You Can Run a Marathon Too!: The Everybody’s Guide to Running …

On Saturday mornings, do you ever see people in spandex blowing past you as if their life depended on getting to wherever their final destination might be?  These highly-disciplined people are usually runners.  And no, they are not in a rush to be somewhere–they are running for the love of running and to stay fit.  Each year, thousands of “non-runners” follow a beginner’s training regimen and complete their first marathon.

Running is a sport that truly anyone can enjoy, no matter age or fitness level.  Take the challenge and make the decision to pick out an appealing marathon and create a training schedule. Remember to plan at least 18 weeks ahead of time–the length of time needed to train for beginners.

Training for a marathon doesn’t mean you have to run seven days a week.  In reality, that kind of training can damage your muscles.  In order to maintain your endurance, you need to dedicate at least 4 days a week to running–three shorter runs and one long run.  Many people also dedicate a fifth day to cross-training.  This means that you perform an exercise that is not running, such as cycling, rowing, elliptical, tennis, etc.  This allows your muscles to rest while still improving your cardiovascular endurance.

The key to a successful beginning is to start out slow.  Although a small percentage of people enter marathons to compete, most people choose to enter marathons as a personal challenge–a way of demonstrating strength and will-power.  Finishing a marathon is huge accomplishment in itself, regardless of the time.  In order to train for a marathon   The schedule in the paragraphs below are for the three “shorter” training runs.  A table is included below that has a schedule for the long runs, which usually occur on a weekend.  Keep in mind that these schedules are not set in stone.  There may be weeks when you will have to switch things around, but the idea is to keep going and get back on track the following week.

Try and run between 3-5 miles at least 3 days a week for the first three weeks of training.  Never run more than 3 consecutive days because it places unnecessary strain on your muscles and can lead to fatigue and injury. 

Once you feel comfortable running 4 miles at an easy pace, go ahead and amp up your mileage the following weeks so that by the end of week four, you can complete 6 miles.  By week seven, you should be able to run 7 miles by your second training run.  At week ten, you should increase your second training run to 8 miles.  On weeks, where you increase the mileage, you should run fewer miles.  Week thirteen will be a light week so that you can recover your energy.  Run only five miles for each of the three training days.  If you feel like you have a lot of energy, remember that the week thirteen long run is 19 miles.  From week fourteen through week eighteen, run anywhere from 4 to 6 miles each of the 3 days.  This begins the tapering off process that allows your body to recover so that you can run a marathon.

Remember that the mileage range is per day.

Short Run Schedule (3 days a week)

Week 1           1-2 Miles
Weeks 2-3       2-4 Miles
Weeks 4-6       5-6 Miles
Weeks 7-8       6-7 Miles
Weeks 9-10     7-8 Miles
Weeks 11-12    6-8 Miles
Week 13            5 Miles
Weeks 14-18    4-6 Miles

Each week (usually on Saturdays or Sundays), you will also need to dedicate time for a “long run.”  This is a run in which you learn to steadily build-up mileage.  You run at a slower pace for a longer period of time to accomplish the added miles.  Remember that you may have weeks where you are unable to complete the total weekly mileage, however, do not skip long runs, unless injured.  These are the most important runs for marathon training.  If you feel tired during a run, it is a perfectly acceptable training strategy to walk.  Many marathoners need to walk at some point during the race, so there is no harm in walking during training.

Long Run Schedule (1 day a week)

Week 1      8 Miles
Week 2      9 Miles
Week 3      6 Miles
Week 4     11 Miles
Week 5     12 Miles
Week 6      9 Miles
Week 7     14 Miles
Week 8     15 Miles
Week 9     11 Miles
Week 10   17 Miles
Week 11   18 Miles
Week 12   13 Miles
Week 13   19 Miles
Week 14   12 Miles
Week 15   20 Miles
Week 16   12 Miles
Week 17    8 Miles
Week 18    Optional 2 Mile run

If you are feeling bored, restless or simply would like to get in shape, this might be the challenge you’ve been waiting for.  Running is a highly addictive activity and is a fantastic way to de-stress, stay fit and boost your confidence. The beginning is always the most challenging, but stick with it and picture yourself crossing that finish line.  There’s no better feeling in the world!

If you have any health concerns, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a training regimen.  Also, listen to your body–if you feel pain stop and take care of the issue before resuming running.

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