Marathon Training Cycles

All training cycles are different. Here's my take.

By conventional standards, marathon training cycles are normally 16-18 weeks.

If you’re in shape and you've been running, you can get away with a 16-week training cycle. Give it a few more weeks if you’re a novice, had injury issues, or feel like you need some extra time, “just in case”.

But no one says a marathon training cycle has to be 16-18 weeks. I read somewhere that Kenenisa Bekele - arguably one of the best distance runners, ever to live - only trains for 12 weeks for his marathons.

So what should you be doing?

I don’t have the crystal ball you think I have, so I can’t make that specific recomendation for you. But, what I can suggest are some things you can do to help you have a better marathon the next time you attempt one.

Rest (after your last race) like a champ

After your last race, take time away from running. You’ll need to rest your body, but also your mind. Training full time (month after month) without a break is exhausting and the only way to get out of your funk is by taking time off.

Train different systems throughout the year

After a marathon cycle, move down in distance. Spend some parts of the year training like a 5k runner. Spend time testing your speed rather than your endurance. It’ll make you a well-rounded runner and the speed work will help marathon pace feel easier.

Change/adjust one variable at a time

Here are only some of the variables I’m suggesting you can modify:

  • easy run pace

  • long run distance

  • shoes (brand, style, racing vs trainers)

  • workout volume

  • weekly volume

  • training surfaces

Get Stronger

Take a liking to strength training. You don’t have to try and get “big”, but you definitely should focus on being a balanced runner. Stronger joints, ligaments, and muscles can only help support your running.

Friday’s Action Plan:

Before you start training for a race (of any distance), have a sketched out plan for how and what you’ll do for your training.

What’s Got My Attention:

Article: The 2022 Boston Marathon Cutoff Time

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Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction can be the biggest step of your life.

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Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans, and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.