October 14, 2019

13 best cycling events in the world

Lets Do This

There are some iconic races in the cycling calendar. With the history of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the passion for the sport in several countries, these events are unforgettable experiences with plenty of tough challenges along the way.

Here, we have listed the most prestigious and essential races that are on many cyclists’ bucket lists. There are ‘The Big 6’ sportives, which are hugely popular one-day mass-participation races; 5 ‘Monuments’, which are professional tour races with options for amateurs to experience the course; and then there are 2 of our favourite ‘Classics’.

Find your next Cycling event

The Big 6

Mallorca 312: 

Course: Full: 312km/193 miles (5050m/16,568ft total elevation gain); Medium: 225km/139 miles (925m/13,034ft); Short: 167km/103 miles (2475m/8120ft)

This is seen as one of the most challenging sportives on the circuit, going around the island of Mallorca. Most of the climbing takes place early on in the race on the Tramuntana range, where you will ascend the Puig Major, Col de sa Pedrissa and Col de Feminina. In recent years, the course has been adapted to make it a closed-road route. You will be well supported throughout, with 6 feed stations along the way, and the effort will be rewarded with stunning views around the island and through old towns such as Arta. There is a tough 14-hour cut-off for the race, but there are shorter options at a distance of 225km or 167km if you want a shorter event that still contains some serious challenges. 

Nove Colli:

Course: Full: 205km/127 miles (3840m/12,598ft total elevation gain); Short: 130km/80.8 miles (1871m/6138ft)

This is known as the ‘Queen of Granfondos’. Starting on Italy’s east coast, the Nine Hills of the course’s name provide some serious challenges. Some of the steepest sections reach a gradient of 18%, but you will create some spectacular memories along the way. The race has a rich heritage, and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. To honour the 40th anniversary of Nove Colli in 2010, the world-famous Giro d’Italia used part of the course. The race is famous for its hospitality and for taking in a variety of Romagna’s most picturesque countryside. In the past, the 12,000 spaces have sold out within 4 minutes, so this is not one to be missed. 

Granfondo Stelvio Santini:

Course: Full: 151.3km/94 miles (4058m/13,314ft total elevation gain); Medium: 137.9km/85.7 miles (3053m/10,016ft); Short: 60km/37.3 miles (1950m/6398ft)

This brutal course starts in Bormio and makes the most of the steep climbs of the Alps. Although the race’s tagline is ‘Know Your Enemy’, there are in fact two enemies you should know about: the first major climb comes just over the halfway mark, from Tovo up to the infamous Mortirolo, and ascends 1200m in only 12km. After a steep descent, the race then finishes with a leg-busting 1500m climb up to the Stelvio Pass on the Swiss border. The Stelvio is one of the top bucket list climbs for many cyclists, so this event is hugely popular for the mountain goats out there. 

La Marmotte: 

Course: Full: 174km/108 miles (5180m/16,995ft total elevation gain); Short: 13km/8.1 miles (1100m/3609ft)

This cyclosportive is known fondly in France as ‘the Old Lady’ and includes some of the most legendary and challenging mountains covered in the Tour de France. The Col du Glondon, Col du Telegraphe, and Col du Galibier are iconic enough, but the most famous climb is the final Alpe d’Huez, with its iconic 21 hairpin turns. Finishing this event will require serious dedication and determination, but you will receive full bragging rights in the cycling community. The short option two days before focuses just on Alpe d’Huez, and sees some competitive, speedy hill-climbing.

Maratona dles Dolomites:

Course: Full: 138km/85.7 miles (4230m/13,878ft total elevation gain); Middle: 106km/65.9 miles (3130m/10,269ft); Short/Sellaronda: 55km/34.2 miles (1780m/5840ft)

When you read that the course takes in seven mountain passes in the Dolomites, it’s no wonder that the race’s theme is the mix between wonder and angst. Most of these climbs individually are tougher than you’d find in any race, so when they are placed back to back, you’re going to be left with sore legs. The Passo Giau is perhaps the toughest climb, seeing as it ascends 922m in only 9.9km (that’s an average gradient of 9.3%), but it rewards you with incredible views down into the Ampezzo basin. If the long climbs haven’t emptied the tank enough, the ‘Mür dl giat’ (‘the cat wall’) is a short 360m burst up a slope with a 19% gradient. It is lined with supporters, food stalls, and musical entertainment, and is one of the main attractions of the race. 

