Marathon Training Plan 16 Weeks Long

Are you seeking a marathon training plan 16 weeks long? If so, congratulations on seeking excellence and welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I hope that this post will be of assistance to you. I do believe that 16 weeks is a good time frame to run a new personal best for the marathon distance. 4 months is and should be the minimum time frame for runners seeking to drop significant time.

That being said, I would also state that 20 to 24 weeks is the optimal time frame to prepare. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, trying to prepare for a marathon in a matter of 4 to 8 weeks is an extremely daunting task. The reason being is you are simply rushing your fitness. It is a very difficult thing to do in such a short amount of time.

So, a marathon training plan 16 weeks long is a better bet. Also, a 20 to 24-week marathon training plan is even better. I have created training plans that range from 8 to 24 weeks here for this very reason. Of course, some runners may only have 8 to 12 weeks to prepare for their race. So, they may only have a short amount of time to prepare. Thus, the reasoning behind creating shorter training plans.

Is 16 Weeks Enough to Train for a Marathon?

Yes, for most runners, 4 months is sufficient time to train adequately for a marathon. Again, the longer your build up the higher your chances of success. Remember, this is the marathon and not a 5 or 10k. So, more time is required. In addition, much more patience is involved for you to set a new personal best in a distance this far. The marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers long.

There are many factors that go into running a fast time. It took me from running from 1992 to 2007 to run a 2:19:35 marathon. I ran my first marathon in 2002 in 2:43:36. That being said, ran a decade prior to that preparing for that first marathon effort. A lot of runners see the fast times but fail to realize the many years of hard work that went into creating that effort. I created a video where I discuss process (work output) vs event (the end result of that work) which I’ll place above.

Is 20 Miles a Week Enough for Marathon Training?

Yes, absolutely. 20 miles a week, when done consistently, over several months will build massive strength. 5 to 6 months is optimal time frame to prepare for a marathon. A marathon training plan 16 weeks long is the starting point. I would say that a marathon training plan 20 weeks long or up to 24 weeks is optimal. I would recommend running easy, aerobic mileage for 4 weeks before starting a 16 week marathon training plan.

You will strengthen your ligaments, tendons and joints during this time. In addition, better prepare your body to handle faster workouts. Also, I would recommend doing strides twice per week during your training build up. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter long acceleration sprints. They are too short to build up any large amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these on top of your other workouts without getting fatigued.

Should You Run 26 miles Before Marathon?

No, I don’t think you need to run this far for your long runs. Of course, some runners aiming to run under 2:30 or faster may need to. That being said, long runs ranging in distance from 17 to 23 miles is sufficient. I would highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. One major mistake runners make is running too fast on easy days. In addition, too slow during harder workouts.

So, a heart rate monitor like the Garmin 245 I use will ensure you are not over training. In addition, will keep you dialed into the correct heart rate zones. Your splits will take care of themselves the fitter you get. Your heart won’t have to work as hard either. In addition, you will steadily improve your body’s lactate tolerance by running at faster paces in training.

Pace sustainment is one of the biggest challenges for most runners. Of course, many runners can sustain goal marathon race pace for a few miles or kilometers. That being said, holding it for 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers is an entirely different task. So, utilize tools like a heart rate monitor to ensure you are training optimally.

Can I Train for a Marathon in 16 Weeks as a Beginner?

Yes, as a beginner, a marathon training plan 16 weeks long is optimal. I think training for 20 to 24 weeks as a beginner may be too much. First, see the results you get from a 4 month marathon training plan. Once you have run a few more marathons then consider a 20 to 24 week marathon training plan. I do think you should be running your long runs at faster paces though.

Do you usually run your long runs slow and easy? If so, consider to start running your long runs at faster, varied paces. For example, below is an example of a varied, paced long run I did prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier. Of course, our paces may be drastically different. That being said, I am sharing this only for you to get an idea of what one looks like. Remember, always follow a harder long run the next weekend by a relaxed, jog long run.

Adaption is key and there is only so many times you can stress the body. So, it is important to jog on those recovery days so you can adapt to the hard training.

  • 2 mile jog, 6 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@6:10 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 2 mile jog cool-down (22 miles)

I would always run the following week’s long easy at 8 to 9 minute mile pace.

Longer Tempo Runs

Again, remember to always give yourself a minimum of 48 hours between harder workouts. You need to adapt to these highly aggressive efforts. So, be patient and allot sufficient time in between each hard workout that you do. What has been the longest tempo run you have on preparing for your marathons? 3 miles? 5 miles? Yes, you can still get a nice physiological boost from tempo runs of this length. That being said, this is still too short.

I would recommend working your way toward 8 to 12 miles in length. Remember, the longer you can spend training at your anaerobic threshold, the better prepared you will be. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our maximum heart rate running at our lactate threshold. The problem for many runners is they don’t spend enough time training at this intensity.

Pacing is also vital. So, focus on running a negative split in your race. Do not go out so fast in the early miles or kilometer that you go into oxygen debt. The result is you will slow down considerably in the latter miles or kilometers and be forced to slow down.

Focus on Your Speed Development

Speed still matters even in the marathon. Remember, speed work helps us to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these we can recruit the easier our goal race pace is going to feel. Examples of vo2 max (anaerobic) workouts are track or road intervals, hill repetitions and fartlek workouts. It is running at speeds so aggressive and fast we can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

So, it helps the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up at slower speeds. Speed training is spent running at efforts between 95 to 100% of max heart rate. So, highly aggressive. Again, jog during your recovery days. Workouts like this will test your mental and physical limits. So, it is vital to ensure you are allotting sufficient time to recover.

Closing Thoughts

Yes, a marathon training plan 16 weeks long will yield results. More importantly, that you follow a plan that is set up correctly. You can run high mileage but high mileage is not a guarantee that you will set a new personal best. The world’s top runners run between 35 to 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold.

Yes, they make it look easy for a very good reason. These runners are training at a higher rate more often. In addition, are stressing the energy systems of their bodies sufficiently. So, they can sustain race pace longer than those who fail to do this. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on creating at least 2 to 3 new training and racing videos there each week. Keep me posted on your progress. I am looking forward to hearing about your new personal best.

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