If you’ve been itching for a thrilling challenge and have your eyes locked on the notorious Berlin Marathon, you’ve come to the right spot.
As a beginner, there are a few key things you’ll want to have all sorted out well in advance – think months before race day. We’re talking about your training plan, nailing your nutrition and hydration strategies, and getting a good grasp of the route.
We get it; taking on something like the Berlin Marathon can feel a bit overwhelming, especially for beginners. But fear not!
With this all-inclusive guide, you won’t have to do it alone. We’re here to ensure you have EVERYTHING you need to know as a first-time Berlin Marathon runner.
So let’s dive in…
Everything First Timers Need To Know About The Berlin Marathon
- The Berlin Marathon Training Program
- How To Enter The Berlin Marathon
- The Berlin Marathon Route Breakdown
- The Berlin Marathon Expo
- Berlin Marathon Water Stations Along The Route
- Expert Tips For Your First Berlin Marathon
The Berlin Marathon Training Program
The foundation for achieving your dream of completing the Berlin Marathon starts with your training. Success at this step is crucial for making your goal achievable.
The length of your marathon preparation varies based on your running background and experience. For the best chance of success, it’s advised to begin your training 16-20 weeks before the race day.
This timeframe allows you to gradually build endurance and reach peak performance.
In the initial phase of your training, focus on establishing a strong foundation by running consistently for 4-8 weeks. Around 12 weeks before the race (usually in mid-June), you can shift to specific Berlin Marathon training.
While the ideal training timeline may not work for everyone, there are flexible options available. Depending on your situation, you can choose a 48-week, 36-week, or minimum 12-week training program.
For experienced runners with a specific time goal, starting training 12 weeks before the September race is recommended.
What Your Training Plan Should Include
Your training plan should include several crucial elements that serve as building blocks, including:
- Easy Runs
- Long Runs
- Strength and Conditioning
- Cross Training
- Recovery Time
Adding easy runs to your running plan is crucial for improving your overall fitness and weekly training volume.
During these runs, it’s essential to maintain a relaxed and conversational pace. The key is to keep it “EASY” – you should be able to talk comfortably with a running partner and avoid feeling out of breath.
The primary goal of easy runs is to develop your aerobic system, which supplies energy during submaximal efforts. They allow your body to adapt, repair, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments while improving energy metabolism.
By running at the appropriate intensity, you strike a balance between stimulating your aerobic capacity and ensuring enough recovery time before your next challenging workout.
Keep in mind that easy runs are shorter than long runs, typically lasting around an hour and a half or less.
While the pace is slower than your race pace, it should still be faster than your recovery run pace, usually around 5-10 seconds per kilometre faster.
Long runs have several benefits, but their main objective is to increase your endurance and provide your muscles with the energy they need for prolonged periods of time.
Long runs are important not only for building endurance but also for enhancing your running efficiency.
Spending more time on your feet during long runs helps train your body to maintain a steady pace over long distances with greater efficiency.
This increased efficiency can translate into improved performance on race day.
Long runs also provide an opportunity for experimentation with nutrition strategies.
The longest run in your training plan is very important and is usually scheduled for 3 to 4 weeks before the race.
Check out our video, This Is Why You Need To Include Long Runs In Your Training.
Adding strength training to your fitness routine is vital to preventing injuries and boosting running performance.
It activates and stabilizes smaller muscle groups responsible for balance and support, ensuring proper form and technique during movements, and reducing injury risks.
For individuals prone to injuries or involved in high-impact sports, strength training is especially beneficial.
It builds a stronger foundation for movement, minimises muscle imbalances, and enhances overall running economy by 4%–6%, enabling more efficient and less fatiguing runs.
To maximise the benefits of strength training, aim for 2 to 3 sessions per week, carefully balancing it with your running training and following a well-structured plan.
Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.
A comprehensive training plan should include cross-training to complement your running routine.
Cross-training allows us to engage in activities that positively impact our cardiovascular system and load our muscles differently from running, which predominantly involves high-impact motions that stress our muscles.
In preparation for the Berlin Marathon, incorporating cross-training into your regimen can diversify your routines and reduce the strain on your body.
Consider these top cross-training options:
- Swimming: Swimming offers a low-impact, full-body workout that enhances cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. With its joint-friendly nature, swimming is perfect for active recovery on rest days and minimising running-related injury risks.
- Cycling: Cycling builds leg strength and cardiovascular endurance without the impact of running. It targets different muscles, like quadriceps and glutes, complementing running muscles and enhancing lower body strength.
- Elliptical Training: The elliptical machine mimics running with less joint impact, providing a challenging cardio workout while easing muscle stress. It maintains running fitness and offers joint relief from pavement pounding.
