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To answer this question, we have enlisted the help of SAYSKY athlete and running coach Sebastian Reinwand. He's one of the fastest runners in Germany, with a marathon PB of 2:15:27 and many years of experience in running and coaching.
Although, we do acknowledge that marathon training can be approached from many angles, depending on the specific goal or target time, we feel that Sebastian's advice is still a very good starting point for a lot of runners out there.
Read the interview below for a handful of great tips on how to train for a marathon.
A normal marathon preparation takes 12 weeks, but these 12 weeks are already specific marathon training. I suggest to do 3-5 weeks of basics training before that, to be prepared for serious stuff - especially the long runs.
The key to success is doing progressive long runs between 32-38km. Such intensive long runs have the same impact as a tempo session. That's why I usually only do one additional tempo/interval training (sub race pace) on Wednesdays and and then the long runs on Sundays.
How much mileage you have to run depends on your goal and talent. But, what I can say is that you should run at least 4 times per week and around 80k to prepare seriously for a marathon and avoid injuries. It's important that your bio-mechanical system (all the muscles and tendons) can to adapt to running 42 kilometres straight.
Fuel carbs from the beginning and every 5k to keep the engine running. Also, the worst thing you can do is going out too fast. So, stay patient - you have 42k to go! Moreover, go for a negative split if possible. Run the second half faster and with the proper fuel to put you on a runner's high after 35k, instead of meeting the man with the hammer.
Every one should reduce the weekly mileage for the last three weeks of the preparation. Your body will rest now and likes to do some race pace reps, but always make sure to be fully recovered, both before and after. I suggest to race a hard 10k two weeks out. That puts your body and mind into race/suffer mode and will make marathon pace feel so much easier when the gun goes off.
You should be able to average your last long run three weeks out in 90-95% of your goal race pace, e.g. a sub3h should do:
35k: 10k/4:55 + 10k/4:40 + 10k/4:30 + 5k/4:12
You'll find more examples here - or, if you're interested in race fueling, then click here.
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