How Long Should You Wait Between Marathons?

Ideal Long-Term Training for the Marathon 

Ideally, you should plan on running one or two marathons a year, or three marathons in two years. This will enable you to recover properly, develop your aerobic potential fully, and improve your other energy systems continually each year. 

Here is what racing a fall and spring marathon in a one-year cycle might look like:

  • August through October/November: Marathon training (mileage, aerobic development and marathon-specific workouts) 
  • November/December: Recovery and build back into a good, general level of fitness. Include strength work and strides to stay healthy and to touch on speed
  • January/February: Short 4- to 5-week speed phase. Race a few 5Ks and do shorter, speed-oriented workouts while slowly building your mileage
  • February through April/May: Marathon training
  • May/June: Recovery and build back into a good, general level of fitness. Include strength work and strides to stay healthy and to touch on speed
  • July through September: Speed development or 5K/10K training. This will help you work on your speed and VO2 max
  • September through December: Half-marathon training. Another good change in stimulus, and helps improve your top-end anaerobic threshold

More: Workouts for Your Best Half Marathon

Now, you can run another winter or spring marathon, and repeat the cycle. 

This one-year cycle provides you with one short and one longer opportunity to work on energy systems like VO2 max and speed development. Also, you have the chance to train for races other than the marathon, which will have you primed for your best 26.2-mile results during your next training segment.

Can you run marathons closer together? Sure, and runners do all the time. In next month's article, we'll discuss how to adjust your training to race well at multiple marathons in a short time span. However, if you're looking for optimal long-term marathon planning, keep this article in mind.

More: 10 Tips for Running Your Strongest Marathon

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