the planted runner marathon series week 4

This is part 9 of my 12-week marathon training series. This will coach you through your marathon build up, week by week. These guidelines will work for the majority of runners. Runners at the extreme ends of the spectrum will need to modify.

Marathon Training Week 4: Mileage

You can take a bit of a breather in Week 4 to balance out the big week you just had and get ready for the next one.  Your mileage can dip some and your long run should be your "shorter" long run, like you had in Week 6.

Or, you can use this week to schedule a tune up.

A tune up race is a shorter race (usually shorter), that you add into your training for your goal race.  For the marathon, racing a half marathon in the 4-6 weeks before can be a great addition to your training.

I'll explain your two main strategy options below.

Marathon Training Week 4: Schedule Examples

As always, these are just examples and they may or may not work for you, especially if you are a newer runner or returning from injury.    These examples assume you are not racing a tune up.

If you are running 4 days a week, here's what your running schedule could look like:

  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Marathon Pace or Speed Workout : 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy: 4 miles (6k)
  • Long run: 12 miles (20k)
  • TOTAL: 28 miles (45k)

If you are running 5 days a week, it could look like this:

  • Easy with strides: 5 miles (8k)
  • Marathon Pace or Speed Workout: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
  • Easy run: 5 miles. (8k)
  • Long run: 14 miles (22k)
  • TOTAL: 37 miles (59k)

If you are running 6 days a week, it could look like this:

  • Easy with strides: 7 miles (11k)
  • Speed intervals: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 6 miles (10k)
  • Marathon Pace Workout: 8 miles. (13k)
  • Easy run: 8 miles. (13k)
  • Long run: 14 miles (22k)
  • TOTAL: 51 miles (82k)

I don’t recommend running 7 days a week in marathon training unless you are very advanced, very strong, and very injury proof.  It usually causes more harm than good because a rest day is critical to building and repair.

I'm not adding in exactly when you should rest since that will depend on your unique schedule and how you are feeling.

Marathon Training Week 4: Strategies for Racing Tune Ups

In general, there are two main ways to race a half marathon tune up:  all-out or marathon goal pace.  Of course, there are hybrids of these two or you could just jog the whole thing as an aerobic long run with support stations.  But I'll stick with the most common strategies here.

When deciding which plan would be the best, ask yourself what questions are you trying to answer with this race. Here are a few good ones:  

  1. Are you trying to determine your overall fitness?
  2.  Would you like to see how well you do in a high effort situation? 
  3.  Are you concerned about how realistic your marathon goal pace and/or plan is?
  4.  Do you have a history of going out too fast in past marathons?

If you're more concerned about the first two questions, race the half hard.  If the second questions are more important, stick to marathon pace.

The downside of an all-out race is that you will need more time to recover, so plan for that in your training.

You can also use a 10k or a 5k race as a tune up during marathon training.  Since they are so much shorter, they are easier to recover from, but aren't quite as marathon-specific.  Any type of racing can give you good feedback and more race experience, just be sure not to race so much that it distracts from good training.

Looking Ahead

Week 3 is the biggest, baddest, toughest of them all!  I'll give you the details you need to nail as well as the myths you need to ignore.

If you missed earlier posts in the 12 Week Marathon series, here's where to find them:

Before you begin marathon training

Week 12

Week 11

Week 10

Week 9

Week 8

Week 7

Week 6

Week 5

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About Claire


Coach Claire has helped hundreds of runners chase their dreams and conquer big goals. Her coaching philosophy combines science-based training, plant-based nutrition, and mindset techniques to unlock every runner's true potential. She's an ASFA certified running coach, sports nutrition specialist, a 2:58 marathoner, mom, and borderline obsessive plant lover.

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