Marathon Training Plan For Beginning Competitive Runners

 

By Rick Morris

 

The marathon presents, perhaps, the greatest challenge of any running event. At one time only the most accomplished runner attempted this distance. Today, however, marathon participants are of all ages and abilities.

 

 

 

20 Week training cycle

 

This is a 20-week cycle that designed to prepare a beginning competitor to peak for a marathon. You should be able to run for 6 miles without stopping and should be running at least 15 miles per week before beginning this program. If you are not currently at this level, slowly build up to that mileage before beginning this program.

 

A beginning competitor is an athlete that is relatively new to racing and competition. This type of runner is just beginning to follow a structured training program, but has the desire to improve race performance and is willing to commit to a consistent training regime, including some high intensity workouts. The major difference between a recreational runner and a beginnng competitor is the athletes state of mind. A beginning competitor is taking the first step to becoming a true runner and athlete. This type of runner is beginning to make running a part of her or his everyday life and wants to take the steps necessary to improve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This program is general in nature. Feel free to make adjustments in order to accommodate scheduling conflicts and individual goals and rate of improvement.

 

The Workouts

 

This program contains rest days, easy runs, and long runs, speed training workouts, lactate threshold workouts, form drills and strength training. This is an introduction to a structured and planned training program. It is designed to begin to build speed, improve speed endurance and increase both general and functional strength.

 

Easy Runs

 

Easy runs should be run at a pace that feels fairly comfortable. You should be breathing hard, but should be able to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot talk, you are running too hard. If you can sing, you are running too easily.

 

Rest

 

Rest is a very important part of any training program. Without proper rest, your muscles and connective tissues will not have an opportunity to recover and strengthen properly. On the days calling for complete rest, do no strenuous activity. On the days calling for rest or cross training, you can rest totally or do some cross training. Cross training can be any activity other than running. You could go for a walk, swim, bicycle or do nothing. It is up to you.

 

Long Runs

 

The long runs used in the program are run at two different paces. The first portion of the workouts are run at an easy pace. The second portion are run at goal race pace. This will train you to run at race pace when fatigued.

 

Speed Training

 

Speed training is short to medium length repeats that are run at paces that range from race pace to an all out effort. The goal of this type of workout is to improve overall speed and the ability to maintain a quality pace for long distances.

 

Lactate Threshold Workouts

 

Lactic acid is a natural by-product of energy production. Normally, excess lactic acid is converted to energy. When the intensity of your running reaches a certain point, more lactic acid is produced than your body can process. This causes a decrease in the efficiency of your muscles. The point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate in your muscles is your lactate threshold. The goal of these workouts is to raise your lactate threshold level.

 

Strength Training

 

A proper strength-training program will improve your speed, power, and running economy and help you avoid injury. Strength training should be performed two or three times per week.

 

During the initial stages of your program, you should perform your strength training with a high number of repetitions and at a low level of intensity. As your running program progresses, so should your strength training. Gradually increase the intensity and lower the repetitions.

 

There are three types of strength training exercises that you should perform: General strength exercises; running specific exercises; and plyometric exercises. General strength exercises will build overall upper and lower body strength. Running specific strength exercises will strengthen the motions that are specific to running. Plyometric exercises are explosive strength exercises that will improve your running specific strength and economy. For more information see the strength training section and the additional articles in the various race-training sections.

 

Form Drills

 

Form drills are designed to improve your running form, technique and economy. Running economy is a measure of the efficiency of your running. The goal is to run efficiently with the least amount of effort.

 

Standard Warm Up

 

The following routine should be followed whenever a warm up is called for: Run easy for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel loose, stretch, run 4 x 100 meter acceleration strides, perform 5 minutes of form drills.

 

 

 

Week 1

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – 45-minute fartlek run. Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play. This is a non-structured workout in which you run at a steady pace and add in short surges of faster running. For this workout, alternate running for 5 minutes at a moderate pace with 1 minute at 5K pace.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 4 x 800 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 6 miles at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 2

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up. Run 2 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog easy for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 5 x 800 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 30 minutes at 25 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace.

 

 

 

Week 3

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up, run 3 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace. Jog 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x 800 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 400 meter repeats at 15 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 200 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters between the 2 sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 8 miles at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 4

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 1 mile at an easy pace. Then run 4 miles at your marathon goal race pace. Run 1 more mile at an easy pace to cool down.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 8 x hill repeats. Find a hill that is fairly steep and at least 100 meters in length. Run up the hill at a pace that feels like 5K pace. Your actual pace will be slower due to the incline. Run 20 meters past the top of the hill. Turn around and jog back down. Repeat this 8 times. Do not rest between repeats.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 45 minutes at a pace that is about 25 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

 

 

Week 5

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up, run 4 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging. If you are having trouble maintaining your pace, increase the distance of your recovery jogs.

