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'26.2' - The Marathon Training Website: 

How To Improve Your Marathon Training

Are you running a marathon this season? Download our free "Marathon Race Strategies" report and improve Your performance!

Following your marathon training program week after week is critical to completing the race successfully. However, if you go out too hard during your training you could be setting yourself up for an injury. Of course, you still need to stick to the training schedule as much as possible and not miss days or reduce the weekly mileage.

Below you will find some useful tips and guidelines to follow that will enhance the training program and help keep you injury-free.

Take the High Road?

How much hill work should you be doing during the first several weeks of training? Contrary to what you might expect the answer is Ďnot muchí! In fact our beginner marathon training program has no formal hill work at all. The reason is that running hills (both up and down) is an easy way to get hurt if you arenít careful and you push too hard.



Therefore itís best to get through the strength building part of the program before doing too much hill work. This doesnít mean you should avoid hills at all cost! Just donít do too many in any one workout, and take it easy on the hills that you are running.

Softer Is Better

Depending on how much running you have done previously, your legs will react to the increasing mileage and longer runs. What does this mean? An increased risk of injury. To reduce the impact :-), pick a softer surface to train on, than paved roads and concrete sidewalks, whenever you can. Crushed gravel and woodchip covered trails are great, and much easier on the legs.

Some people argue that off-road running is riskier due to the uneven surfaces or that it does not prepare you for the marathon course. This is true, and you need to run a little slower, and keep a good eye on the trail. Once you have run the same route a couple of times youíll soon remember where the bad parts are! You also need to do some of your runs on a paved surface.


About Building Strength

Some runners like to push the pace and go out hard, day after day. Thereís nothing really wrong with doing this if your body can stand it. However in the context of marathon training we are trying to build up strength and endurance for a specific event. The best way to do this is by running at a more moderate pace for at least some of your training runs to give your muscles a chance to re-build. It is this rebuilding process that actually strengthens the muscle, so you will be able to run faster and / or longer.

This is especially true for your weekly long runs. As the distance increases your muscles are getting more fatigued, and again your risk of injury is increasing.

Change Is Good!

If you can work in some cross training you will definitely benefit. Our marathon training schedules in the earlier weeks have two to three rest days per week. Pick one of these days to do some cycling or swimming for example. You will work muscles not used much in running, and overall youíll end up stronger.

Donít sacrifice all of your rest days though! I recommend at least one day per week where you do no training at all. If you find you are more tired on your training runs you should ease up on the cross-training exercises.

Pump Some Iron

A little strength training at the gym goes a long way to increasing your overall fitness, The thing I like about gym workouts is that they are very focused on specific muscle sets. For example quadriceps are often a weak point for a runner. Doing leg curls at the gym can really strengthen this part of your legs. You can benefit from some upper body workouts as well.

Upper body workouts also help your overall physique and balance when running. If you have the time and opportunity I strongly recommend you include some weight training two to three times per week.

Vary Your Pace!

Last but not least - don't get into the training rut of always going out at the same pace! Read our article on this topic here: Vary Your Training - Improve your Running



To summarize then, here are a few things you can do that will improve your training and readiness for the marathon.

  • Go carefully on the hill training, especially at the beginning of the program

  • Run off-road on (non-paved) trails at least some of the time

  • Vary the pace of your training runs

  • Include some cross training exercise if you can

  • Do some gym workouts


If you want to try a different kind of training program used by many successful marathon runners check out the 100 Day Marathon Training Program


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