The Marathon Training Plan – Building A Safe Peak Performance For Success

As more and more runners participate in the marathon to demonstrate their running mettle, a sensible and reliable marathon training plan is needed more than ever for building safely to peak performance. Are you looking to get your first or the best marathon training plan? This article will help and assist you with the best training plan and also with a proper marathon diet to fine tune your body to achieving your goals.

ATTRIBUTES AND BENEFITS OF MARATHON RUNNING AND TRAINING

Marathon, a 42 kilometer (approx. 26 miles) road race is being feared by many. However, studies have shown the health, physical and emotional benefits of participating in a marathon race. Although this endurance run can be extremely exerting, the benefits such as the mood-lifting effect, improved immunity against diseases, fat reduction, and the general fitness level improvement it offers really worth one’s while.

Since Marathon takes more training and planning than other distance racing, a Marathon training plan is designed to help runners build a safe peak performance to achieve success on the race day.   With lots of training plans available, it is important to get the one that suits your ultimate training goals.

HOW TO CHOOSE A MARATHON TRAINING PLAN

Choosing a marathon training plan is arguably the most crucial stage when it comes to marathon training. Choosing a training plan that is not aggressive enough or extremely intensive may leave you disappointed on the race day.  It is therefore important to select the best marathon plan that would work for you. The following questions and tips will help you in selecting the best training plan to achieve your goals.

Who should participate in a marathon race?

“Should I run a marathon?” This is the first question you should ask yourself. A marathon run is extremely demanding and its training is more or less a part time job. It takes a toll emotionally and physically. If you are a brand new runner, get yourself into a few 5k’s, 10k’s and even a few half marathons under your belt before jumping into a situation you are not yet ready for.

Where are you today? Evaluate yourself

How much and how well have you run in the past weeks? Months? Years? Do you consider yourself healthy enough to run? Are you having any lingering injury that may slow you down as you run down the road?

Recently, I made a mistake of entering a marathon plan with an old injury I’m yet to recover fully from. I thought I was Okay when I should have done a little more rehab. Even if you paid a lot of money to register, it won’t measure up to what you’ll be paying for physical therapy if you later find yourself in an undesirable situation. Have it at the back of your mind that you can always get yourself another race a few months away. Evaluating yourself is important before selecting a marathon training plan because if you really need more time to bring your body to its peak physical condition you will definitely want a longer or a more extended training plan. If you are physically fit, you can go for a 12-week plan that is only centered on the race.

What are your goals?

Just like evaluating yourself, it is also important to understand and decide upon your goals as they will help you in selecting the training plan that will not only fit in but also help you achieve them. Do you want to complete the race under a certain amount of time or are you only interested in finishing? Since most courses are allocated with a limited amount of time (6 hours or less), you should be concerned about finishing in time even if you are only interested in completing the race. A plan that includes some faster stuff may be all you need since everyone coming for the race would probably be doing a speed work. Incorporating speed work into your marathon training plan can make it look tougher but it will definitely break the boredom, and improve your running efficiency.

Most people come into the marathon training program just to have fun, if you, however, select a wrong training plan, your chances of having fun and succeeding on the race day might be dashed!

Go through your life schedules

Examine your schedule for the coming 12 – 20 weeks, will you have the time to take on a marathon training at all? Examine your work schedule, is it predictable? Do you have any work trip or vacation planned? Will your work and your daily schedules allow you to commit reliably to running more than 3 days a week? The answers to these questions will not only help you in setting your goals but also help to know if the right time to go on a marathon is now.

 If you cannot reliably commit 4 to 6 days to train and run per week, now may not be the ideal time for you to tackle a marathon. To train for a marathon, the lifestyle of a marathoner will face little changes, such as nutrition, strength training, and the sleeping pattern. Marathoners need a lot of sleep, and if you are depriving yourself enough sleep to tackle a run then you are not doing yourself a favor.