- Rowing: Rowing engages full body, cardio, and endurance, complementing running by targeting diverse muscle groups, improving upper body strength, and enhancing efficiency.
- Yoga: Yoga enhances flexibility, balance, and core strength while promoting body awareness and better breathing. It complements running, by reducing muscle tightness and preventing injuries.
- Hiking: Hiking offers a low-impact cardio workout in nature, challenging different muscles, and building endurance and mental stamina.
- Dance Fitness: Zumba and aerobics are fun dance fitness classes that boost heart rate, coordination, and agility. Engaging various muscles improves endurance, while the joy of dancing adds to your training routine.
- Pilates: Pilates is low-impact, and strengthens the core, enhancing flexibility, and body awareness. Improve posture, and running form, and prevent injuries. Targets large and small muscle groups for balanced strength.
Tapering is a vital part of your Berlin Marathon preparation, and it involves reducing your training volume as the race day approaches.
This practice allows your body to fully recover from training and reach its peak performance for the big event.
Although tapering is essential for success, many runners find it challenging to cut back on their training due to fears of losing fitness.
However, the tapering process aims to strike a balance by maintaining some training stimulus while giving your body time to rest and build strength for the race.
Embracing the taper will ensure you arrive at the starting line feeling refreshed and ready to give your best performance.
When it comes to marathon training, a well-balanced diet is essential for optimal performance.
It should include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and an adequate amount of micro and macronutrients.
However, if you find yourself struggling to stay awake and battling fatigue after your morning training sessions, it could be a sign that your post-training nutrition needs improvement.
While training naturally causes fatigue, a significant portion of it can be alleviated by enhancing your nutritional intake.
Rest days play a crucial role in any training program, yet they are often overlooked by many runners.
To fully harness the benefits of your training, it’s essential to prioritise proper recovery. Rest days provide our bodies with the opportunity to adapt and progress based on the training they have completed.
Without sufficient recovery, you run the risk of not fully reaping the rewards of your training efforts.
Giving yourself time to recover after runs enables you to come back stronger and better adapted for your next run.
How To Enter The Berlin Marathon
To enter the 2023 Berlin Marathon, you have several options:
- AIMS-Certified Fast Runner
- Through Charity Partners:
- Through Tour Operators
- Lottery System
Let’s have a look at each of these options.
MUST READ: Berlin Marathon Qualifying Times: How Fast You Need To Run
- AIMS-Certified Fast Runner
This is explicitly for fast runners who have achieved a qualifying time and can meet the high standards established by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).
To register, you need to create a user account on the SCC Events website. Then, you can digitally add proof of your best marathon time to your registration form. The proof must not be older than 3 years (run time in 2020).
Upon acceptance, you will receive a confirmation email in December of the previous year, securing your spot in the Berlin Marathon.
However, if your time does not meet the qualifying standards, your registration will be automatically entered into the lottery system.
The registration fee is approximately €163.
What Are The Qualifying Times?
The qualifying times for men and women vary based on age groups.
|Age||18-44 years old||44-59 years old||60+ years old|
|Man||2:45 hours||2:55 hours||3:25 hours|
|Women||3:00 hours||3:20 hours.||4:10 hours|
The second option is to run for charity. The Berlin Marathon offers a wonderful opportunity for runners to support various charitable causes by participating in the race.
There are several charity partners associated with the Berlin Marathon, each dedicated to a specific cause or mission. Some of these charity partners include:
- Realbuzz Group Ltd
- GET KIDS GOING!
- Achilles International Germany
- Björn Schulz Stiftung
- i-MED Vision
- Stiftung KinderHerz
- Imagine for Margo – Children without Cancer
For a full list, please visit the official BMW Berlin Marathon website.
Runners looking for a hassle-free and convenient marathon experience can opt for attractive marathon packages offered by tour operators and travel agencies.
One of the significant advantages of opting for a tour operator package is their access to race entries, even after the general lottery drawing has taken place.
This means that participants who were not successful in securing a spot through the lottery still have a chance to participate in the marathon.
The entries provided by tour operators are usually guaranteed, providing a secure and reliable way to ensure your participation in this prestigious event.
Some of the tour partners include:
- 2:09 Events Ltd
- Marathon Tours & Travel
- Running Crazy Ltd.
- Sports Tours International
- Swinley Travel Ltd
- Runners Unlimited by Ruefa
To find a comprehensive list of tour operators for the BMW Berlin Marathon, simply visit the official BMW Berlin Marathon website.
The Berlin Marathon offers an entry option through a lottery system, giving interested participants a chance to secure a spot in the race.
To enter the lottery, you can apply online during the designated registration period. Please note that entering the lottery does not guarantee a spot, as the selection is determined through a random drawing.
