often. Progress does not come from the shoe, but from the head. If the shoe was so much better than others, why am I the only one running the marathon under 2:02 hours?


Change of subject. What does a training day look like in the camp in Kaptagat?

I get up at a quarter to six and prepare for the morning training, which usually starts at 06.10 or 06.20, unless we are going to Eldoret for trainings or for a long run outside Kaptagat. When I come back, I take a shower and then have breakfast with my colleagues. Afterwards I rest a bit, either on the campground or I lie down again. Then it’s time for lunch. After lunch I often have a massage. Before the second training begins at 16 o’clock, we rest again. Then once more a shower and waiting for dinner. At 21 o’clock I am in bed. This is what my day looks like. On Tuesday we have track training, on Thursday the long run, which can go up to 40 kilometers, and on Saturday a driving game. On Saturday afternoon we go home and spend the weekend with the family. On Monday morning we go back to the camp.

Let’s talk about the young Swiss Julien Wanders. European record over 10 kilometers and in the half marathon and now even the first official world record holder over five kilometers on the road. Are you following his performance?

Yes, of course. He’s a member of the Nike NN team and has the same manager. I’ve never met him since he’s been one of the pacesetters at the Breaking2 attempt in Monza, but I’ve been following his performance very closely. Running the half marathon in 59:13 is really fantastic, especially for a European. I admire him and I’m happy for him. After the London Marathon I would like to sit down and have a chat with him. For me, Julien Wanders is proof that East Africans have no genetic advantages. If a European decides to concentrate entirely on sport and live in the heights, he can just as well reach the top. It’s just a question of talent, training and the head. Wanders is already a role model for other Europeans. I am sure that many will follow his example.

What is your opinion on the doping problem in Kenya? Are many runners not informed enough about what is allowed and what is not, or why are cases increasing?

I am convinced that most athletes know about the issues around doping. There has been a lot of education in recent years, especially from the Kenyan federation. I think in most cases it’s about someone wanting to make money faster. Which is very regrettable, because of course it also casts a shadow over all clean athletes. Maybe it also has something to do with the African mentality. Unfortunately, cheating is in the DNA of many people.

Do you think that a country like Kenya will continue to produce world-class athletes in the future? In Kenya, too, technical progress can be seen everywhere and living conditions are improving. A life full of hardship as a runner may soon no longer be in demand or necessary in order to achieve something.

I don’t spend much time thinking about this. Progress comes and cannot be withheld. And with it also technological development. It’s true that many children today take a bus to school or are taken there by their parents in a car. I think that in Kenya and other countries there is a need for sports academies where talented young people can go to school, train and prepare for competitions. Where they can train and are mentally formed. Too much is left to chance at the moment. But there will always be young people everywhere who want to achieve something in sports.

A few keywords at the end:


I ran 2:00:25 under special conditions and I have the official world record. With the experience from the first time the chance would be bigger now to run under two hours. But I never chase two rabbits, only one at a time. Right now, I’m concentrating on London, nothing else.

City marathons?

I think they are fine the way they’re organized for us elite runners right now. There are people who are involved in the organization and administration of the marathons; it’s their job to think about it. My job is to run as fast as possible.

Your children?

I try to raise them like other parents do, even though their father may be a little better known than others. I think that I – and my wife – have succeeded quite well so far. Our children don’t get every single thing they want. They should know that nothing should be taken for granted, and they are to try out different kinds of sports.


Religion plays a very important role in my life. It keeps me from doing things that could keep me from my goals. On Sundays I go to church with my family and I pray regularly, even in the mornings before a race.



Eliud Kipchoge grew up in a village called Kapsisisywa in Nandi County as the youngest of five children. His father died early. The mother, a teacher, showed the children the right way into life.


Eliud was lucky Patrick Sang lived nearby. Sang, once one of the best obstacle runners in the world (and a member of LC Zurich), has been his coach and mentor for 18 years. Sang holds the highest IAAF trainer diploma.

Track running career:

Before switching to marathon at the end of 2012, he was one of the best track runners of his generation. At the age of 18 he beat Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele over 5000 meters at the World Championships in Paris; for nine years he ran the course for less than 13 minutes.

Body concept:

For 16 years at the highest level, Eliud Kipchoge had very few injuries as he has been taking good care of his body: Strength training in the gym and aerobics at the beginning of a preparation, then hill runs for strength and always incorporating stretching and massages.

