This is part 7 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 6: Mileage
While the long run this week is your "shorter" long run, this is still a challenging week. Your weekly mileage will probably be just about flat, because you'll have a big mid-week run. For most runners, you'll have a longer marathon-paced tempo (more on that below) as your one speed day. For advanced runners, you'll also want to include longer intervals at the track, such as 1000m-1200m. You want to make sure that don't run them too fast or take super long rest breaks because you want to focus on stamina (speed plus endurance).
Marathon Training Week 6: 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: 4 miles (6k)
- Marathon Pace Workout : 12 miles (20k)
- Easy: 4 miles (6k)
- Long run: 12 miles (20k)
- TOTAL: 32 miles (52k)
If you are running 5 days a week, it could look like this:
- Easy with strides: 5 miles (8k)
- Marathon Pace Workout: 14 miles (22k)
- Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
- Easy run: 5 miles. (8k)
- Long run: 14 miles (22k)
- TOTAL: 43 miles (68k)
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: 14 miles. (22k)
- Easy run: 8 miles. (13k)
- Long run: 14 miles (22k)
- TOTAL: 57 miles (91k)
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 6: Marathon-Specific Workouts
With 6 weeks to go, your speed work should be preparing you to race the marathon to the best of your ability. That means you need to not only practice the pace you hope to race, but it also means that you need to develop the most important energy system you'll be using on race day: the aerobic system. We know that the aerobic system is best developed with lots of slow, easy running. So now, let's talk about my favorite marathon-pace workout of all, the 2x6.
The 2x6 (or 2x10km) is a classic marathon workout made famous by the Hanson brothers. Their elite athletes will run this tough workout 2 weeks out from a goal marathon, but that's far too aggressive for non-elites. Running it this week will give you plenty of time to recover. Plus, it will give you valuable feedback about whether or not your goal pace is realistic.
Here's how you do it:
After a mile or 2 of easy jogging as a warm up, run 6 miles at marathon pace, give or take 10 seconds per mile either way. Before repeating the 6 miles a second time, you stand around for ten minutes. Or if you really want to make things harder, sit or lie down. No walking or jogging. After the second set, cool down a mile or two.
The 10 minute break is a clever way to make the second set harder without adding more miles or more speed. It will feel like your legs are a little "junked up" from standing around and it will be harder to run the same pace.
If you completely blow this workout, remember that it's just one workout and there's still plenty of time. But, if you can nail this one, it's a great sign of your marathon fitness.
Beginner and some intermediate runners should modify the 2x6 to a 2x5 (2x8km).
Get in some good fuel and recovery because we are going back up in Week 5. Your long run should either be at its peak or just about there and it should have some speed to it. I'll go over some great options for adding speed to a long run and some common mistakes to avoid.
If you missed earlier posts in the 12 Week Marathon series, here's where to find them: