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A Guide To Training For A Marathon

Marathon Training Books

Many runners mistakenly believe a dream of completing a marathon is an unattainable goal. The marathon distance of 26.2 total miles may seem insurmountable but the truth is many runner attempt and complete marathons each year. These marathon finishers are not only seasoned athletes who have been training all of their lives for these events. Many first time marathon finishers are actually amateur athletes who may not have any special training or running experience prior to deciding to train for and compete in a marathon. Whether you are already running regularly or are looking to start a running program, this article will provide a wealth of useful information for training for a marathon.

The first step in any marathon training program should be to consult with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to begin training for a marathon. This is especially important if you have previously not been exercising regularly. Even those who have been regularly exercising should consider consulting their doctor for a full physical examination before embarking on a marathon training program.

The next step in any marathon training process should be to select an upcoming marathon in which you wish to compete. You may wish to select a marathon which is at least a year away or you may opt for a marathon which is scheduled to take place in the near future. However, those training for their first marathon are advised to select a marathon which is at least 12-16 weeks in the future to ensure you have adequate time to prepare for the event. It is possible to prepare for a marathon in this short period of time but it does require a great deal of dedication and commitment to completing the goal of being well prepared for the marathon. Allowing yourself more time to prepare for the race by selecting a marathon which is scheduled to take place further in the future will allow you to follow a more leisurely training program which has a more gradual progression of mileage.

Another factor to consider when selecting a marathon in which to compete is the terrain of the course. This is important because some marathons are on relatively flat terrain while other marathons include a number of very challenging hills on the course. Courses which are flat are generally considered to be easier because the runner does not have to navigate steep hill. Many first time marathon runners prefer to select a relatively flat course for their first marathon. However, if you are seeking a bigger challenge, you might want to select a course with a number of steep hills. Runners who select a hillier marathon course should consider incorporating hill running into their training program to ensure they are well prepared for the terrain of the course. Most race coordinators can provide you with information on the terrain of the course before you sign up for the event so you can be sure you are selecting a course which suits your needs.

Marathon training should be a gradual process. The complete distance of a marathon is 26.2 miles. Those training for a marathon do not necessarily have to complete training runs equal to or in excess of this distance before the marathon in which they are scheduled to complete. Most marathon training programs recommend, the athlete complete runs in excess of 15 miles before competing in a marathon. However, the initial mileage is typically much shorter. First time marathon participants should plan on completing distance runs equal to 15-20 miles approximately 2-3 weeks before their scheduled race. Using this as a goal, the athlete can formulate a marathon training program by working backwards from this point until the time in which the athlete plans to begin the training program. For example the runner may wish to increase the mileage each week by a small percentage. Depending on how much time the runner has to train for the marathon, this may mean the runner is starting out with a relatively low mileage of only a few miles per week or the runner may be required to begin the program by running significantly more miles per week.

Those training for a marathon should also consider incorporating a taper period into their training schedule. This is typically done in the final two weeks before the race. The runner may plan on running a large amount of mileage three weeks before the race and dropping this mileage in the final two weeks to keep the body in shape while also allowing the body to rest and heal so the runner is in peak shape for the day of the marathon.

Please see the listing below for a simple 16 week marathon training program which can make the goal of completing a marathon attainable for novice runners:

Week 1:     Total Mileage = 20-40 Longest Run = 6-8
Week 2:     Total Mileage = 30-50 Longest Run = 10-13
Week 3:     Total Mileage = 50-60 Longest Run = 14-16
Week 4:     Total Mileage = 50-65 Longest Run = 17-20
Week 5:     Total Mileage = 45-65 Longest Run = 15-18
Week 6:     Total Mileage = 35-55 Longest Run = 13-16
Week 7:     Total Mileage = 50-65 Longest Run = 18-21
Week 8:     Total Mileage = 40-55 Longest Run = 10-13
Week 9:     Total Mileage = 45-60 Longest Run = 18-20
Week 10:    Total Mileage = 45-60 Longest Run = 16-18
Week 11:    Total Mileage = 45-60 Longest Run 12-14
Week 12:    Total Mileage = 45-60 Longest Run 15-18
Week 13:    Total Mileage = 40-55 Longest Run 12-14
Week 14:    Total Mileage = 45-60 Longest Run 15-17
Week 15:    Total Mileage = 40-55 Longest Run 14-16
Week 16:    Total Mileage = 40-50 Longest Run 12-14

In following a program such as the one listed above, the athlete does one run each week which is equal to the amount listed in the column for longest run and then divides the remainder of the total mileage for the week among 3-5 of the other days of the week. Care should be taken to get adequate rest each week. This is best accomplished by not running every day of the week. Most runners typically take 1-3 rest days each week.



The video clip above is from my DVD about running stetches and other running related information. Click on the DVD case below to find out more.

Running Stretches and Running Tips

Click Here to view the DVD.

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