What Does It Take to Win a Marathon? (Part III)

Speed Work

Speed work is a voluntary element to put into your training program. It can enhance your aerobic capacity and make your easy runs feel truly easy. Tempo runs and intervals are the most common forms of speed work.

Intervals are a set of repetitions of a short, specific distance run at a considerably faster pace than usual, with recovery jogs in between. For example, you might run 5 X 1-mile repeats at a hard pace, with five minutes of walking or slow jogging between the mile repeats.

Rest and Recovery

Rest days mean NO running AT ALL! This allows your muscles to recover from strenuous workouts and help stop mental burnout. The biggest enemy of any hopeful marathoners is injury and the number one protection against injury is rest.

If you are just dying to do something active on your rest days, try cross-training. Cross-training includes hiking, walking, swimming, lifting weights, cycling, yoga, or any other active pursuit that isn’t high-impact.

14 – 21 days before your marathon, scale back on the intensity of your runs to allow your body to rest for marathon day.


Almost all marathons have aid stations and water along the marathon route. If you’re going to bring your own water on race day, purchase a hydration belt or pack well in advance and get use to running with it on. Never, ever try it out on the day of the marathon.

During training, you’ll be doing lots of runs without the advantage of aid stations. Several techniques to consider:

  • Bring your own water using a hydration belt or pack, or even handheld bottles
  • Do a short loop course or long runs so you can put water in one spot along the way
  • Create your long run route to bypass water fountains
  • Put water bottles along your route the night or morning before the marathon