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Training - The Critical Weeks

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'26.2' - The Marathon Training Website: 

Keep On Track With The Right Training Schedule

Are you running a marathon this season? Download our free "Marathon Race Strategies" report and improve Your performance!


 

 
 

Deciding to run a marathon means making a four month commitment to following a fairly rigorous training program. We often just select a program without too much analysis and start training about 16 weeks prior to the event. But will this provide you with the best results? Here are several things you should consider when starting your training.

 

The Right Training Base

Before starting a marathon training program your average weekly miles should be compatible with the level of training you select. For example in our beginner program we start off at a total of 22 miles in week 1 going up to 30 miles by the end week 5. You should have a base of average weekly miles of about 24 or more to be comfortable at this level of training. If it is not, you need to extend the training weeks. On the other hand if you have been constantly running 30 miles per week or more, you can probably start your training at week two or three of the program.

 

Timing Your Training

An important goal of training (for the marathon or indeed for any event) is to build up your conditioning so that you achieve peak performance on the day of the event. If you extend your training you may well have passed that peak by the time you come to run the race. Likewise if you skip weeks out of the training, maybe due to injury or some other conflicting priority then you will not have reached your peak conditioning level.

Last year I extended my training by a couple of weeks and I believe I could have ran a better marathon if the race had been just one week earlier. (I still had had a good race though, and managed to meet my time goal).

 

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How Long Do We Need To Train?

The key section of your marathon training program is actually the last eight weeks. This is when the long run distance is up to 15 miles or more with strategically placed increments taking you up to 20 mile runs. You should not vary the program at this point as it is designed (if it’s a good training program) to get you to your peak level during the week of the event.

The bottom line here is – you can change the number of weeks you train as long as:

  • You have the right training base of weekly miles for where you start

  • You change only the training weeks prior to the last 8 weeks

For Example…

Suppose it is January and you want to start your marathon training to run a marathon sometime in April or May. You haven’t selected the exact date yet, but you have between 16 and 20 weeks of possible training. You should start your training right now and finalize the marathon date at least eight weeks (ten is better) before the race. Then simply repeat some of the earlier weeks training until you schedule coincides with the marathon date.

Extra Weeks

It’s nice to be able to start training earlier so you have a couple of weeks in reserve in case you get injured or have to miss some runs. Just remember that it’s best to ‘stick with the program’ the closer you get to the actual marathon date.

Following the training schedule correctly will greatly increase your chances of running a successful marathon.

 

 


 

 
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