Marathon Training Mistakes

Are you making marathon training mistakes?

As runners, we invest so much time and energy into our training. We want to make sure we are optimizing our time training. Our goal as coaches is to help athletes optimize their time and energy training. We want to get you to the starting line healthy and in the best shape possible! Learn for the mistakes others have made before you.

If you find you are making these mistakes with training, you can change! These are 3 key areas you can make small tweaks that will go a long way. Working smarter not harder is key for success in the sport.


It is important that we use the progressive overload approach to avoid BURN OUT during the marathon training cycle. Here is what your Peak week & taper should look like:

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 12.37.41 PM.png


Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 12.37.22 PM.png

1- Running Long Runs too fast


We want to build the aerobic system when we are marathon training. The marathon in 99.5% aerobic! This means we must stress the aerobic system the most to see the most improvement at the marathon distance.

Do you know what your aerobic pace is based on your fitness level?

  • Take a recent 5k time result
  • Figure out your pace per mile
  • Add 2-3 min onto your pace per mile to find your easy aerobic zone
  • Add 45-60 seconds per mile onto 5k pace to find marathon pace


  • 21:50 5k is 7:00 per mile
  • Your easy aerobic running zone will be 9:00-10:00 pace per mile
  • Your marathon pace will be around 7:48-ish per mile

Did you know that ‘marathon pace’ is the fastest aerobic pace?

Marathon pace is the fastest we can run and still be 100% in the aerobic zone. However, we don’t want to spend a lot of time here because running at those faster paces can cause a lot of additional stress on the joints/ligaments/etc.

Your easy/slower running paces (in the example 9:00-10:00) actually have the same effect on the aerobic system. The slower aerobic paces are easier on the joints/ligaments/etc. Running at the slower paces allows for the same physiological benefits for building endurance with less room for injury/burnout

If an athlete runs all their long runs at marathon pace it will take significantly longer for the body to recover. If we do not recover from the long run within 2-3 days, we will be setback for our next workout. If we do not properly recover, we can not add more workouts.

By running long runs too fast, athletes typically end in a place where they are never fully recovering between long runs or workouts. Athletes typically feel okay for training but paces do not improve. By the end of the training cycle athletes can find themselves mentally or physically burnt out from the lack of recovery.

We often find athletes who run their long runs too fast burnt out at the start line of their marathons. We NEVER want to leave our race in training. Do not use your long runs as a chance to prove your fitness.

Trust your training and the process. You will run fast on race day if you trust the training. You do NOT need to run fast on your long runs.

2- Wrong Type of Workouts

The marathon is AEROBIC. We are using that term again. This is very important to remember when marathon training! Most marathoners actually NEVER run to their potential in the marathon.

What does that mean? What is your ‘potential’ in the marathon?

Take for example the 21:50 5k runner. Add 45-60 seconds per mile to get marathon pace

A 7:00 pace per mile 5k runner should in theory be able to hold 7:45-8:00 pace for a full marathon.

Most athletes do not reach this ‘potential’ in the marathon because they have not developed their aerobic system enough!

The best workouts to close the gap on your marathon potential vs actual finish times:

  • Aerobic Threshold Workouts
  • Marathon Pace Workouts
  • Slow Long Runs
  • Building Mileage

Save the intervals and vo2max speed workouts for a different training cycle. If you have not reach your potential in the marathon, we need to work on the aerobic/endurance building NOT your speed.

We only get so many workouts in a training cycle do not waste them by running 400s and 800s every week.

You have to train specific to your event to be successful!


3- Not Enough Recovery

Marathon training is hard. We are working on increasing long runs AND weekly mileage. Many runners also add in longer workouts. There are a lot of stress variables increasing. Athletes are also spending more time training, so they have less time to focus on other things. As a result, athletes can sometimes fall into the trap of ‘under recovering’.

Examples of what not enough recovery looks like:

  • Not sleeping enough (7 hours MINIMUM PER NIGHT!)
  • Not eating enough or the right types of food for their training
  • Not foam rolling/stretching/taking care of self!
  • Not spending any time focusing on other hobbies or enjoying themselves through training
  • Not listening to body when it is asking for time off or extra rest day
  • Not making adjustments to the plan when work/life gets busy
  • Having the ‘must push through it’ mentality if anything comes up

We are all busy! Most of us recreational runners are working professionals. Add on the daily stress of work + everything else we balance in addition to training, it can be enough to send us over the edge. We need to make sure you are making adjustments to training. Sometimes LESS mileage or less volume is the right answer. Sleeping and self care take priority to training. We cannot improve if we are not recovering!

Stress+ Rest = Growth!

You must have the rest in order to grow! Overtraining is not something that happens overnight. It sneaks up on you. It is the little stresses that build on top of each other day in and day out without recovery.

If you don’t give your body planned rest, your body will eventually break to get the rests it is craving.







Published by

Leave a Reply