How long do I need to train for a marathon?
How many weeks do you need to train for a marathon?
Well, the answer really depends on you.
How long have you been running for? Are you a first time marathon runner? Do you have a history of injury? What are your goals? How much time do you have in between work and family to commit to training?
Most off the shelf marathon training plans are between 16 to 20 weeks, but some people will need longer and some can train in less time.
How do you know what is the right plan for you? Ask yourself the following questions to help decide.
How long have you been running for?
If you are someone who runs regularly, and already runs for an hour or more once a week, then you will have a good base to build on. Depending on if you already run half marathon distances or longer you could use a 16-20 week training plan.
If you are an experienced marathon runner who regularly runs the distance, then a shorter training plan that focuses on your race goals may work best for you.
And if you are a completely new runner, maybe hoping to challenge yourself to run a marathon for charity, then the longer the better. You will need to slowly build yourself up to 5k first and get into the habit of running regularly, and then start to progress to longer runs.
Do you have a history of injury?
If you have been injured before, perhaps when training for a race, then a longer, more gradual training programme with plenty of strength work and cross training may be better for you.
Give yourself enough time to build up slowly, and make sure your training has plenty of recovery days and weeks to allow your body to adapt and the muscles to grow.
A longer training programme will also mean you won’t be stressed about missing runs if you need that extra recovery time.
And, of course, if you have a history of injury or other health conditions, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before you start training.
What are your goals?
If you are aiming for a PB then a longer training plan may be right for you. This will allow you to build your endurance before adding any speed work.
Remember, you should always work on distance or speed, never both at the same time. If you try to increase the distance you run and how fast you run at the same time, this can lead to overuse injury and time off from running completely.
So in order to build your foundation before you add speed, a longer training plan may be best.
How easily will training fit into work and family life?
If you have a regular 9-5 job with no kids or other family commitments you can probably fit your marathon training into your life quite easily.
However, if you work shifts, have unpredictable hours, or have a busy family life, you may not be able to fit in a strict training plan and sessions may fall by the wayside. In order not to get stressed about this, give yourself longer to train, with the knowledge that things may need to be juggled around a bit.
A 24 week or longer training plan may just suit you as it will allow you to build up your strength and fitness, without being stressed when life gets in the way.
Is a bespoke plan right for you?
If you are looking for a plan that works with all these variables then a bespoke plan might be best for you.
I have experience of coaching people who are new runners, who want to achieve a marathon PB, who are returning to running after injury, who have a hectic work and family life, and everything in between.
Together we have set and achieved goals, worked around unexpected life events, and made sure stress was kept to a minimum.
The key to my coaching is that it starts with you – no training plan is alike, just as no runner is alike. After discussing your goals, current fitness levels and what you want to achieve, I will then create a plan that is tailored to you and your life.
If you are interested do let me know by filling out my application form. I’d love to hear from you.
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