Running a marathon is not easy, it requires a lot of training, dedication, and hard work. 

But when it comes to running the Cape Town Marathon, it’s a whole different ball game. 

The Cape Town Marathon is one of the most beautiful marathons in the world, taking you through some of the most scenic routes the Mother City has to offer. But with beauty comes challenges, and running the Cape Town Marathon requires a different level of training and preparation. 

In this complete guide, we’ll cover all the necessary aspects to train for the Cape Town Marathon and finish strong.

Ready? Let’s dive right in…

Start Training For The Cape Town Marathon With A Plan

Before starting your marathon training, it is essential to have a plan that you can follow. 

A training plan will help you to schedule your running and exercises so that you can stay on track and develop gradually. 

Depending on your fitness levels, choose a plan that suits you, whether it be an online plan or a personalized plan from a coach.

At Coach Parry, we offer proven, science-backed marathon training plans. 

Our plan offers clear guidance on your daily training routines, including the recommended pace for each session. This approach helps you steer clear of injuries and ensures you strike the right balance in your training leading up to race day.

With our Cape Town Marathon Training Roadmap, you won’t need to second-guess your training. Simply follow the daily training session, and the rest will fall into place. We take the stress out of marathon preparation.

Our training plans are designed to take you from your current fitness level to proudly wearing a marathon medal at your target race, achieving the time goal you’ve been aiming for.

Click here to access your Cape Town Marathon Training Roadmap.

Marathon Training Run Types Explained

If you’re new to running, you might think that training for a marathon means running as many miles as possible. But there’s more to it than that!

Experienced marathon runners will tell you that it’s important to mix up your training sessions with a variety of runs:

Easy Runs

Easy training runs are a vital part of your weekly running routine. When we say “EASY,” we mean really easy. These runs should be so comfortable that you can chat with a running buddy without gasping for air.

Coach Parry’s training plans typically include 2 or 3 easy runs each week. These runs help you gradually increase your weekly mileage in a gentle and sustainable way.

Long Runs

Long runs are a cornerstone of your Cape Town Marathon preparation. They serve several crucial purposes, with the primary one being to boost your endurance and aerobic capacity.

Long runs help your muscles become more efficient at using the fuels needed for longer distances. They also teach your body to handle extended periods of activity. 

Plus, they provide an opportunity to experiment with different nutrition strategies to find what works best for your stomach.

The longest run should be scheduled 3-4 weeks before race day. This run is essential for both mental and physical preparation for the Cape Town Marathon. 

It allows you to assess your readiness for the full marathon distance and builds the confidence and mental strength needed for the big race day.

Speed Work

Adding speed work to your training plan can be a game-changer for your performance, but it’s essential to do it in the right way and in the right amount.

Here at Coach Parry, we recommend that if you’re at a level where you’re incorporating speed work, it should make up no more than 20% of your overall training load. 

This approach enhances your aerobic capacity and can even make your regular runs feel less strenuous.

There are two common types of speed work: intervals and tempo runs.

  • Intervals: These involve doing a series of short, intense sprints, followed by a recovery jog. For example, you might do 4 sets of 1-mile (1.6 km) sprints at a brisk pace, with 5 minutes of slow jogging or walking between each mile.
  • Tempo Runs: These are longer than intervals but shorter than long runs, typically ranging from 4 to 10 miles (6.4 km – 16.1 km), depending on your training phase. Tempo runs are done at a challenging yet sustainable pace, not at your maximum speed. They train both your body and mind to sustain a demanding effort over an extended period.

Before you dive into speed work, make sure to warm up and cool down properly. Begin with a few easy miles at the start of your workout, followed by some short strides or builds and coordination drills. 

This prepares your body for the intense effort and aids in recovery. A cool-down recovery run at the end of your speed work is also recommended.

Hill Workouts

Hill repeats are structured running workouts that involve going all out while running uphill and then recovering while running downhill. Here’s a simpler explanation: you pick a specific hill segment and run up it multiple times.

In each repetition, you give it your all running uphill, testing your strength and endurance. After that, you turn around and jog or run easily, or even walk downhill to catch your breath before starting the next repetition.

During a hill repeat session, you’ll choose a hill that suits your fitness level and training goals. Typically, this hill has a gradient of about 3-5%.

These workouts are fantastic for gradually building your running strength, improving your fitness, boosting your stamina, and ultimately enhancing your overall running performance.

