So now let‟s get a concrete schedule together so you can start manifesting all these inspiring concepts and qualities and begin your journey towards the eventual goal of racing, running, jogging, or walking a 26.2 mile (42 kilometer) marathon. Do not forget to have a schedule book ready to enter the weekly plans and to record your actual daily workouts.
First three months (for beginners and those getting back into shape)
The first advice to consider is the advice Sri Chinmoy gave in Hawaii in December 2001 when referring to training for the September Self -Transcendence Marathon. I felt that this meant mostly for those who want to complete the marathon even though they may not have much marathon experience, or are trying to get back into marathon shape. My interpretation of what he said was that you can run 3-5 miles a day on most days and then do a longer run one day a week, about 8 to 10 miles, or more if you are able. Continue this regularly from week to week for as many months as you can leading up to the marathon, then you should be able to run or run/walk the marathon.
I will add that you should give yourself at least four to six months to get into shape. This means you can either start with a little easier schedule if you are totally out of shape right now, and then you can work up to that mileage suggested and even go beyond it if you find it easy after four months or so. You could do a longer run or walk/run of 12- 15
miles if the 8-10 miler has gotten too easy after a few months. It is this gradual progress and regular, steady training that will make the marathon distance easier and more enjoyable to accomplish when the time comes. Whether you increase the weekly mileage or not, I would like to repeat that regularity is more important than just doing two or three runs a week if you have the capacity to do more. This basic training concept is simple and should not be too difficult to follow unless you encounter physical or health problems. You do not have to kill yourself by trying to run.
You dont have to do 50 or 60 or more miles a week if you are aiming at only finishing the marathon and not intending to race or win the marathon. The schedule below can be entered into your calendar book on a weekly basis and followed as much as possible until you feel you have worked up to the maximum mileage you are able to do without breaking down. Try to maintain around that mileage if you do not wish to increase it anymore. You must feel challenged to make some progress but you should not force yourself and over train and risk injury or illness. You can save that experience for the marathon itself (only kidding). If you have trained for and run marathons in the past and want to try to run a personal best, then you should know what kind of shape you have to be in to do that. If you are trying to get to that level or are at that level and ready to train for a faster marathon now, then skip this first schedule below and go down to the second sample schedule below.
First Sample Schedule (for beginners and those getting back into shape)
1. Jog/ walk 2 miles per day, 5 days. Walk breaks only if not used to running that far.
2. Jog/ walk 2 miles per day, 4 days, one day 3 or 4 miles.
3. Jog 2 miles per day, 4 days, one day 4 miles.
4. Jog 2-3 miles per day, 5 days.
5. Jog 2-3 miles per day, 4 days, 4 miles one day.
6. Jog 3 miles per day, 5 days.
7. Jog 3 miles per day, 4 days, 4-5 miles one day.
8. Jog 3-4 miles per day, 4 days, 5 miles one day.
9. Jog 3-4 miles per day, 4 days, 5-7 miles one day.
10. Jog 4 miles per day, 4 days, 5-7 miles one day.
11. Jog 4 miles per day, 4 days, 7-8 miles one day.
12. Jog 4 miles per day, 4 days, 8 miles one day
These first three months give you an idea of how to structure your training in such a way that you build up your endurance and stamina without getting injured. You can continue in this fashion depending on how many more months you have before the actual goal race. If this mileage seems too easy for your fitness level, you can adapt it to your own level by increasing the mileage slightly. Be sure always to gauge your own recovery level though. If you are too tired or stressed out to continue your weekly mileage month after month, then you should decrease it for a week or so. If you have to take number of days or even a week off due to health problems, no harm, just get back on the schedule as soon as you feel stronger.
As you approach the marathon, in the last six weeks prior to it, you should have built up to approximately 30 to 40 miles per week for at least a few weeks. This includes a longer run once a week or every ten days or so. That long run should be about 10 to 12 miles or so. It could include some walking breaks, especially if you plan to use walking breaks in your marathon. During this time it is also essential to be
aware of your recovery process from day to day and week to week. You should feel as if you are progressively getting stronger, even though some days you may feel a bit tired, sore or weak. Overall, you should feel a natural ability to gradually increase your mileage without
forcing it. Only you can really know how you feel and how you are progressing. Use all the means available to you to speed up recovery. These include: stretching, hot baths, icing if necessary, massage, rest, proper nutrition and drinking lots of water regularly. Drinking at least a half gallon of water (2 litres), per day, is quite essential in recovery and avoiding dehydration even when resting. For more ideas on nutritional balance and concepts, as well as strength related cross-training, you can visit billpearl.com, the website of 5-time Mr Universe Mahasamrat Bill Pearl.
Second Sample Schedule (for those who are trying to run for a faster time)
For those who have more experience and capacity, you can work your weekly mileage up to 50 miles or more if you can fit it into your life both time-wise and physically. Your long runs should be from 16 to 20 miles or more if you so desire. But make sure you recover fully from a long run before intensifying your workouts or mileage again. At this level, recovery is even more important to avoid injuries and consequently stall your training program.
