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Training for a Marathon

With the New Year comes new resolutions. For many of you, these resolutions probably relate to physical health. One of the biggest reasons that you fall through on resolutions is that you do not set tangible goals.

Setting a resolution to “workout more” gives you no accountability. For this reason, choosing a more defined goal, such as training for a marathon, has a much higher success rate. Not only do you have a way to benchmark your progress, but if you sign up for the race in advance, you are less likely to back out because you have already paid the entry fee. Plus, you can set smaller daily, weekly, and monthly goals to stay on track.

So how do you even begin to train for a marathon? There are so many variations of marathon training plans online and in running publications that it can be a bit overwhelming to try to figure out what is right for you. Here are some steps to help you decide what training is best for you.

Set Goals

Why do you want to run a marathon? Are 5Ks not long enough? Do you have a time goal, a weight loss goal or a goal to “just finish” a marathon?

If you are only trying to lose weight, a marathon may not be the right goal for you. While running does improve physical health, it is not the fastest or easiest way to lose weight. Your motivation to run a marathon should be more specific to the marathon in order to succeed.

If you have a time goal, it may be in your best interest to find a personal coach who can work with you and give you individualized training and feedback to let you know when to work harder and when to take it easier.

Whether you are aiming for a certain time or just to complete a marathon, if you give yourself enough time to train and are able to stay motivated, you can achieve your goal.

Choose a Race

If your New Year’s Resolution is to run a marathon, there are a few things to consider before signing up for the race. First, the timing is extremely important. It takes about 16-20 weeks of training in order to be prepared for the distance. Before you begin this training, however, you should have a base of being able to run for at least 30 minutes without stopping and be consistently running at least 12-15 miles per week. If you are already able to do this, a spring marathon may be a good goal.

If you are completely new to running, it is best to choose a fall marathon, to give your body time to get used to running and build a base. This will help to avoid the most common cause of running-related injuries, overtraining, or training too much, too soon.

Training

Here is a simple training plan that will allow you to build mileage at an appropriate rate in order to complete a marathon in 16 weeks. The days can be changed to fit your schedule, but it is important to be consistent, and to get in easy runs, a long run, and recovery days every week.

WEEKMONTUESWEDTHURFRISATSUNTOTAL
13 milesrest4 miles3 milesrest5 milesrest15 miles
23 milesrest4 miles3 milesrest6 milesrest16 miles
33 milesrest4 miles3 milesrest7 milesrest17 miles
43 milesrest5 miles3 milesrest8 milesrest19 miles
53 milesrest5 miles3 milesrest10 milesrest21 miles
64 milesrest5 miles4 milesrest11 milesrest24 miles
74 milesrest6 miles4 milesrest12 milesrest26 miles
84 milesrest6 miles4 milesrest14 milesrest28 miles
94 milesrest7 miles4 milesrest16 milesrest31 miles
105 milesrest8 miles5 milesrest16 milesrest34 miles
115 milesrest8 miles5 milesrest17 milesrest35 miles
125 milesrest8 miles5 milesrest18 milesrest36 miles
135 milesrest8 miles5 milesrest20 milesrest38 miles
145 milesrest8 miles5 milesrest9 milesrest27 miles
153 milesrest5 miles3 milesrest8 milesrest19 miles
163 milesrest3 miles2 easyrestracerest34.2 miles

While you are increasing your mileage, remember that your body is working hard and you will likely need to increase your nutrient intake as well. For long runs, you should be taking nutrition products when you begin to feel fatigued. These can include Gu, sports drinks, energy chews, or whatever product works best for you. Staying hydrated is important as well to allow you to perform your best.

Training for a Marathon

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