It appears the free "Six Week Running Program" (PDF) prompted many to write in not only to say thanks, but to make more specific requests concerning 10-kilometer runs, 10-mile runs, half marathons and marathons. Here is one from a naval officer who is running the Marine Corps Marathon.
The naval officer writes:
"The Marine Corps Marathon is at the end of October. Do you have or recommend any running programs to help those of us running it to max our performance? This will be my fifth MARCORPS Marathon, and it seems that I am always just doing my 5-, 8- and 12-mile runs every other evening (roughly) with a few 15-milers. Any plans to put one on the web like your PRT program? Thanks for any advice you can provide us, and thank you for a wonderful column on Military.com!"
My personal rule for clients who request training plans for running of such long races is to take your time and build up to nearly 25-30 miles a week before you really start concerning yourself with improving your performance in the marathon itself. This can take anywhere from 10-15 weeks, depending upon your running schedule. The standard rule of ramping up your running is adding 10%-15% per week.
The first six weeks are designed for a beginning runner or one who is recovering from an injury, as seen in the chart below:
Running Plan I - For Beginning Runners
|1||1-2 mile||Bike or swim||1-2 mile||Bike or swim||1-2 mile|
|2||2-3 miles||Bike or swim||2-3 miles||Bike or swim||2-3 miles|
|3*||Bike or swim||Bike or swim||Bike or swim||Bike or swim||Bike or swim|
|4||3 miles||Bike or swim||3 miles||Bike or swim||3 miles|
|5||2 miles||3 miles||off||4 miles||2 miles|
|6||2-3 miles||3-4 miles||off||4-5 miles||2-3 miles|
*Do not run during Week 3; bike or swim every day. There is a high risk of injury.
The following nine weeks will take you to a level where you can start to train for a marathon without risk of serious injury. Just climbing to this level of running could cause tendinitis and other joint pains because of the harshness of running on the body. (According to Runner's World, 30%-60% of runners get injured every year.) It is not recommended to start Running Plan II until you can perform week six from the Running Plan I.
Running Plan II
For intermediate runners
|1||3 miles||5 miles||off|
|2||3 miles||5 miles||off|
|3||4 miles||5 miles||off|
|4||4 miles||5 miles||off|
|5||5 miles||5 miles||off|
|6||5 miles||6 miles||off|
|7||6 miles||6 miles||off|
|8||6 miles||6 miles||off|
|9||6 miles||6 miles||off|
|1||3 miles||5 miles||2 miles||off|
|2||3 miles||5 miles||2 miles||off|
|3||6 miles||4 miles||3 miles||off|
|4||6 miles||4 miles||3 miles||off|
|5||6 miles||4 miles||4 miles||off|
|6||6 miles||6 miles||4 miles||off|
|7||6 miles||6 miles||6 miles||off|
|8||6 miles||6 miles||6 miles||off|
|9||6 miles||6 miles||6 miles||off|
*Work on speed and goal pace during Weeks 8-9 (minutes/mile).
Once you have the foundation of running thirty miles per week under your belt, you are ready to train at your goal mile time and distance. Usually Saturday and Sunday make the best days for your longer run so Monday and Friday will be off days in order to recover and prepare. The chart below is a 12-week plan for a marathon:
12-week running plan for better marathon performance
For advanced runners
|1||off||8 miles||5 miles|
|2||off||8 miles||6 miles|
|3||off||9 miles||6 miles|
|4||off||9 miles||6 miles|
|5||off||10 miles||6 miles|
|6||off||11 miles||6 miles|
|7||off||12 miles||6 miles|
|8||off||12 miles||6 miles|
|9||off||12 miles||6 miles|
|10||off||10 miles||6 miles|
|11||off||8 miles||6 miles|
|12||off||6 miles||6 miles|
|1||6 miles||off||6 miles||6 miles|
|2||6 miles||off||7 miles||7 miles|
|3||6 miles||off||8 miles||8 miles|
|4||6 miles||off||10 miles||6 miles|
|5||6 miles||off||12 miles||6 miles|
|6||6 miles||off||14 miles||6 miles|
|7||6 miles||off||16 miles||6 miles|
|8||6 miles||off||18 miles||6 miles|
|9||6 miles||off||19 miles||6 miles|
|10||6 miles||off||20 miles||6 miles|
|11||6 miles||off||10 miles||6 miles|
10:00/mile = approx. 4.5 hours
9:00/mile = approx. 4 hours
8:00/mile = approx. 3.5 hours
7:00/mile = approx. 3 hours
6:00/mile = approx. 2.5 hours
The following link is a great source for runners and people who wish to start running and achieving the marathon distance goal:
These workouts are recommended running programs that have worked in the past for many people, but they may not be right for you. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine (especially running), or you may find yourself reading the articles in the Military.com archives about lower-back or knee injuries.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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