The Four Building Blocks of Marathon Training

Four Building Blocks of Marathon Training

Marathon Runners - Marathon Training

For many people, completing a full marathon seems like a dream. There’s no denying that 26.2 miles are a long way to go. However, it’s not an impossible distance. If you can race a 10k, you can run a marathon. All it takes is time, training and perseverance. All you need to know is how to train for a marathon and you’ll get there.

It’s important to start small and far in advance. One of the most common causes of injury in marathon training is the increase in mileage too soon. We highly recommend doing a shorter race, like a 5k, and building up to an 8k or 10k. Eventually from there going to a half marathon. It’s an excellent way to prepare physically and mentally for a full marathon. The primary building blocks of marathon training are base mileage, long runs, speed work, and rest and recovery. These elements are essential for training for any distance.

1. Base Mileage

The purpose of base mileage is to build your weekly mileage over time, which includes three to five times per week. More importantly, base mileage is allowing you to be able to run the basic runs consistently. It allows you to have a base before you increase in distance. Most marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. Three to five runs per week is more than sufficient to keep your mileage up. The vast majority of these base runs should be done at a relaxed pace. For example, you should be able to run at an easy pace where you are able to carry on a conversation.

2. Long Runs

Checking Running Watch

Check your running pace on your runs to make sure you’re not going too fast on the longer runs.

Your next step is to build up to a weekly long run. Having long runs in your training schedule is vital. Incorporate a long run 7-10 days so your body can adjust gradually to long distances. We do not recommend that you do a long run twice a week. In addition, we suggest that every 3 weeks, you scale it back by a few miles so you’re not overtaxing your body and risk of injury. The main focus of long runs is to run at substantially slower pace than your normal runs. If you space out your long runs, it allows for you legs and body to be accustomed to longer miles. In addition, doing these longer runs are to be completed at a slower pace.

3. Speed Work

Speed work isn’t a necessity but it’s a training booster. It helps to increase your aerobic capacity and it makes your run feel, easy. Intervals and tempo runs are popular workouts people do for speed work.  Practice tempo or intervals to increase your cardio capacity. Intervals are sets of repetitions of a specific, short distance, run at a substantially faster pace than usual. To break up the intervals, add in recovery jogs in between. Tempo runs are a bit longer than intervals. They are generally in the range between 4-10 miles and depending on where you are in your training. It’s important to allow your body to warm up and cool down with a few easy miles at the beginning and end of any speed workout.

4. Rest and Recovery

Rest days mean no running. Seriously, do not run. Adequate rest helps prevent injuries and mental burnout. If you are itching to do something on your rest days, doing some cross-training is a great option. However, rest days are in place to let your muscles recover from a hard week of training. Tapering can be essential as well. Furthermore, in the two-three weeks leading up to your marathon, scale back significantly overall mileage and difficulty of your runs to let your body rest up for race day.

These tips are in place to just get you started. If you want more information about how to get started, talk to anyone of our trainers. We can even create a marathon specific training schedule to help assist you in your training needs. Ready to get started? Contact one of our trainers today!