Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Marathon 8 Week Training Plan | PR Tips

Are you searching for a legitimate marathon 8 week training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am happy that you have made it here. Is 8 weeks enough to train for a marathon. It can be done but a longer build up is always better. Of course, many runners only have so much time to train for races of this length. You can most certainly get descent results from a 2 month marathon training plan.

The main idea here is quality. So, 8 weeks is a very short amount of time to prepare for a marathon. The shorter your build up the more you will have to focus on specific training. Of course, if you run at least 4 weeks and run aerobic mileage first then your chances of success with a marathon 8 week training plan is a good plan. The reason being is that you built a strong foundation of miles prior to starting faster, anaerobic training.

I would also recommend doing strides twice per week during your base building phase. In addition, continue to do these throughout your 8 week training plan. Strides are too short to create any large amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these short, acceleration drills on top of your other faster, anaerobic workouts. Strides are great for working on your leg turnover and to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these we can recruit through faster workouts the more efficient we will race at.

Can You Train for a Marathon in 8 Weeks?

8 weeks is generally a descent amount of time to train for a marathon. The average runner can definitely yield some good results in a matter of 2 months. Of course, if you really want to drop significant time off of your marathon time 16 to 24 weeks is better. I have created training plans that range from 8 to 24 weeks in length. My goal was to aim to accommodate runners of all backgrounds and ability levels.

2 months is good time frame to train for a marathon for most runners. Remember, the faster you are aiming to run this event in the longer build is needed. The main reason is you won't be in such of a rush to get into superior shape. It takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to the hard workouts we place on it. So, trying to do all this in a matter of 8 weeks is a huge challenge facing runners.

I always advocate a build up of at least 12 weeks and preferably 16 to 24 weeks in length. One major recommendation is to consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 myself. It helps me to focus on heart rate rather than what pace I am running at. Again, it comes back to focusing on smarter, rather than harder training.

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Is 2 Months Enough to Train for a Marathon?

It is for most runners and as mentioned above, 8 weeks is a decent amount of time to get in general fitness. The longer you train for your races the higher your chances of success. Of course, you have to pay attention to recovery. The benefits of your hard training will come from the rest cycle. I highly recommend Googling the word “Supercompensation”.

You will be light years of your competition who more than likely have never heard of the term. We get so caught up with training hard and worrying about what paces we are running we forget about recovery. I have trained with marathoners who could break 2:10 for the marathon. These same runners will jog between 8 to 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. So, if they can slow down on recovery days then so can you and I.

A lot of times runners are still running too fast on easy days. In addition, too slow on fast days. So, a marathon 8 week training plan has to stress the energy systems of the body adequately. In addition, must emphasize rest so you get the highest return on your time investment. Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time, if at all possible.

How Long Does it Take to Get in Shape for a Marathon?

It usually took me anywhere from a 4 to 6 month block of training to get in race shape for a marathon. I never did a marathon build up less than 16 weeks in my entire career. Of course, every runner is different and there are most certainly runners out there hitting new personal bests with a marathon 8 week training plan. Again, it just comes down to the quality of the training and how you set up your plan.

8 weeks will come and go as fast as a blink of an eye. So, if you choose to aim to train for a marathon in as little as 8 weeks be strategic. Also, be patient with yourself. Results in this event usually come with longer build ups. Again, your time is priceless so I just want to ensure you have the highest chances of success.

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Is 30 Miles a Week Enough for Marathon Training?

Yes, I think running anywhere from 25 to 30 miles a week in the initial weeks of your marathon is sufficient. Quality training should always be the main focus versus volume. You can be running 100 miles a week for your marathon and still miss your goal if the mileage is too slow. Pace sustainment is a major challenge for most runners.

Sure, most of us can run a few miles or kilometers at goal race pace. That being said, it is an entirely different task to achieve this from start to finish of a marathon. Proper pacing is vital too. I always recommend to the athletes I coach and mentor here to run a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your race faster than the first half.

It is much wiser to run conservative in the early miles of your marathon. In addition, much more fun to be passing people and running strong in that last 10 kilometers. I also highly recommend doing your long runs at faster paces. No, not the entire long run but portions of it. Below is an example of my long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon.

  • 2 mile jog warm-up, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 7 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 2 mile jog cool-down (22 miles)

Longer Tempo Runs

I would always run my following weeks' long run at 8 to 9 minute mile pace. Again, recovery and adaptation is the key. So, give yourself between 48 to 72 hours of easy, aerobic running between each of your hard workouts. Your results will be positive if you do. It isn't just about the hard training you are doing but also those easy, recovery runs too.

How far have you run for your tempo runs? We run between 85 to 89 percent of our max heart rate running at our anaerobic threshold. Our lactate threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise in the body. Of course, the faster we run the more oxygen is required and the more lactic acid accumulates. Naturally, we have to take short breaks especially while doing vo2 max workouts.

So, start thinking about doing tempo runs that are around 7 to 14 miles in length. Yes, you need to first adapt to a 3 to 4 mile tempo run first. Be patient in your build up. The good news it the body always adapts. We just have to allot sufficient time for this to occur.

Develop Your Leg Speed

As mentioned above, the faster we run the more fast twitch muscle fibers we recruit. Easy running is still vital for marathon success. That being said, fast, anaerobic training is what will make your goal marathon race pace to feel easier. I recommend doing at least 1, vo2 max workout per week. We run between 95 to 100 percent of our maximum heart rate running at these intensities.

Examples of speed training (Vo2 max workouts) are fartlek workouts, hill repetitions and track and/or road intervals. The best runners in the world make it look easy for a reason. They train around 40 percent of their weekly mileage or or below their lactate threshold (85 to 89% of max HR). My best advice is to always study what the best athletes do and simply duplicate their work habits.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post on how a marathon 8 week training plan should be set up has been helpful to you. Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making at least 2 to 3 new videos there each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. Keep me updated on your training and I am looking forward to hearing about your upcoming new personal bests.

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