If you are going from couch to marathon, your training plan will have to be supplemented by three to four weeks of ‘base training’. During your base training period, you should be running about 28 to 30 kilometres per week to establish a solid cardiovascular foundation and prime your body for months of legwork. You can also use this time to choose the right pair of running shoes for you and gradually ‘break’ into them.
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There are many marathon training programs available online, and which one you choose depends on whether you want to complete the race in a specific time. For instance, the marathon training plan’s intensity for beginners with no time goal will differ from that of intermediate or advanced runners with a sub 3 hour time goal.
Regardless of which plan you choose, you can expect to incorporate these key elements into your marathon training program:
Long Runs: Many runners wonder how many long runs they should do before a marathon. Ideally, you should schedule at least one long run every week. Start with a one-hour or 10-kilometre run., Increase your distance by and make about 10 per cent increments every week.Start with a one-hour or 10-kilometre run, and make about 10 per cent increments every week. In your final long run before you taper off, you can expect to peak at 25 to 32 kilometres while running at your desired marathon pace. For instance, if you aim to complete the race in four hours, you should be running at roughly 5.6 min/km (9 min/mile).
Short Runs: To complement your long runs, be sure to schedule in two to three short runs every week. These shorter runs, which can range from easy runs to interval and tempo runs, enable you to practise your speed and pacing.
Cross-Training: Besides giving your mind and body a break from running, cross-training can boost your marathon running capabilities in many ways. For instance, strengthening your lower body muscles and joints through strength training can reduce injury risk in your running journey. Low-impact activities such as yoga, swimming and cycling gives you the opportunity to continuously work on your fitness while allowing your joints to recover.
Taper: Many runners fear that dialing down on their training before race day may undo all their hard work. On the contrary, reducing mileage will allow you to recover adequately, and this can propel you to reach peak performance on race day. Most marathon training programs incorporate a three-week taper, which will see you running less and prioritising recovery during the period leading up to race day.