Marathon Training Plan 20 Weeks Long

Are you seeking a marathon training plan 20 weeks long? If so, you are making a wise decision. I write that because 5 months is optimal time frame to prepare for a marathon. It is very difficult to cram training into a short, 4 to 8 week training build up for an event of this distance. So, giving yourself 20 weeks to get in the best possible shape is vital. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it.

So, the longer you can train for a race of this distance, the better. I would recommend at least 16 weeks and preferably 20 to 24 weeks in length. I do have training plans that range from 8 to 24 weeks here at RunDreamAchieve. A marathon training plan 20 weeks long should focus on quality versus quantity. Remember, you can run high mileage but if it is run too slowly you’ll only build endurance.

Pace sustainment is one of the biggest challenges most runners face. Easy running is important but it won’t improve your body’s lactate tolerance. Faster, anaerobic training will. So, you have to make sure you are jogging on your easy days. I write that because the harder, faster workouts will test you both mentally and physically.

Can I Train for a Marathon in 20 Weeks?

Yes, 5 months is a plenty of time to train properly for a marathon. In fact. 16 to 24 weeks is optimal time frame to do this right. There are many runners who spend up to a year training for their marathons. That being said, a marathon training plan 20 weeks long has to focus on training at faster paces. In addition, it has to emphasize recovery. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 myself. It helps me to stay at the correct intensities using heart rate.

A lot of runners are still running too fast on easy days. In addition, running too easy on faster, anaerobic workouts. Can you train for a marathon in 8 to 12 weeks? It is possible and of course, you can get into descent shape in that amount of time. That being said, always focus on a longer build up if you can. I know a lot of runners work full or part-time jobs. So, you or they may only have a certain amount of time to prepare. I did create marathon training plans ranging in length from 8 to 12 weeks as well.

Can I Run a Marathon with 4 Months Training?

Absolutely. In fact, 16 weeks should be the minimum time frame to train properly for a marathon. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your marathons? I ask that because many runners are not running long enough for their tempo runs. Yes, a 3 to 4-mile tempo run will provide a physiological boost. That being said, I would focus on extending this out to 8 to 12 miles in length. Of course, you need to first adapt to a 3 to 4 mile tempo run.

So, be patient with your build up. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our maximum heart rate running at our anaerobic threshold. Your lactate threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise in the body. So, the longer you can spend training at this intensity, the better. You will be improving your lactate tolerance. Remember, your goal is to sustain goal marathon race pace longer than your competition.

The only way to do this is training at or below your goal marathon race pace. You should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week as well. We run between 95 to 100 percent of our max heart rate running at vo2 max. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. It is running at intensities that are so aggressive you simply can’t clear the lactic acid that is building up in the blood stream.

Is 25 Miles a Week Enough for Marathon Training

25 miles a week should be about the minimum amount of mileage you should be doing for marathon training. Remember, it isn’t about the volume of mileage you are doing as much as it is the quality of the work you are putting in. So, a marathon training plan 20 weeks long has to focus on speed development. Yes, the marathon is an aerobic event but you still need to be able to sustain goal race pace.

The end goal is to improve your lactate tolerance. The only way to do this is to work on your leg speed. Easy running will build your endurance but not strengthen your capacity to clear lactic acid. Fast, anaerobic training will. Why do the very best middle to long distance runners make it look so easy? Is is only because they are Kenyan or Ethiopian? I have outrun elite runners from these countries. No, it is because they spend about 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their lactate threshold.

Jog on Easy Days

Recovery is vital if you are going to set a new personal best for the marathon. There are many runners who are still running too fast on their easy days and too slow on their harder workouts. So, a marathon training plan 20 weeks long should help you to correct the flaws you may have made in the past. The real benefits of the hard training you are doing today will be seen several weeks or months from now.

I have trained with runners who could break 2:10 for the marathon. Remember, these athletes could run under 5 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. That being said, they would run around 8 to 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. So, if runners of this capability can slow down why can’t you and I? I always recommend that runners study what the best middle to long distance runners do and mimic their work habits.

How Do I Run a Marathon in 20 Weeks?

Start focusing on running your long runs at faster paces. I write that because so many runners only run long, slow and easy every single weekend. I used faster, varied paced long runs to help me lower my marathon best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. No, this style of long run is not easy. You will need a minimum of 2 to even 3 days of recovery jogging in between each one of these long runs. I always advise athletes to alternate long run intensities.

For example, run at a faster, varied paced one weekend followed the next with an easy, relaxed long run. Below is an example of the type of varied paced, long run I was doing prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier. Of course, this is just to give you can an idea of what one looks like.

  • 2 mile jog warm-up, 8 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@6:05 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:10, 2 mile jog cool-down (24 miles)

I would always run the following week’s long run at or around 8 to 9 minute mile pace. Again, recovery is vital in between harder, anaerobic workouts. The marathon training plan 20 weeks long that I have created here have these style of long runs already built into them. Of course, paces will vary depending on the time goal you have in mind.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new training and racing videos there each week to help beginner to elite level runners get to the next level. Are you training mentally for your marathon races? If not, now is the time to start implementing mental rehearsal into your training routine.

It has to all start in the mind before your new personal best becomes reality in real life. So, start seeing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal time on the clock. Also, passing people, running relaxed and strong.

The world’s top runners focus on both mental as well as physical training. The vast majority of runners will only focus on physical preparation. So, start training the mind equally as you train your body and watch what happens. The best time to do this is when you first wake up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. It doesn’t really take more than 10 minutes per day to do this.

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