The perfect 4 day marathon training week
I never used to be a four day per week runner. I was one of the maniacs that ran everyday! Really. I only missed a day if I was sick. This was my routine for years. My mindset was I could only get better by running more! But, that all changed in 2003 while training for the Seattle Marathon.
It took an injury for me to figure out the “less is more” concept really does work. And, am I happy I did learn that lesson (only wish I had learned it sooner in my running career). I know I have logged many useless and junk miles over those years, but I guess its better than not running at all and being way out of shape. Besides, I like to eat, so those training miles kept the weight off
Now, I run just four days a week. Even when I’m in training for a marathon, I only run four days a week. Getting the most out of my training and finishing races with new PR’s has all been accomplished with what I call the “perfect 4 day training plan”
I share this with you because all of us runners feel pressure to run all or most days of the week and that is just not necessary anymore. Sure, some of us run that much because we have the energy to do it and because it has become daily habit. Thats great. But, if you want to avoid injury and race better, then 4 days of running is the plan for you (and me).
The four days per week plan works so well that I haven’t gone back to my daily running schedule for over 7 years and I certainly don’t plan to…..ever! I’ve also been able to avoid injury and mental exhaustion.
Here is a sample of the four runs I complete each week in marathon training:
-Speed/Track workout (400m, 800m, and 1-mile repeats)
-Long Run (15-21miles)
-Easy, mid distance run (6-10miles)
-Trail or rolling hill course run (6-8miles)
There you have it. A good mix of challenging, easy, and doable workouts each week. If you have a finish time goal for your marathon race then you want to be sure and add one day of speed work. Speed work involves intervals ranging from 400m (1 lap on the track) to one mile repeats. I like to alternate each week. For example, last week I did 4×1-mile repeats and this week I will shorten those intervals and do 6-8x 400m repeats. The mile repeats are run at my marathon goal pace and the 400’s I run at my 5k pace. The variety helps from boredom as well as challenging your body and the pace it can keep up with.
I strongly encourage you to endorse the less is more philosophy if you are currently running 5 days or more per week. The biggest mistake runners make in marathon training is not giving their bodies rest days. The point of a rest day is to subject your body to much less training stress than usual so that it has a chance to recover from and adapt to a prior run.
I’ve taken all my lessons and knowledge of running over the years and training hundreds of people to finish a marathon and developed a 16 week training program. learn more about it here:
Let me know what you think or let me know about your current marathon training program. Again, I’m sharing this information with you so you don’t have to experience the same suffering and injury I did while training for marathons. Good luck. Be Well, Run Well