 

Wednesday - Rest. You will take additional rest days every 5 weeks. This will give your muscles the opportunity to recover during your training program

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run for 20 minutes, alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K with and 60 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 10 miles at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 6

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 1200 meter repeats at 5K pace. Run for 800 meters at an easy pace between the repeats. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 10 x hill repeats. Find a hill that is fairly steep and at least 100 meters in length. Run up the hill at a pace that feels like 5K pace. Run 20 meters past the top of the hill and jog back down. Repeat this 10 times.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 4 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

 

 

 

Week 7

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 5 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters to cool down.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 800/400 meter supersets. Run 800 meters at 5K pace and 400 meters at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, with no rest between distances. Run at an easy pace for 800 meters between the sets. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 12 miles at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 8

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at 10K pace followed by 3 miles at goal marathon race pace. Cool down with 1 mile at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 25 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds faster than 5K pace and 60 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 5 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

 

 

 

Week 9

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 2400 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of easy jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x (4 x 800) meter repeats at 5K pace and 1 mile at 10K pace. Jog for 400 meters between the 800 meter repeats and 800 meters between the two sets. Jog for 800 meters between the 800 meter sets and the 1 mile. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 14 miles at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 10

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 1 mile at an easy pace. Then run 6 miles at your goal marathon race pace. Cool down with 1 mile at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Rest.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 1600/800/400 meter repeats. Run 1600 meters at 10K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 400 meters at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, with no rest in between. Jog for 800 meters between the two sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 6 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

 

 

 

Week 11

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 5 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 30 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 16 miles. Run the first 14 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 2 miles at goal marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 12

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 1 mile at an easy pace. Then run 7 miles at your goal marathon race pace. Cool down with one mile at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 30 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 7 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

 

 

 

Week 13

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at 10K pace followed by 4 miles at your marathon goal race pace. Cool down with 1 mile at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 5 miles on a trail that is consistently uphill. If you do not have an uphill trail in your area, you can do this workout on a treadmill, with the elevation set at 3 to 5 degrees. Run at a pace that feels like 10K pace. Your pace will be slower than 10K pace due to the incline.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 18 miles. Run the first 15 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 3 miles at goal marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 14

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at 10K pace. Then run 5 miles at your goal marathon race pace followed by 1 mile at 5K pace. Do not rest in between. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Run 2 x 400/800/1600 meter supersets. Run 400 meters at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 1600 meters at 10K pace, with no rest in between. Jog for 800 meters between the sets. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 8 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

 

 

 

Week 15

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run a 60-minute fartlek run. Alternate running 5 minutes at goal marathon pace with 3 minutes at 5K pace. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Rest.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run for 20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace with 60 seconds at marathon goal pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 20 miles. Run the first 17 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 3 miles at goal marathon pace. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

 

 

Week 16

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at 10K pace followed by 6 miles at goal marathon race pace. Then run 1 mile at 5K pace. Take no rest between distances. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 1 800/1600/2400 meter superset. Run 800 meters at 5K pace, 1600 meters at 10K pace and 2400 meters at goal marathon race pace. Take no rest between distances. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Run a 10K race or 10K time trial. Run the 10K in the best time you can manage.

 

 

 

Week 17

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 5000 meter repeats at 10K pace. Recover between the two sets with 800 meters of easy running. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday- Standard warm up. Run 1 x 3200/1600/800 superset. Run 3200 meters at goal marathon race pace, 1600 meters at 10K pace and 800 meters at 5K pace. Do not rest between distances. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 22 miles. Run the first 19 miles easy. Run the last 3 miles at goal marathon pace.

 

This will be your longest run. After this week, you will begin to "taper" or decrease your overall mileage. A proper taper is necessary allow your muscles to recover from long training distances and be at full strength for the race.

 

 

 

Week 18

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 30 minutes alternating 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 60 seconds at goal marathon race pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 8 miles at goal marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 19

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 8 x 800 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 6 miles at goal marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 20

 

Monday- Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 5000 meters at 10K pace. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Run 2 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Rest

 

Sunday - RACE DAY. HAVE FUN!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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