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Training - The Critical Weeks

This is the key part of your training program


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What's The Best Marathon Training Program?


Finding Time To Do Your Marathon Training


Vary Your Training

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Setting Your Marathon Time Goal


Getting Started

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How to overcome the hill challenges


Marathon Countdown

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Marathon Success Secrets


How To Improve Your Training


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Mike & Steve's

Marathon Training Q & A

Steve:  veteran - of 57 marathons

If you have a question about your marathon training fill out the form below.

Mike - marathoner & author

 

I've run six marathons so far but am rather disappointed with my finish times. I can run a 40 minute 10K but my best marathon time is 3hrs 46 min. what can I do to improve?

This is much-asked question! (One of the fascinating things about the marathon is that you never know when you set out how well you will finish). There several calculators for predicting your finish time based on your 10K time. You should be able to do a sub 3hrs 20mins time, so you really need to look at your training. It should include two or three 20 mile runs, and should be a well balanced training mix between slow long runs and tempo runs. See more in our article on improving your marathon time.

 

I have been looking for Nutrition information while training for a marathon. It seems my training really drains me. Do you have recommendations for proper diet and nutrition or supplements during the entire training schedule for a marathon?

Marathon training can be really hard on your body and it's not uncommon to feel tired out. Make sure your are getting plenty to eat. Your meals should contain a good balance between carbs, protein and fat.  Check our page on Marathon Training Diet for proper nutritional information. However if you are feeling really tired after your training runs you may be doing too much. Try reducing your mileage for a couple of weeks, and take an extra day off to see if this helps.

 

 

 

What are the best running shoes for marathon training?

You will cover a lot miles during the training programs (anywhere from 550 to 800) so you obviously need good quality, sturdy training shoes. Cushioned are better, but if you need a stability shoe this has to be your first choice. Check our video on choosing the best running shoes.

 

I completed a half marathon last June in 1hr 36min. I'm currently training for the London marathon. I'm aiming to complete it in hopefully under 3hr 30mins. My training seems to be going well doing 3 runs a week one of which is a long run and one treadmill session working on fitness training. My only concern is that I always seem to average about 7:30 per mile whether i am running a short or a long run

Your training schedule appears to be quite light with only three runs per week. If you want to be under 31/2 hours you should increase this. (Check our marathon training program for some good training schedules). You can also try running with a buddy or a running club to add variety to your workouts.

 

I am now averaging close to 40 miles/week. My long runs have been slowly increasing... (along with mid-week speedwork). After about 10 or 11 miles my hamstrings tighten up & get real sore. Slowing my pace way down & making the last several miles unpleasant. My hamstrings have always been tight. What can I do to keep my hamstrings from getting so tight & sore. Is it wise to "push" through the discomfort? Thanks Chris

Hi Chris - you raise several interesting points here.  First of all, hamstring issues can become chronic and hard to resolve if you strain these major muscles and related tendons too much. So be careful how much you push here. Strengthening you quadriceps (leg curls on a weight machine is a good way) will help relieve the effort on the hamstrings. Try brisk walking breaks during your long runs. Gentle stretching will also help. Check our page on stretching.

 

We plan on running two marathons in two successive weekends. Should we totally rest and recover the week between the two? Any recommended strategies for two successive marathons?

Although plenty of people do run marathons close together we think this is can be very hard on your body. You should be running the first marathon quite slowly so it is more of a training run than a 'race'. Taking 2 - 3 minute walk breaks every 15 - 20 minutes during the first marathon would also help. Then try a recovery run about four days after the first race.

 

 

 

What would your recommend in the last 1-3 weeks before the marathon? Rest for the last week / easy training?

Our training  schedules recommend you gradually taper off during these weeks with your long runs decreasing to about 10 easy miles the week before the race. In the week of the marathon you should go for a couple of easy runs as well.

