52 Week Marathon Training Schedule | Tips to PR

Are you seeking a 52 week marathon training schedule? If so, I commend you for seeking to train for a year straight. That being said, I wouldn’t do it. It is much better to break your training up into 16 to 24 week build-ups. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, you don’t want to be in a rush when it comes to your fitness. I have numerous resources here at RunDreamAchieve that can help set you up for success.

There are numerous running courses for runners focused on the half marathon or marathon distances. In addition, a 5 minute mile and 2 mile course built for military and civilian runners as well. Of course, you may be more interested in just investing in a training plan. The plans I have created are focused on helping runners use leverage. Higher mileage is not always the answer as is training non-stop for a year with no breaks.

I already know you know how to work hard otherwise you wouldn’t be here. What I wish for you is to follow what the world’s top middle to long distance runners do. So, training at a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate throughout your training week will make you super fit. That being said, you need to first focus on building your aerobic mileage.

Can You Train for a Marathon in 1 Year?

A 52 week marathon training schedule is a very long build up. I would most certainly not focus on training for a year non-stop without any breaks. Remember, the goal here is to work smarter, not harder. Sure, you can prepare for a marathon in a year as long as there are some small breaks throughout the year.

Air Force PT test 2022
Coach Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

Again, I would highly recommend a training build up of between 16 to 24 weeks. Longer is better though. The reason is you are providing more time for your body to adapt to the heavy stress you are placing on it. So, focus on taking 4 weeks and running easy first. You can then start a 20 week build up for your marathon. 6 months is plenty of time to fully prepare for your marathon. You can add in strides and do these short 50 to 100 meter acceleration drills twice per week.

I routinely spent between 20 to 24 weeks during my marathon build ups. I would always take a week or two off completely after my build ups. In addition, never had any problem taking some down time in order to recover and heal from the training I was putting myself through.

What Training Regimen is Best for a Marathon Runner?

The longer the build up, the better. That being said, 24 weeks is sufficient time to prepare properly for a marathon. Of course, there are many marathoners who get legitimate results training for 8 to 16 weeks as well. So, it all depends on the athlete and his or her time schedule. I am a firm believer in faster, varied paced long runs. I was able to lower my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 using this tactic. Prior to breaking 2:20 I had never done my long runs very fast.

indianapolis marathon
Coach Pennington finishing in 5th overall at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon in his second fastest time (2:26:42)

So, perhaps, you need to start thinking about a new strategy in how to you set your long runs. I teach how to do it effectively in my running courses. In addition, the training plans here at RunDreamAchieve are built around this training philosophy. My focus here is to ensure runners train smarter rather than harder. A 52 week marathon training schedule is too long if you really want to do it right. Again, breaking your training into shorter segments is essential to run a great marathon time.

How Long Does it Take to Train for a Marathon as a Beginner?

Do you just want to start and finish a marathon? If so, you probably can achieve that with a 4 to 8 week build up. Is your goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon or run a competitive marathon time? My recommendation is a minimum of 16 and preferably 24 weeks in length. Again, breaking your yearly training into 2, 20-week training iterations is better than following a 52 week marathon training schedule.

52 weeks or 1 year of non-stop training is too much. Again, you need to think like a world-class runner or top level athlete. We definitely take breaks throughout the year. That being said, hard training is exactly that, tough. Easy running is where you get all of the benefits of your hard training. I see far too many runners still running too fast on easy days and too slow on hard days. One great way to ensure you are doing it right is to invest in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it as it will keep you focused on heart rate rather than pace.

Train at the Proper Intensities

Below are heart rate zones you want to focus on while training for your marathon

  • Easy: 65-74% of max HR or around 110-125BPM
  • Marathon (moderate effort): 75-84% of max HR or around 127-142BPM
  • Threshold: 85-89% of max HR or around 144-149BPM
  • Interval: 95-100% of max HR or around 161-170BPM
  • Repetition: 105% of max Vo2 max/HR or around 178BPM

The world’s top runners are running around 40 percent of their weekly volume at or below their anaerobic threshold. As shown above, threshold effort is running between 85 to 89% of your max heart rate. The key tactic is to lengthen the duration of your tempo runs.

Can an Unfit Person Run a Marathon?

In addition, do 1, vo2 max workout per week. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. It is running so fast you can’t clear the lactic acid faster than it is building up. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to rise when we are running. We are running between 95 to 100 percent of our max heart rate at vo2 max. So, we can only spend a few seconds to a few minutes at these intensities.

Yes, an unfit person who training properly, is patient and follows a legitimate training plan can. Again, it all comes down to smart training and a longer build up. I recommend between 16 to 24 weeks for athletes seeking to run a competitive marathon time.

Closing Thoughts

Would you like to keep in touch? Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new vlog content there each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. I look forward to hearing about your new personal best.

My aim with the resources here at RunDreamAchieve is to help you gain confidence and use leverage. The runners running the most mileage don’t always get the results. It is usually the athlete placing a heavier emphasis on goal race pace training. In addition, who pays attention to recovery knowing that the real results come from the rest period.

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