Problem solving:

He is also able to master challenges during a race: the high temperatures at last year’s London Marathon, the rain in Berlin in 2017 or 2015 also in Berlin when he won despite the insoles having slipped out of his shoes.

Peace of mind:

His calm and serene nature proves to be ideal in extremely emotional high-performance sports. Those who remain calm can think more clearly, concentrate better and prepare for the challenges of a race.


Despite his success, Eliud Kipchoge has remained very modest. In the camp he participates like everyone else in the cleaning work and he lives in a simple single-family house; his children should not grow up differently than others.


The right planning is key to success. As soon as the next marathon has been determined together with the management, he sits together with the coach and gets informed about the rough plans, starting from the day of the race.

Eagerness to learn:

He’s a curious man by nature. He reads many motivation and business books. He is never satisfied with what he has achieved. As an athlete and also as a person, he always wants to learn new things, become even better and always looks to the future.

Training partners:

He has excellent training partners at his side, including Geoffrey Kamworor (multiple Half Marathon and Cross-Country World Champion), Stephen Kiprotich (Olympic Marathon Champion 2012 and World Champion 2013) and Abel Kirui (double Marathon World Champion).


As far as training is concerned, he trusts his coach Patrick Sang one hundred percent, whom he calls his coach for both training and life. Training programs are not subject to argument: Sang is the teacher, Kipchoge the student.


Over the years, especially since the 2:00:25 hours of the 2017 Breaking2 trial in Monza, he has built up an unshakeable self-confidence. He knows, no matter what happens in the race, he’s ready. He has been undefeated for ten races.

Boston Marathon after triple bypass operation – The story of Dave McGillivray


After a triple bypass operation, the race director of the Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray, will himself be taking part in the competition on 15 April. This article tells the story of a passionate runner being brutally forced to realise that fit doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. 

Dave McGillivray has been a runner for pretty much his whole life. He completed his first marathon at the age of 18 and many more followed. At 23 he ran across America. Dave is a true endurance athlete and he has also participated in several Ironman competitions. Nobody can stop him, he is invincible. At least, that’s what he used to think. After 59 years of running adventures, in 2013, the troubles began. They started with breathing problems while running. “It felt like a bit like asthma”, Dave describes. He tired to hide it at first, as he felt embarrassed. He, the tough and strong guy he was, looked at his troubles as a sign of weakness and didn’t want anyone to know. Dave would go and run on his own instead of with friends, just so that they wouldn’t notice anything. After one year, he still felt like something was wrong and he decided to do take action. He took some usual tests, but none of them showed any suspicious results. His shape was still way above average for his age. The good news was that they didn’t find anything, but at the same time this was also bad news as it didn’t bring him closer to a solution of his problem. He kept taking tests and after 1.5 years of eliminating all kinds of possible causes he decided to take a CAT scan (an angiogram, showing the blood vessels in his heart). He got an appointment on 9 October 2013. The result: “severe blockage and chronic ischemic heart disease”.

Photo: Dave taking his CAT scan

Several arteries in his heart were blocked! The doctors decided that it was riskier to operate than not to operate. Looking at the history of heart disease in Dave’s family, the diagnosis should not have coma as a huge surprise: both of his grandfathers died of heart failure, his father has had 5 bypasses and suffers from aortic valve illness, and his sister had a triple bypass surgery a few years ago. But Dave couldn’t really believe that he was affected by the same troubles. He had been so fit and healthy his whole life! That’s when he first started to question the simple equation of fit = healthy. He started to doubt his way of life and came to the conclusion that he had neglected sleeping, healthy food and stress-reduction a little too much after all. He had never thought of these things as important for his health, given that he was in such good physical shape. But Dave personally knew 6 very good athletes who had died of a heart failure and he now realised that these people’s fitness didn’t keep their heart healthy. He therefore decided to do anything in his power to not only be fit, but also live healthy. From that moment, he completely changed his habits: he took up meditation, he slept more than before and he immediately lost weight, too.  The next check-up happened in 2014, before the Ironman Hawaii, which was taking place in October. The changes in his lifestyle seemed to have paid off! The blockages in his arteries were reduced by 40%! Dave could hardly believe his luck. He was able to complete the Hawaii Ironman for the first time in 25 years.

