Marathon Specificity: How to Kick-Start Your Training

One of the best ways to improve your odds of running strong straight to the finish line is by running race pace in a pre-fatigued condition. The best workout for this training stimulus is a marathon-pace long run.
Run your goal marathon pace at the end of your long run. Here are three examples:

  • 20 miles with the last 2 miles at marathon pace
  • 20 miles with the last 5 miles at marathon pace
  • 22 miles with the last 10 miles at marathon pace

Each of these runs combines a long run with a marathon-specific workout to help you develop the adaptations you'll need to run well at your next marathon.

Clearly, you should only attempt to run a workout that you're ready to complete at the proper pace. It can take some runners years of preparation to run the last 10 miles of their long run at marathon pace—be smart about the progression of your workouts!

More: Your Endurance-Building Guide

These are naturally very challenging workouts and shouldn't be run every week unless you are an advanced runner. Plan them at least three weeks out from your goal marathon and don't attempt more than 3 to 4 marathon-specific long runs during your entire marathon training cycle.

Planning an entire 3- to 4-month marathon training cycle can seem daunting, but by following these principles and focusing on the specific demands of the race, you'll be primed to run well on race day. If you're not sure where to start, a good online running coach can develop a personalized marathon plan to fit your needs.

More: 2 Workouts to Make Marathon Pace Feel Easier

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