When entering the lottery, you can choose to register individually or as part of a team of 2-3 people. If a team is chosen, all members will receive a marathon entry, but there won’t be any team ranking in the race.
The lottery application deadline typically runs from 29th September until 23:59 (UTC +1:00) on 17th November of the previous year.
It’s essential to know that there’s no fee to enter the lottery, and only the selected winners will need to pay the marathon entry fee of €163.
Each person can submit only one application, either as an individual or part of a team. Emails regarding the entry status will be sent to lottery applicants on 1st December of the preceding year.
Who Is Allowed To Participate?
The BMW Berlin Marathon is open to participants who meet certain criteria:
- Age Requirement: Participants must be 18 years old or older (born in 2005 or earlier) to be eligible to attend the race.
- Time Limit: All participants must complete the course within a time limit of 6 hours and 15 minutes. The time limit is measured from the moment they cross the starting line.
- Nordic Walkers: Nordic walkers are not permitted to compete in the BMW Berlin Marathon.
- Walkers: Walkers are allowed to participate in the marathon as long as they can finish the course within the designated time limit of 6 hours and 15 minutes.
- Authorised Sports Equipment: Only handbikes and race wheelchairs are allowed as sports equipment for participants with disabilities.
More information for wheelchair competitors and hand bikers can be found on the official marathon website.
A MUST-READ FOR YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY COMING TO CHEER YOU ON: Berlin Marathon: Top Spectator Spots along the Marathon Route
Now let’s take a detailed look at the course, right from the start line…
The Berlin Marathon Route Breakdown
Start Line: The Berlin Marathon starts at Straße des 17. Juni, between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. The elevation at this point is approximately 34 meters (111 feet) above sea level, providing a solid starting position for runners.
Miles 1-3: This early section of the race is relatively flat, allowing you to find your rhythm. You’ll pass through the Victory Column.
Do yourself a favor and try to get to the Victory Column in the days before your marathon (all while, of course, being cognizant of not staying on your feet for too long).
It’s an amazing feeling standing in the Victory Tower, looking down the street you will be running on, and visualizing how you are going to feel on race day.
The course then turns at ErnstReuterPlatz towards Tiergarten, one of the largest urban parks in Germany, providing runners with some much-needed greenery and space.
As you approach the seventh mile of the Berlin Marathon, the course takes a slight detour to the southern banks of the Spree River, bringing you close to the iconic Reichstag, Germany’s esteemed government building. The sight of this historic landmark serves as a reminder of the city’s political significance.
Continuing, you’ll find yourself passing by the majestic Berlin Cathedral, also known as the Berliner Dom. This architectural gem stands as a testament to Berlin’s rich history and serves as a picturesque backdrop for the runners.
Moving forward, the course leads you through the bustling Alexanderplatz.
Here, you will encounter the famous World Clock, a popular meeting point, and the imposing TV Tower (Fernsehturm), which offers panoramic views of the city.
The Red City Hall (Rotes Rathaus), with its striking red-brick facade, also graces the surroundings, adding to the allure of this dynamic square.
Miles 9-14: After the 15-km (9.3-mile) mark, you will reach the infamous Kottbusser Tor, famous for its nightlife, street bars, and lively atmosphere. You go towards the district of Kreuzberg, which has a reputation for celebrating multiculturalism, creativity, and street art.
The course has a slight incline during this section, providing you with a challenge while also making it an enjoyable experience. Slow your pace if need be and enjoy the sights.
Miles 15-23: After reaching the 25-km mark (approximately 15.5 miles), the Berlin Marathon course presents an interesting challenge.
For the next 500 metres, the route descends, offering a brief respite and a chance to regain momentum. However, this relief is short-lived as the course sharply inclines for the following 2 km (around 1.2 miles).
This ascent puts the athletes’ strength and determination to the test because you are also at the point of the marathon where many runners hit a “wall”
From this point on, you’ll face a series of alternating short downhill and uphill sections for the next 10 kilometres (approximately 6.2 miles).
These undulating hills add a layer of complexity to the race, requiring the runners to constantly adapt their pace and effort.
Overall, despite the presence of these demanding sections, the marathon route gradually declines as the race progresses towards the final stretch.
This gradual descent provides a welcome relief, allowing you to push harder and maintain your pace in the closing stages of the race.
Miles 24-26.2: The final miles of the Berlin Marathon route are marked by a sense of triumph and determination. You’ll enter the beautiful Tiergarten, a vast green oasis that provides a refreshing atmosphere.
As you approach the finish line, you make your way back to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where the crowd’s cheers and the sight of the gate inspire a final surge of adrenaline.
The Berlin Marathon Expo
The Berlin Marathon Expo is an exciting three-day event that all registered participants get to experience while preparing for the race.