Look for a reliable source

Of Course you need to get yourself a training plan, but where is it coming from? Who wrote it? What is the author’s level of experience in running and coaching? Does the plan have what it takes to carry an average runner to the starting line ready to make it to the end of the race? You have to also consider those who have used the plan you are opting for and see how they have progressed and succeeded with the help of the plan. All these questions should be properly answered before choosing a reliable training plan that will help your achieve your goals.

TIPS FOR A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE MARATHON TRAINING AND RACING

For most marathoners, training involves running great distances as fast as they can, as much as they can leaving them the unavoidable consequences which include fatigue, injury and thwarted race day expectations. When it comes to training for a long distance running, there are proven methods you can adopt without having to push yourself beyond your limits. Some of the tips and steps you can follow for effective marathon training and racing are discussed below.

Find a coach

Aside from getting yourself the best training plan, getting a coach or a training partner is a good way to start your marathon racing journey to achieve success on the race day. A coach will direct you through the workout exercise you should carry out, how many miles to run, take your through how to get faster, give you confidence when you feel depressed and also add a dose of reality when you need to train more aggressively.

Start slowly, develop gradually

You cannot swallow an elephant all at once, you’ll start by taking it up bit by bit, day after day till you’re done, and the same thing goes for a marathon race and training. Do not start a marathon in an aggressive manner, Start from your fitness level and gradually progress to where you want to be safely. Increasing the length of your long run and your weekly mileage by 10 percent each week is the best way to ensure a safe development and avoid injuries.

Persevere

Not all marathon workout training would be fun. You will probably miss a few training runs, but always try to be consistent. Persevere, keep your momentum flowing, and be flexible. The fact that the marathon training plan is a detailed plan that can be modified to suit your needs does not mean you should procrastinate or relent. You can equally create a custom training plan for yourself, and tackle it with a lot of hard work. Find yourself a hilly route to run; this will help improve your running economy, develop your leg strength, enhance your aerobic capacity, and develop your strength and stamina to run faster as the program progresses.

Rest well

Of course, you have to push yourself in order to develop the ability to run farther and faster but doing that too much without taking enough rest can mar the whole program. It can burn you out, cause injuries or make you disappointed on the race day. This is the reason why you need to alternate your long runs or speed sessions with a rest day or an easy run. These resting periods will enable your body to rebuild and repair the worn out muscle tissues and this will make you stronger and more resistant to fatigue when running faster or longer distances. For more tips, see 26 tips for running your best 262.

MARATHON TRAINING PLAN FOR BEGINNERS

Is this your first marathon? Have you been running for at least a year? If so, this plan is specially made for you. This 18 weeks plan, written by Anna Renderer, an experienced fitness trainer, will help improve your endurance and build your mileage. It will also help you cross the finish line feeling strong and free from injury. Before you start this beginners training program, you should start running 3 to 4 miles, 4 or 5 times a week. Drawing a pre-training plan might be a good way to achieve that. You should be able to follow this pre-training plan for 4 to 5 weeks without much discomfort before you start the marathon training program. If you cannot meet up with this schedule, give yourself time to develop to that level in order to avoid injuries or soiled marathon expectations.

 

Mon.

Tue.

Wed.

Thur.

Fri.

Sat.

Sun.

Pre-training

Rest

3miles

4miles

4miles

Rest

3miles

6miles

Do not wait till you enter into the 18 weeks program, start your pre-training as soon as you can.

 

 

