Marathon Training Plan | Master 26.2 Miles NOW Using Leverage

Are you seeking a new marathon training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am happy you have made it here and hope that this post will be off assistance to you.

I would focus first on spending at least 4 weeks running easy. In addition, start running strides twice per week. Strides are too short to build up any significant amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these short, 50 to 100-meter long accelerations on top of your other workouts. Strides will help improve your form. In addition, are great for warm-up drills and to get your heart rate up.

Remember, too much mileage run aerobically will only make you a superior, long slow runner.

marathon training plan

Richard Knox of NPR stated in Avoid The Bonk: Running A Marathon Scientifically there would be approximately 200,000 Americans in 2010 would run a marathon.

The results? 4 out of 10 of those runners would ‘bonk’.

We know what that is.

Have you ever hit mile 15 in the marathon and felt an 800 pound guerrilla jump on your back? I have.

Once we run out of carbohydrate stores we begin to burn fat.

It requires far more oxygen to do that.

What happens if the athlete has not trained the body to utilize fat stores at race efforts

Well, the oxygen delivery to the muscles will not be sufficient enough. Thus, the athlete slows down.

How Many Months Do You Need to Train for a Marathon?

I always recommend a longer build up rather than a shorter one. So, a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 to 24 weeks is best. I have marathon training plans here that range from 8 to 24 weeks in length. You can visit our testimonial page and see what other runners are saying.

Why do we hit the so-called “wall” in these longer races? According to Dr. Ben Rappaport runners are running out of carbohydrates in the liver and leg muscles.

The body is forced to metabolize fat. Fat is a much less efficient fuel source and requires a great deal more energy to burn rather than carbohydrates.

The Facts

There are far too many runners selling themselves short because they have a bad race without understanding the why’s of what happened.

Endurance events involve a mixture of carbohydrate and fat fuel usage.

We run long on the weekends to burn fat and increase endurance.

The problem is when you are at race pace your body is relying more on carbohydrates.

Once they are depleted, it doesn’t matter how motivated you are, the athlete slows.

The key is to teach the body to rely more on fat and conserve calories during the race. In addition, you want to be able to finish strong.

The well-trained athlete does experience “the wall” and will not experience the ‘bonk’.

What is the Best Marathon Training Plan?

I am confident that the marathon training plans located here are. I share the exact strategies I was taught in the running courses and training plans I have made.

In addition, help runners to bypass the mistakes that I was making earlier in my running career. You can learn more about any of these resources by clicking on the green buttons within this post.

I did not experience hitting a wall or ‘bonking’ when I ran 2.19.35.

That being said, I have experienced what it is to hit the wall and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Debra Schulman, Ph.D, in Fuel in Fat For The Long Run put what I have known for the past few years beautifully.

Follow the principle of specificity. If you want to teach your body to use more fat for fuel, then create training conditions that generate high fat metabolism. Your body will eventually learn to prefer fat.

Now THAT is the ticket. Teach your body to prefer fat over carbohydrate. The result? You will have carbohydrates when you need them most, in the last 10 kilometers.

Our bodies only have approximately 1800-2000 calories stored at any given time as carbohydrate.  When do many runners usually experience hitting the wall?

How Many 20 Mile Runs Should You Do Before a Marathon?

I would recommend between 3 to 4 runs at 20 miles will make you very prepared.

When do most runners hit the wall? It is usually between the 18 to 20-mile mark.

Remember, we burn around 100-110 calories per every mile we run. Again, the amount of calories burned will also depend on the weight of the athlete. So, heavier runners will burn more calories than lighter athletes.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have proven that a 6-day-a-week program of 45 minutes of higher intensity training increased fat combustion in the athletes tested by 41 percent.

The result? Less reliance on carbohydrates and better fat usage.

You want your marathon training plan to set you up for success and teach your body to use fat more efficiently at race pace.

You want to train at higher intensities for longer periods of time as you build your fitness.

What this means is running at speeds where fat metabolism is at its highest.

Where is that?

How Many Days Do You Need to Train for a Marathon?

I would suggest running at least 3 days a week. Of course, the faster you are aiming to run in the marathon the more mileage is needed. That being said, you also need to focus on quality rather than just quantity. Again, you can run too much mileage too slow and still never hit your goal time.

running a faster marathon

What pace is easy pace? It may be around 60% of your maximum effort.

You also need to train for longer periods of time at your anaerobic threshold.

We run between 85-89% of our maximum heart rate at this effort.

I started dropping large amounts of time when I began doing long runs faster.

In fact, I went from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

‘Anaerobic’ means ‘without oxygen’.

