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How Lengthy to Prepare for a Marathon: An Individualized Strategy


Have you ever ever puzzled when to start out coaching for a marathon? Do you want 16 weeks, 24 weeks, a 12 months?

You’ll under no circumstances be shocked to listen to that I’m going to say there are a variety of elements that decide how lengthy marathon coaching takes for every runner. I’m going to attempt to break down a few of these frequent issues at the moment and offer you steering on the place to start out and what to do from there.

One of many issues I soak up to account is working historical past. Newer runners ought to enable a for much longer time-frame to construct as much as the marathon distance. It’s because the muscular tissues, tendons, ligaments and joints want time to adapt to the influence of working.

Many instances we are able to make huge beneficial properties in our cardio health rapidly, however that doesn’t imply the physique is totally tailored.

“Though you would possibly be capable to aerobically deal with a marathon, it doesn’t imply these connective tissues and bones have tailored sufficiently to deal with the stress,”says Janet Hamilton, an train physiologist.

Marathon coaching timelines are about each the bodily and psychological diversifications required.

There’s a motive a lot of people say “I don’t even wish to drive that far.” 26.2 miles is a critical distance and must be handled as such…but in addition, it’s lots of enjoyable!

How Lengthy to Prepare for a Marathon?

The commonest coaching plans on the Web or from a working ebook are 16-20 weeks. The period of time that you simply want for coaching may fall squarely in that very regular vary otherwise you would possibly want much less or extra time.

Marathon Finish
Coach Amanda at end line after pacing athlete Jodi to first marathon.

Most marathon coaching plans are assuming just a few issues:

  • Present baseline of health that means that you can full 20 miles per week
  • Not less than a 12 months of constantly working with out accidents
  • Understanding your present availability to place within the required mileage
  • A too brief coaching interval create danger harm (which implies no race!)

Everyone seems to be completely different, which is why there are such a lot of coaching plans and why coaches assist develop customized schedules.

20 weeks of coaching is roughly 4.5 months, which offers ample time to extend your mileage steadily with none huge jumps. That is sometimes called the 10% rule of coaching, which helps to forestall accidents.

Whereas you may be doing items of energy, depth, quantity constructing all through coaching you can consider it as being damaged down in to those segments. The place every makes use of the earlier weeks of coaching to maneuver you nearer to your aim.

Periodized Marathon Coaching Plan

A marathon coaching program is designed to observe a periodized mannequin of coaching. This takes you from the least particular work to most particular, so that you’re slowly constructing the suitable health on your marathon aim.

Weeks 1-4 – Base

Base constructing time to start slowly ramping up your complete mileage. Making certain you will have constructed the required core, hip, glute energy to forestall accidents all through coaching. You could have just a few velocity exercises throughout this part relying in your present degree of health, notably working strides.

Beginning to get within the rhythm of getting 1 future per week and what your schedule will appear like. Studying {that a} gradual jog and simple runs are your finest buddy for growing endurance.

Weeks 5-8 – Energy

In a ten week plan, we’re persevering with to work on increase the bottom for many runners. Slowly growing to longer distances, whereas additionally beginning to add in additional energy exercises.

That features each lifting with weights and exercises like hill sprints, hilly routes and brief tempo runs. Cross coaching may be as brief as 20 minute full physique lifts 2 days per week to three days of lifting and pre-run core exercises. Once more, it’s going to rely upon the earlier coaching expertise.

Beginning to apply restoration runs and full relaxation days to maximise coaching.

Weeks 9-12 – Quantity

Now we’re beginning to transfer in to a interval of honing in on the talents you should run a marathon. We aren’t but doing tremendous particular velocity work, however we at the moment are combing extra quantity with depth.

Depth may embody velocity periods with 5K to marathon tempo intervals. We hold within the shorter velocity work to proceed working these quick twitch fibers, whereas we’re growing complete work quantity.

Beginning to alter life-style across the time wanted to coach and recuperate. Extra meals prep to get sufficient carbohydrates, extra consuming to recuperate, extra foam rolling, extra planning your schedule and  pondering what you’ve gotten in to all take time.