L'Étape du Tour:

Course: 177km/110 miles (3570m/11,713ft total elevation gain) [NB This is for the 2020 edition, in Nice]

Although the course for this race changes every year, whatever the route you know you will be in for a serious challenge. The event allows for amateur cyclists to have a go at one of the famous stages of the Tour de France. You will probably be taking in one of the iconic climbs in the Pyrenees or the Alps, and you will benefit from the same closed-road conditions that the professionals receive. Joining the peloton of 15,000 participants will make you feel like one of the legendary yellow jersey winners you’ve always watched on tv. 

The Monuments

Tour de Flanders:

Course: Full: 229km/142.3 miles (2160m/7087ft total elevation gain); Long: 174km/108.1 miles (1853m/6079ft); Middle: 139km/86.4 miles (1497m/4911ft); Short: 74km/46 miles (919m/3015ft)

Starting in Antwerp and finishing in Oudenaarde, the We Ride Flanders event allows 16,000 amateur cyclists to try out the long course the day before the professionals take it on. The first 90km of the race is relatively flat, but from there the route is characterised by short, sharp climbs on cobbled streets. The three steepest climbs are Muur-Kapelmuur (maximum gradient of 19.8%), Koppenburg (22%) and Paterberg (20.3%). On your recovery the next day, it will be satisfying to switch on the tv and know what the pros are going through. 


Course: [Professional Only: 257km/159.7 miles] Amateur Challenge: 172km/106.9 miles (890m/2912ft total elevation gain); Medium: 145km/90.1 miles (551m/808ft); Short: 70km/43.5 miles (241m/791ft)

Some people give this race the positive name of ‘The Queen of the Classics’, others give it the more brutal, and perhaps more realistic, name of l’Enfer du Nord (‘The Hell of the North’). This route is not particularly hilly, but it is most famous for the difficulty of its cobbled sections. Over a fifth of the race (54.5km to be exact) is paved with setts, including the mythical ‘Carrefour de l’Arbre’ and ‘Trouée d'Arenberg’, so riders must rely on technique and power to get through these stages. The race in fact starts 80km north of Paris, in Compiègne, and has a grandstand finish in the velodrome of Roubaix on the Belgian border. 

LBL (Liège–Bastogne–Liège):

Course: Long: 279 km/173 miles (4500m/14,764ft total elevation gain); Medium: 167km/104 miles (2647m/8684ft); Short: 85km/53 miles (1250m/4101ft)

This is the oldest of the five Monuments, established in 1892, and as such it is also called La Doyenne (‘the Old Lady’). It is known as one of the toughest courses in the world for both its distance and its numerous steep climbs. The route travels through the Ardennes, going fairly directly from Liège to Bastogne (95km) and then winding back to Liège (163km). There are 12 significant climbs, some of which are long and with sizeable gradients. The most iconic is Côte de la Redoute, where the gradient is 8.9% on average across the 2km, but some of the steepest sections go as steep as 20%. The Belgians are known for their passion for cycling, so there will be great crowds cheering you on when times get tough.

Milan San Remo:

Course: Full: 301.8km/187.5 miles (1987m/6519ft total elevation gain)

Often called La Primavera (‘The Spring Classic’) or La Classicissima, this is the longest one-day cycling race in the world. Compared to the other ‘Monuments’, the course is relatively flat. The professional race starts in the iconic Piazza del Duomo in Milan, travelling through Lombardy and Piedmont, before the route’s main ascent comes after 140km with the Passo del Turchino. After descending from here, the remainder of the race takes place on the stunning Ligurian coast. The amateur option the day before, Gran Fondo Milan, goes a few km further than the official race. Despite being the longest, the relative flatness of the course means that the race is seen as a sprinter’s classic. 

