Marathon Training Program For Recreational 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. The number one prerequisite for beginning a marathon training program is a complete physical exam and clearance from your doctor. This is especially important if you have never engaged in long distance training. You should also not begin training if you are injured or have a chronic illness, without the proper clearance from your physician. This is a non competitive plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Week training cycle

 

This is a 24-week cycle that designed to prepare a recreational runner to finish a marathon and run the entire distance. The first four weeks of the program are a build up of base mileage. If you currently have a base of at least 15 miles per week and are able to run 6 miles comfortably, you can skip the first 4 weeks of the program and begin at week 5. You should be able to run at least 2 miles comfortably before this program. If you cannot run 2 miles, slowly build up to that level before starting this program.

 

This program is designed for a recreational runner. A recreational runner usually does not follow a specific year round training program. This type of runner runs only occasionally, but with some consistency. A recreational runner may enter from one to several races per year. Weekly mileage usually ranges from 5 to 15 miles per week.

 

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, long runs, some hill workouts and some beginning speed training workouts. It is designed to prepare you to finish a marathon and run most or all of the race. It is not designed to greatly improve performance or allow you to finish in a specific time.

 

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 should be run at an easy, comfortable pace. The goal is to increase the distance and time that you can run comfortably.

 

Speed Training

 

Speed training is short to medium length repeats that are run at paces that range from race pace to nearly 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. These speed workouts are based on your most current 5K or 10K race paces. If you have not run a race before, you can estimate your 5K pace by doing a time trial on a 400 meter track. After a warm up, run three 1600 meter repeats with one minute of rest between repeats. Run the repeats at a pace that you can maintain for the entire workout. Do not run the first one so fast that you cannot complete the remaining two repeats. You should be running at a very hard pace, but not all out. Calculate your average pace per mile for all three repeats. Multiply this by 3.125. That will give you an estimate of your current 5K race finishing time.

 

Standard Warm Up

 

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

 

 

 

Week 1

 

Monday – Rest.

 

Rest is not just a day off; it is an important and planned part of a training program. Rest allows your muscles to recover and strengthen.

 

Tuesday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Wednesday – Run 2 miles easy. Avoid the temptation to increase your pace on these easy run days. You will have many opportunities to run hard.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 2

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

Wednesday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 2 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 3

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Wednesday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 4

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

Wednesday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 5

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up. Perform a 30-minute fartlek run. Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play. Run for 30 minutes alternating 5 minutes at an easy pace with 2 minutes at a pace that feels hard, but not all out.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 6 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 6

 

Monday – Rest

 

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

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday – Rest or cross train.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday – Run 3 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 7

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run a 30-minute fartlek run. Alternate running 5 minutes at an easy pace with 2 minutes at a pace that feels hard, but not all out.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 8 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 8

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x 400 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 200 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 9

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up, 4 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 hard, but not all out. Jog back down to recover. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 10 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 10

 

Monday - Rest

 

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

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 11

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run a 45-minute fartlek run. Alternate running 5 minutes at an easy pace with 2 minutes at a pace that feels hard but not all out.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train..

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 12 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 12

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at an easy pace. Then run 2 miles at your marathon goal pace. Cool down with 2 miles of easy running.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 13

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x hill repeats. Run up the hill at a pace that feels like 5K pace. It will be slower than 5K pace because of the added difficulty of the hill incline. Continue to run for 20 meters past the top of the hill. Jog or walk back down to recover. Cool down with 5 minutes of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 14 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 14

 

Monday - Rest

 

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

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 7 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 15

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at an easy pace. Then, run 4 miles at your goal marathon race pace. Cool down with 2 miles of easy jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 7 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 16 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 16

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 8 x hill repeats. Run up the hill at what feels like 5K pace. Jog or walk down to recover. Cool down with 5 minutes of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 7 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 8 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 17

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or about 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 7 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 18 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 18

 

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 of easy jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 8 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 9 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 19

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 5 x 1600 meter repeats minutes at 10K pace or about 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 8 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 20 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 20

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 2400 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace or about 20 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 8 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 10 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 21

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 1 mile easy. Then, run 8 miles at your goal marathon race pace. Cool down with 1 mile of easy jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 7 miles easy.

 

Thursday- Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 22 miles easy.

 

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

 

 

 

Week 22

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x 400 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 200 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 3 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 6 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 23

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 400 meter repeats at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog or walk for 200 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest or cross train.

 

Friday - Run 2 miles easy.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Sunday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

 

 

Week 24

 

Monday- Rest

 

Tuesday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Wednesday - Run 4 miles easy.

 

Thursday - Rest

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Rest

 

Sunday - RACE DAY. HAVE FUN!!

 

 

 

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