To complete a marathon, a runner must set up a training schedule based on their skill level. Novice runners gradually add miles over 18 weeks, while intermediate runners have longer runs and limited rest days. Expert runners focus on improving their time with speed work. It’s important to be checked by a doctor before training.
Once a runner makes the decision that they want to complete a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, called a marathon, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Next, the runner needs to set up his marathon training schedule. In doing so, he must decide whether he will train as a novice runner, simply trying to finish the race; as an intermediate, trying to improve his tempo; or as an expert runner, trying to hit a high time goal or even a financial reward. While a marathon training program usually lasts about 18 weeks, it’s often recommended to start at least 20 weeks before the actual race because injuries will occur and could interfere with your training.
Beginners or those who don’t have hours to train each day typically run about four days a week for their entire 18-week marathon training schedule. There are also cross training days and rest days each week. The key for novice marathon runners is to gradually add miles to their marathon training schedule and go for a longer run each week. Cross training activities can include swimming, biking and the elliptical machine.
For novice marathon runners, an example marathon training schedule might look like this: During the first week of training, runners should run 3 miles (4.8 km) for the first three days, then run 6 miles (9.7 km) for long term that week. Two days of each week should be rest days and one day of each week should be used for cross training. The long term will progressively lengthen each week. By about week 15, the long run will reach its peak of 20 miles (32.1km). In the final weeks of a marathon training program, the runner will run fewer miles to conserve his or her efforts for the race itself and to prevent overtraining.
An intermediate runner will use a slightly different format for their marathon training schedule. Slightly more difficult and time consuming, the Intermediate level program starts the first week with a 3 mile (4.8 km) run, a 5 mile (8 km) run, another 3 mile (4.8 km) run ), a 5-mile (8 km) pace run, and then a 10 km long run. By week 11, the runner will run his 16-mile (20 km) long run, then he can repeat it during weeks 13 and 15. Also, the shorter runs during the week are usually longer than those in the beginner program. Intermediate runners will continue training with swimming or another activity one day a week; but rest days are limited to once a week.
An expert training program for the marathon, the miles are longer and more focus is placed on improving the runner’s time. Also included are speed work sessions that include hill reps, tempo runs, and interval training; however, for those new to speed work, a marathon is not the appropriate time to learn the skills involved. One day of each week should still be set aside for rest of the body; however, cross training is no longer included.
By following a marathon training program that fits a runner’s skill level, one can be completed. It is important to be checked by a doctor before taking part in such strenuous daily training.