Il Lombardia:

Course: 243km/151 miles (c.4000m/13,123ft total elevation gain)

This is the final monument of the cycling season, and although it takes place in the same region as Milan San Remo, it is almost its exact opposite. Taking place in Autumn, it is called Classica delle foglie morte (‘the Classic of the Falling Leaves’), and is seen as a climbers’ classic due to its demanding climbs. The course varies, but it takes place on the shores of Lake Como, ensuring beautiful views as a reward at the top of intense climbs. The famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb is a mainstay of the race and the route usually includes the daunting Muro di Sormano, which terrifyingly has a gradient of 27% at some stages. The amateur race takes place the day after the professionals, if you haven’t been put off by watching them struggle. 

The Classics


Course: 110km/68.4 miles (1,940m/6,365ft total elevation gain)

The Paris-Nice race, known as The Race to the Sun, is the first European event on the world tour calendar. The challenge follows the final stage of the multi-stage race, staying on exactly the same route that the pros will take on the next day. The circular route, starting and finishing in Nice, includes some difficult climbs, but also provides incredible views looking out over the Mediterranean Sea. 

Strade Bianche:

Course: [Professional: 184km/114.3 miles] Amateur Long: 139km/86.4 miles (1350m/4429ft total elevation gain); Short: 86km/53.4 miles (950m/3117ft)

The route, which starts and finishes in Siena, is famous for its white gravel roads. While these make the race more iconic and picturesque, they also make it more challenging. The gravel of the Tuscan countryside covers over a third of the classic route (63km), and not only slows you down but threatens to puncture a tire. The race only started in 2007, but has quickly grown in popularity, cementing itself into the cycling calendar.

The list of best cycling events in the world:

  1. Mallorca 312
  2. Nove Colli
  3. Granfondo Stelvio Santini
  4. La Marmotte
  5. Maratona dles Dolomites
  6. L’Étape du Tour
  7. Tour de Flanders
  8. Paris-Roubaix
  9. LBL (Liège–Bastogne–Liège)
  10. Milan San Remo
  11. Il Lombardia
  12. Paris-Nice
  13. Strade Bianche
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Yoga for Runners

Yoga for Runners

Yoga is the perfect solution for a runner's recovery, both physically and mentally. A simple but regular yoga routine will release tight muscles, increase range of motion, improve flexibility and make you an injury-free running machine! 

Yoga is the perfect solution for a runner's recovery, both physically and mentally. A simple but regular yoga routine will release tight muscles, increase range of motion, improve flexibility and make you an injury-free running machine! 

The best part? It won’t take long and it has beneficial long term effects - you might even find the mental gains of yoga start to overtake the physical ones! (But we’ll take both thanks). 

Fitting yoga into your running routine

At the end of the day, the best yoga for runners is the yoga routine you commit to.

Most runners are already in the groove with their training schedule, but the idea of stretching - let alone stretching those hammies - sends chills down the spine. We hear you, but you could be missing out on some worthwhile benefits for your recovery and mental stamina.

Yoga for runners is beneficial for both body and mind. Whether it’s a pre run or post run yoga routine, this physical practise focuses on lengthening and strengthening the muscles, as well as improving stability, balance and coordination. 

Plus, a steady rhythm of breath is key for a successful run - and this is the same for yoga. Relaxed breathing even when moments are challenging is a super power, this is what builds resilience and mental stamina. 

So, where to begin? The golden rule is to keep it simple. 

8 yoga poses for runners

Feast your eyes on eight yoga poses that will stretch your body, calm your mind and have you feeling rested and recuperated. 

  1. Downward Dog 

 A downward dog a day keeps the injuries away! 

