The Berlin Marathon is one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious marathons, attracting tens of thousands of runners every year. 

It’s known for its flat and fast course, making it a favorite for runners looking to set a personal best. But with this level of competition comes the need for serious training. 

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a novice looking to take on the challenge, this ultimate training guide for the Berlin Marathon will help you prepare to cross that finish line in record time.

This training guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies you need to prepare yourself physically and mentally for this prestigious event.

So, let’s dive in…

When Should You Start Training For The Berlin Marathon?

The start date of your training depends on a few factors: your experience level, current fitness, and the time goal you’ve set for yourself.

To give yourself the best chance of success, it’s recommended to start your training 16-20 weeks before race day. This will give you enough time to gradually build up your endurance and reach your peak performance.

The first phase of your training involves establishing a strong foundation and running consistently for 4-8 weeks. Then, 12 weeks before the race (which usually falls in mid-June), you can begin your specific Berlin Marathon training.

While the ideal timeline for marathon training may not be feasible for everyone, there are still training options available. 

Depending on your situation, you can choose to prepare for the marathon in either 48, 36, or a minimum of 12 weeks. 

If you’re an experienced runner with a specific time goal in mind, it’s recommended to start your training 12 weeks before the race, which takes place in September. 

Now that you know how long you need to prepare, let’s take a look at the training approach for the Berlin Marathon.

How To Train For The Berlin Marathon

To effectively prepare for the Berlin Marathon, it is important to focus on more than just running

Your training plan should include several crucial elements that serve as building blocks, including:

  • Easy Runs
  • Long Runs
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Cross Training
  • Nutrition
  • Recovery Time 
  • Tapering

These components are essential to your overall preparation and will play a significant role in your marathon success

Easy Runs

Adding easy training runs to your running plan is important for improving your overall fitness and building weekly volume. 

It’s essential to maintain a relaxed and conversational pace during these runs. 

Remember that “easy” should mean exactly that – it should not leave you gasping for air. Instead, you should be able to carry on a conversation with a running partner comfortably.

The primary purpose of easy runs is to develop the aerobic system, which plays a vital role in supplying energy at the submaximal effort. 

These runs provide the opportunity for the body to adapt, repair, and strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments while improving energy metabolism.

By running at an appropriate intensity, you balance stimulating your aerobic capacity with allowing sufficient recovery time before your next challenging workout.

It’s worth noting that easy runs are shorter compared to long runs, typically lasting around an hour and a half or less. 

While the pace is slower than your race pace, it should be faster than your recovery run pace. 

In fact, easy runs are usually run around 5 -10 seconds per kilometer faster than recovery runs. 

However, it’s important not to confuse easy runs with tempo or interval workouts, which require a higher level of effort and intensity.

MUST READ: Why Are Easy Runs Important & Do You Need Easy Runs In Your Training?

Long Runs

Long runs have several benefits, but their main objective is to increase your endurance and develop the ability to 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. 

It is a significant milestone for your mental and physical preparation, as it helps you assess your readiness for the marathon distance and gives you the confidence and assurance you need for race day.

Strength Training

Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine is essential for preventing injuries and enhancing running performance. 

It helps activate and strengthen smaller muscle groups responsible for balance and support, ensuring proper form and technique during movements, and reducing the risk of injuries.

Strength training is particularly beneficial for individuals prone to injuries and athletes who are getting older.

It creates a stronger foundation for movement, reduces the risk of muscle imbalances, and improves overall running economy by 4%–6%, allowing you to run more efficiently and with less fatigue.

To reap the benefits of strength training, aim for 2 to 3 sessions per week, balancing it with your running training and following a well-structured plan. 

If strength training is what you’re after, grab a free-running strength plan here.

Understanding the importance of strength training can greatly improve your running journey. 

So, make sure to integrate it into your routine and check out our specialized strength training plan to maximize your running potential and stay injury-free.


A well-rounded training plan should include cross-training.

