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How to Effectively Train for a Marathon Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 5th, 2019


Training for a marathon is exceptionally demanding because it requires physical, physiological, and psychological preparation. Usually, athletes undergo rigorous training that prepares them to endure the hard challenges associated with marathon. Training programs for marathon aim at enhancing performance and endurance by improving effective utilization of energy and oxygen.

Moreover, training enhances performance by increasing muscular structures and promoting effecting coordination of neurons throughout the body. According to Tinsley (2005), training theory perceives that effective training is only achievable if athletes incorporate nutrition, physiological, physical, and psychological factors into their training programs (p.1).

These factors are critical in marathon training, for they offer comprehensive training to athletes so that they can not only endure fatigue, but also enhance their performance and improve their health. Fundamentally, marathon training requires comprehensive training since marathon can potentially cause serious injurious, thus quite dangerous for a novice athlete.

Given that marathon can potentially cause grave injurious if an athlete does not train well, it is imperative for training programs to be effective and comprehensive. Thus, effective training for a marathon should encompass physical, physiological, and psychological aspects of training.

Physical Training

Physical training for a marathon aims at building strong muscles that are essential in enhancing physical fitness. Rigorous exercises that novice athletes undergo enable them to build appropriate muscles and acquire physical fitness that form basis of training.

Moreover, rigorous exercises are particularly beneficial in burning excess fat and promoting circulation of oxygen in the body. Tinsley (2005) reasons that, running a marathon causes considerable physical changes in the body because; it can result into utter exhaustion, severe injuries, and extension of muscles (p.3).

These changes can be extremely grave if a novice athlete attempts to run a marathon, yet his/her body is not physically ready and accustomed to extensive and intensive running. Inadequate preparation for a marathon has severe consequences because it predisposes the body muscles to more injurious than usual. Thus, for an athlete to build strong stamina and develop resilience of running a marathon, rigorous physical exercises are imperative.

Effective marathon training requires athletes to wear proper shoes and clothing. Proper shoes cushion legs and body from undue friction and shock experiences of a marathon run. For effective training, legs should accustom to a given type of shoes because changing of shoe design during training predispose one to injury.

Tinsley (2005) explains that, appropriate shoe design and cushioning enhances springing and reduces the occurrence of injuries on legs (p.4). Thus, athletes need to consult shoe specialists to enable them choose the right design of shoe before embarking on rigorous exercises of marathon. In addition to shoes, athletes also need appropriate clothing that suit their training needs and environment.

When training during cold weather, athletes need clothes that keep them warm while at the same time allows removal of sweats from the body. During hot weather, athletes need light clothing that bring about cooling effect and reduce the rate of sweating, thus conserve a lot of water in the body. Athletics’ attire has significant influence on marathon training and consequently determines athletic performance.

Physiological Training

Physiological training entails aspects of nutrition and rest. Physiological mechanism of the body highly depends on nutrients obtained from diet that athletes take. Poor nutrition interferes with physiological mechanism of the body that deals with generation and regulation of energy, thus negatively affect effective training for a marathon.

Without stable physiological health, athletes are not able to perform their rigorous exercises, which are essential in building stamina and resilience. Hamilton (2007) advises that, even if an athlete is mentally determined and physical strong, neglect of nutrition has a detrimental effect on health and can cause illness or physiological injury to vital organs in the body (p.78).

Thus, for athletes to train effectively for a marathon, they should ensure that they take balance diet. Since marathon requires a lot of energy, a diet needs to contain about 60% of carbohydrates. Additional, the body needs a lot of water to prevent dehydration of cells because more water is lost through sweats during training.

Even though more exercises are essential for one to gain appropriate physical fitness, resting is also imperative to allow restoration of over-stretched physiological processes. During the period of rest, physiological processes replenish used energy and regenerate exhausted muscles, making them stronger again.

Cormier (2009) argues that, high intensity training should precede tapering period, which refreshes the body and the mind in preparation for a marathon (p.10). The tapering period should entail a two-week period where intensive training reduces to about 50%, to allow the body to rejuvenate for a race.

Psychological Training

Although marathon race may seem to be more of physical than psychological activity, it has become evident that psychology plays an integral role in motivating athletes. Cormier (2009) contends that, physiological ability of an athlete determines how one covers the first 30 kilometers, while psychological aspect of willpower determines one’s ability to cover remaining 12 kilometers (p.13).

Studies have further suggested that about 40% of runners surrender after covering about 30 kilometers because they lack willpower that motivates them to finish. Psychology influence running because the brain in conjunction with central nervous system coordinates movement of limbs, use of fuel reserves, regulation of water and oxygen utilization by the body. Thus, athletes need to develop willpower during their training so that they can cope with the challenge of exhaustion, endurance, and surrendering.

Thus, effective psychological training of marathon involves training with other athletes to obtain emotional support, acceptance of hardship, interaction with mentors and coaches, and running as an explorative activity. Hamilton (2007) posits that, long runs are essential in training, for they make the mind and body adapt to the strain of viewing marathon as a long distance event that requires endless steps (p.76).

The strain associated with marathon training has made many athletes lose hope and surrender in the course of their running because they have insufficient psychological preparation. Thus, for athletes to train marathon effectively, they need to acclimatize their psychology to long runs, hardships, different routes and derive pleasure in marathon.


Marathon training is quite demanding because it requires physiological, physical, and psychological preparation for athletes to perform well. Partial training does not only result into poor performance but can cause severe injuries. Injuries that athletes usually experience occur due to poor training.

Thus, novice athletes must undergo rigorous and comprehensive training to avert predisposition to injurious that occur because of insufficient training. Comprehensive training for marathon needs to involve physiological, physical, and psychological training, because they are integral factors that determine performance in marathon. Therefore, for athletes to train effectively for a marathon, they should not overlook or assume essence of physiological, physical, and psychological training.


Cormier, S. (2009). Marathon Training: Nutritional Strategies, Pre-race Taper and Psychology. Marylebone Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine, 1-22.

Cormier’s article asserts that marathon training must be systematic to prevent undue injuries and futility of training. In the article, Cormier notes that haphazard training of marathon is to blame for poor performance and high rates of injuries. Thus, he recommends comprehensive training of athletes for them to perform outstandingly in marathons.

Hamilton, A. (2007). Marathon Training Plan: Tackling the Big One. Fit Runner, 74-78.

In this article, Hamilton argues that running a marathon is not fun because it is very demanding in that, it requires both extensive and intensive training. Moreover, the article outlines basic principles that are essential for effective training, which include long runs, cross training, rest, and nutrition amongst other principles. Ultimately, the article concludes that marathon training should entail physiological, physical, and psychological aspects.

Tinsley, H. (2005). Principles of Training Theory. International Association of Athletics Federations, 1-14.

This article reflects the recommendations of International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in training of athletes. IAAF recommends that training of athletes must entail social, philosophical, nutrition, anatomy, physical, psychological, and physiological knowledge. Tinsley observes that wide conception of marathon training enhances effective training and promote performance.

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