Marathon Training

This is not another marathon training program.  Instead, the author wants to emphasize on clearly distinguishing two types of marathoning and the principles of training.

Two drastically different types of marathoners:

  1. Just-finish type. These marathoners just want to finish a marathon or marathons for a variety of reasons.  Most of them want to have a time as comfortable as possible in their training and marathon running.  The training program for this type of marathoning is very simple: maintain a weekly mileage of 30s for a few months and do 3 to 5 long runs about 20 miles.  Other things such as training pace, speed workout, hill workout and etc. are largely irrelevant to this type. They should do whatever that is most comfortable for them as long as the above two requirements are met.  They should be able to have great time in training, post-marathon satisfaction and maybe even during the marathon with all the cheers of spectators.  They have little risk of over-use injury.
  2. All-out type.  These marathoners do whatever it takes to approach their potentials. The limits for them are their body mechanics and, for some amateurs, the time that their professional careers allow for running.  They do not hesitate to endure all kinds of pains in some intensive workouts; they take the risks of injury; they fight their bodies' basic instincts of quit fiercely in the last 10K's of marathons; they do not surrender their training to gust, rain, snow or freezing cold.  For them, training programs have to be individually and carefully designed. Fine adjustments of training programs have to take place constantly based on the feedback of their bodies. Excellent books such as Lore of Running and Daniels' Running Formula give and explain the principles of training.  A simple list of training components in the order of priority according to the author's opinion is: a. weekly mileage of at least 60; optimally 70-80 for amateurs with busy demanding professional careers.  b. weekly long run of 20 to 30 miles; c. speed workout emphasizing good forms; d. hill work; e. half-marathon distance run at marathon racing pace; f. tempo run; e LSD or other easy runs sandwiched among the above intensive workouts.  Of course, stretching, strength training, massage are very useful and sometimes essential.  Balanced diet is necessary.  Devising and keeping evolving a comprehensive program consisting of all the above components needs good knowledge obtained from study and experience.

Certainly there are marathoners lying between these two types. They are essentially the just-finish type with some desire of good performance and willing to add some relative intensive workouts to their training and/or beef up their training volume to various degrees.  They get what they pay.

There is no such thing as  better type or worse type of marathoners.  It is purely a personal choice.  One of the great things of modern marathoning is its diversity in many senses including different attitudes toward it. 


(originally written on 12/23/2001)

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