marathon training week 8

This is part 5 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 8: Mileage and Frequency

By Week 8, you are almost certainly ready for a down week.  I like to take this week as a true deload or cutback week for most marathoners.  Now, that doesn't mean you want to take the week off (unless you have to!) but it's time to let the training settle a little bit without adding extra stress.

I will trim the long run all the way down to 8-10 miles (12-16km) for most runners, or about 12 (19-20km)miles for more advanced runners.

You'll want to keep your regular frequency of running, unless you need an extra day off to feel good.  By the end of the week, you should feel pretty rejuvenated and ready to head into the next couple of months of training.

For most runners, I also like to keep the speed work at just one true session a week.  You can still be working on your strides and drills, but no need for both a track session and a tempo this week.

Marathon Training Week 8: 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)
  • Easy: 5 miles (8k)
  • Long run all easy: 8 miles (16k)
  • TOTAL: 26 miles (45k)

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

  • Easy with strides: 5 miles (8k)
  • Speed intervals: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
  • Easy run: 6 miles. (10k)
  • Long run: 10 miles (16k)
  • TOTAL: 34 miles (55k)

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)
  • Easy run with strides: 6 miles. (10k)
  • Easy run: 8 miles (13k)
  • Long run easy with some speed: 12 miles (19k)
  • TOTAL: 47 miles (76k)

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 8: Focus on Your Food

You will be running less this week, but that doesn't mean you should eat less!

Even if you started running to lose weight or are actively trying to lose weight right now, a calorie deficit is harmful at best and dangerous at worst when you have athletic goals like running a marathon.  There are far better ways to lose weight than training for a marathon and there are far better ways to train for a marathon than trying to lose weight at the same time.  Choose which one is more important and don't attempt both at once.

Most marathoners end up underfueling at some point during their training.  This is most typically from not fueling before, during, and after their runs.  Then the underfueled runner will simply eat "as normal" the rest of the day, robbing the body of nutrients for repair or they will be so hungry that they will drastically over eat.

Rule number one is eat when you are hungry!  And then rule number two is remember that you sometimes need to eat when you are not hungry.  If you are the type of runner that is not hungry after a run, it's not because your body doesn't need food.  It's because your hormones are suppressed by exercise.

Eating at least 3 meals and 2-3 well-balanced snacks every 2-3 hours (yes, you read that right!) can help keep your body happy and ready to build.  It will also help keep you from the starving-stuffed cycle that so many marathoners find themselves in!

Here's the science-based way to fuel as a plant-based athlete.

marathon training week 8

Marathon Training Week 8: Speed Work

Since you didn't have a track workout last week with the Michigan, you'll definitely want to hit the oval this week.

A great choice is a mix of repeats at a range of paces to help you learn pace control and build stamina in your runs. A classic ladder workout is when you start with a few reps of a shorter distance and incrementally increase the length of the reps until you reach 800-1000m and then come back down.

For example, after a 1-2 mile warm up jog:

4x200m at high effort with 100m jog recovery

3x600m at 5k pace with 200m recovery

2x800m at 5k-10k pace with 200m recovery

3x600m at 5k pace with 200m recovery

4x200m at high effort with 100m jog recovery

Finish with 1-2 miles of cool down jog

Looking Ahead

Week 7 marks the point where you only have about 3 major long runs left.  I'll go over the controversial theory of why it can be a great to cap your long run to about 3 hours, even if you are a slower marathoner.  And then I'll tell you when it's okay to ignore that advice!

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

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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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