This grounding yoga pose is a great inversion for lengthening the back of the legs and spine. You can do these pre-run and post-run. Try walking your heels one by one into the floor for an extra calf stretch!

Stretches and strengthens:
Calves, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, upper body; back and shoulders. 

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with hands underneath shoulders and knees in line with hips. Lift hips to the sky. 
  • Keep everything active. Draw the navel to your spine and the rib cage in (abdominal lock). Aim for straight legs (we know this can be tough in the beginning, so a bend in the knees is fine and soon you’ll develop greater hamstring flexibility). 
  • The intention is to send your heels to the ground. The more you practise the better you’ll get.  

Tip: The abdominal lock (known as uddiyana bandha in yoga terms) strengthens the core and this makes this pose more effective.

  1. Runners Lunge 

Give a warm welcome to your hip flexors! They’ll be so grateful to find you performing a runners lunge. 

Remember, your hip flexors want to be lengthened as well as strengthened! Over-stretching is not the answer, but it is a good idea post run. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hip flexors, hamstrings, quad, it bands (lateral thigh).  Improves knee and ankle mobility. 

How to:

  • From a quadruped position place the right foot in between the hands. Keep hands in line with shoulders. 
  • Lift the left knee off of the ground and straighten the leg. Pay extra attention to keeping the leg straight and find tension in the left glute to support the lumbar spine. 
  • Keep an upright spine with the chest proudly forwards and shoulders away from the ears. 
  • Imagine breathing into the hip flexors and keep the crown of the head lifted towards the sky. 

Tip: You can do this dynamically as part of a pre run yoga routine or after a run by holding the pose for longer with slow breathes. 

  1. Revolved Low Lunge with quad stretch

Let’s bring the quads to the party. The quadriceps are a group of muscles located on the anterior of the leg and they can get super tight with lots of running and exercise. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, shoulders, spine. 

How to:

  • As above, but with a twist! Keep the left hand on the floor and in line with the left shoulder. Drop the left knee to the ground. 
  • Rotate the spine to the right and reach your right hand to the sky. 
  • Bend the left knee and reach for the left ankle. Pull the left foot toward the body. Be sure to keep the glutes engaged and breathe to move deeper into the pose. If you can’t reach your ankle yet, try using a strap or lean your foot against a wall for support. 

Tip: As you twist, encourage a deeper flow of breath into the body to generate fresh blood and oxygen to the spine. 

  1. Saddle pose (Double or Single leg)

In case the revolved lunge didn’t quite hit the spot, we can bet this stretch will. Saddle isn’t for the faint hearted, but worth every whimper. 

Usually found in yin yoga sequences which include more passive holds. Yin yoga for runners is another excellent option for relieving tight muscles and encourages stillness. 

Note: Take extra care if you’ve had any prior injury to the knees. Be sure to use props to elevate if necessary.  

Stretches and strengthens:
Quads, hip flexors, psoas, anterior core, ankle and knee mobility, shins, increases flexibility in the lower back.   

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with glutes to heels in a Hero pose. (If not possible, place a small towel underneath the knees to create more space, or sit on something to elevate the hips). 
  • Untuck and extend the right leg straight along the floor. Press hands into the floor and lift hips up to find a posterior pelvic tilt.  Slowly make your way down onto the forearms or possibly onto your back into a Reclined Hero pose.
  • For something deeper, try both legs bent and then reach arms up over head. Remember to breathe deeply and keep a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • To come out, roll to the side of the straight leg or tuck the chin and use forearms to push up gently.

Tip: Take it slow as you move into this deep back extension, be sure to keep the navel active; pull in and up to the spine (remember the abdominal lock) and maintain a posterior pelvic tilt. 

  1. Reclined Pigeon 

Lay back, relax and get all the goodness of a glute stretch in a supine position. You can use this as a warm up or cool down pose. 

Stretches: glutes, hips, hamstrings, piriformis.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with knees parallel and feet hip distance apart. Cross right ankle over left thigh. 
  • Reach through the gap in the legs and hold the hamstring of the left thigh. Use your right elbow to push the right knee away and then slowly draw the legs closer towards the chest using the breath. Keep the head on the mat. 

