If you’re considering running a marathon, you may be wondering how long you should train before the big day. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are several factors that can determine how long you should train for a marathon.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about marathon training, from the length of your training plan to expert tips on how to prepare for your first (or next) marathon.
Factors to Consider
Before we dive into discussing how long to train for a marathon, let’s take a look at some of the factors that can influence your training plan:
Have you run a marathon before, or is this your first time training for one? If you’re a beginner, you’ll need to train for a longer period of time than someone who’s already completed one or more marathons.
Current Fitness Level
Are you currently in shape, or do you need to lose a significant amount of weight before you’re ready to run a marathon? If you need to get in shape before you begin training for your marathon, you’ll need to plan on a longer training period.
What’s your goal for the marathon? Are you hoping to finish in a specific amount of time, or are you just trying to finish the race? Your goals can impact how long you need to train, as more challenging goals may require longer training periods.
How much time do you have available to train for a marathon? If you have a busy schedule or other commitments that take up a lot of your time, you may need to plan for a longer training period to make sure you’re prepared.
How Long Should You Train for a Marathon?
So, how long should you train for a marathon? The answer to this question can vary, but most marathon training plans will last anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks. Here’s a breakdown of how long your training plan should be based on your experience level:
If you’ve never run a marathon before, you’ll want to plan for a longer training period. A 20-week training plan is typically recommended for beginners, as this gives you enough time to build up your endurance and prepare for the big day.
If you’ve completed a few marathons before, you may be able to get by with a shorter training plan. A 16-week training plan is a good option for intermediate runners, as this gives you plenty of time to prepare without putting too much strain on your body.
If you’re an experienced runner who’s completed several marathons, you may be able to get away with a shorter training period. A 12-week training plan is often recommended for advanced runners, as this gives you enough time to prepare without risking burnout or injury.
Expert Tips for Marathon Training
If you’re preparing for a marathon, there are a few expert tips that can help you train effectively and avoid burnout or injury. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning of your training plan. Start with shorter runs and gradually build up your distance over time. This will help prevent burnout and injuries.
Include cross-training activities in your training plan, such as cycling or swimming. This can help build up your endurance without putting too much strain on your joints and muscles.
Set Realistic Goals
Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself, as this can lead to disappointment and burnout. Set goals that are challenging, but achievable.
Rest and Recover
Make sure you’re taking time to rest and recover between training sessions. This can help prevent injuries and keep your body in top shape.
Consistency is key when it comes to marathon training. Follow your training plan as closely as possible to make sure you’re fully prepared for the race.
Training Plan Breakdown
If you’re planning on running a marathon, you’ll likely need a training plan to help you prepare. Here’s a breakdown of what a typical 16-week marathon training plan might look like:
|1||3 runs (2 short, 1 long), cross-training|
|2||3 runs (2 short, 1 long), cross-training|
|3||3 runs (2 short, 1 long), cross-training|
|4||4 runs (2 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|5||4 runs (2 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|6||4 runs (2 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|7||5 runs (3 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|8||5 runs (3 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|9||5 runs (3 short, 2 long), cross-training|
|10||4 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 2 long), cross-training|
|11||4 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 2 long), cross-training|
|12||4 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 2 long), cross-training|
|13||3 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 1 long), cross-training|
|14||3 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 1 long), cross-training|
|15||3 runs (1 short, 1 tempo, 1 long), cross-training|
|16||2 runs (1 short, 1 long)|
Common Questions and Answers
Q: How many miles should I run per week during marathon training?
A: This depends on your training plan and experience level. Beginners may start with 20-25 miles per week, while advanced runners may run up to 60-70 miles per week at peak training.
Q: Can you train for a marathon in 3 months?
A: While it’s possible to train for a marathon in 3 months, it’s not recommended for beginners. You’ll need to be in good shape before you begin training, so plan on at least 6 months of training if you’re a beginner.
Q: How many rest days should I take during marathon training?
A: You should plan on taking at least one rest day per week during your marathon training plan to give your body time to recover.
Q: How do I prevent injuries during marathon training?
A: Make sure you’re wearing the right shoes, staying hydrated, and properly stretching before and after your runs. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard.
Q: How can I stay motivated during marathon training?
A: Set goals for yourself and track your progress. Find a training partner or join a running group for added motivation. And remember why you’re training for the marathon in the first place.
Training for a marathon can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By taking into account your training experience, current fitness level, race goals, and schedule, you can determine how long you should train for a marathon. Be sure to follow a training plan, take care of your body, and stay motivated throughout the process. Good luck!
- “How Long Should Your Marathon Training Plan Be?” Verywell Fit, Verywellfit, 4 September 2020, www.verywellfit.com/how-long-should-your-marathon-training-plan-be-2910834
- “Marathon Training Program – Novice 1.” Hal Higdon, Hal Higdon, 2021, www.halhigdon.com/training-programs/marathon-training/novice-1-marathon/