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This guide provides a training method for walkers (level 1) and three levels of runners. To determine your training level, read through each level’s description and choose the one that best matches your fitness aptitude and goals.

Level 1

This is the beginning level for first-time runners/walkers. You should be able to run or walk 2 to 3 miles three times per week.

  • Includes three to five days of running/walking per week
  • Weekly training schedule: one long run/walk plus two to four days of easy running or cross-training
  • Maximum weekly mileage: 20 to 40 miles

Pace: If you’re new to running, it is important to pace yourself. Don’t be too concerned with speed — run at a pace that is comfortable for you. If you’re running with a friend, you should be able to carry on a conversation with ease.

Distance: The best way to work up to running long distances is to start out small. Begin your training by running 1 to 3 miles and gradually increasing your distance over time. During a 12-week period, you should be able to go from running 3 miles to 10 miles or more.

Rest: Don’t neglect rest! It is an important aspect of your training routine. Allow your body to rest and rejuvenate, and you will find it becomes increasingly easier to run longer distances.

Long runs: Long runs are the key to completing any marathon. Start out small and progressively increase your distance each week.

Cross-training: Cross-training allows you to recover after your long runs by using slightly different muscle movements during your workout. Swimming, cycling, walking and strength training are excellent cross-training exercises. Workouts that require sideways movement, such as basketball or tennis, may not be a good cross-training activities, because you run a greater risk of injury.

Walking: If you feel tired or need a break while running, feel free to walk. Catch your breath, regain your energy and begin running again when you feel ready. There’s no shame in walking part, or even all, of a marathon!

Racing: Participating in a 5k or 10k race during your training may help you gauge your pace and predict your finish time, especially if you’ve never run in a race before.


Level 2

For individuals who can run 3 miles or more three to four times per week. This is a good level for those who have competed in a few 5k or 10k races and are performance driven.

  • Includes four to seven days of running per week
  • Weekly training schedule: one long run, one tempo run or interval workout, plus two to five days of easy running or crosstraining
  • Maximum weekly mileage: 40 to 60 miles

Warm up: It’s always important that you warm up before any fast run to prevent injury.

Distance: Start out running shorter distances and work your way up to running longer distances. Over a period of 11 weeks, your run should increase from 5 miles to 12 miles.

Rest: Rest is an important aspect of your training. If you feel excessively fatigued, especially during the last couple weeks of training, take an extra day off to recuperate.

Long runs: As an intermediate runner, you should be able to increase your longest run from 5 miles to 12 miles over 11 weeks. The last week is the 13.1 mile race itself.

Walking: Walk if you begin to feel tired or fatigued. During the race, it’s usually a good idea to walk through the fluid stations to give yourself a chance to rest and rehydrate.

Racing: It’s not a necessity to participate in a pre-marathon race, but if you enjoy racing, try to participate in one every third week leading up to the marathon. Participating in these races will allow you to test your fitness level and predict your finish time.

Speed/interval work: In order to run at a fast pace, it’s necessary to train at a fast pace. Try alternating interval running (five to 10 400-meter sprints, for example, separated by walking or jogging) with tempo runs (see below) to work up to your desired speed.

Tempo runs: Tempo running involves a continuous run with an increase in speed in the middle to your racing pace. For example, a tempo run of 30 to 45 minutes would begin with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running, increase speed between 15 and 20 minutes, then decrease again to an easy run for the final 5 to 10 minutes.

Pace: Pace runs are designed to get you used to running the pace at which you expect to run the marathon. Try to include some pace runs into your workout, particularly toward the end of your training.


Level 3

For individuals who can run 30 to 60 minutes at a time and have competed in at least a few 5k or 10k races or a half-marathon. Ideal for runners who want to improve their performance.

  • Includes four to seven days of running per week
  • Weekly training schedule: one long run, one tempo run and one interval workout, plus one to four days of easy running or cross-training
  • Maximum weekly mileage: 45 to 75 miles

Warm up: Warming up is important during your training and on race day, especially before speed and pace workouts. Try jogging a mile or two, then stretching for about 5 to 10 minutes before your normal training workouts.

Easy runs: Every other day, run at a comfortable pace rather than worrying about your speed. If you’re not able to carry on a conversation during these runs, you’re running too fast.

Distance: As an advanced runner, it may be beneficial for you to run in terms of time rather than distance to increase stamina. When training for a half-marathon, you should be able to work up from running 3 miles to 2 hours.

Rest: Rest is an important aspect of your training. If you feel excessively fatigued, especially during the last couple weeks of training, take an extra day off to recuperate.

Hills: Hill training will help you strengthen your quadriceps and build endurance. Stick to hills that are between 200 and 400 meters long, and remember to jog or walk an equal distance between hill runs. Some hill training can substitute your cross training or tempo runs.

Speed/interval work: In order to run at a fast pace, it’s necessary to train at a fast pace. Begin your training with 400-meter sprints and work your way up to 800- and 1,600-meter repeats in later weeks. Remember to walk or jog between each repetition.

Tempo runs: As an advanced runner, your tempo runs should be between 40 and 60 minutes, beginning with 10 to 20 minutes of easy running, building to 20 to 30 minutes of increased speed, then 5 to 10 minutes of easy running toward the end.

Pace: Pace runs will get you used to running the pace at which you expect to run on race day. Include some pace runs into your workout, particularly toward the end of your training.

Long runs: When you’re training for a halfmarathon, slightly increase your time when doing your long runs. If you’re used to running 60 to 90 minutes, for example, try running 90 minutes to 2 hours as it gets closer to race day.

Cross-training: Cross-training isn’t always necessary for advanced runners, but it may help in preventing injuries since it allows you to use slightly different muscle movements during your workout. Feel free to substitute some cross-training, such as swimming or cycling, on one of your easy days.

Racing: Participating in a race every third week leading up to the half-marathon will allow you to test your fitness level and predict your finish time.

 

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