How to train for a marathon, and have fun running

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Running a marathon can be as daunting as it sounds. No matter how much you love running, it takes extra effort to keep your relationship with training fresh and interesting, especially ahead of a big race.

To make sure you improve through your training, and at the same time enjoy it, variety is crucial. Running the same route over and over can dampen your excitement and ambition.

Here are some useful tips on how to spice up your marathon training and keep you motivated until you cross that finish line!

Vary your workouts

When nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. Without taking risks, you won’t be able to progress. So don’t be afraid to change up your workouts, no matter how frequent they are.

Lay down the goals you aspire to achieve, and diversify your training accordingly. Try different surfaces and running tracks. Have a go at hill runs and sprints.

You can also alter the focus of your training sessions from aerobic development and maximising your velocity, to marathon-specific training aimed at boosting your endurance.

Go for fun runs that aren’t structured

It’s impossible to train seriously every single day. When you can’t bring yourself to go to the track, or you really need a rest from your intensive training, fun runs are the way to go.

You can organise these unstructured runs depending on how you’re feeling, rather than setting a clear-cut speed or time limit for yourself. Fun runs are meant to help revitalise your worn out body and stimulate your mind.

Avoid running solo

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There are times when you just want to run on your own, so you can focus on yourself and your personal progress. Plus, it’s easier to not have to ask anyone else to join you for training. But in the long run, joining a group of running buddies, or simply having a running partner, will make training more enjoyable.

This social component will introduce you to different routes you might miss out on if you’re running solo. It also opens up the possibility of some much-needed post workout recovery activities!

Try ladder running or fartleks

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These two different types of workout are a lot more fun than your typical training agenda. Ladder running consists of repeating a workout in spurts that grow increasingly in distance or intensity.

Ladder running will help you learn how to manage your exertion during running. It will train you to go hard, but still leave something in the tank to be able to finish strong.

Fartleks, derived from the Swedish word for ‘speed play’, start with comfortable steady running to warm up, followed by hard, short sprints until a particular point in a running route.

Ideal for group training, fartleks have an intriguing element of surprise. Different members of the group get to take on the leading role, and determine everyone else’s running pattern and intensity.

Both workouts can be turned into ‘games’, keeping you on your toes but also providing for a good time.

Venture into off-roading

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Whenever your usual training circuit starts boring you, head to natural environments with paths and trails you can run. Apart from testing your coordination on new and unfamiliar terrain, off-roading will expose you to gorgeous scenic views and a chance to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Just be sure to wear the right kind of running shoes, and to pick a path that’s not too challenging if you’ve never tried off-roading.

Run to a beat

Plug in your earphones and run! When maintaining a challenging pace gets tough, let motivational music give you the push you need. There are plenty of playlists out there specifically for running and training.

If you have a never-ending playlist of favourite songs, there are a number of apps that can sort your music library by tempo, depending on the intensity of your workout session.


It’s important to approach running a marathon with non-stop determination and drive. The only way you can achieve this is by varying your training as much as possible. Don’t forget to remind yourself that having fun is what running is all about.

Get yourself equipped for your marathon with the best sportswear from any of these 14 Sports Shops, before which you should seek advice from either of these 43 Health  & Fitness Instructors, all listed on!

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