Full marathons require a unique degree of psychological coaching. Now’s if you begin working towards your mantras and listening to all of the suggestions out of your coach to maintain pushing by way of these “can I do it?” fears.

when to start marathon training

Weeks 13-16 – Depth

At this level, you’re beginning to hit a few of your longest runs. For brand new runners that might imply 16 miles and even as much as your first 20 miler. You’ll be including extra exercises with race tempo miles, whereas sustaining energy coaching exercises and quantity.

That is the purpose the place marathon coaching burnout can set it. So it’s essential to have a plan that works on your life, your objectives and your present degree of health.

Beginning to actually see the progress in your coaching. Dialing your gear for longer distances and dealing on nailing your future fueling plan from the appropriate power gels to hydration. Understanding how your abdomen reacts.

Weeks 17-20 – Specificity

This ultimate part offers a pair weeks of very race particular coaching, which may imply ultimate lengthy runs of 20-22 miles for newer runners. Or it could possibly be a future with 1/2 at marathon tempo, or development to quicker than marathon tempo for skilled runners.

Peak week will probably be your highest weekly mileage and most troublesome future.

Then you’ll transition in to the ultimate two weeks of the plan, that are taper.

Taper it NOT elective, it’s a part of coaching. You’ll must get out of your head concerning the decreased mileage, so study methods to do marathon taper the appropriate means.

Can You Prepare for a Marathon in 3 Months?

It’s not extraordinary for very long time runners to construct as much as a marathon in 3 months with a 12 week coaching plan. It’s because they keep a constant degree of health 12 months spherical, which permits them to dive in to race particular coaching with much less complete time wanted.

In that situation, an intermediate to superior runners is skipping the 4-6 weeks of base constructing work as a result of it’s merely a part of their ongoing routine.

For runners on this class, the problem with beginning coaching too early is that they may usually peak too early. This implies hitting their high degree of health and readiness for the race.

That is precisely what occurred to me main as much as the Chicago marathon. Understanding my very own health, I ought to have pushed for a 16 week plan, however ended up on a 20 week plan the place I hit my peak at week 16.

What occurs in case you don’t give your self sufficient time to coach for a marathon?

It’s not unusual to have runners attain out for teaching once they notice the marathon is simply 3 months away they usually haven’t been placing within the work.

Generally we’ll conform to work with them, however others I’ll truthfully inform them I don’t really feel we’d be doing them a service to try to drive the marathon.

  • Potential for harm throughout coaching and the race improve dramatically
  • Frustration from not having the ability to full the assigned exercises is excessive
  • Disappointment with how race day goes results in not working

How long to train for a marathon

How Lengthy Ought to a Newbie Prepare for a Marathon?

On the flip aspect, we frequently coach runners who want a full 12 months to construct as much as the primary marathon distance.


As a working coach, I need to see individuals with no less than a 12 months of constant working below them earlier than tackling the marathon. 100% you need to use our Sofa to Marathon plan which is 24 weeks. However you’ll discover throughout that coaching plan, I say it’s doable and I’ll cheer you on…however not my desire.

  • For those who’ve been working constantly for a 12 months, checkout a 20 week marathon coaching plan
  • For those who’ve just lately run a half marathon feeling sturdy, checkout a 16 week marathon coaching plan
  • Ranging from scratch? Think about spending a 12 months specializing in shorter distances from 10ks to half-marathons to construct health and endurance.
  • Runners with a slower tempo may additionally want extra construct time as a result of we don’t need lengthy runs to require an excessive amount of time on toes, as that can delay restoration and compromise the following week of coaching.

Do not forget that you don’t want to cowl 26.2 miles in coaching! Taper means stepping into to the race with contemporary legs. That plus the adrenaline offer you an unbelievable increase.

Whew that was lots of info, however I hope now you will have a greater reply to how lengthy does it take to coach for a marathon!

For those who’re on the lookout for extra marathon coaching ideas, we’ve received you lined:

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How Long to Train for a Marathon


Sasith Mawan
Sasith Mawan
I'm a Software Engineering graduate with more than 6 years experience on the IT world working as a Software Developer to Tech Lead. Currently the Co-Founder of a Upcoming Gaming Company located in United States.


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