Photo: Dave finishing the Hawaii Ironman 2014

The following 3.5 years brought many more highlights as he was in his best competitive shape in years. He even completed the “World Marathon Challenge” in early 2018, running seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents. However, in March and April of the same year, the breathing troubles reoccurred and he soon got confirmed that the disease had returned. Dave needed to do a triple bypass operation. This made him realise that even living healthy didn’t mean being healthy and that he couldn’t win over genetics. When, upon the release of the news about his planned operation, he received hundreds of messages from people wishing him well, he was surprised by the high number of people sharing with him that they suffered from a heart disease, too. Many of those people were athletes. This once again proved the point that health doesn’t necessarily come with fitness. On 12 October 2018, the surgery took place. Everything went well and Dave made an exemplary patient and followed the doctors’ advice carefully. Also, although it might not have helped him stay healthy, his fitness helped Dave in the recovery process. He was recovering a lot faster than patients normally do after bypass operations.

Photo: Dave after his operation in October (left) and during his first run on 1 December 2018 (right)

On 1 December, he went for his first run after the operation. At that point, he was planning on running the Boston Marathon next Monday! We really hope to see Dave at the starting line and we hope that, after all he has been through, he will be able to enjoy this marathon to the fullest! Go Dave!


Edited by: Marion Aebi, based on a narration provided by Dave McGillivray

Achieving the 3 Hour Marathon Dream


Running a marathon below 3 hours – a dream that came true for our running.COACH User Chris Howard. Together with our Gold Coach Gabriel he improved his form to be a more efficient runner and less prone to injury. Very sucessful, as you can read here in his personal report about his journey to the Valencia Marathon.

I started running 5 years ago once I hit 40 years old – either this was due to a mid-life crisis or to just generally get fit and remove the storage space around the tummy. My first marathon in Lucerne of just over 4 hours was hard but the feeling at the end got me hooked for more.

Running Dream and injuries

Over the next few years I got better by adding the miles and then signed up with running.COACH silver subscription and was able to bring my time down over the next 2 years to 3.14 in Berlin and then 3.09 in London. I was following the plan, obtaining excellent advice and was really happy with my progress. However, I then wanted to achieve the next level and achieve under 3 hours. This became the running dream.

Training with a Coach: less kilometres

Unfortunately, I had a few injuries which kept on pushing me back and then I did Chicago and got a 3.32. Why was I getting further away from 3 hours and not closer? A friend recommended me to have a personal coach and use the running.COACH Gold subscription. I signed up in June 2018 for a 6 month subscription and Gabriel Lombriser would be my coach for the next 6 months. I was advised at the beginning about a running day being conducted in Nottwil and I learned more in that day about running style, efficiency, mobilisation, specific training etc. than I had done by looking at over 100 Youtube videos.

At the beginning of the subscription I had a detailed discussion with Gabriel about injuries, aims, personal lifestyle, nutrition etc. Gabriel then created a plan for me. Gone were the 6 days of training over 100km per week and I was shocked to see only 60km per week and 5 trainings. Gabriel fully understood my injury history and accommodated my plan to this to ensure I had continuous training and not to be constantly interrupted by injuries. Throughout the next 6 months I could have an easily accessible view of my plan on my phone and receive detailed tips per run.

Journey as a Team

The training got easier and then more intensive as time went by. Constant communication with Gabriel ensured I was on this journey as a team and not by myself (every question asked was answered quickly with excellent advice). I was advised which test runs to do and these were built into the plan. Constant feedback after the test runs was given by Gabriel as to how I could improve in the next run and by putting this advice to practice, I noticed constant improvement. However, it was the constant change to the norm in runs which I was advised to do which helped me significantly.

Valencia Marathon

Valencia marathon then arrived and I felt good. A detailed discussion took place between Gabriel and myself a week before about tapering, nutrition and marathon pacing strategy. I felt confident. Then the day before the marathon, Gabriel called again to provide me with some key tips and encouragement.

The marathon went like a dream. The splits were the same for every 5km and when I felt tired at after 30 kilometres I kept on repeating the advice Gabriel had given me and I found some new energy. When I hit 40km I knew I could do this if I hanged in there and suddenly I was able to run the last 2km in 3.51min/km – this was due to the change to the norm training Gabriel had advised me to do.

The feeling of running up to the finishing line and seeing the clock being under 3 hours was highly emotional. All the training had been worth it and the dream was fulfilled when I crossed the line in 2.59.