It features more than 100 exhibitors offering the latest in running apparel, shoes, accessories, nutrition, technology, and more.
It’s more than just a place to collect your race pack; it’s a must-visit destination filled with thrilling activities and opportunities to explore the world of running.
By attending the Expo, runners can gain valuable insights, learn about new products and technologies, and connect with a supportive community of like-minded individuals.
There is of course a risk here, though – new products and nutrition always seem like a great idea, and I would always opt for athletes to try new things, BUT never on race day.
So NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY should be your mantra when walking through the expo.
Dates and Times of the Expo
The Berlin Marathon Expo takes place three days before the race, typically on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and before the race day on Sunday.
The expo’s hours of operation are as follows:
- Thursday, September 21, 2023
3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Friday, September 22, 2023
11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Saturday, September 23, 2023
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location of the Expo
The Expo is held at the Flughafen Tempelhof, Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Berlin
How To Get There
To make your journey easier, we recommend using public transportation, as there are no parking spaces available on-site.
If your travel distance is more than 100 km, your event ticket includes the City Ticket for Berlin. This ticket allows you to travel to and from the event.
The City Ticket includes travel within Berlin’s tariff zones A and B on the first day of validity, from your starting station to your final destination.
The same applies to your return trip. The validity dates are clearly indicated on your ticket.
The City Ticket remains valid until the end of public transport service, but no later than 3:00 a.m. on the following day.
With your race start number, you can enjoy free public transport in Berlin’s ABC fare zones from Thursday (September 21, 2023) to Sunday (September 24, 2023).
Public transport options to the Berlin Marathon Expo:
- U-Bahn (Underground): Take Line U6 to U-Bhf Platz der Luftbrücke.
- Bus: Take Line 104 or 248 to Platz der Luftbrücke.
- Bahn (Suburban Rail): Take Lines S41, S42, S45, S46, or S47 to S-Bhf Tempelhof, which is about a 15-minute walk from the venue.
Staying hydrated throughout the Berlin Marathon is of utmost importance to avoid dehydration and achieve your best performance.
To ensure your well-being, hydration stations are strategically positioned along the route, providing essential water and sports drinks.
Let’s take a look at these various drink and fuel options available along the marathon.
Berlin Marathon Water Stations Along The Route
Please keep in mind that these offerings may vary from year to year depending on sponsors and race planning. Be sure to check the official documentation for the specific year you’re running to confirm the available options.
Stay refreshed at key kilometres, including 9, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 36, where you’ll find a variety of options like fruit, tea, and water.
Additionally, water-only refreshment points are available at kilometres 5, 12, 17.5, 22.5, 27.5, 32.5, 34.5, 38, and 40.
Around kilometre 33, the Lichtenauer Cheeringpoint at Olivaer Platz awaits, providing a boost of encouragement.
After crossing the finish line, you’ll receive a 0.5-litre bottle of Lichtenauer Mineralwasser Pur in your finishing bag.
Maurten Fuel products are available at kilometres 9, 15, 20, 25, 27.5, 30, and 36. Maurten is known for its effective carbohydrate fueling solutions, that enhance performance and minimise gastrointestinal issues.
Refreshments At The Finish
Congratulations on finishing the marathon! Enjoy a well-deserved treat with apples, bananas, salted pretzels, and chocolate rolls.
Refreshing tea and water will also be available at the finish line.
For a refreshing, non-alcoholic option, try ERDINGER Alkoholfrei. This thirst-quencher delights with spicy malt notes and a slightly sweet taste.
Brewed with natural ingredients according to the Bavarian Purity Law, it supports regeneration with vitamins B9 and B12. At only 25 kcal per 100 ml, it’s a guilt-free way to celebrate your accomplishment.
To optimise your performance, remember to stick to your planned fueling and hydration strategy.
Stop only for drinks and fuel, as you have planned in your training. NO TRYING NEW THINGS ON RACE DAY!
Expert Tips For Your First Berlin Marathon
Before the Race:
- Plan your travel route ahead of time and arrive early at the starting location.
- Familiarise yourself with the starting area and course map to avoid last-minute confusion.
- Give yourself enough time for a bathroom break and clothing change before reaching the start line.
On Race Day:
- Stick to the tried and tested equipment and nutrition you have used during training.
- Avoid trying out new gear or nutrition on race day to prevent any unexpected issues. NO NEW THINGS ON RACE DAY.
During the Race:
- Pace yourself and stay hydrated throughout the race.
- Fuel up during the race to maintain your energy levels.
- Start with a manageable effort and maintain an appropriate effort throughout the race.
- Listen to your body and adjust your effort if necessary.
By following these tips and strategies, you can have a successful and enjoyable Berlin Marathon experience. Remember to plan ahead and stick to what works best for you during the race.