The Training Plan

weeks

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total miles

1

Foam Roller : Every Monday

2miles

Yoga/Swim

3miles

Rehab Strength And Stretch: Every Friday

2miles

4miles SD

11

2

3miles

Yoga/Swim

4miles

3miles

5miles SD

15

3

3miles

1mile Time Trial

3miles

4miles

7miles SD

18

4

3miles

Rest

4miles Hills

4miles

9miles SD

20

5

4miles

Rest

3miles

4miles

7miles SD

18

6

4miles

Yoga/Swim

3miles

5miles

10miles SD

22

7

4miles

1mile Time Trial

3miles

5miles

12miles SD

25

8

4miles

Rest

4miles Hills

4miles

15miles SD

27

9

4miles

Rest

4miles

4miles

½ Marathon SD

25

10

4miles/4 Sprints

Yoga/Swim

6miles

4miles

16miles SD

30

11

4miles/4 Sprints

1mile Time Trial

6miles

4miles

18miles SD

33

12

6miles/6 Sprints

Rest

5miles Hills

5miles

20miles SD

36

13

7miles/7 Sprints

Yoga Swim

7miles

7miles

14miles SD

35

14

6miles/6 Sprints

Rest

7miles

7miles

20miles SD

40

15

7miles/7 Sprints

1mile Time Trial

7miles

7miles

13miles SD

35

16

6miles/6 Sprints

Rest

5miles

6miles

8miles SD

25

17

5miles/5 Sprints

Yoga/Swim

4miles

5miles

10miles SD

24

18

3miles

Rest

3miles

3miles

Race Day

35.2

Foam Roller: Give your body a massage with a foam roller on Mondays. This will prevent injuries associated with training for a race. You can follow this foam rolling exercises to correct your sore spots.

Yoga/Swim: This is a cross training day that includes exercises which require no weight lifting such as yoga, biking, swimming, core strengthening, Pilates or stretches. This should be completed within an hour.

Rest: This is a resting day that allows the body to recover. It can also be incorporated into stretches, core strengthening activities and foam rolling for a better recovery.

1 mile Time Trial: Time yourself for 4 laps on a 400meter track after you warm-up at an easy pace for 10 minutes. Your 1 mile time will improve as you continue the program. You will be able to measure your weekly running pace improvement. On your normal run days, always run one or two minutes slower than your 1 mile time trial days.

Hills: Find yourself a place with intervals of hills to run, do not base your race only on flat distances. This will help build your legs strength and endurance while running far distances.

Sprints or Speed work (SW): This is to enhance your speed and fast – twitch muscle fibers. Do a sprint of about 100 meters at something close to your full speed. Gradually reduce your speed after the 100 meters and proceed at a moderate or easy pace. You can set the intervals between sprints according to your preferences but be sure to carry out all the sprints before the run is over.

Slow Distance (SD): slow distance runs are designed to enhance the endurance level of your slow- twitch muscle fibers and get your body accustomed to running impacts and repetitions. Run at a comfortable pace that will allow you run longer distances.

Prehab Strength and Stretch (PSS): This is designed to help to remain strong and healthy throughout your training program with strength training moves, stretches and injury prevention exercises.

MARATHON INTERMEDIATE TRAINING PLAN

The intermediate marathon training plan is geared towards experienced marathon runners who have been running regularly for 2 years and above and want to improve their time. This 4 months program is easy to follow and incorporated with a lot of speed work and cross training. It will help you hit a PR and can also be adjusted (by shifting the schedule by a day) to suit your need.

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total Miles Run

1

6 miles easy

4 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

10 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

25

2

6 miles easy

4 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

12 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

27

3

6 miles easy

5 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

10 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

26

4

5 miles easy

5 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

3 miles easy

14 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

27

5

6 miles easy

1mile time trial

PSS/XT

Rest

3 miles easy

16 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

26

6

6 miles easy

5 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

3 miles easy

12 miles (SD) or Half Marathon

Injury Prevention

26

7

6 miles easy

4 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

2 miles easy

18 miles (SD) 

Injury Prevention

30

8

6 miles easy

1mile time trial

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

15 miles (SD) 

Injury Prevention

27

9

5 miles / 5 SW

5 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

2 miles easy

20 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

32

10

6 miles / 6 SW

7 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

12 miles (SD) or Half Marathon

Injury Prevention

30

11

7 miles / 7 SW

1mile time trial

PSS/XT

Rest

3 miles easy

22 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

33

12

7 miles / 7 SW

7 miles hills

PSS/XT

Rest

5 miles easy

14 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

33

13

5 miles / 5 SW

5 miles hills

PSS/XT

6 miles easy

2 miles easy

20 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

38

14

6 miles / 6 SW

6 miles hills

PSS/XT

5 miles easy

Rest

12 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

29

15

4 miles / 4 SW

1mile time trial

PSS/XT

4 miles easy

Rest

10 miles (SD)

Injury Prevention

19

16

5 miles easy

Rest

3 miles easy

Rest

Rest

Marathon!