This will come in handy because the Cape Town Marathon route has some hilly sections along the course. 

Note: Running Hill Repeats: How to Calculate The Gradient

Now, let’s talk about the 80/20 Rule in running, a crucial principle for effective training. The idea here is to find the right balance in your training intensity.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 training approach means that roughly 80% of your training should be at a low intensity, while the remaining 20% or less should be at a high intensity.

This balance is crucial because it allows you to push yourself during intense workouts while giving your body the chance to recover during easier runs.

But, it’s important to note that applying the 80/20 principle isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Many factors come into play when determining your ideal training mix.

For example, if you run around eight hours a week, following the 80/20 rule would mean dedicating about an hour and a half to high-intensity training. 

However, it’s essential to consider the type of high-intensity sessions you’re doing. Whether it’s speed workouts or hill sessions, they should incorporate recovery time, so it’s not a strict 80/20 split.

Keep in mind that there can be exceptions to this rule based on individual circumstances.

Exceptions To The 80/20 Rule

It’s important to note that some individuals should adjust their high-intensity training to make up only 10% of their total volume. 

This recommendation is especially relevant for runners over 50, less experienced runners, those recovering from injuries, and individuals with physically demanding jobs that keep them on their feet.

For example, if you fall into one of these categories, you might choose to incorporate a three-mile or five-kilometre time trial every other week as a challenging workout without dedicating a significant portion of your training volume to high-intensity sessions. 

The key is to find the right balance that suits your specific circumstances for successful training.

Include Strength Training And Cross-Training

While running is the primary aspect of marathon training, it is equally important to incorporate strength exercises and cross-training. 

Strength training helps to build muscles that can support long-distance running while cross-training provides variety in your workouts to keep your body active without overusing the same muscle groups.

In addition, strength training improves your running economy by 4%–6%, which allows you to cover more distance efficiently with less fuel and delay the onset of fatigue. 

Incorporating strength training into your routine can help prevent injuries and enhance performance.

Ideally, you should aim for 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week. 

Periodization of strength training is also important, balancing it with running training and complementing the overall training 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.

When running, our bodies experience the impact of hitting the ground, leading to eccentric contractions in muscles. 

Cross-training is an excellent way to build endurance and aerobic capacity without the same level of eccentric contractions, reducing strain on the body and minimizing the risk of damage. 

Consider incorporating activities like swimming, cycling, elliptical training, rowing, and yoga into your Cape Town Marathon training to diversify your workouts and reduce the repetitive stresses of running.

Capitalize On Hydration And Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition play a crucial role in marathon training. You need to ensure that you are eating enough to fuel your body, but not so much that it slows you down. 

The same goes for hydration; keep yourself adequately hydrated throughout your runs, as dehydration can lead to fatigue and cramps.

How To Fuel Your Training Runs

“Hitting the wall” or “bonking” is a common experience for many marathoners, usually occurring around the 20-mile (32.2-km) mark. 

This happens because the body’s glycogen stores, its primary energy source during a marathon, become depleted. As glycogen depletes, muscles start feeling fatigued and heavy.

To prevent hitting the wall, it’s important to fuel during the race. 

While fueling won’t completely replace the depleted glycogen, it can help delay or mitigate the effects. Energy gels, fruits, or energy bars are effective options for providing carbohydrates.

For runs lasting over 2 hours, aim to consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. 

However, it’s crucial to test different types of fuel during your training runs to determine what your stomach tolerates best. This preparation will help you confidently fuel on race day.

Rest And Recovery

Rest days are just as important as your training days in marathon preparation. Here’s why:

  • Recovery is Key: Rest days are when your body absorbs and adapts to the training you’ve done. Without proper recovery, you won’t fully benefit from your hard work. It’s during rest that your body gets stronger.
  • Injury Prevention: Rest days are crucial for preventing injuries. They provide your muscles and joints with the opportunity to recover, which is essential for long-distance running.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key in marathon training. Rest days help you maintain a consistent training schedule by preventing burnout and overuse injuries.

So, make sure to include rest days in your training plan and use them wisely to recharge and prepare for your next training session.

Related: A Practical Guide To Running Recovery

Training for a marathon takes commitment and effort. However, with the right preparation, you can enjoy and complete the Cape Town Marathon successfully. 

Have a plan, incorporate strength and cross-training, focus on nutrition and hydration, and don’t forget to rest and recover. Stay consistent and enjoy the journey to the finish line. Happy running!


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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