 

I am new to marathon training and running in general. I would like to start out by running a 1/2 marathon, and go from there. Your marathon training programs look extremely helpful - how could I tailor them to work for a 1/2 marathon instead of full? Is it as simple as cutting mileage in half or is there some other formula for success?

You can try this, although for the first few weeks you should not reduce the mileage by too much. You can also repeat the early training weeks. Unlike the marathon, we recommend you exceed the race distance during your training. 15 miles is a good goal for your longest run. This will make the 1/2 marathon race seem a little easier!

 

 

This was a long question and has been abbreviated...

... they found that I had developed arthritis in the knee area. Their immediate decision for me is that I stop running, but I can't seem to even, or ever, consider this an option. I need to know if there are any kinds of methods that you might have or know of that would help someone like me...

You obviously have to get the injury healed to a certain point before trying to run again. If brisk walking is possible, this is a good alternative. You also need to be careful about long term usage of painkillers like Ibuprophen to treat the arthritis. Arthritis can respond well to dietary changes and you can ask your physician about this. Our overall recommendation is to seek proper health advice, cross-train in the meantime (walking, swimming), and change your diet if necessary, as certain foods will aggravate the inflammation.

 

I will be participating in the upcoming Dubai Marathon. This is my first time participating in an international competition. I would like to know the do's & don'ts while running.

Any big marathon can be intimidating especially at the start line with everyone crowding together. Don't expect to be on your pace for the first mile or so, there's usually too many people. You should factor this into your overall time goal. Once you get going though, usual marathon guidelines apply - keep hydrated, adjust your pace according to the weather conditions, watch your pace and slow down in the first half if you are going too fast. Our  Marathon Race Strategies report covers these items in more detail.

 

I am an 18 year old woman who is incredibly out of shape and looking for a huge challenge. I think that a marathon is definitely a goal I would like to accomplish. How long should I concentrate on basic strength and endurance training before beginning the marathon training?

We receive quite a few questions about getting started on a marathon training program. If you are new to running, we recommend at least one full year of training before tackling the marathon distance. You should also have a physical check-up if you are just beginning.

 

How do I get back on track after missing one or two workouts?

This is a great question, because we've all been behind in our training schedule at one time or another. If you only skipped a couple of runs, it doesn't really matter, and you should be able to simply pick up the training at the designated point. Of course your actual miles for that week will be lower than they should be.

If you missed time (for example a full week) because of an injury it's best take things slow, and resume where you left off. As you get stronger, gradually increase the miles above the scheduled runs over a period of 2 - 3 weeks, until you can skip a week, for example go from week 8 to week 10.

Will you be giving training one week at a time?

Yes - we are publishing a new training page each week for 18 weeks. If you are starting your marathon training later you can review previous training weeks here.

Is there a way to know who else is using this (program) in case people want to group up for training?

Actually, at this point, we haven't asked people to sign up to follow the training program. We will be introducing a forum page later where people can contact others if they wish.

Can the program be tailored to training on a treadmill during the winter months?

You can certainly do the first few weeks of the beginner program indoors. However the long runs could be extremely boring on a treadmill!! They also do not prepare you very well for dealing with the weather, which is always a big factor in the marathon event.

 

I have run more (than) 12 marathons and looking to run somewhere between 4:30- 5:00 hrs. Should I use the beginner or intermediate schedule?

The Beginner program should be fine for your time goal of 4:30 to 5:00 hrs.

 

I am a 65 yr old woman who finished last marathon in 5:20 (Marine Corps 2006). I used to run faster (didn't we all?) but would still like to qualify for Boston (4:45). Could use some tips on how to increase speed without endangering myself! Nothing has seemed to work.

As you've probably calculated you need to average about a 10:50 min/mile pace to accomplish your goal. You need to train faster than this (10 minute miles would be good) especially on the shorter runs. Hill training in moderation will build strength and help you maintain a faster pace in the marathon. Finally, try increasing the number of long runs, but include walking breaks (2 -5 minutes every 20 minutes) to reduce the stress on your body.

 

 

 

 

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