Tip: Holding this supine pose for a longer period of time can help with hip-opening and decompresses the lower spine which can help relieve any nasty back pain symptoms or dull aches and pains in the lower spine. 

  1. Reclined big toe pose 

Your hammies might be upset with you at first, but with practise this one will become your best friend. 

This is one of the best yoga poses for runners as it allows fresh blood to travel down towards the hips and improves flexibility of the hips and lower back. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hamstrings, quads, calves, abdominal wall. Improves blood flow to legs and hips. 

How to: 

  • Lie in a supine position with both legs extended along the floor. Keep your head on the floor the whole time. Lift the right leg up to the ceiling. Use a strap to go around the flexed right foot (or if possible, hold the big toe). 
  • Straighten the leg as much as possible. A slight bend of the knee is okay as you work on the hamstring flexibility. Go steady. Take deep breaths and with every exhale gently pull the leg closer towards you. Keep this active. 

Tip: This pose is done best with the abdominal lock. Pull the tummy in to tighten the abdominal muscles to strengthen them and also keep them firm! Win win. 

  1. Supine spinal twist pose 

This grounding pose calms the body and mind. Perfect post run. The abdominal twist also stimulates digestion by massaging the organs. 

Relax your lower back and encourage spinal health with this reclined twist. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Spine, lower back, glutes, pecs. 

How to: 

  • Lie on the side with hips stacked and knees in line with hips. Arms are extended along the floor and in line with shoulders.  
  • Hold the knees so they stay stacked. Reach the top arm above the head and then behind to create a twist in the spine. 
  • Hold the arm behind to get a stretch in the chest and breathe slowly. 

Tip: Hold the arm behind for three to four breathes to get a deeper stretch across the pecs. 

  1. Child Pose 

Last but not least, child pose. Almost everybody’s favourite. This position brings the heart rate back to normal and is considered a restorative pose. 

Stretches and strengthens: 

Lower and upper spine, lats, hips. 

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with glutes to heels. (If not possible, place a small towel underneath the knees to create more space, or sit on something to elevate the hips). 
  • Place knees mat width apart and fold forward. Go as far as feels comfortable. Rest your head on the floor or a prop. 
  • Let your belly relax and your diaphragm expand as you breathe deeply into your lower spine. 

Tip: For an extra lat stretch reach the left hand slightly over to the left and place the right hand on top. Repeat on the other side. Enjoy this one - it’s a goodie! 

So, why should you include yoga in your running training routine?

  • It’s great for pre run and post run because it uses both active and passive stretching. 
  • What sets yoga apart from simply ‘stretching’ is the emphasis on breathing and its meditative qualities.
  • Many yoga routines also include balancing exercises which greatly improve coordination, core stability and neuroplasticity.

And remember: 

  • We love props! Use them whenever you need to, whether you’re a beginner or intermediate. They create space and support your joints.  
  • Though we recommend yoga as the best recovery, a pre-run yoga routine that includes dynamic stretches and balancing exercises would be beneficial too. 

Here’s to you and all your future running and yoga-ing. You’ve got this! 

Average Half Marathon Time

The big half: what's a good half marathon time?

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Maybe you’re on the hunt for some stats before committing 100%? Though we’d argue a ‘good’ marathon time is different for everyone, getting your head around average pacing and overall times can be useful when setting goals and figuring out your training plan. 

So, let's start with the basics…how far is a half marathon?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles, that’s roughly 21km. Your time will depend on a number of variants, including your age, fitness level, and chosen route.  

How long does it take to train for a half marathon?

Most half marathon training plans span 10-12 weeks, though it is possible to condense these down to 8 weeks if you find yourself a little short on time.  

What is the average half marathon time in the UK?

In the UK, the average half marathon time is 2:02:43. Now if you’re a total beginner, this probably seems ambitious…

So, what is a good time for your first half marathon?

