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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 runners/walkers capable of running 3 miles three to four times per week. This level is best if you have previously competed in a few 5k or 10k races.

  • Includes three to five days of walking/running per week
  • Weekly training schedule: one long walk/run plus two to four days of easy running or cross-training
  • Maximum weekly mileage: 30 to 50 miles
  • Long runs: When training for a full marathon, your long run should build from 6 miles in your first week to 20 miles by week 15. Every third week, however, you should reduce your mileage slightly to regain strength for the upcoming week’s long run. Additionally, these runs should be at a comfortable, conversational pace. Consistency is important, so don’t skip out on the long runs.

    Walking: If you feel tired or need a break, feel free to walk. Catch your breath, regain your energy and begin running again when you feel
    ready. Walking part, or even all, of a marathon is perfectly acceptable!

    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. It’s best to cross-train the day after your long run to rest your muscles.

    Midweek training: As your mileage builds each week, so does your midweek long run. These runs should also been done at an easy, relaxed pace.

    Racing: Participating in a race leading up to the marathon will give you an idea of what the marathon will be like. It also will allow you
    to gauge your pace and predict your finish time. Considering running a half-marathon during your eighth week of training, since you should be running that distance anyway (approximately 13 miles).

    Rest: Typically, it is best to take a rest day during the week. Resting allows your muscles to regenerate and regain strength, and it is an
    important aspect of your training program. Ultimately, if you fail to rest, you will fail to meet your goals.

    Level 2

    This is for individuals who can run 3 miles three to four times a week, 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: 30 to 70 miles.

    Long runs: As an intermediate runner, your long runs should go from 8 miles in your first week of training up to 20 miles. Every third
    week, reduce your mileage slightly to regain strength for the upcoming week’s long run. 3/1 training: Run the first three-fourths of your long run at an easy pace, then do the final one-fourth at a somewhat faster pace. This increases your stamina and can be done once every three weeks.

    Walking: It is OK to walk during training and during the marathon itself if you need to. During the race, it’s a good idea to walk
    through the fluid stations to give yourself a chance to rest. You’ll be able to run more comfortably afterward.

    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 last few weeks of your training.

    Interval training: When training for a marathon, long repeats of 800 or 1,600 meters work better than short repeats. Run 800- or 1,600-meter repeats every third week, and alternate walking or jogging between each repetition.

    Tempo runs: Tempo running involves a continuous run with an increase in the middle to race 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 the final 5 to 10 minutes.

    Cross-training: Cross-train the day after your long run to give your muscles a chance to recover. Cross-training exercises can include
    swimming, walking or bicycling. Since you are using a slightly different set of muscles to cross-train, the muscles you use for running will be rested for your next long run.

    Midweek training: As you build from 8- to 20-mile runs each week, your midweek long runs will build as well. Make sure you run these at a comfortable pace.

    Rest: As an intermediate runner, it’s best to take at least one day a week to rest, such as the day before your long run.

    Level 3

    For individuals who can run 30 to 60 minutes at a time and have competed in at least a few 10k races, half-marathons or a full 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

    Long runs: As an advanced runner, your long runs should go from 8 miles in your first week of training up to a maximum of 20 miles. Every third week, reduce your mileage slightly to regain strength for the upcoming week’s long run.

    3/1 training: Run the first three-fourths of your long run at an easy pace, then do the final one-fourth at a somewhat faster pace. This increases your stamina and can be done once every three weeks.

    Hills: Hill training will help you strengthen your quadriceps and build endurance. Stick to hills that are about a quarter-mile long, and remember to jog or walk an equal distance between hill runs. For variety, you may alternate hill training with your interval workouts or tempo runs.

    Interval training: When training for a marathon, long repeats of 800 or 1,600 meters work better than short repeats. Run 800- or 1,600-meter repeats every third week, and alternate walking or jogging between each repetition.

    Tempo runs: Tempo running involves a continuous run with an increase in the middle to race 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 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 last few weeks of your training.

    Easy runs: Easy runs can be done early in the week and should be at a comfortable pace as opposed to a speed race.

    Rest: As an advanced runner, it’s best to take at least one day a week to rest, such as the day before your long run.

     

    John A. Lach, M.D.
    Jeff Stephenson, M.D.
    Sam Carter, M.D.
    Ryan Krupp, M.D.
    Dan Delph
    Shelley Barber
    Stacy Cohen, R.N.
    Jessie Halladay
    Erin Paris
    Zachary Skaggs
    Jennifer Brey
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