Marathon Training Plan 24 Weeks Long

September 27, 2022

Are you seeking a new marathon training plan 24 weeks long? If so, I am happy that you have made it here to Nutrition Geeks. I have run 2:19 for the marathon distance and always tell my athletes to focus on a longer training block. The biggest reason for this is you don't want to be in a rush. The marathon takes time to prepare properly for. You will be spending the next several months training for this event. So, it just makes logical sense to do it right.

There are already far too many runners trying to get ready for a marathon in a matter of 8 to 12 weeks. Of course, you can get in legitimate shape in this amount of time. That being said, if you are looking to hit a new personal best then I highly recommend on focusing on a marathon training plan 24 weeks long. A 6 month marathon training plan will yield better results.

Is 24 Weeks Enough to Train for a Marathon?

Yes, a 6-month marathon training block is optimal time frame in order to prepare adequately for this event. What is your goal for the marathon? Is it to start and finish the race successfully? Are you aiming for a specific time like a sub 3 hour marathon? Perhaps you are aiming to break the 4 or 5 hour marathon barriers. We all have our own reasons for running this event. I ran my debut marathon at the New York City marathon in 2002. I was a part of a military charity team.

Army ACFT
Coach Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

We were to start in last place (32,189th) and for every runner we each passed Chase Manhattan Bank was donating $1 to lung cancer research. I ended up finishing as the team's top finisher in 257th place in 2:43:36. Again, we started in last place and weren't permitted to start until every runner had crossed the start line.

Yes, a marathon training plan 24 weeks long is the best time frame to train adequately for your race. Can you still get legitimate results training for 8 to 16 weeks? Of course. So, it really depends on the amount of time you have to devote to training for the marathon distance. I would recommend focusing on running easy for a month before you start a 24 week marathon training plan. The reason is to ensure you muscles, tendons and ligaments and in peak condition for faster workouts.

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Is 5 Months Enough to Train for a Marathon?

Yes. In fact, I always tell my runners to focus on a minimum of 16 weeks and preferably between 20 to 24 weeks in length. Again, you want to train smarter, not harder. Higher mileage isn't a sure bet that you are going to get a new personal best. You can be running too easy, too often and still never hit your marathon goal. So, you have to focus on a new, strategic approach. One that involves a marathon training plan 24 weeks long is best.

That being said, you can still achieve superior results with a training plan that is 12 to 20 weeks in length as well. A common mistake I see a lot of runners making is running too much mileage, too easy. Remember, pace sustainment is the goal. So, you want to get that goal marathon race pace to feel more manageable. The only way to do this is to train at a higher rate more often throughout your training week. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor.

I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to stay in the proper heart rate zones during tempo runs and long runs. Easy running should be conducted at or around 65 percent of your max heart rate. Tempo runs are conducted at your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to build up in the body. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our max heart rate at this intensity. So, the longer you can spend training at this intensity, the better.

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Should You Run 26 Miles before Marathon?

No, I don't think runners need to lengthen their long runs this far. A long run of between 16 to 22 miles is sufficient for any serious or recreational runner. Again, focus on quality over quantity. I would much rather you train smarter, with less mileage and get a new personal best. I have seen enough runners who run high mileage and still never meet their racing goals.

So, it is important to focus on a marathon training plan 24 weeks long. Yes, you can still get solid results with a 12 to 16 week build up. That being said, I always advocate on 20 to 24 weeks for marathoners. The main reason is you won't be rushing your fitness. You will allot sufficient time to adapt to the hard training that you are doing. I am a big believer in faster, varied paced long runs. No, not running fast every single weekend. That being said, alternating a faster long run followed the next weekend by an easy, relaxed long run.

Easy running is still important. Remember, the real benefits of your hard training are going to come from within the rest period. So, make sure you are jogging on easy days to ensure you adapt to the harder, anaerobic workouts you will be doing. Also, focus on doing longer tempo runs. You need to first adapt to a 3 miler before moving to a longer tempo run of around 16 kilometers (10 miles) in length.

Is 20 Weeks Enough Time to Train for a Marathon?

Yes, of course. Again, a build up of between of 12 to 24 weeks will yield the best results. First, focus on doing strides twice per week. In addition, running easy for at least 4 weeks before you start a 20 week marathon training plan. I have created 8 to 24 week training plans on our sister site, rundreamachieve.com. You can also click on any of the green buttons on this post to be directed to them.

I have also created running courses for athletes seeking to run a faster half marathon or full marathon. Are you seeking to break the 3 hour marathon barrier? If so, I created a course called the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro you may be interested in. I also have made a course for runners seeking to break the 2:30, 3:30, 4 hour and 5 hour marathon barriers as well, if interested.

I would recommend implementing strides into your training routine. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter sprints. Strides are great for working on your form and focusing on explosive accelerations. In addition, are too short to build up any large amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these throughout your marathon training build up without fatiguing yourself.

24 Week Marathon Training Schedule Tips

A marathon training plan 24 weeks long should focus on training at, near or far below your goal marathon race pace. Again, easy running is important but it won't help you to sustain race pace longer. So, you have to train more often at higher intensities. The world's top runners run around 40% of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. Our anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise in the body.

We run between 85 to 89 percent of our maximum heart rate at this intensity. So, you definitely want to work to lengthen the amount of time you are training at this heart rate. The athlete should focus first on running around 3 miles or just short of 5 kilometers at their AT effort. Of course, as you get fitter you will want to work toward lengthening the tempo run out toward 10 miles or 16 kilometers in length.

JOG on Recovery Days

Are you seeking to run a new personal best for the marathon? If so, you have to pay attention to your recovery. There is only so many times you can stress the energy systems of the body. You will start to receive diminished returns on your time investment if you train too hard, too often. Remember, the world's top runners take it easy on their easy days too. So, if they can have that same discipline to slow down so can you and I.

Again, the benefits of your hard training are going to occur within the rest period of your training. I created numerous running-related resources on our sister site, rundreamachieve.com to help speed up your progress. You can click on any of the green buttons on this post to find out more about them. You are also free to visit our about page if you would like to know more about my racing background.

Focus on Your Speed Development

Speed workouts, fartlek, hill repetitions and faster long runs help us to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. Remember, the more of these we can recruit the more efficient we are going to race over 26.2 miles. Also, the faster you can run for the shorter events will also help you perform better in the longer races as well. You should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week.

Your vo2 max is your body's maximum oxygen uptake. It is running so aggressively you simply can't clear the lactic acid building up faster than it is being created. Naturally, we have to stop for short breaks to allow time for the lactic acid to clear. I recommend not starting your next interval until your heart rate gets back down to 120 beats per minute. Examples of vo2 max workouts are repeat 1,000m, miles or 2-mile reps on the track. Also, hill repetitions and fartlek workouts like 30 minutes of running hard for 1 minute followed by running easy, are examples of vo2 max workouts.

Yes, the marathon is an aerobic event. That being said, speed still matters when it comes to running a fast time. Again, we want to work to get that goal marathon race pace to feel easier. The only way to do this is training at paces that are significantly faster than your goal marathon pace. Easy running won't help you do this. Of course, easy running still has its place and is still very important to be successful.

Closing Thoughts

How much time are you devoting to mental training? I ask that because the vast majority of runners only focus on physical training. The world's top runners focus both on physical as well as mental training. So, I highly recommend you start devoting 10 to 15 minutes daily to mental rehearsal. I want you visualizing success and seeing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal time on the clock.

The best time to do this is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. Also, see yourself running relaxed and passing people. You have to train the mind for success just as you do the body. I would love to keep in touch with you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new training videos there weekly to help runners such as yourself get to the next level.

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