When is the best date to start marathon training? Well, that depends on how long you have been running for, whether you are a first time marathon runner, and what your goals are.
Whether you should follow a 24 week, a 20 week or a 16 week marathon training plan depends on your experience and your goals. Here are my recommendations on when you should start marathon training depending on your running experience.
Beginners Marathon Training Plan
If you have never ran a marathon before then I would recommend a 24 week plan to allow you to build really good base of fitness and finish your race strong and happy. However, if you have ran a half marathon recently then you could follow a 20 week marathon training plan as you should already have a good endurance base from your recent race.
A 24 week marathon training plan will give you time to build up your endurance slowly and give you plenty of recovery weeks. This is really important for a first time marathon runner as it should keep injury at bay and motivation high. Training for a marathon is hard work and you shouldn’t underestimate how much it will take out of you!How early should you start your marathon training? Read when @_RunningHappy thinks you should start! #runningcoach… Click To Tweet
Intermediate Marathon Training Plan
If you have ran a few marathons in the past and have kept your endurance levels by regularly running longer distances then I would recommend either a 24 or 20 week training plan depending on your race goals.
If you want to improve your finish time then you should follow a 24 week training plan. This will give you time to build on your endurance and work on your speed without over training and causing injury or burn out.
If you don’t have a finish time goal then following a 20 week plan will give you time to build your strength and endurance.
Experienced Marathon Training Plan
If you regularly run marathon distances then the training plan you follow depends on your goals.
As with an intermediate runner if you have a finish time goal the longer you give yourself to train the better. A 24 week plan is perfect if you don’t already include a lot of speed work in your weekly runs. If you regularly include speed work in your training week then a 20 week plan will allow you to focus on marathon specific speed.
If you are running the marathon for fun rather than a specific time, have ran a marathon in the last 6 months and regularly run half marathon distances or longer then a 16 week plan will allow you to build on your existing endurance and get you race ready.
Trail Marathon Training Plans
For trail marathons, especially for anyone who usually runs on road, then my advice would be to follow a longer plan, whatever your road marathon experience. A 24 week plan will allow you to include more specific strength and hill workouts that you will need for running a trail marathon.
If you are running a trail marathon for your first marathon then I would recommend a plan that is slightly longer than 24 weeks or that you train for a trail half marathon before you start a 24 week marathon training plan. I know plenty of people whose first marathon was a trail race and beginners shouldn’t be put off from doing this. Just know that you will need more specific trail training.
Running Happy Training Plans
As a running coach I love helping people train for races of whatever distances. If you are interested in a personalised training plan or online coaching to get you to the start line the please do contact me or check out my online coaching plans.