marathon training week 5

This is part 8 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 5: Mileage

Week 5 is one of your biggest weeks of training with a challenging long run (more on that below).  You should be getting close to your peak amount of weekly miles and will be including one or two speed days, depending on fitness and experience.

These last few weeks before taper can feel like a real grind, and they are, so hang in there.  If you need to take an extra rest day because you are constantly fatigued, absolutely do it without worry.  One extra rest day can be far more beneficial than one too many days of training.

Marathon Training Week 5: 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.  

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

  • Easy with strides: 5 miles (8k)
  • Speed intervals : 8 miles (13k)
  • Steady run day before long run: 8 miles (13k)
  • Long run: 18 miles (29k)
  • TOTAL: 39 miles (63k)

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

  • Easy with strides: 6 miles (10k)
  • Speed intervals: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 6 miles (10k)
  • Steady run day before long run: 10 miles. (16k)
  • Long run: 20 miles (32k)
  • TOTAL: 50 miles (81k)

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: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run with strides: 7 miles. (11k)
  • Steady run day before long run: 10 miles. (16k)
  • Long run: 22 miles (35k)
  • TOTAL: 62 miles (99k)

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 5: Marathon-Specific Long Run

If you haven't already done so, now is the time to incorporate some speed into your long run.  There are several great ways to do this.

My two favorites are surges and a fast finish.

Surges

Surges are accelerations of 60-90 seconds at a faster pace than your marathon pace (could be your 10k or half marathon pace) broken up by 5 minutes at your marathon pace.  If your long run is 20 miles, you would run 12-15 miles at an easy pace, then add in 3-8 surges.  The rest of the run ends at an easy pace.

Adding surges to your long run teaches you that you can run fast when you are tired.  Running at a faster-than-marathon pace also changes the effort away from a purely aerobic run and challenges all your energy systems.

Fast Finish

A fast finish long run starts off at an easy pace and then adds 3-5 miles of marathon pace or slightly faster at the end, allowing for a mile or two of easy running as your cool down.  A key part of running the marathon well is to be able to turn up the effort at the end when you are tired, and this run is how you learn to do that.

Marathon Training Week 5:  Fueling, Nutrition, Hydration

You should have everything very dialed in with your fueling, hydration, and nutrition at this point.  If not, this is something you will need to continue to refine on each long run and long workout.  Fuel and hydrate every long run as if you are running the marathon so you are very comfortable with what you are doing and know your stomach is happy.

Recovering well with adequate protein and carbohydrate is more important than ever after your runs to absorb all the good training you are doing!

Looking Ahead

Week 4 can be a slight down week or it can be the perfect time to schedule in a tune up race.  I'll go over your options for racing during a marathon build and what not to do.


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

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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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