Cross-training enables us to engage in activities that have positive effects on our cardiovascular systems and load our muscles without subjecting them to eccentric loading, whereas running largely entails high-impact motions that put stress on our strengths.

Cross-training will help you prepare for the Berlin Marathon by diversifying your routines and minimising the harm to your body. 

For the vast majority of amateur runners, running 4-5 days a week is all the running you need. If you have more time to train, strength training and cross-training will provide greater value at a lower risk than adding more running.

Here are some top cross-training possibilities to take into account:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical
  • Rowing


Tapering is a vital part of your Berlin Marathon preparation, and it involves reducing your training volume as 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 recover 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. 

Trust in the process and enjoy the benefits of tapering as you gear up for the Berlin Marathon!


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, fats, carbohydrates, 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 and in-training nutrition needs improvement. 

While training naturally causes fatigue, a significant portion of it can be alleviated by enhancing your nutritional intake.

Recovery Time 

Rest days are an integral part of any training program, often underestimated by many runners. 

It is crucial to understand that, in order to reap the full benefits of our training, we must prioritise proper recovery. During rest days, our bodies have the opportunity to adapt and make progress based on the training we have completed. 

Without adequate recovery, we risk missing out on the full benefit of our training efforts.

Allowing yourself time to recover after your runs is what makes it possible for you to come back better adapted for your next run.

Why Are Recovery And Nutrition As Important As Running?

Recovery and nutrition are just as important as running because they play a crucial role in preventing injuries, improving performance, and promoting overall well-being.

When we exercise, our bodies undergo minor damage, and recovery is the process that allows our systems to repair and improve. This repair leads to increased fitness, speed, and strength, making us better equipped for future workouts.

Neglecting recovery can lead to an increased risk of injuries and illness and may hinder your progress. 

It’s essential to give your body the time it needs to fully recover and compensate for the stress of training.

Proper nutrition is also vital for recovery, as it provides the necessary nutrients to repair and rebuild damaged muscles and tissues. 

A well-balanced diet, including carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, helps replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and reduce inflammation.

So, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, remember that recovery and nutrition are the key ingredients to optimizing your performance and enjoying a successful and injury-free running experience.

Race Day Strategy

Developing a well-thought-out race day strategy, based on a realistic goal is the key to achieving success in the Berlin Marathon

The most effective strategy is to start the race with a conservative effort in the first half. 

By doing so, you can conserve your energy and avoid burning out too early. This approach allows you to settle into a comfortable rhythm and gradually build momentum as the race progresses.

As you enter the second half of the marathon, consider gradually increasing your effort, while saving something for the final, very fast, 5km of the Berlin Marathon.

By strategically managing your effort, you can prevent hitting the wall and ensure that you have enough left in the tank for the final push toward the finish line.

In addition to pacing, it’s crucial to ensure that you fuel correctly so that you keep supplying the energy your body needs to tackle the second half of the Berlin Marathon.

Hydration and fueling strategies also play a vital role in sustaining your energy levels, so be sure to have a well-planned nutrition plan in place.

See our article, Berlin Marathon Fuelling Guide: What to Eat and Where to Find It, for your Berlin Marathon race day fuelling strategy. 

Expert Tips For Race Day  

  • Plan your travel route ahead of time, and arrive at the starting location early: This will give you ample time to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the race.
  • Familiarise yourself with the starting area and course map to avoid any last-minute confusion: Familiarise yourself with the start area and procedure. Check the course map, including any hills or turns that you need to be aware of.
  • Do not use new equipment or nutrition on race day that you haven’t previously tested: Race day is not the time to try out new gear or nutrition. Stick to the tried and tested equipment and food that you have used during training. 
  • During the race, it is important to pace yourself and stay hydrated: It is crucial to fuel up during the race to keep your energy levels up. Start the race with a manageable effort, and maintain an appropriate effort throughout the race. Pay attention to your body and adjust your effort if necessary

With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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