Running Training Tips for Half Marathons and Full Marathons

Paula Radcliffe running in the New York marathon

Paula Radcliffe running in the New York marathon

Running certainly is not for everyone, but one thing is for sure – if you want to be lean and fit, then long distance running will certainly help you achieve these goals. All marathon runners carry very little fat, and the pace at which the top runners race at is pretty intensive over a 2 hour period.

If you feel that marathon running is only for the professional and most dedicated runners, remember that every year thousands of people enter marathons each year to raise money for charity and to challenge themselves. In fact, London Marathon is actually to worlds largest charity fund raising event, with all the major charities and many smaller ones being represented by the “fun runners”.


We have already talked at length about the health benefits of running. It really is one of the best ways to get fit and improve your long term health.

Long distance running does require planning as well as dedication. There are entire books dedicated to running (Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon is a good place to start).

Paula Radcliffe’s Marathon Training Tips


Paula Radcliffe is the best female marathon runner in the world. She recently shared some of her training tips with Patrick Barkham from the Guardian. If you are planning to run a marathon next year, or are just making a new year resolution to do more exercise, then these tips may help you.

For added motivation, remember that Paula is now in her mid thirties and is a mother, and has no tummy fat on her. Running can be a great way to lose weight (although we actually recommend a combination of intensive interval training and weight training). Remember though that Paula is a seasoned pro, so her training routine is not one that can be adopted by a novice runner.

Paula Radcliffe’s Running Advice

Paula Radcliffe’s first marathon training tip is that if training for a marathon, you do not need to run every day. In fact, as you should be training for longer distances, daily running can lead to overtraining problems, such as muscle fatigue and injury. Also, after a long run, take a proper rest. Paula Radcliffe takes two weeks holiday after each marathon. That is two weeks with no running at all.

Paula Radcliffe prefers to break her running down into shorter runs. She runs either five 2km runs, or six one mile runs, on any particular training day. This is to ensure that she is always training to run at her marathon pace. She then does an additional long run each week. As training progresses, and the marathon is getting closer, she starts to extend the long run up to 10 miles.

Of course, this type of running requires time and planning which the average amateur runner does not have! But many amateur runners to break their running up into 2 or 3 runs a day, usually an early morning run before work, a lunch time loosener, then a longer run after work.

Paula Radcliffe’s Compression Socks

Paula Radcliffe recommends knee length compression socks (similar to flight socks) to aid circulation. In her case they help to reduce stiffness in the calves. These are becoming more popular in athletics, with many track and field athletes wearing compression socks, especially women high jumpers.

Training for a marathon is very mentally demanding. The training itself is often a greater challenge than the race. However, when training it is vital to learn from these challenges, as they will help you cope when you hit “the wall” during a marathon. If you can overcome it in training, you should be able to overcome it in a race.

If you do feel pain and are hitting that wall, then learn to distract your mind from the pain. Paula’s advice is to count to 100 three times. Usually by the time you have finished the last 100 count, the pain has subsided.

Paula’s Best Tip for Marathon Training Success

Paula’s best tip for marathon training success is that you have to enjoy running a lot. If you love to run, then you will always find the motivation and will to succeed. For her running is a way to cope with stresses and worries of everyday life. For Paula running is in her words, more of an addiction than a job. She does not need to run everyday, just 7 days in every 8!

If you follow this plan of running mostly shorter runs at your race pace, and run every other day, then you will see great improvements. Before finalizing your running schedule read up on some more marathon training advice.

Other Long Distance Running Tips

Long distance runners in a way have an advantage over other athletes. They can be totally focused on one part of training – running. They do not need to supplement the core training with weight training or plyometrics to build strength and power. Running improves running more than anything else. Also it is important to keep your weight down (remember from high school, work=mass x distance) and this means keeping both fat and muscle to a minimum. Carrying bulky muscles will only slow you down in long distance running.

In addition to keeping an eye on fat and muscle, you should ensure that you eat a well balanced diet, with larger than normal amounts of carbohydrates. Carb loading may be a myth for many sports, but for long distance running, keeping glycogen levels high for as long as possible is essential to ward of cramp.

For Paula Radcliffe marathon training is both a job and a way of life, and she loves her life! You can catch up with Paula on her website, PaulaRadcliffe.com

Seb Coe’s Running Tips

Seb Coe recently spoke with The Telegraph and provided some good running tips for people training for a half or full marathon.

He was trained by Dr. George Gandy, who is a very experienced athletics coach and now Director of Athletics at the Sports Development Centre at Loughborough University. George Gandy has also provided some great running advice focussed more at those just looking to stay fit.

Seb Coe is now IAAF Vice President and has worked closely with athletics all his life. He won Olympic gold for the 1500m in 1980 and 1984 and set 11 world records during his running career.

So, he certainly knows a thing or two about running! His advice is very simple, almost common sense advice, but that does not make it any less important. Lord Coe gave these tips with a half marathon in mind. They are pretty good tips for any distance really.

Buy New Running Shoes

Buy a good pair of running shoes. Simple and obvious, unless you plan to run bare foot. For the race day you need to have run your shoes in. New shoes are no good, but then neither are old ones.

Improve your diet

Diet is important, but should not be made the most important element for running. But, in the days running up to a race you need to start eating more carbohydrates and less protein. Read these diet tips for runners.

Cut back on alcohol

It is really important to drink less alcohol. No need to give up drinking, just drink moderately. One or two beers at the weekend is not a problem, and a pint of ale after exercise does aid re-hydration.

Stay hydrated

Keep drinking plenty of water in the days running up to the race to ensure that you are well hydrated. Well hydrated muscles are more efficient and water is needed to ensure nutrients are transported around the body. Long distance running, especially in hot weather, can quickly lead to dehydration. If you notice an increase in headaches then this is a sign that you are already too dehydrated.

Mental preparation

Get your mindset right. Being mentally ready for the run is very important. Being physically ready makes being mentally ready much easier. There are many self help books dedicated to the mental side of running.

Practice several long and full length runs

If you are training for a half marathon make sure that you are physically ready with some good length practice runs. Before the race day you should have covered about 10 miles in a few runs. Ideally you will have run the full 13 mile half marathon once or twice beforehand. The last big run needs to be at least 10 days before the race.

After the race, just enjoy yourself, enjoy the feeling of competing a race or raising money for charity.
Do not wait too long before running again. The hard work has been done, just keep running to stay fit and then when the next race comes up, you will be able to prepare with relative ease.

Photo of Paula Radcliffe by epc / Ed Costello

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