I have learned that you don’t need to do 120km+ per week training to achieve under 3 hours. Instead, you need a brilliant coach who understands injuries, plans, lifestyle etc. and is fully with you on the journey to achieve a running dream. This was teamwork. I thank Gabriel and running.COACH so much for making this happen and being a core part of this amazing journey.

The online coaching platform at running.COACH is great for individualized training programs. It allows you to find your own time to run and you know the workout was made just for you based on your training progress and goals.  With the silver subscription you can ask our coaches two questions by email per month. If you want to have a personal coach on your side the whole time, then benefit from our Gold Coaches and their long-time experience in running and coaching. Sign up and test running.COACH for free. 

The training weeks right after the marathon / main race


The last weeks and months have been intense. The preparation for the competition took a lot of energy and time. Now the strains of the preparation are over as well as the sweat of your main competition has dried up. Your focus for the next days and weeks should now be on recovery which is just as important as the training itself. This blog post will guide you through an optimal recovery process and give you tips on how to motivate yourself anew.

Running competitions are a heavy burden on the body. Especially when it comes to longer distances such as an ultra-run, a marathon or a half marathon. During the competition you take up a debt on your own body, which you should pay back in the following days and weeks through various recovery measures. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a good return to training impossible.

What to do now?

Immediate actions on competition day:

recovery after marathon

  • Put on dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent your body from cooling down too quickly.
  • Try to restore your body’s fluid and energy balance as quickly as possible. Avoid alcohol, however, at least for the first few hours.
  • Don’t expose yourself to the sun unnecessarily.
  • Cooldown: Ideally, you should do a short cooldown to “cool down” your body slowly: a loose jogging or an alternative form of training such as cycling. Especially after a long competition, this might not always be your favourite activity. Still, concentrate at least on the points above.
  • An alternating hot/cold shower can also boost your blood circulation and promote recovery.
  • At many competitions, there is the possibility for a massage in the finish area. A feel-good massage, possibly with lymph drainage, stimulates recovery as well.
  • Later in the day, a little stretching can be beneficial.
  • Avoid intensive wellness and sauna directly after the competition.

Medium-term actions – the days after the competition:

after marathon recovery

  • Do not do any training in the first day after your main competition.
    Instead, work with regenerative measures.
  • A longer massage with a masseur or physiotherapist can be a good way to boost your recovery and relaxation.
  • Further, water in all its forms is a blessing and especially promotes recovery:
    • Sauna visits are beneficial indeed. They stimulate blood circulation
      and generally help to promote recovery.
    • A spa visit with a bubble bath pool or salt water is always fun.
    • Swimming or bathing in a lake (or even better in the sea) is a great away to boost relaxation.
  • Often, the most painful time is on the second day after the competition due to sore muscles. Rest assured, this is quite normal.
  • In addition to the points mentioned above, mental recovery is also important. Just do what you feel like doing without having to think about your next workout too much: How about dinner with friends soon?

Long-term actions:

  • Even now, a few days into the recovery process, it’s good to keep your blood circulation going (of course at a moderate level). If you feel fit again after a few days of recovery, you can initiate more active regeneration measures. This includes extensive movement in the water, loose spinning, walks, hikes (mainly uphill), etc.
  • However, see that you do not plan these trainings in advance. Instead, decide spontaneously whether you feel like it and have the energy to do it. It is extremely important to listen to your body during this phase. Note that planned trainings are more difficult to adjust than spontaneous decisions made on your desire and energy to move in a particular moment.
  • How about trying out something new? Yoga – for example – promotes flexibility and helps to eliminate imbalances, thus preventing injuries.
  • During the recovery phases, running.COACH will not plan any trainings for you for a certain period of time, exactly for the reason mentioned above. In principle, it is not forbidden to move. However, you should definitely listen to your body and take a break in case of tiredness or slight pain rather than taking any unnecessary risks.

My competition didn’t go the way I imagined it would. What can I change in the future?

  • We recommend bringing variation into your training routine by altering the number of workouts. This can be permanent or by consciously planning one week with one unit more and another week with one unit less. Example: 5 instead of 4 and then 3 instead of 4 units. You can drag and drop the units to other weeks in the calendar view, for example, or add units manually.
  • Make sure you can meet the guidelines of running.COACH. It is particularly important that you are able to perform the long jogs and the intensive runs (intervals, threshold runs) as often as possible every week. In case of a diary clash, it makes sense to postpone these key sessions to another day and to skip an endurance run or regeneration run instead.
  • Make sure to get enough rest during the training phase as well.
  • Consciously incorporate regenerative activities.
  • Set yourself new goals – These would ideally include goals you can tackle together with your friends!