Rest

34.2

 

Injury Prevention: This is designed to help you stay healthy and physically fit with no injury throughout the training program. Try incorporating sun salutations for runners, yoga core strengthening exercises, yoga exercise for runner’s legs, total body yoga exercises or 30 min yoga sequence to stretch and strengthen every part of your body.

PSS/XT:  Take advantage of the Prehab Strengthen and Stretch (PSS) / Cross Training (XT) exercises incorporated into this program to remain strong and healthy throughout your training program. A yoga or low impact cardio like swimming, cycling or Pilates might be able to help.

MARATHON TRAINING DIET

Training and nutrition are the key factors that determine a race day performance. It is therefore important to get yourself on a proper marathon training diet if you really wish to achieve the success you have been hoping for. To remain energized throughout the whole 26.2 miles run, the following nutrition tips should be followed while preparing for the race day.

Carbs-loading: It is important to fill up your fuel store (muscle glycogen) before the race day and this can be achieved by consuming more carbohydrates. The more you train, the more carbohydrates you burn and the more carbohydrates you need to consume.  This does not mean you should start eating too many carbs, in fact, you have to avoid this. Plan your carbohydrate intake carefully; don’t allow your tight running schedule to make you depend on junk foods depriving your body of high-quality carbohydrates. 

Know what works for you and what doesn’t: When it comes to marathon training diets, everyone is different. What works for a runner may not work for you, a more reason why you need to understand your body system and find out what works for you. A marathon training diet that works is based on individual preferences. You also need to avoid foods that cause you stomach discomfort. If you are used to having gastrointestinal problems, you may have to lower your fiber intake, and to a minimum level especially on the day before the race.

Plan your pre-race breakfast: Glycogen is stored in the liver and is used up by your brain when you sleep at night. This is why you need to take a breakfast this is rich in carbohydrate to supplement the used ones. Although your breakfast composition depends on your taste and preference, you should avoid foods that are high in protein, fiber, fats and anything else that can disrupt your stomach. Experiment with different kinds of foods during your training days and decide on the one that suits you best. On the race day, stick to what you already practiced, no need for any new experiment. Avoid too much salt or electrolyte intake. You may consider the best food to eat before and after the race.

Don’t always depend on fluids: Fluids and sports drinks are good for replenishing the muscles while running a long distance but you don’t have to take them always or consume too much of it. Too much fluid or carbs can result in stomach upset, weight gain and may even lead to hyponatremia. It is important to take the right amount of fluids and sports drinks to have the much-expected result. The right amount of fluids to take on the race day can be calculated by calculating your weight difference before and after a marathon training session. The difference in weight before and after the training is the amount of fluid you lost while training which is also known as your sweat rate. In order to prevent dehydration, you will need to drink the amounts of fluids that are almost the same as your sweat rate. Always remember that by limiting your sports drink or fluid intake, you are giving your body some more push to getting a more fitness boosting effect.

PRE-RACE

The last 3 days before the race are very important. The mental preparations, logistic planning, rest, diets, and the exercises you carry out in this time period can affect your performance positively or negatively on the race day. Here are some of the things you should do in order to make most out of the rigorous training you have done.

  • Do a short but fast exercise
  • Start taking high-quality carbohydrates
  • Avoid staying long or spending unnecessary time on your feet
  • Rest properly, get a good sleep
  • Get your racing gears (such as your sunscreen, clothes, footwear, race number etc) together
  • Plan your race (especially race morning)
  • Take your pre-race meal (consume up to 75-100 grams of carbohydrates 3 hours to the commencement of the race)
  • Warm up (do this about 30 minutes to the commencement of the race, perform an easy jogging and stretches before the commencement of the race).

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