How Much Marathon Training Do You Really Need?

Week 7 of the Marathon Crash Course: Start of the Taper

This will be the first week where your overall volume of running will begin to diminish. For example, if you have capped out your volume at a peak of 55 miles during weeks one, two, three, five and six, this week would be roughly 10 to 15 percent down from each (46 to 48 miles). The long run this week will be diminished to 15 to 16.

Sunday: 15 to 16 miles controlled with light surges (alternate one- to two-minute surges every seventh minute in the final 80 minutes) late in the run. Finish with 8 x 100m accelerations post-run.

Monday: Rest day—optional non-running aerobic exercise.

More: How Runners Benefit From Sport-Specific Strength Training

Tuesday: Easy 5 to 6 miles with 8 x 100m to finish post-run.

Wednesday: Final "tougher" session: 11 to 12 miles with the final 7 miles to be run as a cut down (begin final 7 miles eight to 10 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon race pace, and finish the final 2 miles eight to 10 seconds per mile faster than marathon goal race pace).

Thursday: Short run of 3 to 4 miles (optional non-run workout) or off day.

Friday: 8 to 6 miles "as you feel;" finish with 10 x 200m accelerations on the track or on a flat bike-path stretch. These 200s should be run at roughly 5K pace with 200-meter slow walk/jog between them.

Saturday: Athlete's choice day, but keep the run effort controlled.

Week 8 of the Marathon Crash Course: the Taper

Tapering for a marathon is the least scientific element to the event. Some athletes prefer a longer two-and-a-half- to three-week taper, and others prefer as shorter taper. As a general rule, your taper should be inversely proportional to the duration of the build-up. If you have a long 12- to 14-week build-up, a two-and-a-half week taper is very reasonable; however, our crash- course plan demands a shorter drop into race day, as we have only been "working" for seven weeks. Drop your volume an additional 30 percent so that your final week (excluding the marathon) is roughly half that of your peak.

More: How Much Do You Need to Taper?

Sunday: 10 to 11 miles controlled. Finish with 8 x 100m accelerations post-run.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Warm up for 2 miles; run 3 miles at goal marathon race pace; cool down for 2 miles.

Wednesday: Run relaxed for 4 to 5 miles.

Thursday: Off day.

Friday: Off day.

Saturday: Pre-race day, 20 minutes easy with 6 x 100m strides.

Sunday: Race.

The next article in this two-part series will discuss the more traditional approach of a 12-to-14 week build-up as well as some tips for marathon "prep" runs.

More: How to Deal With Marathon Race-Day Problems

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