Marathon Training

How do I train for a marathon?

This is the time of year that thoughts turn to entering spring marathons and winter marathon training. We were lucky enough to have a special Run Mummy Run Twitter Q&A session with Matt Buck of to answer all of our burning marathon training questions.


Matt is an experienced ultra-runner and qualified running coach with 10 years experience of leading people on challenge events. He has completed numerous ultra-marathons and marathons including the infamously brutal Marathon des Sables in 2014. Matt has a passion for adventure and the outdoors. He believes in a friendly and personable approach to coaching in order to get the best out of his runners.


Q  What would you say is the best training plan for a first marathon?

A  One written by me!  Seriously though, a personalised plan is best so that it is achievable and realistic around your other commitments.


Q  I have an autumn half marathon and am running my first marathon in April.  What sort of mileage should I do between now and New Year?  Should I build from the 13.1 miles gradually or wait and start a 12 week marathon plan after Christmas?

A  You need to be gradually increasing your mileage and long runs and want to eventually be hitting 20-22 miles for your long run.  Don’t wait until the New Year to start, get your base fitness before Christmas, then kick on in the New Year.


Q   I get to around 20 miles in a marathon and then lose energy and need to be sick. My training to 20 miles is ok and I’ve been managing my fuelling ok. I managed my fuelling much better at Paris marathon and it helped but I still needed to stop and heave. Perhaps it is partly psychological? Do you think running a longer distance in training might help?

A   Are you definitely managing your fuelling ok? It sounds like you are getting low on fuel to me. Are you expecting ‘the wall’? There could be a psychological element happening as well. If you are ok up to 20 miles I would definitely consider trying longer in training, try 22 miles and see how that goes.


Q   Can you do marathon training on 2/3 runs per week with 1 PT session and 1 or 2 bootcamp sessions? My marathon is in 20 weeks time.

A   For sure as long as one of those runs is a long run to build your endurance.


Q   I am a hungry runner and struggle with anything over 2 hours. I use gels but what else would you suggest eating?

A   Gels are great if you can continuously take them throughout a whole marathon without feeling sick or getting stomach issue (I can’t!), shot bloks are a good alternative, as well as jelly babies, bananas, nuts.


Q   I would like to try my first ultra marathon next summer. Would that be ok after a spring marathon? I’m nervous.

A   A marathon in April is perfectly timed for building training for a summer ultra (distance wise). Just go for it. Any ultra up to 50km is achievable from marathon training.


Q   What is the most effective way to improve my endurance for marathon running?

A   Your long runs are vital for building your endurance up slowly. Never skip these sessions, without them, you’ll struggle to build the required endurance for a marathon.


Q   Can you do too many miles training for a marathon?

A   Many people do over train and it can be a big problem. A max of 40 miles per week is usually high enough for most people. The long runs are the most important.


Q   I have VLM in April, my 3rd marathon. What is the best pre-hab stengthener for hip flexors please?

A   There is a great article with exercises here …


Q   I want to ask about speed. How do I increase my speed for a 26.2?

A   There are a few ways – tempo runs, intervals and hill sessions will all be hugely beneficial. Make all your sessions count and mix it up a bit to keep it interesting.


Q  Back to back marathons – How close is too close together?

A   This depends on your training plan, your fitness levels and your goals. I would recommend a good month of taking it easier after a tough marathon..


Matt Buck offers personalised coaching packages for marathons and ultras.  For more information email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @runningadv

Look out for our exclusive competition coming soon to win one of Matt’s marathon Coaching packages!

Marathon Training

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