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How long do I need to train for the London Marathon (and other considerations)?

Embarking on the journey to run a marathon is an admirable endeavour that requires dedication, proper planning, and a commitment to personal health. Among the iconic marathons worldwide, the London Marathon stands out, offering a unique and scenic route that spans some of the city's most iconic landmarks. Let's have a little look into the essential aspects of marathon training, drawing insights from expert advice and tailoring the information to the London Marathon experience.

Understanding your Marathon training timeline:

Before lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement, it's crucial to comprehend the time investment required for successful marathon training. While individual differences exist, experts generally agree that a well-structured training plan spanning (at least) 16 to 20 weeks is essential. This timeline allows for gradual mileage increases, physiological adaptations, and mental preparation.

Understanding the physiological adaptations:

Delving into the science behind marathon training, it's crucial to recognise the physiological adaptations that occur during the 16 to 20-week timeline. The heart strengthens, improving its pumping capacity and ability to refill efficiently. Blood vessels become more adept at distributing oxygen-rich blood to working muscles, enhancing cardio function and aerobic capacity.

Muscles experience growth, particularly in slow-twitch endurance fibres, improving efficiency during long runs. Mitochondrial density and aerobic enzyme activity increase, boosting oxygen-consuming capacity and overall aerobics efficiency. The body's supporting structures, including tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles, also strengthen, enhancing overall resilience to the impact of running.

Setting realistic goals:

Whether you're an experienced runner or a newcomer, setting realistic goals is key to a successful marathon journey. The London Marathon allows runners to experience a blend of historical and modern London, creating a unique backdrop for personal achievements. With the race attracting participants of various skill levels, it's important to establish A, B, and C goals, ensuring a well-rounded approach to success.

Tailoring training to time goals:

For those aiming for specific time goals in the London Marathon, a key indicator is performance in shorter races like half marathons or 10Ks. Consulting with LDN PHYSIO for a tailored Marathon training plan can help set realistic expectations and provide a roadmap to success. A well-structured 16- to 20-week plan should generally suffice for achieving time goals, but individual circumstances may warrant adjustments.

Building your foundation:

For individuals new to running or those transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle, establishing a solid foundation is paramount. Consider gradually working towards a base training period of three to four months, incorporating easy runs three to four times a week, totalling 15 to 25 miles weekly. This phase helps improve overall fitness, reduce injury risk, and sets the stage for a seamless transition into marathon training.

The London Marathon route:

Understanding the London Marathon route is crucial for tailoring your training to specific challenges. The race starts in Greenwich and Blackheath, with early miles taking you through residential areas. As you approach Tower Bridge around the halfway point, the course provides stunning views of the city and it gets interesting from there. Subsequent miles include iconic sights like the Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf, and the Embankment, leading to the grand finish on The Mall (and hopefully not the "great wall" at 32k in!).

Reaching out for guidance:

Considering the complexity of marathon training, reaching out for expert guidance can significantly enhance your marathon training experience. At LDN PHYSIO, we offer a Marathon training plan service designed to cater to individual needs. Our tailored plans consider factors such as age, fitness level, and personal goals to provide a comprehensive roadmap to success.

Training phases: from EZ runs to tapering

As you progress through your training plan, incorporating a mix of workouts is essential for well-rounded preparation. The London Marathon's diverse route calls for a combination of easy runs, tempo runs, speedwork, and long runs. These workouts contribute to building cardiovascular strength, endurance, and mental resilience.

Recovery weeks, strategically placed every fourth week, allow your body to absorb the training benefits while preventing burnout. Additionally, a two- to three-week taper is recommended leading up to the marathon. This gradual reduction in training intensity helps optimise physiological, psychological, and performance adaptations, ensuring you arrive at the starting line in peak condition.

Avoiding common mistakes:

Skipping essential components of your training plan or attempting to accelerate the process can lead to pitfalls such as poor race performance and an increased risk of injury. Overtraining, in particular, can result in mental and physical exhaustion. Consistency, gradual loading, strength training and attentive listening to your body are crucial to a successful marathon journey.

Embarking on the journey to conquer the London Marathon is a remarkable undertaking that demands thoughtful preparation and perseverance. By understanding the nuances of marathon training, tailoring your plan to the unique challenges of the London Marathon route, and seeking professional guidance from LDN PHYSIO when needed, you can increase your chances of crossing the finish line with an amazing sense of accomplishment.

Remember, every runner's path is unique, and flexibility within your training plan is essential.


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