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Best Workouts for Marathoners and Training for a Marathon

March 02, 2020

Best Workouts for Marathoners and Training for a Marathon

What are the Best Workouts for Marathoners?

When training for a marathon many people believe that the key is simply to run a lot of miles, and that pace does not matter.  While this strategy will certainly help you finish a marathon, it may not help you run a personal best.  Listed here are some of the best workouts for marathoners. 

Fast Finish Long Runs
A fast finish long run is exactly what it sounds like:  a long run where you finish fast.  The first 75 – 90% of the long run should be at typical long run pace.  Then, the final 10 – 25% of the run should be uptempo, at marathon pace or faster.  This workout helps you build mental strength while practicing marathon pace and getting your legs used to the slow burn of 26.2 miles.

Progression Runs
Undoubtedly, the last few miles of a marathon are significantly more difficult than the first few miles.  Additionally, the best race strategy is to run the marathon with negative splits, meaning the second half is faster than the first.  In order to prepare for this method, progression runs should be part of your training.  A progression run should be 8 – 12 miles long, and be completed in such a way that each mile is 5 – 10 seconds faster than the previous mile. 

Race Pace Tempos
The cornerstone of every marathon program is the race pace tempo.  Marathoners should run 6 – 10 miles at marathon pace.  The goal is to run as even splits as possible in order to best understand what goal marathon pace feels like. 

Intervals at 10k Pace
As you get closer to the marathon you should incorporate faster-than-race-pace speed work.  Why?  Quite simply, the more comfortable you are running faster than marathon pace, the more comfortable you will feel running your goal pace.  Example workouts include 6 x 800 m at 10k effort with 3:00 rest; 4 x mile at 10k effort with 4:00 rest; and 10 x 1k @ 10k effort with 2:00 rest.  Besides making marathon pace feel easier, these workouts will also improve your VO2 max. 

Unless the marathon is pancake flat, the race will require changes in effort, such as when running up a hill. Fartleks help your body grow used to these changes.  A sample fartlek for a marathoner includes a 1 – 2 mile warm up, 4 – 6 miles alternating 2:00 at marathon effort with 3:00 at easy run pace, followed by a 1 – 2 mile cool down. 

See also..

Properly Paced Long Runs
A common mistake that marathoners make is to run their long runs either too fast or too slow.  As a general rule of thumb, the long run should be 60 – 90 seconds slower per mile than goal marathon pace.  Keeping your runs within this pace range is useful for getting your legs used to the marathon’s duration without additional stress placed on the body.


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