First Six Weeks (Daily mileage depends on how much basic training you have had)
Sunday- Long, easy run (mileage depends on where you are in your training so far)
Monday-Short, easy run or day off (Can replace running with cross-training)
Tuesday- Speedwork (depends on which you prefer, fartlek, interval, tempo)*
Wednesday-short, easy run
Thursday- Hill repeats (always warm up a few miles and go downhill easy)
Friday- Short, easy run
Saturday- Short, easy run, or cross-training
Remember this is just a sample, a guideline for you to create your own program. The number of miles is arbitrary for your own level of fitness. If you have already gotten through the basic type of training as in the first sample schedule, then you can make your weekly mileage in this first six weeks somewhere between 30 to 40 miles per week.
Next Six Weeks
Sunday- Long, easy run, increasing the distance from previous week by a mile or two
Monday- Short, easy run, or day off, or cross-training
Tuesday- Warm-up, then tempo run, or long intervals such as mile repeats*
Wednesday- Medium, long easy run
Thursday- Warm up then shorter repeats such as 10 by 400 or 60 second fartleks*
Friday- Short, easy run
Saturday- Easy run or short race
So now we have covered at least twelve weeks or three months of training. By this time your weekly mileage should be around 40 to 50 miles, or more if you are accustomed to and adapted to that mileage already. If you have more time, depending on how many weeks are left before the marathon and you are not exhausted or hurting from the training so far, you can gradually try to up the mileage a bit for the next few weeks. You could do this by increasing the length of your longer run, adding a mile here and there during the week or running twice in a day when you feel strong enough occasionally. Again, you should only do this if you feel you need the added challenge and feel strong enough to do so. Otherwise, just keep the same schedule and make sure you are recovering enough from week to week. If you feel you are not recovering enough, you should actually cut back the mileage and intensity a bit for about a week.
Speedwork comes in many forms and preferences. The three main types of speedwork mentioned here are intervals, fartlek(speedplay), and tempo runs. Intervals are relatively short, fast runs usually between 100 meters to 3000 meters with a short interval of recovery in between. Customarily done on a track, they can also be done on a measured course, preferably softer surfaces. They are run at an anaerobic pace, which is about 85-90% maximum heart rate. In other words, you
should be huffing and puffing after each speed interval. Then do a recovery or slow pace for a short interval of time which could be from 200 to 400 meters or so. There are many ways to practice this type of speedwork, but repeating the interval of speed with intervals of recovery is the basic concept to develop top racing speed at any distance.
Tempo runs are slightly longer runs done at a strong, steady pace, usually about 20 seconds slower than a 10k race pace. They help to gain the speed as well as endurance for longer races.
Fartlek (a Swedish word for „speedplay‟) is a less formal type of interval workout. Preferably done on softer surfaces such as grass, a golf course or trails, you speed up to an anaerobic pace ( a fast pace about equal to your short racing speed or 85- 90% maximum heart rate) for an arbitrary distance or time, then recover for about the same time and repeat this as many times as you feel fit to at that particular point in your training. I would suggest doing 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy, and repeat that five to ten times, or even more as your training advances. You can eventually increase the time to a minute hard and minute easy, or even decrease the recovery or easy time. You can play around with it and be creative, thus the word „speedplay‟. You can further discuss these and other types of speedwork with any experienced runner. Regardless of which one you practice, the most important thing is not to overdo it in training. Have enough strength left for your racing, trying to stay injury free to keep up your regular weekly mileage. Warm-up, warm down and some stretching are also more important, especially on speedwork days.
For those who are interested in developing their speed to run a faster marathon, it is important to consider that this experience should add a very positive element to your training and racing, making it fun and making you happy, being careful to prevent injury in the process. Also, short to middle distance races run occasionally during this training phase are one of the best ways to speed up your marathon times. Running races from two miles to half-marathons are excellent for increasing your marathon speed. Always be sure to recover well between races though.
“If you regularly do
Your inner speed-work,
Then your outer life
Will be most powerfully fruitful.”
“With happy speed
I run and run
To cheerfully feed
My human race,
My human face,
A new journey’s course,
To free the sunlit source.”
No matter which schedule you have followed so far, in the final two weeks or so before the goal marathon race, you should start tapering. That means gradually cutting back both the mileage and the intensity of the workouts. Your last long run should be no closer than two weeks before the marathon. In the final week before the marathon, especially a few days before it, your daily mileage should be almost nothing, say two to five miles. You may even want to take a day or two off for better recovery. This is all assuming that your training has gone well and you are in better shape than when you first started. If your health has been good and you did not over train or have any major injuries or problems, then you should feel quite comfortable taking it easy for at least a week before. Even if your training did not go as you may have planned, there is nothing you can accomplish except the risk of injury and exhaustion by cramming in miles in the final weeks.