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Marathon Training Plan – How to train for a Marathon

Achieving a marathon is more than just a physical feat. It’s a journey that requires dedication, planning and the right guidance. In this blog post, we dive into the world of marathon training and show you how to best prepare, avoid injury and achieve your personal goals.

What is a marathon and why is it 42.195km long?

A marathon is a long-distance race in which athletes cover a distance of 42.195 kilometers. The term “marathon” derives from a legend from ancient times. After the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, a messenger is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to deliver the victorious news.

This impressive run of around 40 kilometers inspired the creation of the marathon race as we know it today. The course length of 42.195 kilometers was set at the 1908 London Olympics to run from Windsor Castle to the stadium in London and has been the official marathon distance ever since.

When should you start specific marathon training?

This is a crucial question, and the answer depends on many factors. Your experience, fitness level and goals all play a big part. At running.COACH we recommend a preparation time of 16-20 weeks, which is about four to five months.

You can read more about this topic here:
How many weeks of training it takes for a running race?

How many training sessions per week should I do for a marathon?

This also depends on various factors. Your current training volume, your goals and your life circumstances are important considerations. Remember that training and recovery should be in the right balance.

The following table will help you find the optimal number of workouts:

Beginner Jogger Intermediate Ambitious Professional
Improve performance 4 4 5 8 12
Maintain performance 3 3 4 5 7
Just for fun 2 2 2 3 3

If you want to increase your training frequency, it is important to do so slowly and in a controlled manner. We recommend that you increase your training frequency by a maximum of one session per week per six months. This will allow your body to adapt to the additional load and minimize the risk of injury and overload.

Which sessions should I include in my marathon training?

Vary your sessions during the training week. For example, include regular intensive running sessions in your weekly schedule (if you run 5 or more sessions per week, you can easily include two intensive sessions). You should also do one long run per week. The remaining sessions are filled with endurance runs and recovery runs.

The duration of the long jogs should be between 75 min and 180 min for marathon preparation. Vary the duration from week to week by cycling your training.

Example: Week 1: 75min, Week 2: 120min, Week 3: 140min, Week 4: 160min, Week 5: 180min – restart the cycle afterwards. The intensity should be slightly lower than for an endurance run.

How should the marathon training be distributed over the week?

Intense and long runs are the key sessions. Between them, you should always take at least one day off or do an endurance run to maintain the quality.

Of course, the easiest way is to let running.COACH generate the plan automatically. This way you will also get the optimal training pace suggested.

Preparation runs during the training phase

In order to prepare yourself optimally, we recommend a few test races. These can be scheduled as follows:

  • 3-4 preparation races spread over the last 20 weeks of preparation.
  • Half marathon as a “compulsory element”, ideally four weeks before the main competition.
  • Last race 14 days before the main competition, maximum 10 km.
  • Race distances increase towards the competition, final race shorter. E.g. 10 km, 15 km, half marathon, 10 km and main race.

You can find a calendar with interesting races here.

Marathon training with the help of a training plan

running.COACH offers an innovative platform for runners to create individual and dynamic training plans. The suggested workouts are based on your current fitness level and continuously adapt to your progress.

With a global membership base of over 150,000 runners, the platform offers the opportunity to be part of an engaged running community while pursuing individual running goals.

Create a customized and dynamic running training plan with running.COACH that prepares you for your running goals based on your current fitness level. Try running.COACH free for a fortnight after your first login!



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