Here are what marathon trainers call the four basic pillars of marathon training:
- Base Mileage. This is the minimum amount of miles you should be running up to a year before the gun goes off at your marathon event. Most marathoners try for 20 to 30 miles per week to start, and go up to 50 four months before the race. You can achieve this base mileage by running three to five times per week. These runs should be at a relatively easy pace. You should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re completing these runs. When increasing your mileage every week, never do so by more than ten percent.
- The Long Run. Once you have a good base mileage, you can start to pepper in some long runs. You’ll want to do one long run every seven to ten days, this will help you avoid injury while building stamina and teaching your body to burn fat for fuel. Extend your mileage by one or two miles each week, but don’t overextend yourself. Scale back your long run mileage every three weeks to prevent burnout.
- Speed Work. Increase the pace of some of your runs and shorten the distance. Run one mile at a fast pace, rest and repeat.
- Rest and Recovery. Let your muscles recover from your rigorous running routine a few days a week. You should also taper your running schedule off as the marathon date approaches.