marathon training week 9

This is part 4 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 9: Mileage and Frequency

Week 9 is an up week.  Your long run should be a mile or two longer than it was in Week 11 and you are pairing it with a steady run the day before to make the long run more effective.   Many runners have built their long run up to 16-18 miles (25-29km) by this time, but if you're not quite there yet, there's still time.

To learn more on how the steady-long-run combo works, head back to Week 11.

At this point, most marathoners will be injecting some speed into the long run with some surges or a few fast miles at the end of the run.  Don't overdo it by attempting to run 50% or more at marathon goal pace!  Three or four miles near the end of the run is plenty for most people.

marathon training week 9

Marathon Training Week 9: Schedule Examples

This is a good time to emphasize that these are just examples and they may or may not work for you.  The mileage is starting to get higher each week and that might not be appropriate for you, especially if you are a new 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: 6 miles (10k)
  • Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Steady: 6 miles (10k)
  • Long run all easy: 16 miles (25k)
  • TOTAL: 36 miles (58k)

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

  • Easy with strides: 6 miles (10k)
  • Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 6 miles (10k)
  • Steady: 6 miles. (10k)
  • Long run easy with some speed: 16 miles (25k)
  • TOTAL: 42 miles (68k)

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

  • Easy with strides: 7 miles (11k)
  • Tempo: 9 miles (14k)
  • Easy run: 6 miles (10k)
  • Easy run: 8 miles. (13k)
  • Steady: 8 miles (13k)
  • Long run easy with some speed: 16 miles (25k)
  • TOTAL: 54 miles (86k)

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 9: Add A Challenging Tempo

A tempo run should be a staple in your marathon training.  I recommend that you do some variation of a tempo every 7-14 days, depending on your ability.

I like to assign my marathoners a very challenging tempo in Week 9 and it's usually The Michigan.  The Michigan is a grueling blend of speed and strength.  It will not only challenge you physically, but mentally as well.

Its roots begin with track legend Steve Prefontaine and end up, you guessed it, at the University of Michigan.  Check out this deep dive into the history of this classic run.

Unless you are elite or very advanced, you probably shouldn't actually run The Michigan the way it was originally written.  But you can follow the spirit of the run by alternating a tempo efforts with shorter 5k efforts, and finishing with a quarter mile of just about everything you've got.

Marathon Training Week 9: Speed Work

Despite this being an up week, I skip a true track interval session for nearly everyone this week.  The Michigan is hard enough on its own and you are also running a steady before your long run which might also have a little speed.  Enjoy easy recovery runs or rest for the remainder of your week.

Hydration and Electrolytes

Fall marathoners have to train in the summer so a solid hydration strategy is essential.  

The first step is finding out how much you sweat.  Most runners already know if they are on the sweatier end of the spectrum, but it’s also a good idea to get some better data on just how much sweat is lost.

Getting a rough idea of your sweat rate is pretty simple. You just weigh yourself naked before a hot run, weigh yourself when you get back, and subtract any liquid you drank on the run. The result is your sweat loss on a similar run. This is not lab-precise because you lost more than just water on the run, but it’s close enough to determine if you are a heavy sweater or not.

Next, you’ll need to figure out how much you need to replace while running.  This will be quite subjective because the costs of dehydration are different for everyone.  Some runners will get slowed down by as little as a 1% loss of body weight, while other runners can handle up to an 8% sweat loss.

In general, most people do not start to see performance declines until about 3-4%.

Now that does not mean that you want to replace 100% of the fluid you lost. That would lead to a sloshing belly and would probably decrease your ability to run well. So you’ll have to keep experimenting on your runs to find the right amount of liquid you can comfortably handle.

To learn more about how to hydrate and why sodium is the most important electrolyte, read my complete guide.

Looking Ahead

Week 8 is one that you will be really looking forward to at this point.  I like to make it a true down week, also called a cutback.  You're not exactly taking the week off, but it's time to absorb all the good training you are doing.  Next week, I'll go into some ways to recharge to be sure you are ready for the big weeks ahead.

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

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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