Spring through fall is “marathon season” throughout the country. If you’re training for a marathon, these tips will help you train smart so that you can avoid injury and improve your performance.
Start Training Early
Before you begin your training, design a plan around the amount of time that you have before the marathon. It’s best to start training early so that you can see positive results and have some additional time if you need it. If you add a few weeks to your training plan, you can use it to maintain the program that you are on or you can use the extra time as a buffer in case you need to take a break for any reason.
Increase Mileage Slowly and Drop Back
Depending on your current fitness level, you can use your training time to make a steady progression upward towards your 26.2 mile goal. This often means increasing your mileage 1-2 miles per week and then “dropping back” (reducing your mileage) to give your body time to recover and build endurance. One technique that some runners use is to divide their training time into thirds, and then drop back every time they complete a third of the training.
For example, if you are currently running for 10 miles, you could drop back to 7 on your drop back week, and then gradually build back to your mileage. The week after your drop back week, run 1 mile more than your first run (11 miles in this example) in order to build your mileage and your stamina while also giving your body enough time to heal. It is also important to make sure to rest when you need to and take breaks to help your body recuperate and avoid injury.
Training Schedule Length
An 18-20 week training schedule is pretty typical and will provide enough time to fully prepare the body for any upcoming marathon. If this is your first marathon, it may be helpful to devise a schedule that allows you to progress but also provides enough time that you can take a week off (if needed) for vacation, illness, or any other life event that may interrupt your training. As you gradually extend the mileage that you run, you can also focus on using the remaining time that you have to improve your pace and stamina.
There are many different ways to train for a marathon. Make sure that you listen to your body and be cautious of any pain or strain to prevent injury.