Your First Marathon - Tips from Brendan Davies

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Aussie Grit Apparel ambassador Brendan Davies has represented Australia in 50km and 100km road running events throughout his extensive running career. He has competed in more than thirty road marathons, even more ultra-marathons and he’s run countless kilometres in his training.

As well as competing in short and long distance running events, Brendan finds time to help others to achieve their running goals together with his team of passionate coaches at UPcoaching.

It’s fair to call him an expert on the subject, so we asked Brendan for some advice.

Do you remember your first marathon, can you tell us about it?

Yes of course, I think every runner would as the first ‘mara’ is a special moment! Mine was at the 2007, now defunct Fitzroy Falls Firetrail Marathon in the Southern Highlands of NSW, so actually a trail marathon.

I had no idea how to run that far and fell for all the traps - taking too many gels, going too hard from the start, not drinking enough etc, but that’s part of the journey and made me the runner I am today.

How far in advance should a regular runner start training for a marathon?

It all depends on prior running experiences, goals, ages and each individual’s unique set of characteristics and lifestyle circumstances. For a runner with 2-3 years of regular running but who wasn’t training for a marathon, it would take at least 2-3 months of specific marathon training. This would give the body enough time to develop the stamina and strength required.

How many days a week should a person train?

Every day! Training for a marathon involves a holistic outlook, and even ‘rest days’ are part of the training micro cycles. The backbone of a marathoner’s training program is the long run; with no exceptions can this be missed in a week and at least one run of 90min-2.5h should be performed. The remaining 3-5 days are made up of easy base runs, and harder ‘workout’ style running such as interval training, hill repeats, fartlek or tempo running.

Image credit: @marceauphotography

Is there such thing as ‘over training’?

Of course. Our bodies are extremely resilient and adaptive, but everyone has their breaking points. If you don’t physically break you will most certainly mentally burnout if it’s all push and not enough rest and recovery. You will end up sick, injured and/or not enjoying your running at all. It takes a lot of dedication to train for a marathon, but you have to do it smartly.

What kind of nutrition is recommended in the lead up to a marathon?

You have to have a diet made of the correct amounts of macro nutrients to sustain you through your training loads and assist you with recovery and the adaptations your body will go through. Healthy, clean whole foods will generally do this. Stay clear of simple carbs and sugars, watch your portion sizes, drink plenty of water and always eat soon after a hard workout.

Let’s talk gear! What essentials should a person have for a marathon?

You don’t need much. The essential being a well fitted pair of shoes, comfortable briefs and light and comfortable running clothes. Like Aussie Grit Apparel’s range of running gear for when you want to step outside your comfort zone in ultimate comfort. Don’t forget about sun protection too - a hat or visor.

It’s race day! What should a person do the morning of their race?

A trail marathon requires a bigger breakfast as the elevation change will drain you much more than a road marathon, so to do this you’ll have to get up at least 3h before the start time to have some complex carbs such as porridge to really top up the energy stores. For a road marathon, a lighter breakfast may be preferred. Take a bit of time to relax, visualise the day ahead and prepare mentally. Don’t forget to hydrate but stop 50min before the start time as you don’t want to have to stop 15min after the start to wee!

Let’s talk recovery, any advice for post marathon?

Rehydrate as quickly as you can and when you’re ready, get stuck into some good carbs and protein. Running is a lifestyle and you will naturally improve over time so don’t break up with running after your first marathon by hating the experience.


You can read more about Brendan and his coaching at

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