Training For Your First Marathon (Part 2)

How do you decide on a training plan?

You want to start with a mileage level you have been at for the past few months without jumping up too much in volume right away. A marathon training plan will gradually increase your mileage significantly over the course of the training plan.

Select a plan that starts where you are for weekly mileage, long runs & days per week running.

We want to make sure there is a foundation there before we begin marathon training

  • Running consistently for 6-12 months
  • Consistently running 15-20 miles per week for the past 3-6 months

Want an example of what the ‘prerequisite to marathon training’ should look like?

Check out our 12 week plan here

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How to Determine Paces for Training?

Before you start your training program, we want to test your current fitness level using a time trial or a race. Signing up for a local 5k is a great way to test your fitness. Based on your race result, you can calculate your current VDOT fitness and assess paces for your training plan. One of our favorite calculators is here:

  • Train at your CURRENT fitness VDOT paces to get faster
  • Retest your VDOT every 6-12 weeks to ensure you are training at the right paces
  • Do NOT run more than 20% of your weekly mileage faster than easy pace
  • Make sure you are running the correct pace on your easy days! You can go SLOWER but you can NOT go faster!
  • Focus more on aerobic workouts like tempos, steady states, medium long runs over speed work

Need someone to help with your training? Is it too much information?

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The Phases of a Marathon Training Cycle

👉Periodized training is a way to divide up a training cycle into more focused sections. The number of sections and the lengths of each section will vary depending on many factors like when the goal race is, the athlete’s level of fitness, and what the distance of the goal race is

👇In general though, these are the phases of a marathon training cycle:👇

✅BASE BUILDING: This is the foundation of any endurance training plan. The focus here is aerobic development with an emphasis on easy miles. This phase should include shorter speed workouts, like fartleks and strides, and introductory strength training. You want to be pushed a little bit during this phase so the bigger workouts in the next phase aren’t as big of a shock to the body

✅RACE PREPARATION: This is when longer runs, longer tempo runs, and longer repeats are implemented after getting the aerobic development from the base building phase. This is where you’ll have the more “traditional” marathon workouts

✅PEAKING: This can also be described as the taper. Overall volume (number of miles) decreases, but intensity stays up! Many people make the mistake of not keeping intensity in during their taper/peaking phase. Keeping intensity in allows for fine-tuning your speed and running economy

🌟The base phase can extend over several weeks, but the peak phase should never be longer than 4-8 weeks to avoid burnout
🌟Every 3-5 weeks, you should recover by reducing your mileage by ~30% percent
🌟After your peak phase, goal race, and a period of complete rest, you can start again with base building, and work your way through the phases again and again!

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