How Long to Train for a Marathon

Are you wondering how long to train for a marathon? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have made it here. Athletes have demanding schedules. So, how long you train for your marathon is going to be up to you. I have built. 8, 12 and 16-week marathon training plans here at The goal was always to provide options here for runners who want to train properly for their race. Remember, it isn’t about how much mileage you are doing as much as it is the quality of the work.

Can you run a great marathon in 8 weeks? I always say longer is better. That being said, you can still train and prepare adequately in as little as 8 weeks. I ran my fastest marathons on a 16-week block of training. Again, every athlete is different. My goal with rundreamachieve training plans was to create 3 different options for athletes. 8, 12 and 16 week schedules.

How Long for a Beginner to Train for a Marathon?

As mentioned above, 8 to 16 weeks is a definitely optimal time to train for a marathon. How long to train for a marathon is commonly asked. I even asked it myself when I first started running marathons in 2002. I had no intention of running this event when I was in college. My focus was on the mile and 5000m. I quickly realized I didn’t quite have the leg speed to break 4 minutes for the mile. I ran 4:22.10 for that event. So, I ended up running 2:19:35 for the marathon and found a love for the event. That being said, I never ran my best races on short build ups.

My goal for you is to help you to use leverage. There are already enough athletes who know how to work hard. How many hard working people do you know who are broke? Why is that? They have been taught to rely on one source of income. There are only 24 hours in a day and only so many hours you can work yourself. Why have so few been taught to work smart and earn passive income?

Income that continues to come in for having worked hard once? We all have been following an old, tired, Industrial Aged philosophy. The same goes for running. Running high mileage is not always the answer. So, you have to train using leverage instead. Run less but concentrate on training at, near or far below your goal marathon race pace.

Can I Run a Marathon with 3 Months Training?

how long to train for a marathon

Yes, a 12-week build up is better than an 8-week block and a 16-week build up is even better. I am a big believer in doing longer and faster long runs. A major mistake I see a lot of runners making is they run too many of their miles or kilometers too slow. So, look at your past training. What percentage of your weekly volume have you been training at or below your goal marathon race pace? Is is 5%? 15%? The best middle to long distance runners train around 40 percent of their weekly volume at or below goal pace.

Why do they make their marathon performances look so easy? They have trained adequately below their race pace. So, the key is to improve upon your body’s lactate tolerance. Furthermore, you want to be able to sustain race pace longer than your competition. No, this isn’t easy but the body always adapts. It takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, be patient with your training. It takes time to see big results in this sport. Results don’t happen overnight. It took me from 2002 to 2007 to lower my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I wanted to break 2:20 in 2002. Again, results cannot be rushed.

Is 10 Months Enough Time to Train for a Marathon?

Probably too long. Of course, you can aim for 2 marathons in a year and train for 4 months for each one of them. First, focus on building easy aerobic mileage the first 3 weeks into a 16-week build up. A house cannot be built without the foundation being built first. So, you never want to just jump into training for a marathon. You can do strides 2 to 3 times a week during your easy aerobic mileage build up. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter sprints. They are too short to build up any significant lactic acid.

So, you can do 4 to 6, 100-meter strides during your build up without building up any significant lactic acid. Also, you can work on your leg turnover and form doing these types of short, sprints. As mentioned above, don’t run every long run you do easy and slow. You want to spend a longer amount of time at a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate during your long runs. It may be 10 percent of your long run when not very fit and 40 to 60 percent when very fit.

Tempo Runs

Short tempo runs are great for the 5k to 10k races. That being said, a 3 to 4 mile tempo run training for a marathon is too short. Again, you want to improve upon your body’s lactate tolerance. So, work on getting that tempo run lengthened out to around 10 miles (16 kilometers). I use this strategy in the running courses that I teach as well as the running plans that I have created here at rundreamachieve.

You will want to do your tempo runs at your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in your blood stream. It is around 88 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. Furthermore, running at this effort is not fun or comfortable. That being said, you have to stress the body’s energy systems adequately and long enough to see legitimate results.

Easy Running

I always stress to my athletes to relax on easy days. So, get beyond what pace you are running per mile or kilometer during you recovery days. Your hard workouts are going to test you both physically as well as mentally. They are not fun whatsoever. So, it is critical that you are run slow enough on your easy days so you can keep training hard over the long-term. There are only so many times you can stress the body before you start to see a diminished return on your time investment.

Again, focus on using leverage rather than working hard. My plans and products here are focused on helping you to work smart and get faster results. Yes, you still have to work hard. You can’t just sit on a couch and visualize success. You have to train both mentally as well as physically. So, you can’t just do one part of the preparation and expect great results. A big mistake I see runners making is neglecting mental training and focus all of their attention on physical training.

Closing Thoughts

How long to train for a marathon? I would recommend training a minimum of 8 weeks and optimally, 16 weeks for your marathon. Remember, longer is better. You don’t want to be in a rush training for your marathon. The goal is to get the best possible result at the end of your training build up. You will be spending a great deal of your time training for a marathon.

So, it is important to train wisely and get a new personal best. Make sure to visit and subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos there each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level in their training. I hope this brief post has been helpful to you. Keep these tips and strategies in mind preparing for your upcoming marathons.

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