Marathon Training Schedule: What To Do & When

When you plan to run a marathon, you make a large but very admirable commitment, as running 26.2 miles is no easy feat. Marathon runners must follow a rigid training program to prepare for the intensity of running such a long distance and ensure their body is up to the task come race day.

Although it is a challenge, running a marathon is a very rewarding experience. Whether you are preparing for your first marathon race or have been interested in marathon running for a long time, the right training program makes all the difference.

How To Build Your Marathon Training Plan

A marathon training plan is a detailed process. Fortunately, you can make your way to a successful race using the following tips.

Have the Right Shoes

Before you begin your training program, you need to have the right gear. The best part about running is that you need very little equipment. The most important thing you need is a good pair of running shoes. 

If you plan on running a 26-mile marathon and training to build up to it, you need proper support in your shoes. Ensure your shoes fit properly and have less than 500 miles on them.

Build a Strong Schedule

The key to every good training program is building yourself up gradually with a proper plan. The right schedule will allow your body to adjust to longer distances and work up to a full marathon. 

You will want to aim for a good marathon pace and build up your endurance so your body can handle the grueling task of running for a full 26.2 miles. A schedule should also be varied with different workouts to prepare your body for the intensity and strain of running a marathon. 

It is best to start your training program at least four months before the date of your marathon and increase your weekly mileage to about 50 miles before race day. Each week should gradually increase, but never increase your mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to another.

To meet this goal, less experienced runners may benefit from a training program that lasts up to six months, while more experienced runners can prepare in as little as 12 weeks of training. Typically, how far you can comfortably run when you sign up for your marathon will be the biggest indicator of when you should begin formal training.

Use Different Running Workouts

You will need a varied training program as you work up to a marathon. Three main types of runs make for positive additions to your training routine. These are tempo runs, interval runs, and fartlek runs.

Tempo runs are based on time and push you as you work to complete a race at a consistent pace for a set duration, generally around an hour. Meanwhile, interval runs are supposed to push you to go hard for a set period, like running at high speed and then jogging or walking.

Fartlek runs are another popular type of workout to add to your training. This workout is like interval training, but it is less structured and meant to be continuous. In a fartlek session, you should spend part of the run “on” and part “off.”

During the “on” periods, you run at a higher but still comfortable pace, while you run slower during the “off” periods. Instead of using time or distance to mark your running pace, just base your pace on how you feel and play around with varying speeds to see what works for you at the moment.

Each of these is great for giving your body a feeling of adjusting to varying paces while giving you more control over your workout. Remember, you should include appropriate warm-ups no matter what you are working on.

Include Recovery

Rest days are a key component of your schedule, as your body needs time to recover and rebuild muscle in between long runs. Overtraining can lead to burnout and ultimately prevent you from seeing the progress you would like. 

During rest days, you should not run at all so your muscles can recover. Make sure to listen to your body and pay attention to any minor discomfort to avoid injury.

Injury prevention should always be at the top of your mind, and the easiest way to avoid injury is to pace yourself appropriately. Injuries like runner’s knee are common in marathon runners and can directly stop your training program.

One of the best ways to support your recovery process is to use Incrediwear products. Incrediwear braces and sleeves help optimize your body’s natural healing process by using semiconductor technology to promote better blood flow and nutrient transfer. You can use these products while you run for increased performance, comfort, and pain relief.

When To Do What Workouts

Your training program will also depend on your priorities. For example, if you are focused on just completing your race, your biggest focus will be increasing your weekly mileage at a good marathon pace. However, if you are working on shortening your finishing time, then you will want to include some speed training.

As a foundation, your running schedule should include three to five runs each week. To work on mileage, include a long run every week, and add a mile each time. By the week before your marathon, you should be able to reach a long run of 20 miles. On race day, your preparation will help carry you the extra six miles without too much strain.

If you are working to increase your pace, you should include one to two-speed training runs to add to your weekly mileage on top of your long runs. Good speed work training includes interval runs and fartleks to help increase your race pace. 

Make sure to alternate between easy runs and more intense training runs. About one or two days a week, it is good to go for a light run to get your muscles moving without elevating your heart rate too much, just so your body can recover without losing time training.

Remember, too, marathon training doesn’t have to mean just running. Strength training workouts and cross-training two to three times a week can offer several benefits in helping your body work up to running a marathon and keep your muscles active in different ways.

Is a Half-Marathon Training Schedule Different?

If you are running a half marathon, then yes, your training schedule will be different from a full marathon. However, many of the general principles are the same. Although you will be running different distances as you work up to the 13.1 miles of a half marathon, you will still need to schedule your program carefully, maintain the right discipline, and take care of your body along the way.

Because you are building up to less mileage, you can start your training program later. However, you should still aim to include long runs and increase your weekly mileage one week at a time. For half marathon training, you can plan to max out your longest run at about 10 miles before the race.

How To Prepare for Race Day

The months leading up to your race are crucial, but how you prepare in the final days makes all the difference. Therefore, you should mentally prepare for how you will approach race day, from the night before to the days after.

Before Your Race

In the last three weeks before your race, you should reduce your mileage, so you are not tired out by race day. As you approach your race day, your biggest priority should be hydration. Make sure to drink water regularly in the days before so that your body is prepared for the extensive activity. It is especially important to drink at least a full cup of water the evening before your race and the morning of.

The best thing you can do before a race is to eliminate any potential sources of stress so you can focus on mentally preparing for your run. As a result, make it a point to get to the race early and get to the starting line at least 10 to 15 minutes before your race is about to start. Be sure to take care of your bathroom needs before you get there.

During the Race

Once the race begins, allow yourself to get into your flow. Make sure not to start too intensely, as it can be easy to burn yourself out by letting your nerves get the best of you, especially if it is your first marathon. Remember to stick to your training pace and decide later in the race if you feel comfortable enough to pick up your speed.

Even while running, it is important to keep your body fueled. After all, 26 miles is a long distance and will have you running for up to 6 hours or more. Marathons will have hydration and snack tables along the way to help provide you with energy and carbohydrates, and you should not just breeze past them.

There are also handy snacks and fuel sources you can bring with you to support you during the race, like energy gels and gummies that aren’t too annoying to carry on your run so you can avoid hitting a wall. Make sure to do this on your training runs as well. It will also help you get used to eating, drinking, and running simultaneously.

After the Race

Immediately after you cross the finish line, the first thing you should do is hydrate. Drink a few cups of water or an electrolyte drink to replenish your fluids. Walk around a little to help your muscles cool down and get your blood flowing. Some light stretches will help reduce the soreness as well.

You should focus only on resting in the days and weeks after your race. Take the proper care to get plenty of sleep each night, drink plenty of water, and get the right nutrients in your diet. You should not rush back into activity either. 

Take at least a week before you return to running, and when you begin running again, start by taking it easy and slowly build back up into longer runs.

Expand Your Limits With Incrediwear

Undoubtedly, training for a marathon puts a considerable amount of strain on your body. However, with the right training schedule, you can place yourself on a path to success and keep feeling strong and capable during your training. Make the most of your training with proper recovery.

With the help of Incrediwear, you can keep your muscles fresh, minimize your recovery time, and even boost your performance. Incrediwear offers medically proven results to optimize your body’s natural healing by increasing blood flow. 

From recovery socks to ankle sleeves, we provide a whole collection of excellent products for runners. Explore all our products for yourself and see the difference Incrediwear can make in your training.


Marathon Training Tips | UPMC Sports Medicine

Running a Marathon: Training Tips | Patient Education | UCSF Health

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Write a comment

All comments are moderated before they are published