Best 12 week Marathon Training Schedule

12 week marathon training schedule

A 12 week Marathon Training Schedule may seem intimidating at first, but if you have achieved a certain level of fitness prior to beginning your training, it is possible.  You may have heard stories about those people who are able to run a whole marathon without training.

Those stories are either urban legends or true-life stories of physiological freaks of nature. The average individual will need to build gradually in order to develop the stamina for a 26.2-mile run.  As a good measure, if you are able to run 3 to 4 miles without stopping at least three to four times a week, you should be able to start training for a marathon.  Keep in mind, however, that you will not be able to keep your 5K or 10K pace for a 3-4 hour run.

There are many tools available that will help you to monitor your pace during a 12 week marathon training schedule.  The simplest tool is a stopwatch combined with a running trail that has mile markers.  The ultimate key is to listen to your body.  Don’t let ego or unrealistic expectations drive your training goals and be willing to adjust your pace to how your body is feeling.

Too many beginner runners develop serious and long-standing injuries as a result of trying to “run through” pain.  Unless you are a professional runner, there is no need to push yourself to the point of permanent injury.  If you are patient, you will develop the strength you need.  It is a matter of pushing yourself a little bit more with each run.

During a 12 week marathon training schedule, your longest runs on the weekends with a rest day before and after.  Your marathon schedule will build you up to at least 20 miles two weeks prior to the race.  Usually, you will start with a long run off about 7 or 8 miles.

During the long run, you will want to set a slower pace in order to ensure that you are able to finish. If you are unable to finish your long runs or find yourself needing to take a lot of breaks, consider a slower pace.  On the other hand, if you are able to run it straight through without excessive bodily fatigue or soreness than you might be able to set the pace a little higher.

During weekdays you will run at least three shorter runs with strength training or cross-training on other days.  Do not underestimate the value of cross-training or strength training.  Cross-training is an exercise that is not running like swimming and helps utilize accessory muscles.

Strength training increases your durability.  Both activities prevent mental fatigue and major muscle fatigue.  It is tempting for a beginner to skip cross-training and strength training because of time constraints or lack of motivation.  If you are fatigued, evaluate your nutrition or lower your pace before skipping cross-training or strength training.

Most runners have a good idea of how many miles they can run within a set time.  Beginners, however, might not be able to gauge their level of exertion and run the most risk of “hitting the wall” during the actual marathon.

If you are a beginner and haven’t paid as much attention to the limit of your body’s ability to run long distances, it is important to constantly evaluate your body’s signals that may indicate dehydration, fatigue or low glycogen.

Rather than just ignoring signals like extreme tiredness, soreness, or sharp shooting pains, consider a slower pace or taking a day off with the intent of getting back into training as soon as your body feels ready.

Most runners have a ready supply of water, sports drinks, or energy snacks to keep the body fuelled during long runs.  During training, some runners prefer to intentionally omit sports drinks or “marathon fuel” snacks in order to give their body an edge on training day.

Marathon training will require the runner to carry a ready supply of water with them.  Other than that,  it is up to you. Good nutrition while in training is a necessity.  A lot of runners rely on bananas, nuts, and other low calories yet high nutrition foods. Non-chafing clothing and good running shoes are other essentials.

If you are on a 12 week marathon training schedule it is paramount to train with the end goal in mind.  Find out how steep the climbs are in the course that you plan to run.  If you are running a particularly hilly route,  then, by all means, train on routes that have a lot of climbs.

Do not underestimate the muscle strength required for downhill runs.  If you know the elevation demands of the route you will run, make sure to prepare your muscles accordingly.

Read more about Marathon Training For Beginners

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