Training for A Skating Marathon

Training for long distance skating events like a half or full marathon is pretty straightforward. The first step is to get out there on your skates! Building your comfort level by skating longer and longer is the best strategy.

Types of workouts:

  1. “Daily” Skate: It’s important to put time on the blades, but there is no need to beat yourself up every day! In fact, if you push your limits too much you will find yourself burnt out and injured. Use the “daily” skate as your active recovery. Make it pretty easy and not too far where you get sore. It is suggested that 60-80% of your time training should be this sort of effort
  2. Speed Work: To build your top end speed, spend time out of your comfort zone (physically and mentally) and GO FAST! This is fun to do in a group… get in a paceline and push your lungs and legs to the max. Two types of speed work are intervals and tempo workouts. Intervals are short bursts (0:30 to 5 minutes) of very high intensity. Tempo workouts are designed to simulate a race and can range from 20 minutes up to several hours at a sustained intensity.
  3. Long Skate: 26.2 miles is a long way. Slowly build up your mileage and try to increase your long skate distance and/or time by 10% per week. It is OK if your longest training skate is less that a marathon! Focus on maintaining and even effort and pace, and don’t push too hard on the long skate. Keep it easy.

Inline Skating Equipment

One can spend as little as $100 or as much as $3,000 on a complete inline skating setup. The difference between the low-end and high-end is going to be speed, comfort, and quality. Here are the key pieces of gear:

Skates: The main components to a skate is the boot (what your foot goes into), the frame (that connects the boot to the wheels), the wheels and bearings. It is important to try on the skates before you buy them. Each foot is shaped differently and each boot is shaped differently. Larger wheel sizes are generally faster but require more skill to feel comfortable. Wheel sizes are typically anywhere from 80 millimeters in diameter to 125mm. Until you get into the high end setups, the boot, frame and wheels come pre-assembled. Higher end equipment allows for more customization.

Helmet: We recommend a bike helmet-style that is CPSC-certified, which is the United States standard, and law, for helmet manufacturers specializing in bike/skating helmets. Some high end helmets offer aerodynamic benefits, but the key is comfort and fit. If your helmet is constantly bugging you for 26 miles, it makes for a long couple of hours!

Wrist guards: Hand protection is not required to participate in the NorthShore Inline Marathon, but it is highly recommended. Most seasoned skaters will tell you that it is pretty crucial to be able to fall correctly, because it will inevitably happen! Guards on your hand/wrist allow you to fall onto your hands and slide across the ground without causing any harm to your body.

Pads: Most competitive skaters will not use pads like elbow pads or knee pads, but it doesn’t hurt to have a pair for training runs. Pads can be bulky and prohibit your natural range of motion.

Clothing: Look at cycling to determine the best outfit for skating. Wind resistance can play a big role, so tight-fitting clothes are best. Consider spandex/compression shorts and a bike jersey. If you skate on the roads, strongly consider reflective, high-visibility gear.

Accessories: Most skaters use booties, which go around your ankle to provide compression, stability, and blister prevention. Sweat-wicking socks are crucial–stay away from cotton and try high socks that go above your skate boot. Carry your phone or an ID with you. Skating is a dangerous sport and you want to have resources available to you in the case of an emergency. A GPS watch is a great training tool to track your workouts. Hydration belts are designed to fit comfortably around your waist to hold water, food, and anything else you may need to carry. The list goes on…


Where To Skate

Duluth/Two Harbors:

Munger Trail – A 70-mile smooth and wide paved trail from Duluth south to Hinckley. Great for skating fast and for long distances

Duluth Lakewalk – A paved trail that stretches nearly the whole city of Duluth, this is a classic route of over 7 miles from end to end. Note: the Lakewalk in Canal Park can be congested in the summer months.

Scenic Highway 61 – Skate on the NSIM race course! This is a classic skating destination and for good reason–follow the iconic North Shore of Lake Superior for many, many miles! Just be aware of traffic. Skate with traffic and wear high-visibility gear.

Twin Cities:

Midtown Greenway, Minneapolis – Skate along the 5.5-mile former railroad corridor that is barrier-free, lit at night, and open 24/7. This is an awesome trail that is great for commuting from one side of Minneapolis to the other.

Roseville Oval – Got the need for speed? Check out the Oval for some interval and track work. There are many group skate and racing events at the Oval, visit their website for more information.

Click here to read our complete list of Best Places To Skate!


Training plan? Check. The hardest part is to sign up for the race. Keep reading to learn about each of our races on September 14, 2019, and click below to sign up now!


Our Races

Our premiere race is the Inline Marathon (26.2 miles), open to inline skaters, rollerbladers, or quad skates/rollerskates. The price is just $79 if you register early! Elite athletes from around the world come to compete in Duluth, as well as thousands of recreational skaters who are looking for a sweet challenge. Click Here for more info.

Full marathon a bit too long? The Inline Half Marathon (13.1 miles) is perfect for novice racers, those looking to build up to a marathon, or anyone who wants a shorter race! The half starts at the halfway point of the marathon, and offers awesome views of Lake Superior and the opportunity to zoom through the I-35 tunnels. Click Here for more info.

Are you looking for an ultramarathon challenge? Skate the half and full marathon back-to-back! Finish the half and hop right back on the bus to the full marathon start for a 39.3-mile adventure! We award the fastest combined times. Click Here for more info.

Calling all skiiers! If you dryland train with rollerskis, you have got to check out the 26.2-mile NorthShore Rollerski Marathon. This is one of few rollerski marathons in the world, and certainly a competitive event with rollerski and XC enthusiasts racing from around the country. Click Here for more info.

Run along the pristine North Shore of Lake Superior and a totally unique course through the freeway tunnels of Interstate 35. The Wheels Off Half Marathon is a great early fall 13.1-mile running race with great support. Click Here for more info.

One of the premiere 10k running races in the region is September 15 in Duluth! Run out and back through the freeway tunnels of Interstate 35 and finish next to the iconic William A. Irvin lake freighter. Click Here for more info.