5 Challenges to Mix up Your Marathon Training Routine

When training for your marathon, doing the same runs week after week can get boring and often leads to demotivation. Use these running challenges to mix up your routine and stay on the ball!

1. Interval Runs

The number one exercise that’s helped me improve my cardio and general fitness is interval training. Not only do interval runs improve your ability to run long-distances at speed, but also burn much more calories than long-runs. Interval training consists of short(er) bursts of quick, high-intensity running, followed by short rest, and repeat. 

Example of an interval run:

  • 5 minute warm-up/stretch

  • 400m sprint

  • 1 minute rest

  • Repeat x 8

  • 5 minute warm-down/stretch

See this blog for some other cool benefits of interval training.

2. Hill Runs

These runs are very much self-explanatory. They, as with the other challenges mentioned here, make endurance running categorically easier. Pick your hill, set a target time, and run it. Give yourself a rest by walking back down, and repeat the climbs according to how high or difficult the hill is. Typically you shouldn’t be able to have a flowing conversation at the end of a good, high-intensity run. If the hill gets too easy, jog down instead of walk. Hill runs are awesome not only for your stamina and speed, but also building leg strength, reducing your risk of injury. 

Check out this blog for some in-depth benefits of hill-running.

3. Step Climbing

Pretty similar to the above, apart from repeating climbs of flights of stairs. The hardest thing about step climbing is finding a flight of stairs that isn’t constantly busy and publicly available. Personally, I prefer step climbing to hill runs simply down to the fact that they are more targeted to your quadriceps, which, when trained effectively, seriously reduce the chance of runner’s knee. The benefits of step climbing include the fact they burn more calories than normal running and they save time in your routine.

4. Weighted Runs

Having extra weight stowed upon you during a run is not anyone’s idea of a good time. However, they are essential in improving your cardio. Extra weight can come in many forms, you could: bring a rucksack and chuck some weight in there (use pillows to protect your back from injury); wear a camelback filled with water; invest in a weighted vest. Weighted runs do increase the impact that are transmitted through your legs, so they should be avoided if you are prone to injury. Check these tips out if you want to make the most out of your weighted runs.

5. Skipping

Something I really enjoy for mixing up your routine is adding different types of cardio into your run, my favourite is skipping. When performed at low-middle intensity, skipping acts as a great rest replacement in your interval runs. Not only this, but they are great for improving shoulder and arm strength. Additionally, you can use skipping as a replacement for a warm-up. The only real issue with skipping is it’s not the easiest to learn, it took me about two weeks to go from scratch to a decent level, skipping for 10-20 minutes each day. I found this video really useful in getting to grips with it.