How Much Marathon Training Do You Really Need?

The Perfect Marathon Build-Up Part I: The 8- to 9-Week Crash Course

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

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

Wednesday: After proper warm-up, run an opening piece of 22 to 24 minutes at roughly 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than your current 10K race fitness. After this opening piece, jog slowly for five minutes to recover, and then run another piece of 14 to 16 minutes at the same targeted pace as the 22 to 24 minutes.

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

Friday: 8 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.

Sample Week 4 of the Marathon Crash Course

Week four will be the only week in which we dial back the overall intensity during this two-month block. The longest run this week should be 14 to 15 miles, and the only hard session should be some 400s completed at current 10K race fitness. All other running this week should be aerobic in nature, comfortable and controlled with nothing forced.

More: 3 Reasons to Include Recovery Runs in Your Training

Weeks 5 to 6 of the Marathon Crash Course

Sunday Long Run: 18 to 22 miles with two x 5-mile "pushes" within the run at or a hair quicker than goal marathon race pace. I recommend a 4-mile warm-up followed by 5 miles at goal marathon race pace, then 1 mile easy followed by another 5 miles a touch quicker than the first then 4 to 5 miles to finish. Conclude run with 6 x 100m strides for economy. Be certain to practice fluid and energy intake during your long runs. Take six to eight ounces of fluid every 30 to 35 minutes, and ideally 100 to 120 calories of energy intake within the same period. This workout should be executed on either week five or week six, but NOT on back-to-back weeks. On the alternate week, I recommend a race—a 10-mile race or half marathon in which you run goal marathon race pace for the opening 6 to 7 miles, then finish more quickly.

More: 3 Progression Runs to Reach Race-Day Success

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

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

Wednesday: After proper warm-up, run an opening piece of 22 to 24 minutes at roughly 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than your current 10K race fitness. After this opening piece, jog slowly for five minutes to recover, and then run another piece of 14 to 16 minutes at the same targeted pace as the 22 to 24 minutes.

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

Friday: 8 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.

More: Improve Your Run Training: How to Peak at the Right Time

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About the Author

Pete Rea

ZAP Fitness is a Reebok sponsored nonprofit facility that supports post-collegiate distance runners in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. ZAP puts on adult running camps during the summer, and is available for retreats all year. The facility has a state-of-the-art weight room, a bio-lab for physiological testing and a 24-bed lodge. Coaches at the facility include two-time Olympic trials qualifier Zika Rea, Ryan Warrenburg and head coach Pete Rea. Visit zapfitness.com, check out ZAP's Facebook page for more info, or call 828-295-6198.

ZAP Fitness is a Reebok sponsored nonprofit facility that supports post-collegiate distance runners in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. ZAP puts on adult running camps during the summer, and is available for retreats all year. The facility has a state-of-the-art weight room, a bio-lab for physiological testing and a 24-bed lodge. Coaches at the facility include two-time Olympic trials qualifier Zika Rea, Ryan Warrenburg and head coach Pete Rea. Visit zapfitness.com, check out ZAP's Facebook page for more info, or call 828-295-6198.

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