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 '26.2' - The Marathon Training Website:

Are You Following The Best Marathon Training Program?

Following the right marathon training program for your abilities is a huge factor in deciding how well you will eventually finish the race. If you over or under-train you will likely have a difficult race. Here are a few tips to check that you are following a good training guide.

Training Program Length
The overall program should not be too long, (or too short). A 14 to 18 week program is best, depending on your current level of running. First time, and beginner marathoners may need more. Many runners actually end up over-training and as a result do not peak properly for the actual event.


Follow The Hard Day / Easy Day Principle
Review the daily runs, and weekly mileage in the training program. Your schedule should follow the hard day/easy day approach on alternate days and weeks. The weekly mileage should increase gradually by 10 Ė 15% over the previous week.

Mileage Goals
The better schedules have a suggested daily and weekly running goal. The schedule should be well laid out, and easy to track in your running log. (Click here for a customized logbook with a built-in training schedule for your specific marathon)

The program should be flexible. You should have the freedom to change your long run day, take an extra rest day, etc without compromising the overall results.



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Avoid High Mileage Programs
Your training program should not take you to too high a weekly mileage (Elite runners excepted). About 45 Ė 65 miles is the highest weekly mileage you will need. The beginner programs will be at the lower end of the scale


Long Run Strategy
The training program should have a gradual build up in your weekly long run distance. This long slow distance run is the cornerstone of your marathon training, and you need to develop the ability to complete your long runs without over-taxing your body.

Long Run Distance
Avoid long runs over 20 miles. Unlike shorter races, you donít have to run further than the race distance during training. Itís not necessary to run 24, or 25 mile training runs to have a good marathon.

How Many 20 Mile Runs?
You should also avoid following programs that have too many 20-mile runs. Two should be enough for the beginner to intermediate categories. Three 20-milers is normally sufficient for the experienced marathoner. In the elite category itís up to you!

This is often debated when it comes to marathon training. Personally, I think that for the beginner (and even some intermediate runners), you donít need to include this type of training for a marathon. It increases your risk of getting injured. If you run two or three races during your training period this will be sufficient.

However, more advanced runners will want to do some form of speedwork to increase the intensity of their workouts.

The bottom line is to pick the best marathon training program for your abilities that follows the above guidelines. Itís easy for beginner marathoners especially to get drawn into training programs that are really too ambitious for their level of experience. This is true even for those folks who can run fairly fast 10K races.


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