Training for a Marathon

When your training for a marathon, you don't just go out an run. You have to train your endurance, strength and speed. Each one of these requires different types of runs. Below you will find links to the different types of training runs that are important in any marathon training plan. If you're just looking for the training schedules, you can check them out on the Training Plans page. But come back here to get an understanding of the benefits of each type of training run. Find out how each one benefits you and the proper mix of each in your overall marathon training plan.

We should start with the some solid advice for everyone. Make sure you keep a training journal while you're training for a marathon. If you're new to running or if you've never used one before, start using one. It can be a calendar, journal, notebook, training log or anything that you can record a minimum amount of information.

Keeping a training log while you are training for a marathon is an invaluable help for monitoring what works and what doesn't. It can also help pinpoint issues that may have led to an injury. It can also be a positive reminder of how far you have come in your marathon training. Check out the Running Log page to find out how to use your training log for maximum benefit.

Also, go to the Marathon Training Tips page for some advice on mileage buildup, running surfaces, racing, motivation, importance of rest, and the importance of tapering while you are training for a marathon.


Now for the beginners. One simple word here. SLOW. Go slow, the biggest mistake that many beginners make when training for a marathon is to go too fast, too soon. So go slow. If your goal is to run a marathon and you try to push it too soon, your goal will end like many New Year's resolutions. At best, you'll start out strong; then six weeks later you'll give up. At worst, you'll injure yourself, preventing pain free running for months.

So if you are completely new to running, or you don't have a strong, and recent, background in some other endurance sport (like cycling, soccer, cross country skiing, etc.), check out our Beginners page.

Now, once you're at the point where you can run 3 to 5 miles you're ready to start pushing yourself to higher levels of endurance and stamina. You're also ready to start the foundation of your marathon training. While you're training for a marathon, your training plan will include 3 different types of training runs.


Endurance runs will form the backbone of your marathon training. The long slow distance run and the tempo run will comprise your Endurance Training. These runs will increase your aerobic capacity. Through endurance training you will build the legs and the lungs to complete your marathon as more than a walking zombie.

Hill Training

You're going to train your endurance. But you're going to need to get stronger at the same time. Running hills will give you strong legs. Running hills will also prepare you for the hills that you are going to face in your marathon. This type of training will ensure that you make it up the those hills without burning up your energy and ruining the rest of your race. Also, Hill Training will prepare you for your third phase of training, speed. When you're training for a marathon, running up hills makes you stronger which helps your legs push you faster.

Speed Training

Endurance and strength. Strong lungs and strong legs. The stage is set for your third type of training. If you plan to finish with a specific time goal or push yourself to a faster time than you have previously run, then you will need some focused speed work while training for a marathon. So let's get those legs moving fast. Focused speed work gets your legs to move faster than you currently move them. Fartleks, 5k and 10k races, and track workouts will help you get the speed you need to finish within your time goal. These runs comprise your Speed Training.

Cross Training

And finally, you should do some cross training while you are training for a marathon. Getting off your feet and working other parts of your body will keep your aerobic capacity up without burning you out on running. You'll also save your knees from too much abuse. You've got lots of options with other non running, non pounding sports. One in particular is weight training, specifically core strength training. The bottom line is that you want to add a regular Cross Training day to your training plan.

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