Posted by: David D. Daggett | June 9, 2008

Marathon Blueprint

Marathon Blueprint

      Following Ironman Blueprint a number of folks followed up asking about marathon training. Again, although I have run 23 marathons (17 at the end of Ironmans), I don’t consider myself an expert. However, I have “coached” a number of folks through success marathons following some basic principles.

     Marathon training involves three components, but only one has to do with running. These components are very similar to some of the principles we have previously reviewed in Ironman training. The three components are:

1.  Nutrition

a. daily – simple rules: avoid simple sugar, saturated fats, and trans fat as much as possible. By default that leaves lots of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Drink plenty of water.

b. race – I keep this very simple. What ever the sport drink is on the course plus a gel every 30 minutes or so. Practice, practice, practice this on the long runs every week.

2. Keeping a well balanced life.

Things need to be going good with family, at work, and getting sleep in order to be able to succeed. See Training with Family.

3.  The Training.

My program is very simple and is designed to fit into real life, without getting injured, and to finish. Note, very fast times can also be run on this schedule. So, here it goes:

a. Frequency – Run 3 or 4 days a week building up to a 20 mile per week base to start the program.  You can do more if the time is available, and you are healthy and injury free. Four days a week will get you through the marathon, but you can do more and all extras should be “maintenance” which is just feel good running. All runs except the long run below can be done with 45 min average time (30 min to 1 hr max).

b. Intensity – Do one long run, one easy run, one intense run, and one speed run per week. The long run is outlined below. The intense run is warming up and cooling down with 10-15 minutes easy running w/ 15- 40 minutes in between at faster than marathon pace (conversation would be a bit labored). The speed work can be done on a track, but really doesn’t need to be. I personally do mine on the roads, sometimes just racing between garbage cans at the curb on trash day – the key is to keep it fun. I do my speed periods from any where from 90 seconds to 4 minutes, with an easy jog between that is ½ the time period. So, for 4 minutes speed intervals I do 2 minutes easy jogging between. All other runs during the week are maintenance (or skipped if you don’t feel good), which are just going out and enjoying the run.

c. Endurance – I make this rather regimented by taking out a calendar and plotting the course. First, count backwards from race day doing a long run of 3 hours 3 weeks out from the marathon. Count backwards from this date reducing the long run 15 minutes every other week until you get back to 1 hour. On the off week do ten miles as the long run, as long as it is not longer than the time progression. This is done to minimize the risk of injury. Do this run on what ever day works for you – for me it is early Wed morning.

The biggest risk is to due too much. Anything longer than 3 hours has too high a risk of injury and is not worth it – you will be fine on this program. If you think you will be much of four hours on race day you can add a 15 minute walking warm-up and cool-down to the long run.

Remember, you can do it! Positive attitude makes you faster. Be safe, have fun, and we’ll see you at the finish line!


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