20 Week Marathon Training Plan for Beginners
So you’ve decided to do a marathon? Marathons are very rewarding and a great accomplishment and also a lot of work. My sister convinced me to sign up for a marathon that is in 20 weeks! I have done a few marathons before and I loved them but since having a baby 9 months ago, I have a lot of work to do to get back in shape for one. This training plan is designed for the runner who is working on getting back in shape or for someone who has never ran a marathon before. Here are some tips to help you have success as you follow your marathon training schedule.
Get a good tracking system: It is so important as you are training to know how far and how fast you are going. You can’t properly train and be ready for a marathon if you don’t put in the correct amount of miles. Get a good tracking system. I highly recommend this watch. It will make your life so much easier. In training for my first marathon, I didn’t have one and so I would have to go online before hand, map out a route that I thought I wanted to take, and keep revising it until it was the right length. Then, I would write down the streets I had to turn at and carry this piece of paper with me so that I would go the right way. Sometimes, I still ran the wrong route and would run more/less than I had planned. After, if I wanted to know how fast I went, I had to do the calculations and I still wouldn’t know my mile splits, just the average pace I ran. You get the idea, this watch will cut out all that extra work and make your life so much easier. My second marathon I trained for, I ran with a group and they all had one, I soon found out why! Believe me, you will thank me when you are using one!
Establish a good base: It is so important to have a good running base set up (usually about 5 – 6 miles). This helps your body for when you start to up your mileage so that you are less likely to get injured. A 5 mile running base just means that you could go out and run 5 miles every day or every other day and feel good afterwards. I am not at that point yet, my base is at about 2-3 miles so I designed this training plan around that. It is designed to get your base mileage up while also getting you comfortable with longer runs.
Don’t skip your long runs: The most important part of your marathon training plan is your long run every week. This is essential to getting your body ready to run 26.2 miles at one time for your race. This will train your body so that on race day you can avoid “hitting the wall”. If you can’t do your long run on Saturday like the training schedule suggests, you can choose to do it a different day.
Treat your long run like race day: On your long run day you will want to wear what you want to wear for your marathon (or similar clothes), use what you want to use (food, water, etc.), listen to music if you want to listen to music, etc. It is not a good idea to change-up your routine for race day, if you practice with the equipment and routine that you want, you can avoid race day complications. Your long run is a rehearsal for your marathon.
Don’t skip your rest day: Your recovery day after your long run is very important for your body. This helps prevent over-training and gets your body ready for the next week of running.
Listen to your body: If you are feeling pain as you are running, slow down. If slowing down does not make the pain go away, stop. It is better to stop and figure out what is going on than to run through pain and cause a real injury. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong.
Cross training days: On cross training days you can do something that you enjoy for exercise other than running (swimming, biking, weight lifting, basketball, hiking, etc.) It is important to give your body the chance to use your muscles in different ways to prevent over-training. This can also improve your running.
Optional Speed Workouts: On Wednesdays you can choose to do a speed or hill workout instead of just a regular run. These workouts are great for pushing your body and improving your marathon training time.
Optional rest day: On Thursdays, you can see how your body is feeling and if you are feeling good you can choose to go for a light jog. Don’t over-do it because you have a long run coming up but you can get out for a light jog if you would like to.
I hope you enjoy your marathon training! It is good to challenge the body and set big goals for yourself. I will continue to post marathon training tips so keep checking back for more tips as you are training. Good luck!