Sondre Nordstad Moen – The fastest European marathon runner in history


Sondre Nordstad Moen. This name is widely known since the Fukuoka marathon in December 2017, where Sondre came to be the first Non-African man to ever have run a marathon below 2:06 (in 2:05:48). But how does this guy train and what is his story? In this interview, the Norwegian athlete gave us some interesting insights.

Sondre, such success does only come with great dedication and innumerous hours of training. Do you have time to work or study beside your training?

After I finished high school in 2011 I started focusing only on my running career. In 2012/2013 I had a foot injury and wasn’t able to run for 18 months. During the rehabilitation for my operated foot I started working part time (50%) in the only shop specialised on runners in Norway, with which I continued until after the Olympics in Rio 2016. Since then I have been fully professional athlete.

Sondre Nordstad Moen on his way to a victory in the European Athletics U23 Championships over 10000m in a time of 28:41,66. (Picture:

You said that you started focussing on your running career after high school. Did you ever try out other sports or has it always been running?

My main sport was cross-country skiing until I was 16 years old. As from the age of 11 I also took part in running competitions during summer (1500m to 10km road race), but it was mainly in order to prepare for the cross-country skiing season. I also did a lot of roller skiing, running in the mountains and strength training for the upper body. When I was 15 I won the National youth Championships in running (2000m) in a new age record (5’35″46) and later that year I won the National U19 Championships in cross country (running) (6km). It was also around this age that I achieved my best ever results in cross-country skiing, which were a 1st and a 2nd place in the National Youth Championships (15 and 16 years old). While I was preparing for my first ski season as a junior in the autumn of 2007, I qualified for the Nordic cross country Championships (which I won) and I got 6th in the U19 European Championships in cross country (just six seconds from the podium).

Throughout that autumn I was thinking a lot about what I wanted to choose – skiing or running. After the European cross country Championships, I felt that I had a lot of potential to improve and do well in running. I wanted a real challenge and so I decided to focus on running. However, distance running at the highest level is very un-Norwegian in my hometown (Sondre comes from Trondheim, where cross-country skiing is clearly the dominant sport). So, I knew that, if I wanted to train at the highest level, this would mean training mostly alone.

How much do you train? In Switzerland, Norwegians have the reputation to train lots of hours. Is that true in your case?

I guess this is more the case for cross-country skiing than for distance running. When I focused on skiing, I counted hours per week. Between the age of 13 and 16 I trained between 10 and 15 hours per week but not only running and very rarely all-out. I think I have always made sure that I have the quantity to support the quality. After many years of training it becomes more important to focus on the quality, because there is a limit to how much training at low intensity you can benefit from. Since 2014, I have been training about 700 hours per year in average.

What does a “normal” training week look like for you?

In average, I run about 200-220km per week, which I reduce by about 20% before competitions. The training consists of the following elements:

  • Two or three specific workouts (long or short tests on the track, fast continuous runs and fartleks). Most of the time two days between those workouts, especially before and after marathon sessions.
  •  Long moderate runs at 80% of marathon pace (70-90min)
  • Recovery runs (40-60min)
  • Hill sprints once or twice per week (80-120 meters)
  • Two short sessions of core stability and weights (whether I choose more core stability or strength with weights depends on the event I am preparing for)

What do you do between trainings?

Between trainings I primarily rest or sleep. But I also read books (preferably Norwegian crimes), I listen to pop music (hard to choose one favourite) or I drink coffee.

You first competed in 5000m and 10000m, now you are the European record holder in Marathon. When did you start specialising more on marathon?

I am still combining running on the track and running the marathon. I feel it is important to maintain or improve my speed on the track in order to have a good starting point for every build up for the marathon. If you want to run 2:03 in the marathon, you need to be able to run close to 27 minutes for the 10k. My first marathon preparation was before my debut in 2015, although I have always been doing high milage as a track runner. I remember I was doing fast long runs up to 35km already when I was 19. So, running fast over long distances has always been part of my training. My former coached told me when I was seventeen years old that marathon was going to be my future.

