Pre-Marathon Training

It’s Marathon Season! Well, almost. But don’t wait to get started. Prepare now. Setting yourself up for a successful marathon cycle, sets you up for a successful marathon! Pre-marathon training is the training you do leading up to your 12-16 week marathon training cycle. It’s purpose is to get you strong and fit, so you can handle the demands of higher volume and intensity marathon training.

The VCM and Boston Marathons are fast approaching. I am often asked when a runner should start their training for the marathon. Well, the answer is NOW! A typical marathon training plan is 12-16 weeks long, assuming the athletes has a pretty good base. But what is a base? Is it simply being able to run 4 days a week for 30 – 60 minutes? Not necessarily. Pre-marathon training should incorporate a variety of speed, stamina, and strength, so you can start the marathon phase a strong, fast, and well-balanced runner.

Now is the time to work on your weaknesses. If stamina and endurance is your weakness, then you would want to focus on this energy system. If speed is your weakness, then you would want to focus on leg turnover and speed work. If injuries slow you down, a good strength training program will be right up your alley. For most runners, this pre-marathon phase would include a variety of speed, stamina, and strength workouts. It also includes a well thought out strength and flexibility training program that is specific to you and your weaknesses.

The Pre-Marathon Schedule

The pre-marathon schedule would include:

  • Shorter speed workout: 30 seconds to 1 minute accelerations, run at faster than 5k race pace

  • Longer speed workouts:  2-5 minute intervals, run at 5k race pace, 2-3 mile progression runs

  • One medium long run

  • An individualized strength training and flexibility program

Your Plan In Action

Using a two week cycle for six weeks will enable you to be strong, fit, and ready for the demands of marathon training. You will have a great base, strength, and speed. Follow this two week cycle:

Week One:

  • Warm up 2 miles + 10-15 x 30 second strides @ faster than 5k race pace with 1 minute easy jog recover + 2 mile cool down

  • Warm up 2 miles + 6x2 minutes or 5x3 minutes or 3x5 minutes at 5k race pace with 2' recovery jog + 2 mile cool down (rolling course)

  • MLR (medium long run) 13 miles with the last 2-3 miles at half marathon or marathon race pace

Week Two:

  • Warm up 2 miles + 10-15 x 30 second strides or 10x1 minute at faster than 5k race pace with 1 minute easy jog recovery + 2 mile cool down

  • 6 mile progression run. Run the first 4 miles at an easy aerobic pace and progress over the course of the last 2 miles. Start at half marathon pace and progress to 10k pace (rolling course- last 2 miles flatter)

  • MLR 13 miles steady aerobic pace

One last component to the pre-marathon phase is strength training. This is a critical time to get your body stronger and reduce your risk of injuries during the marathon phase. It IS A MUST in every marathon runners training cycle. Check out our "Strength Training for Runners & Triathletes" post for strength training tips!