Marathon Training Program:
Building a Base
Without question, the most important area one should focus upon prior to beginning marathon training is to safely build a mileage base. I believe that one should be running four to five days a week with minimum mileage totals of 25 miles per week before considering training for a marathon. From that point, long run and weekly mileage can be added in small increments.
The Ten Percent Rule
Do not increase either your (1) weekly mileage and/or (2) long run mileage by more than 10 percent a week. Doing so greatly increases the chances of incurring an injury, thereby delaying or stopping your training all together. Refer to How to Avoid Injurysection for additional information.
Where to Start
Please refer to the Mileage Buildup Schedule (Schedule I) below to find the level of training that most closely matches your present training routine/volume. Start training at that point and follow the schedule. When you have reached the end of Schedule I, you have now developed a base from where you may now consider training for a marathon. Since the Marathon Training Schedule (Schedule II) is a 17-week program, continue to train at the concluding levels of Schedule I until the marathon you wish to run is four months away. If you wish to see the chart below in kilometers, click here.
For marathons even further down the road, the best approach in filling the time gap between schedules is to put your training in a "holding pattern". During this time, once you reach the 10-mile mark of your long run, you can then alternate your long run sequence weekly as follows: 8, 9, 10, and then 6-mile long runs. As a means of facilitating leg rest and recovery, "easy weeks" are recommended every fourth week where both weekly mileage and the distance of the long run is reduced.