How To Run A Marathon

by Sebastian “V12” Heart

Update* 05.05.2017

After my second marathon (Marathon of Rotterdam) I experienced some trouble with the beating of my heart. I trained way less for the second marathon and as a result I had heartache for two months after that Marathon. Do not train too less. Be well prepared especially if you are a newb to marathon running like I am. (Source)

9th of November 2016

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A Marathon Run is a 42 kilometer (or 26 Miles) run that holds the legendary reputation of a Greek soldier of ancient times who ran 42 kilometers during the aftermath of the Battle of Marathon.

According to legend, an Athenian messenger was sent from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 25 miles (40 km), and there he announced the Persian defeat before dying of exhaustion. This tale became the basis for the modern marathon race.

Ever since, millions of people have desired to see if they have the same stamina, willpower, and resilience to endure The Marathon and finish it. It is a test to see what you are made off.

I chose to participate in the Coastal Marathon Zeeland. It is 42.195 km’s of which 21 km’s are roads, 10 km’s are beach, and 11 km’s are dunes and hills all near the shore of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. Many people told me it was: challenging, painful, but also an extremely beautiful once in a lifetime experience.

So how do you train for it.

Training Plan

There are essentially only two things you’ll need to start training, and finish a long distance run.

  1. A pair of decent running shoes.
  2. Put in the training time.

I started training two months before the date of the marathon by training at least two times a week.

I trained on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

  • On the Wednesdays I ran 5 or 10 km runs and these became my speedruns. I would run the same 5 or 10 km run every week on every Wednesday and I go for a faster time every week.
  • On Saturdays I did long distance runs, I started with 10 km’s and I would add 2 to 3 km’s every week. After four week’s I reached the 20 km mark. And after eight weeks I reached the longest training session of 30 km.

The idea is that you keep on running at least two times a week, one speedrun and one long distance run, until your long distance runs get to around 25 or 30 km’s.

My idea is that: when you run 10 km’s, you can finish 15. When you run 15 km’s, you can finish 25. If you can run 30 km’s, you can finish 42 km’s.

Write down your performances in a notebook, or keep track with the running app: Runkeeper, so you can predict your times to check if you will be under the closing time of a marathon (5 or 6 hours).

The last one or two weeks before the marathon you do not train at all. You want to rest, eat a lot, eat more than you feel like! And you want to get mentally ready for the 42 kilometers.

All your joints, muscles, and tendons are stressed at this point, and this causes tiny cracks to occur in all your bones and muscles from all your training.

By not training and eating a lot you give your body and mind the time and energy to restore. This is done to also refill your reserves before your final 42 km’s.

Nutrition Plan

Eat, eat, eat! A lot more than you use to. Especially animal proteins, carbohydrates, and animal fats. I ate a lot of pasta, red meat (steak), fresh fish, brown beans & rice, spinach, brusselsprouts, and fresh fruits.

Food = energy, food = power

During the Marathon you want to eat lots of bananas, and take some chicken soup with you in a carrier bottle.

The salty chicken soup will help you retain more water to combat dehydration from all the sweating.

My Preparation

I trained together with a buddy who also isn’t a bullshitter. My main goal was to be ready for the marathon and my buddy’s main goal was to get fitter and be outdoors.

I’d run together with him once or twice a week, and during the long distance running we would ‘walk and talk’. It is much easier to train with a person than to train solo.

After the running we usually did some: squats, pushups, and pullups. Not to forget stretching! 

Stretching is very important after running, it keeps your muscles flexible and allows for much faster recovery.

Unfortunately, three weeks before the marathon I became quite ill, and therefore I took it very slow and had to stop training. One day I couldn’t even get out of bed without nearly fainting. I knew it is always better to take rest than to train if you can, so I went to bed early for a whole week (around 8 o’clock) and fought off the flu and fever that I had.

Against all consensus and advice from others (who said I shouldn’t run the race)  in my mind I was still set to finish the marathon.

Marathon Day

One week before the Marathon I felt I recovered from the flu and I knew I was ready again to perform. I felt the strength returning to my body and I also felt I was recovering greatly from the training.

On the day of the Marathon, I woke up around 6 o’clock, I put on some good good upbeat music (Scooter), and ate a good hearty breakfast before I made it to the starting area.

I ran the first 21 km’s without stress and in a very easy tempo. My legs begged me to go faster, but I kept them in check and dropped the pace a bit every moment I felt like was going faster.

I did not want to lose too much energy right after the start because the hardest part of the marathon, I was told, is after 30 kilometers.

The start was a very busy and almost hysterical crazy horde of hyped up runners. I saw men and women already sprinting right at the start! I guessed everyone wanted to show off that they were quite fast and fit or something similar.

I kept to my initial strategy of not going too fast for the first half of the marathon, as I know that the beach and the dunes would come out to be two real struggles that needed much more energy. The first 21 kilometers went steady and easy.

After 21 km’s the beach started and this was much harder to walk on than the flexible asphalt of the roads. Running on the beach was not easy as the loose sand slipped away under your feet constantly. It took a lot more time to get through, and eventually I took off my shoes and ran barefoot on the beach, as it felt easier.

After I reached the end of the beach, the dunes and hills would start and I was happy I did save up a lot of energy for this moment. I saw dozens and dozens of people drop out that passed me by in a rush at the start of the marathon. Inside I was glad that my initial strategy proved successful.

Many people were laying in the grass or had to resort to walking instead of running. Lots of runners were consuming water or were busy getting overheated. Slowly but steadily I caught up to nearly all the people that passed me by at the start.

The toughest part was the last 12 km’s that came after passing by the 30 kilometer mark which was at a beach town called Domburg. Here I started to run solo because there were not much other runners left or dropped out.

It gets lonely closer to the end.

The wind rose and the clouds gathered before the sun so it started to become a little colder.


I recalled that someone once told me that the real marathon starts at 30 kilometers and now I knew what he meant.

Initially, it was my plan to catch up some time in the last 12 km’s but now I had to use it to just keep on running, as my legs were getting stretched quite a bit. With every step I started to feel pain in my lower back and knees.

After passing the town of Westkapelle at 35 kilometers onwards I suddenly got a very hard time keeping up to my initial pace because the pain in my legs and knees started to get more and more intense. With every step the pain started to get worse and now the high dunes and staircases were showing up in the distance.

After attacking the high dunes vigorously by running up and down stairs I reached the 40 km mark. Now, at this point in time I only had half an hour left to finish the marathon, but the path was constantly going up and down dunes and stairs.

This took much more energy and time than I had planned. I decided to set in a final sprint for it became an ‘all or nothing’ point for me with only half an hour left to finish.

My legs were blasting with pain during the sprints. I crossed the stairs teeth gritted looking like an obsessed person. Eventually I could see the village where the finish was located. I felt the end was getting near. After blasting over the last beach part I half sprinted / half leaped towards the finish line, and finished 10 minutes before the closing time at 5:50 where the closing time was 6:00.


That’s not how ‘professionals do it. Is what the amateurs told me… But I still finished.

The day after both my knees were injured, my lower back hurt tremendously. I couldn’t walk normally for a week, and my knees remained injured for a whole month, but this all was totally worth it..

Worth what?

This was all totally worth seeing that my perseverance, gut feeling, and preparation proved successful.

That I finished.


The best part about finishing something difficult is the confidence and assurance it gives you.

I could describe it in words but it will be me meaningless to you, unless you experience it yourself.


-Sebastian Heart

Running hard on the 1st of October 2016


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