Nordstad Moen in the 5000m race at the World Championships in Athletics in London 2017 (Picture:

What are the main differences between training for 5000-10000m and for a marathon?

The main difference is the extension of the marathon specific endurance, with the idea to get the marathon pace as close as possible to the lactate threshold. Before and after specific workouts, I use to have one or two days of easy training. In between marathon specific sessions I try to maintain a good level of basic speed for the track. So, I do shorter stuff on the track as well, but less frequently. The total volume of kilometres per week has increased by 15-20%, as compared to when I was only training for 5000m/10 000.

Is it true that you measure your lactic acid in every training?

In the very first years of my running career I used to measure my lactate levels in workouts, especially in the beginning of the build-up during the winter training. Gradually, however, I realised that listening to the feeling of the body and orienting to the planned running race pace for the event I was preparing for was even more useful.

Do you measure and document your heart rate values and if so, only during training or also in everyday life?

I used to train with heart rate monitors when I was still doing cross-country skiing and also during my first years as a runner. It is common to train according to the heart rate in most endurance sports in Norway. After a while I felt that I could understand my body and its signals more and more. So, I don’t need to look at the display anymore to know which intensity I am in.

I have never been regularly measuring my resting heart rate because it is affected by so many factors. I measured my lowest resting heart rates when I was injured and did very little training. So, the shape was very bad! It is therefore not a very good way to measure how good your shape is. When you start to understand your own body, you can also feel yourself when it is time to recover or if something is wrong. In my opinion, and concerning my own experience, there is no need to measure the heart rate.

We have heard that, in order for the average pace of your training not to be affected, you don’t start your trainings in uphills, but you rather walk up and start on the flat. Is that true?

These are rumors! The reason why I prefer to start my runs on flat surfaces for the first couple of kilometres is to allow for my stiff calves and tendons to warm up properly before I increase the pace. This is especially critical in high altitude where the lack of oxygen makes it more difficult to start your training within the borders for your aerobic zone.

You mentioned before that being a long-distance runner in your hometown meant mainly training alone. What does it look like today? Do you mainly train alone?

I spend a lot of time in Kenya. When I am there, I train with other athletes who are trained by my coach Renato Canova. I am alternating between training with track runners and marathon runners, depending on what I need in my training (speed vs. endurance). I prefer to do my daily long runs alone, so that the feeling for my own body and its state is not disturbed. When I am in Europe, I normally do all of my training alone because I follow an individualised plan prepared by my coach, which is always adapted to my development.

Sondre training in Kenya. (Picture:

How do you explain that you ran a marathon faster than any other European runner has done before you? What makes you better than the others?

This is a difficult question and, honestly speaking, I don’t know in details what other athletes do. What I can see, is that I’m dedicated and that I have a professional approach to the discipline.

Also, as long as I know, none of the best European marathon runners in history, did not spend more than 250 days per year to train at high altitude “only”.

Do you ever feel like not training or are you always motivated?

Of course, I have days (especially in intense and heavy training periods) where I wake up in the morning and know it is going to be a hard day and tough to complete the planned training, but I always remind myself of why I started my running career- because I found it interesting and rewarding to see how far I am able to push my body and to see how far I can reach. What I have experienced with myself is that it is only with the sessions and the periods where I feel a much deeper pain, stress and discomfort from the training I am pushing myself through, that changes, improvements or approaches occur in my body or mind. You never know your own limits before you go and explore them! For doing this, you need to meet the following three criteria: 1) you have to free your mind, 2) you have to believe in the training you are doing, and 3) you need to make sure that you recover from workload in time, in order not to get too exhausted.

Distance runners often try to optimise every single detail, including nutrition. Do you follow a special diet?

No special diet. I eat to fuel my daily training and to recover from it. The one thing I am careful about is to choose food which is easily digestible before training.

Considering the large amounts of training, injuries would not be a surprise. Have you had a lot of injury problems?

So far, I have only had one serious injury in my career. In the end of 2012, I teared the flexor hallucis longus tendon (main tendon to the big toe) after one year suffering with tendinitis in the same tendon. This kept me away from running most of 2012 and 2013. In March and May 2013 I had two surgeries and I was back running in November the same year.

Runners often dedicate everything to their sport. Do you ever feel that there are things you cannot do because of your sports career that you would have liked to do? If so, what?

