Fourteen miles into your first rehearsal marathon and you’re struggling to believe it’s possible. “I eat right and run 40 miles a week; but can I do this? 26.2 miles is the hardest physical goal I’ve ever attempted and I’m not stopping till I get there.” Running a marathon doesn’t happen over a week or even a month; it takes training and perseverance. One of the first steps you need to take is to see if you are ready for this kind of challenge. Visiting your local Foothills Sports Medicine location for a sports therapy evaluation will help set you off on the right foot. Marathoning isn’t to be taken lightly, so making sure your body can handle the changes it’s about to face is critical. The following plan will encompass every day of your life from day one to marathon day. Let’s get started!
Week 1 – 6
These are the foundational weeks, if you feel that you are out of shape then take the time to get yourself in-shape. Reaching in-shape status can take up to 10 weeks, so plan accordingly if you are planning on running in a specific marathon. For these first weeks, spend five days a week jogging for at least 45 minutes, with one day of cross training, and another of rest. Think of it as training to train, don’t set goals, just be consistent day-to-day.
Week 7 – 12
This is where the heat gets turned up. For four days run 45-60 minutes with several 100m sprints to close out; spend two days a week cross training for 60 minutes, and take the last day off. Cross training can consist of anything anaerobic such as swimming or stationary biking. When running, practice consuming fluids and calories on the move. Don’t consume anymore than 8oz of water and 120 calories in a 45-minute span.
Week 13 – 19
After weeks of training to train, you are now ready to start marathon training. Spend 3 days a week running three miles at a quick pace, followed by two miles at a relaxed pace; then two days mixed between running for 60 minutes and cross training for an equal amount of time. Finally spend 2 days either resting or cross training. Although you haven’t started any long runs yet, these exercises are designed to build endurance needed for a marathon.
Week 20 – 25
You are now just six weeks from your big day, now is the time to take training very seriously. This phase of training is to help you cope mentally with the rigors of a marathon as well as to get you over the line physically, and as such the requirements of each day are precisely planned. On day one, run at a relaxed pace for three hours, after which complete 30 minutes of anaerobic exercise. On day two, don’t do any running, instead cross train for an hour. On day three, run for an hour and finish the work out by sprinting 8 x 100m. Day four is a relatively easy day with only 30 minutes of light running and 8 x 100m sprints. The fifth day is another long run of four miles. Day six consists of a longer run at seven miles and 10 x 200m strides. The final day is a rest day, feel free to cross train if you like. There’s no two ways about it, these weeks are going to be hard, but always listen to your body, and only push yourself as far as your body can take you.
Some runners call this the taper; during this phase of the training the goal is more to build up energy reserves for the race, and less on running massive distances. During this final week do what feels best while maintaining your hard earned fitness level. As a guide, spend your week either resting, running short distances, or cross training.
We hope that you make it to the end of this epic endeavor so you can enjoy the screams of the crowd as you cross the finish line. Supplementing your training with periodic visits to Foothills Sports Medicine for sports therapy is an excellent way to track your progress. Your body will thank you too as you are now in excellent shape. 26.2 miles is no easy accomplishment, only half a million people finish marathons each year, so pin that badge on the fridge!