Getting ready for an upcoming marathon but suddenly starting to get cold feet? Marathon training is hard work but there is a reason why athletes keep coming back to it – the satisfaction. That sweet victory after rigorous training generates a truly fulfilling fitness experience unlike any other. Time to rub off that worry and built-up anxiety because we’re here to help get you to your peak. And we’ve got the right plan just for you, and as most runners recommend: the 20-week marathon training plan.
Why a 20-Week Marathon Training Plan?
As discussed in previous blogs, there are many marathon types to choose from. These marathons can range from 6.21 miles, to a full (26.2 miles) marathon. There are even ultra-marathons that cover over a whopping 46.2 miles. As with all endurance sports, the longer the distances, the more extensive the training, but most marathon training programs range from 13-30 weeks. So back to the original question, why 20 weeks – why not choose a 13-week training option?
As mentioned by New York Road Runners (NYRR) coach, Melanie Kann, on WellAndGood, “The 20-week marathon training plan is great for a more gradual mileage buildup and establishing a running structure.” A 20-week marathon training plan allows athletes the opportunity to try multiple techniques and find what works best.
Additionally, a longer training program provides athletes enough time to rest and achieve an optimal recovery level. This marathon training program, like many others, varies in program by age, weight, and personal goals, so be sure to consult your personal trainer for calibration. Especially, if you want to make some personalized changes and adjustments to your training plan based on pre-existing conditions.
Create A Great, Customized Marathon Training Plan
What makes a training plan great? Having the ability to customize it to your preferences. While crafting a perfectly-fit marathon training plan for yourself, don’t forget to include these key factors as they are necessary to improve overall marathon performance.
- Body Conditioning – Here is where stamina comes to play. Be sure to build up at a steady pace, rushing the intensity of a workout increases the risk of injury. The key is to get your body ready for a gradual increase in mileage and marathon performance. You have 20 weeks of training ahead of you, pace yourself.
- Building Strength & Endurance – Training programs should not be built solely around running. Improving your overall performance, particularly strength and endurance, keeps athletes healthy and injury-free come race day. One way all-over training can be incorporated is through cross-training. A study on the Effects of Cross-Training published by the National Library of Medicine states, “Improving the VO2max (maximizing oxygen capacity) is similarly effective for swimming, biking, and running.”  Ultimately, cross-training not only similarly maximizes your oxygen capacity to what is typically seen during running exercises, but also rejuvenates and motivates the body with new muscle motions not provided in running-only training programs. Pilates, yoga, and weight training are other great options to implement into training programs.
- Avoid Overtraining – A great marathon training plan will include different training workouts while also allotting days for active/full rest days for recovery. Remember to let your body heal occasionally. Resting is important for muscle repair and to avoid exhaustion. Plus, the potential risk for injury is greatly lessened.
It can be tough at times to stay motivated but keep your goal front of mind. Why do you want to train for a marathon? Do you want to achieve better health, to reach personal fulfillment? No matter the goal, keep it by your side throughout your marathon journey.
There may be some cases when anxiety or troubling emotions overwhelm you. When feeling overwhelmed, consider occasionally engaging in breathing exercises. The Road Runners Club of America recommends breathing strategies to alleviate anxiety and refresh the mind. This can be done by, “sitting or lying in a comfortable position, closing the eyes, and focusing on technique for 10-20 breaths.”
Half of success is physical training, and the other is a proper mindset. Keeping your mind in check will help work wonders for your soul overall.
Get Your Equipment Ready Before Your Marathon Training
It’s easy to bust out the ol’ reliable running shoes and hit the pavement, trail, treadmill… but you have quite a long journey ahead of you, so getting properly fitted at a pro running shop is a must. Two pairs of comfortable running shoes that you can rotate and several pairs of socks are a great investment and will save you money in the long run. Additionally, you lessen your potential risk of injury.
Maintain Proper Nutrition
Protein is key – it builds muscle and promotes muscle repair at the same time. A PKRS.AI favorite? Chicken! It has niacin which regulates fat burning while running, and promotes muscle repair while building simultaneously. For vegetarians and vegans, we highly recommend the trusted avocado which contains healthy fatty acids, nuts such as almonds, and soybeans for a quick protein kick. Whatever your dietary restrictions may be, make sure you plan a healthy balance of protein and carbs to get you fueled throughout the day.
Maintaining proper nutrition also includes staying hydrated, so drink your fluids! Aside from water, during workout, it is best to add a pinch of salt or add an electrolyte tab/gel to your drinks while working out for a much needed energy boost.
Also, don’t try to train for a marathon on a KETO diet. Carbohydrate is an essential part of a balanced diet and is key for recovery and fuelling of the workouts. Looking for a simple guide to race day fuelling too? Take a carbohydrate gel with 8 fl oz water every 30 minutes to avoid the dreaded “bonk” and hitting the wall.
Use A Fitness Tracker & Heart Rate Monitor
In today’s time, athletes are incorporating technology into their fitness journeys. A reliable fitness tracker and heart rate monitor will help gather data and track your health as a sort of progress diary. This provides a much more convenient fitness journey experience that’s also easy to breakdown and understand.
Staff Favorite: Garmin – Immediately catches the attention of athletes worldwide for its strong build quality, long battery life, GPS signal quality, among others. All while being an excellent data-tracker for all running aspects with a push of a button.
Engage In The Future Of Personal Coaching
We mentioned how fitness trackers help athletes in today’s time, so let us take it a step further. Incorporating the power of first in class AI technology, and a real human expert coaching team available for you 24/7, PRKS.AI is the future of fitness. Athletes can reach their peak performance through advanced data-tracking, and a customized training and nutrition plan based on their needs and key areas of improvement. The ultimate coaching tool, all in the palm of your hand.
New To PKRS.AI?
Start your fitness journey today with PKRS.AI. Proudly considered the official digital coaching platform for Ironman and Haute Route, and compatible with reliable and widely recognized fitness tools including Suunto, and Garmin.
Available for both Android and iOS devices, download PKRS.AI today, enjoy our free trial, and start living your peak.
- This 20-week training plan can get any runner through their first marathon, by Zoe Weiner, wellandgood.com
- Effects of Cross-Training. Transfer of Training Effects on VO2max Between Cycling, Running, and Swimming, by H. Tanaka, pubmed.gov
- RRCA’s Mental Health Tips for Runners: A Mental Health Guide for Athletes and Their Support Networks, by Rachel Tambling, PhD, LMFT, rrca.org