Train for a half or full marathon like a pro

Train for a half or full marathon like a pro

by Amanda Hayward
Stripes Europe

Training, dedication and willpower — a few of the many attributes you need to prepare for a half or full marathon. Whether you’re a first-time marathon runner or running one half marathon in every country is on your bucket list, careful preparation before the big day is important no matter how experienced you are.

Preparation consists of choosing a proper training program, following a healthy diet, staying hydrated and resting.

Choose a training program based on your running level: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Running 26.2 miles may seem intimidating, but it is possible and rewarding. If a half marathon is more up your alley, it’s possible to train and be race ready in four weeks tops. Consider signing up for an organized runners’ club such as Ramstein Runners, a free all-women’s running club for all pace groups; Stroller Warriors Running Club, a free club for military families; or go to and search for groups in your area. If you run solo, there are countless downloadable programs available online.

Start a healthy diet months out to give your body time to adapt to an eating plan of whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods. Everyone is different — eating healthy throughout training allows time for trial and error so you can decide what eating plan works best for you. Find out what fuels you and stick to it. The last thing you want is to try something new come race day. It’s also important to fuel up on electrolytes and carbohydrates before and during your runs to avoid fatigue, so do your research and discover what energy gels, sport drinks and other energy sources are out there.

Staying hydrated throughout your training is essential. Drink water one to two hours before your run, periodically during your run and after. Mileage plus sweat loss equals how much you should be drinking. Over-hydrating can also be bad because it can flush out much-needed electrolytes or send you to the dreadful port-a-potty at the 19th mile marker.

Rest. Allow your body about two days per week of rest to give your muscles time to recoup after pounding the pavement. Embrace this time and pat yourself on the back. You will need the extra energy for race day.

Now that you have the basics down, go! Here are some half and full marathons you don’t want to miss this year. Just imagine the feeling you will have when you cross the finish line.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series in Europe: Bands rock along this energetic course — whether you run the 5K, half marathon or full marathon. 

Venice Moonlight Half Marathon/ Primiero Dolomiti Marathon /Venice Marathon: Every event has a different challenge: the half marathon takes runners under the moonlit sky, the three-course Primiero marathon navigates runners through Italy’s mountainscape, and the Venice Marathon leads through beautiful canals with events and family runs all weekend. 

Disneyland Paris Half-Marathon: Don’t just visit, run like wild through Disneyland Paris for the first time. A health and fitness expo, kick-off party, dinner and show, a 5K run and kids’ run for the tiny runners are all part of the experience leading up to the half marathon. 

TCS Amsterdam Marathon and Half Marathon: Both races go through a diverse route, taking runners through Amsterdam’s alluring urban and rural areas, finishing at the original 1928 Olympic Stadium. 

Athens Marathon. The Authentic: Run like a god or goddess, literally. Set foot where the ancient Greeks and Romans once lived, the same course of the 2004 Olympics. Powerwalking, a 10K, 5K and kids’ run are also an option. 

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