So, it is the point at which your body is not producing the proper amount of oxygen to the working muscles.

There is simply not enough oxygen delivery for them to work properly and thus it begins to break down sugar and produce lactic acid.

Better said, lactate will not be able to be converted back into energy needed to sustain the pace you were holding.

How Many Miles a Week Should a Beginner Run a Marathon?

I would recommend beginners running at least 40 miles a week. Of course, you need to start slow and gradually increased your mileage. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245. It helps me to sustain the proper paces and at the correct intensities.

Heart rate monitors will ensure that you are not over training. In addition, you will focus more of your attention on heart rate rather than splits. Remember, the fitter you get the faster your splits will be.

How can you get your goal marathon race pace to feel easier? One example is to do track workouts at a much faster pace than goal marathon race pace.

I would do mile repeats between 4:40 to 4:45 per rep. In addition, long fartlek runs such as 60 minutes alternating 1 minute hard (4.55-5.05 per mile pace) with 1 minute easy (6.30-7.30 per mile pace).

Also, long track intervals such as 10x1000m repeats with shorter recoveries.

These forms of workouts teach your body to run more economical at higher exertion rates. Remember, you are teaching yourself to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

Can a Non Runner Run a Marathon?

Anyone can run a marathon. That being said, it does take time and patience to start and finish a race of this length.

So, you need to start to teach your body to rely on fat, rather than carbohydrates.

If your oxygen demand exceeds your supply you will go anaerobic and you will be forced to slow down.

If you teach your body to run at a higher percentage of effort, without going anaerobic, you will be training in a higher fat metabolism zone.

Your body will begin to use fat more efficiently and conserve carbohydrates.

Conserve carbohydrates means you will be able to call upon them when you need them most, when you have to sprint at the end of a race or in the last six miles of the marathon.

It isn’t that you don’t have the capability to achiever your goals.

You simply have to change your strategy.

Consider your options.


Jeff Gaudette, a 2.22 marathoner who ran for the Hansons Distance Project, reiterates my training philosophy by saying,

One of the most important elements to marathon success is being able to burn a higher percentage of fats versus carbohydrates when running at marathon pace. The longer you can maintain your glycogen stores, the farther into the marathon you can go before the brain and muscles, in the absence of glycogen, start to slow you down.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is or what level you are currently at. This is a universal fact.

Is 20 Miles Enough for Marathon Training?

Long runs of 20 miles are usually sufficient for most runners training for the marathon. I do think there is a point of diminished returns. For example, will a long run of 35 miles do more good than a 20 mile long run? No. Yes, you will build enormous endurance and strength from both. That being said, a long run of between 18 to 23 miles is best.

The more specific you are in your training the better results you are going to produce.

We have more fat stores in our body then carbohydrates.

So, train the body to work better using fats at your marathon race pace and your chances of success will rise.

Remember, you will have to run a speeds that are uncomfortable. The good news is that the body always adapts to the hard training that we are doing.

In addition, you have to begin to implement higher training efforts and increase the time spent at those efforts.

How do you go from running 9:55 per mile pace to 9:09 per mile pace for 26 miles?

What are some example workouts that will help you to that end goal?

A higher focus on quality, rather then quantity in regards to mileage.

Easy mileage is exactly that, easy.

Too many runners think you have to run more miles to run a better marathon time. It is quality that breeds personal bests, not quantity.

Is 25 Miles a Week Enough for Marathon Training?

I think running 25 miles a week for beginners is a good starting point.

Raise your effort level higher during your long runs. Faster, varied paced long runs was one of the major reasons I was able to run 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, do not run long and slow every single weekend.

The key is to teach the body to handle running at harder paces for longer periods of time. Below are a few examples of these faster, varied paced long runs.

  • 20-mile run aiming for 10.45 per mile pace…first 8 at 10.45 per mile, last 12 averaging 11.25 per mile.
  • 20-mile run – first 5 miles relaxed, next 5 miles at 10.00 pace, 5 miles at 9.20 pace, 3 miles at 8.50 pace, 2 mile cool-down

Which of these two runs do think will better prepare you to run a 4.00 marathon?

A better question is which of these two runs will teach you to use more fat at your goal pace and conserve carbohydrates stores?

Closing Thoughts

The second is clearly the better choice.

Be patient. Rome wasn’t built over night and a successful marathon training plan takes time too.

This will teach your body to not only burn fat. More importantly, burn fat relative to the speeds you are trying to race at.

It takes patience and persistence to get yourself to these fitness levels. That being said, having a long-term approach, understanding the physiology and patience will make you a much more successful runner in 2023.

I hope this post on marathon training plan tips has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.

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