At the moment, no. I have always found it easy to be dedicated to my activity in sports because I have always wanted to see and experience my own potential. Professional sport is something you do for just a small part of your life. I am sure the day to start doing other things will come the day I feel I do not have any more to give.

What are your next big goals?

My next big goals are to battle for a medal at the 10 000m in European Championships in Berlin this August and a fast marathon time in the end of the year.


We wish Sondre the very best of luck and we are pretty sure that we will be reading his name in the news soon again…


This blog entry was edited by: Marion Aebi

Nutrition tips for marathons


Those who have finished a marathon know the overwhealming emotions you get once you’ve crossed the finish line. However, in order for this to happen, the right nutrition is crucial and it helps you to run the 42.195km without cramps and without hitting the wall. 

The most important limited energy source for a marathon runner are carbs. Especially during the last quarter of the distance they begin to vanish. Thus, if you don’t refill carbs on the way, you will hit the notorious wall after km number 30.

Many runners are nervous before a marathon. This has an effect on the nutrient intake by the intestine. Therefore, it is important to eat easily digestible foods like white bread with honey or a fast digestible müesli on the day of the marathon. Professionals often drint regenerationdrinks Isostar Reload After Sport. This provides you with fast accessible Energy without putting stress to your intestine.

Approximately one hour before start you can even fill your carbohydrate and minaral savings via an isotonic drink such as, for example, Isostar Hydrate & Perform. Small sips until right before the competition provide your body with both nutrients and water, both of which you will need during the race.

Your tactics for during the race should be: Never miss a refreshment station, even if they might be crowded with other runners. This is the best way to prevent cramps and it helps you to avoid hitting this famous wall. It is further imporant that you test the drinks, bars (e.g. Isostar Endurance + bar) or gels (e.g. Isostar Energy Booster or Isostar Actifood) in your training prior to the competition. Not everyone tolerates a given supplement. Solids are generally tolerated less during running because of the percussions on the intestine. Here, too, it is recommended to test things beforehand.

After a marathon is before a marathon. Although you might not aim for a next goal right away, be aware that, the days after the event, your body has a lot of recovery work to do. Regeneration should thus be the main focus. You will be likely to feel like eating sweets more than you would normally. Try to eat more fruits during this time and to also compensate for the increased need of proteins. Here, delicous protein concentrates like Isostar Reload After Sport might help you to cover these cravings without having to eat a lot of chocolate or other sweets.

Those who provide their body with the energy it needs can reach their goals more easily. We hope that these nutrition tips will help you to reach your goal and to be able to live the emotions mentioned at the beginning.


Nutrition tips for the last 3 days before the marathon:

The estimated need of carbohydrates during these three days are around 8 to 10 g per body weight per day. That is, a person weighin 75kg should consume 750 g of carbs per day. This is a lot! However, it is important in order to optimise the energy savings and to lay the basis for your body to be able to perform at its very best for 3 to 5 hours.


  • 200 ml of fruit juice
  • 1 yogurt
  • 50 g of müesli
  • 5 slices of bred
  • 1 pear or 100 g of grapes
  • 1 fruit compote (100 g)


  • 1 big plate of pasta (300 g) or rice (260 g, cooked)
  • or semolina or some other grain (330 g, cooked)
  • potatoe salad (1 bowl)
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 1 fruit or 1 pudding
  • 1 cup of milk + Isostar Endurance + bar 
  • 1 banana or some other fruit


  • 1 big plate of rice (or pasta or potatoes)
  • 1 salad
  • 2 mushroom crêpes
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 yogurt
  • 1 compote or 1 fruit

And the little extra for during the day: The drink Isostar Hydrate & Perform – adapt the amount to the size of the meals. An optimal supplier of liquid is Isostar Endurance + Sport Drink. Liquid is important for a successful uptake of the carbohydrates.


This blog entry was provided by Isostar. If you want to read more about Isostar and their products and services, click here


My preparation for the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan


Here I am in my final preparation for my 6th career marathon, the Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu, Japan on March 1st.

Patrick Nispel Marathon Runner
Patrick Nispel

Biwako Mainichi Marason (in Japanese) is an IAAF Gold Label and male elite only race with an entry standard of 2 hours 30 minutes or under. Due to its high standards it is one of the world’s top marathons and is broadcasted all across Japan as one of its major sporting events of the year. The course record of 2:06:13 is held by former World Record holder Wilson Kipsang of Kenya.