For first-timers, getting over the finish line anywhere between 2:20:00 and 3:00:00 is a great goal to aim for and with 10-12 weeks of training, it’s totally achievable. 

What is a good time for intermediate half marathon runners?

For intermediate runners (i.e. regular runners! This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completed a half marathon before) sub 2 hours is a popular goal. 

What is a good time for elite half marathon runners?

When it comes to elite goals, times vary between male and female times. For men, elite times generally fall between 1:10:00 and 1:30:00. For women, they sit somewhere between 1:20:00 and 1:40:00. 

What is the half marathon world record for men?

The fastest-ever half marathon time was recorded in November 2021 at the Lisbon Half Marathon. Ugandan athlete Jacob Kiplimo set the new world record when he crossed the finish line at 57:31. Yikes!

What is the half marathon world record for women?

The women’s world record is held by Ethiopian athlete Letesenbet Gidey. In October 2021 she completed the Valencia Half Marathon in 1:02:52. 

What is the average time it takes to run a half marathon?

We’ve covered overall times, but what about pacing? 

On average in the UK, male half marathoners keep a pace of 8.96 mins per mile (that’s 5.57 mins per kilometre) while female runners keep a 10.29 mins per mile pace, (that’s 6.40 mins per kilometre). 

Now you’ve got an idea of what your goal should be, the next step is planning to make sure you reach it. 

3 Tips for Improving Your Half Marathon Time

  1. Perfect Your Pacing

The half marathon will test you physically and mentally. While focusing on your anaerobic fitness is a must, a lot of runners spend too much time trying to improve their stamina and not enough time perfecting their splits. 

Pacing is a mental game - it can be tempting, particularly in race conditions, to blitz through your first mile at a pace you’re never going to be able to maintain. But doing so will only leave you gasping for breath and struggling to make it over the finish line. 

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to run even splits. Decide on a comfortable race pace, and stick to it from start to finish. Doing so will ensure you stay below your lactate threshold, and reduce the risk of early fatigue and heavy legs. 

  1. Hit the Gym

If you’re trying to avoid injury, strength training is non-negotiable. 1-2 days a week in the gym will also help you run faster and more efficiently, by improving your muscular coordination, power, mobility, and stride. 

  1. Follow a Training Plan

Consistency is key when it comes to achieving your running goals and the best way to stay consistent is by following a training plan. They provide structure and ensure your workouts are tailored towards reaching your goal. 

There are hundreds of coach-approved plans available for free online.

Which half marathon should I choose?

The UK has so many amazing half-marathon events to choose from, it just depends on what you’re looking for…

For the nervous newbie

Hackney Half
Not just a race, this iconic event is a full-on festival. A guaranteed good time with a fast, flat route and on-course entertainment, this run is the perfect entry-level race.  

Hackney Half Marathon

Great Manchester Run

One of the world’s biggest half marathon events, this unforgettable experience is a true gem in the racing calendar. The city shuts down to accommodate the massive crowds, meaning the route is always lined with cheering spectators, music zones and ample aid stations. 

Great Manchester Run

For the escape artist

Run Tatton Half Marathon

If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, but still beautifully scenic, Run Tatton is the perfect choice. Set in rural Cheshire, participants are invited to run the flat, wildlife-studded course as fast or as easy as they like. 

Run Tatton Half Marathon

Brett Lyd Half Marathon

Explore the beautiful flat marsh landscape surrounding Lydd in Kent on this rural, out-and-back course. Popular for its supportive, social atmosphere, this half marathon is an excellent choice for first-timers. 

Brett Lydd Half Marathon

For the hill lover

The Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Oxfordshire

Swap the roads for trails in the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside. Set in the picturesque Chiltern Hills, this 21k course definitely isn’t flat, but what it lacks in ease it makes up for in views.

Maverick Oxfordshire Half Marathon

How should beginners train for a marathon?

