Runtastic steps towards a marathon

Tamara Sanfabio – Spanish Marathon winner 2011, Spanish record holder 2000m hurdles, personal trainer and enthusiastic Runtastic user – shares with us her marathon preparation tips. Follow her on ( and on Twitter (@TamaraSanfabio)!

A challenge, a dream, a desire or an ambitious goal are just a few definitions of what a marathon can mean to a runner. The fascination resides in the distance, the difficulty and inaccessibility of these 42 kilometers. The encounter with Pheidippides turns into a long and rocky path of accumulating kilometers while fighting tiredness and fatigue, the daily training sessions determining the itinerary. Here’s a list of advice on how to successfully complete a marathon:

Tamara Sanfabio2

1. Daily training.

The biggest challenge is, undoubtedly, to meticulously follow your training plan. When your legs can’t keep up with the established rhythm anymore, it is time for your mind to take over in order to accomplish your daily goal: forget about times and focus on the distance. If a condition or injury thwarts my plans, I prefer an alternative training – like swimming or the elliptical trainer – for a day to rendering the preparation of weeks or even months void due to one or two days without training at all.

2. Plan your rhythm.

Approaching your desired time must not be coincidence – it has to be the direct result of the work done. Therefore, it is crucial to accurately track every minute invested in every kilometer. I try to reach my target rhythm by slowly increasing the distance in series or competitions. If in doubt, I’d always recommend caution. Establishing too high of standards is a mistake that can lead us even further away from our goals.

3. A half-marathon, a means to the end.

Preparing for a marathon means accumulating kilometers and training sessions while keeping fatigue within bounds. For me, running a half-marathon three or four weeks prior to the marathon is a 21-kilometer training on asphalt without specific preparations or previous rest – I just squeeze in an extra day of recovery before returning to my intensive training routine afterwards. In this case, the half-marathon is not about beating my records, instead I am working on a different rhythm while following my weekly kilometer plan.

4. Provision training.

At the moment of truth, one has to be prepared for all possibilities. Take everything into account, plan every little detail. Planning your provisions is fundamental and decisive for the successful completion of a marathon. Try the flavors you will drink and practice drinking. Don’t forget to take gel in time before reaching a provisioning station to better digest the water. Find out which brands of gels and isotonic beverages will be offered at the marathon and try them beforehand in your training sessions.

Once the moment of the marathon has arrived, routines can help you achieve your goal. Here’s a list of things I find very useful:

5. Preparations.

If you have to travel to the marathon site, take your time to prepare your luggage and always have the necessary equipment for the competition with you – especially if you’re traveling by plane. Bring your partner, family, friends, or colleagues along; their presence will calm you down and their cheers will support your entire run.

6. The last kilometers.

Thoroughly studying the plan and differences in altitude. Familiarizing yourself with the route and finding notable landmarks to avoid disorientation are vital. What I found especially helpful is walking along the last kilometers of a marathon the day before – they seem less difficult and overwhelming when I know what to expect.

7. Mr. Sandman.

Don’t panic if you can’t fall asleep right away. Try to relax by evoking images that tranquilize you. If you have slept well the days before and you keep calm this last night, your body will be ready to rock the marathon when at the starting line.

8. Drink without thirst.

When it comes to drinking, it’s best not to wait until you are thirsty. Then, it could be already too late. Also, drink race provisions, when offered, in small gulps and being careful not to swallow air. This should guarantee a problem-free, well-hydrated run.

9. Think positive.

When running a marathon, I listen to my body, tell myself that everything is fine, I try to stay fresh and move towards the finish while checking off kilometers in my head. Every time I pass a kilometer mark I immediately think of the next one. During the last kilometers I try to mentally conquer the remaining distance by comparing it to shorter routes or training sessions.

Don’t give up, work hard and be consistent. At the end of the road – your dreams come true!



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