My personal goal is to improve on my best time of 2:22:55 set in Zurich in 2013. I was running well in last year’s Biwako Marathon until the last 6 kilometres when I started to get severe leg cramps and lost a few minutes finishing 69th in a time 2:23:47 out of 314 starters.

After pulling out at the recent Berlin Marathon in September 2014 due to sickness, I have now slightly changed my approach of my preparation. I am feeling ready to run a fast time and avoid both sickness and cramping this time. I am following my running.COACH training schedule which is based on world-class distance runners such as Viktor Röthlin, European Champion from 2010 and 6th at Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. I was very fortunate to train with Vik (as he calls himself) and the Swiss national marathon team at high altitude in July last year for their final preparation for the European Athletics Championships in August. I learned a lot there that added to my own experience of 20 years of competitive running.

Some of the key changes to my marathon training since learning from Vik and running.COACH included to put more emphasis on my three main sessions of each week while taking my easy days easier for recovery.

First key change was to increase the length of my interval sessions to regularly run 10km total efforts at around 5-10km race pace with a focus on improving my VO2max and LTVO2. Though VO2max work is an important part of a marathon training plan, it is not as crucial as for a 5k and 10k runner. The other benefit of doing longer interval sessions are improvements in running economy (oxygen consumption at marathon pace) as well as LTVO2 (oxygen consumption at lactate threshold pace)  which is a better performance predictor for marathoners than VO2max. I have run these sessions alternating between a natural walking path  as well as a synthetic 400m track. An example session would be 10x 1km in 3:00 – 3:10 (on natural path) on 4.5 minute cycles. Or 8x 1200m in 3:40 (400m jog recoveries) plus 1x400m on a 400m track.

Second key change: My long runs have become faster with average pace aiming for 85-90% of my marathon pace (approx. 3:50 pace) and including more marathon pace efforts (3:20 pace) towards the end of my 30 to 38km long runs, simulating marathon conditions as closely as possible. Often starting at 5am or earlier to avoid the heat and associated dehydration.

My training partner Jonny and I included one over-distance long run on hilly trails of 52km 7 weeks before the marathon, conditioning the body to that distance, increasing capillarization of muscle fibers and blood vessels as well as training the mind to push for over 4 hours. This was part of beautiful but challenging trail running event through the Glasshouse Mountains. The race started at 3:30am and the first hour was run in darkness with just our headlamps trying to guide our way on technical trails with water holes and fallen tree logs. Not our usual or favourite type of running as marathoners, but once we got some daylight we could start running a bit more of a steady pace over the many hills. We got to the halfway turnaround point in 5th position with 9 minutes to the leaders, many of whom had gone out too fast. I changed into my lighter On Cloudracer shoes and we started rolling in the field, taking the lead around 36km. Jonny and I finished 1st and 2nd in our first ultra-trail event.

Third key change to my training schedule has been to increase the length of my tempo runs to anything from 40 to 80 minutes aimed at marathon pace of around 3:20 or bit quicker. This has been the most challenging element of my new training so far and one I still need to master. Often I would break up these tempo runs into manageable parts of e.g. 3x5km or 4-5x 4km as I was trying to keep the quality of my run up.

With 2 runs most days, this brings the total km to anything between 150 and 205km of running per week with an average of 170km over an 11 week period (including 2 recovery weeks of around 120km).

I am now starting my tapering, the most crucial phase of any marathon preparation. Another difference in my training schedule this time is to start my tapering 3 weeks instead of 2 weeks out with a focus on more recovery, a strict diet, good sleep quality, boosting immunity and lots of muscle release, foam rolling and relaxation. Training will be shorter and I am aiming to spend a slightly increased portion of my time running fast at goal marathon pace of 3:15-3:20.

The last few months of marathon training have definitely been made even more challenging by adding in the hot summer we just had here in Queensland with temperatures reaching 30 soon after sunrise and humidity of anything between 60-90%. There is some research that says that benefits of training in the heat can have similar effects to training at high altitude. Hope this is true! I am looking forward to flying to winter in Japan and enjoying the light feel of running in perfect 5-10°C conditions.


Patrick Nispel  is a 2:22 Swiss marathon runner and accredited running coach living in Brisbane. Pat is also the Australian coach for running.COACH

Follow Pat’s journey on Facebook  or through his website