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

Find your marathon

For those raring to go ahead of marathon day, this post will give you the lowdown on everything you need to get through your marathon-whether it’s your first or you’re prepping for a PB.

So, how long does it take to train for a marathon?

Generally speaking it can take anywhere between 12 to 24 weeks to train for a marathon–depending on your fitness level and how regularly you already run. 

There are plenty of marathon training plans out there, but to begin with it can all seem very overwhelming. 

Your first step is to decide on your goals and work out whether they are attainable. Do you currently run 3 days a week? Then don’t choose a training plan that wants you to be running 6 days a week–your body will be overwhelmed with all the extra mileage and you’ll most likely get injured. 

While you’ll be excited to start running further distances, try to trust the process and listen to your body. The risks of not increasing your mileage sensibly could end in a trip to the physio and your marathon plans in the balance. 

To avoid this, make sure to book your marathon well in advance and set aside a good few weeks of light, easy running to begin to increase your mileage before starting your training plan. 

TOP TIP:  When building up your mileage you should be increasing it by 10% each week at the very most. This is so your body can acclimate to the extra strain of the added distance.  If you’re a complete beginner, try to book your marathon 6 months to a year in advance to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare. 

Do I need to run the marathon distance before I run a marathon? 

This one’s completely up to you, but most coaches and training plans strongly advise against it. If you’re aiming for a specific time (especially if it’s not your first marathon), the most you may want to run in training is around 22-24 miles.

How to pace for a marathon 

One thing you definitely should be doing is running at your marathon goal pace.

For example, if you want to run the marathon in 4 hours, you should be adding marathon pace mileage into your runs in accordance to that time. 

A good way of doing this is to add pacing into your longer runs. For example you could run 1 hour at an easy pace with the last 30 minutes at your goal marathon pace. This type of run is a great way to prepare your body and acclimatise to the pace that you’ll be aiming for during the race. 

Do I need to be running races in the lead up to a marathon?

It’s a great idea to get a feel for racing before you tackle a marathon race.

If you’re following a 16 week training plan, it’s worth racing once a month as you slowly increase your distance. The week of your races you should be aiming to run less distance to ensure you’re ready for the higher intensity of the race..

For example after the first 4 weeks, you could try your local park run or a 5k race. Experiencing multiple race days will help get your legs prepared for running longer distances at your goal marathon pace (or faster if you’re having a good day!) and your mind prepped for dealing with the excitement of the day. 

After your 5k race you can then begin to increase your mileage further for 3 weeks and then tackle a 10k race

You can treat these races as a rehearsal for your marathon in more ways than just aiming for a higher intensity workout. You’ll get used to running in a crowd, pick up tricks for establishing your toilet routine, work out how your body functions on long and exciting runs, and learn what pre-race fuel works well for you.

Half marathon training runs

A perfect way to test out your fueling is by doing a half marathon. A half marathon is the perfect distance and duration for testing out how to fuel well during a race, as most guidance suggests that you should be eating on any run above 12k.

What fuel do I need to use during a marathon?

During a marathon, nutrition is key. You should be practicing fuelling correctly on training runs as well as in your races leading up to the marathon

A general rule of thumb in a marathon is to start fueling 1 hour into your race, and then every half an hour after the first hour. Remember everyone is different and it is up to you to decide how much fuel you need.

What to eat during a half marathon

Many runners use electrolyte gels. Gels contain a high concentration of carbohydrates and sugars to keep you going. There are plenty of brands out there to try, and best of all you can fit two or three in a running bum bag or a zipped pocket in your running shorts. 

If you don’t like gels there are plenty of alternatives, such as sweets as well as nutritional snacks like nuts that work in the same way. Ultimately, everyone is different, so it’s essential to make sure you test out your fuel to see what works. 

Ultimately, whether you’re taking on your first or fiftieth marathon, it’s an incredible achievement and a truly memorable experience. By preparing and thinking about your mileage, training plans, nutrition and race technique, you’ll help to make sure you can get the most out of your marathon experience.

Happy training!

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