Preparing for a Marathon in 5 Weeks

Berlin Marathon is one of those races on so many people’s running bucket list. My own included!

So when I received a message a few weeks ago asking if I’d like a last minute place in this year’s Berlin Marathon, I jumped at the chance.

Minor hitch though; at the point when the initial conversation was had about me running Berlin this year, only five weeks remained to prepare.

Now it’s more like three weeks!

Of course, I’m not starting from zero. Thankfully I’ve been keeping my own running ticking-over, running three times weekly most weeks, knowing that I have a half marathon waiting for me in November.

A few weeks ago, I guesstimated that I was in around two hour half marathon shape, and long runs over the last couple of weeks have proven that to be about right – maybe even a bit conservative.

The challenge however, is in building-up my training over this short marathon prep period so as to build long run duration, and weekly volume to a point where my legs are ready by 24th September so I don’t disgrace myself… and most importantly doing so whilst avoiding injury!

So how am I going about training for Berlin Marathon in five weeks?

I shared a video on Facebook which goes a long way to explain the philosophy I’m approaching this training with:

The most important points are that I’m going to be focusing on easy, aerobic paced running, with a little target marathon pace (I’m aiming to creep in just sub 4hrs) running thrown into the long runs to dial race pace in.

Maintaining three runs per week, spread out as non consecutive days.

No speed work – there’s little benefit to be had there in such a short time frame.

Hill work as part of the long runs and longer midweek runs, to help build strength.

Three or four times weekly, I’ll also be doing our Bulletproof Runners Programme routines to keep on top of strength and conditioning.

In terms of long Sunday runs, I’ve gone 10, 14 (that was quite a jump!), will go for 16 miles this Sunday here in L.A., then 18 miles next Sunday in Las Vegas (wish me luck with that one!). From there, taper begins.

The challenge of training in L.A. and then Las Vegas – both from a heat perspective and managing the effects of the time change from BST to PDT – on my body makes for an interesting added dimension.

Arrived last night here in Los Angeles 🛬 As ever, my favourite way to explore is with a quick run to get the legs moving again after a long flight! @HERE has given me an exciting last-minute opportunity to run the @BerlinMarathon, so I’ve had to ramp-up my training pretty fast in the last couple of weeks 😄 @HERE is an Open Location Platform and for this year’s #BerlinMarathon, they’ll be enabling runners to accurately visualise their tracking data. I’m going to be one of 50 lucky runners being tracked by @HERE and having my real-time data turned into a visualisation on a large screen on the course in Berlin. I’ll be sharing more info tomorrow as to how you can get involved and become one of the 50 runners on the #mybeautifulrun project. If you’re running in this Marathon, this is a great opportunity not to miss! #sponsored

A post shared by Running & Fitness Motivation (@kineticrev) on

In fact, one of the aspects of this new challenge that has me most excited is the opportunity to create lots of content for you guys around a “much less than ideal” marathon training plan. I know that there are so many runners in our community that arrive 5-6 weeks out from a marathon and find themselves way under prepared due to illness, injury or other unexpected influences.

Hopefully documenting the process I’m working through right now will help!

It’s one thing me discussing the “perfect marathon training block” in a sterile tone… but far more fun talking about the realities of this situation!

Are You Running the Berlin Marathon this Year?

If you too will be running the Berlin Marathon later this month, I have an opportunity you may well be interested in.

HERE Technologies is an Open Location Platform and sponsor of the Berlin Marathon once again this year. It’s through partnering with HERE that I’ve been given that opportunity to experience this iconic race.

Fifty runners, including myself, will be wearing smartwatches provided by HERE, loaded with their tracking software. Each runner will be creating real-time data during the race, which will then be turned into a beautiful visualisation on a big screen on the marathon course in Berlin.

If you’re interested in joining HERE’s #mybeautifulrun project, and the team of 50 tracked runners during this year’s Berlin Marathon, be sure to submit your application on the HERE Technologies website. They will be selecting the team at random from all entries submitted online.

Good luck with your running, whatever you’re training for right now.

If you’re in Berlin for the marathon, maybe I’ll see you there!

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.

1 Comment

  1. Hello James,

    Thank you for writing this blog post. I am one of those people that you have mentioned in this post. Running the NYC Marathon in 7 weeks and on the tail end of a plantar fascia issue.

    Best of luck to you.