What Does It Take to Win a Marathon? (Part II)

The Building Blocks of Marathon Training

The principal elements of marathon training are:

Base mileage. Increase your weekly mileage over time. Run 3 to 5 times per week.

The long run. Do a long run every 7–10 days so your body can get use to long distances.

Speed work. Practice speed runs and intervals to improve your cardio capacity.

Rest and recovery. Sufficient rest aids in averting mental burnout and injuries.

Base Mileage

Most marathon training plans are from 10 to 25 weeks. 1st time marathoners should try to build their weekly mileage up to 55 miles over the four months leading up to the marathon.

3 to 5 runs a week is enough. A majority of these runs must be done at a relaxed pace. You should run at a simple enough pace to be capable of carrying on a conversation.

When constructing base mileage, don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from week to week.

Your next step is to increase to a long run every week. This should be attempted every 5–10 days, increasing the long run by 1-2 miles every week. Every 3 weeks, snip off a few miles so you don’t overdo it and risk injury. For instance, you could run 13 miles one weekend, 14 miles the next, then 15 miles, and then 13 again before moving on to 16 on the 5th weekend.

Doing these runs at a considerably slower pace than usual increases confidence, allows your body to get use to longer distances, and schools you on how to burn fat for fuel.

Remember, always let your body warm up and cool down with a couple of easy miles at the start and finish of any workout.