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How to Train for a Marathon in 3 Months or Less

How to Train for a Marathon in 3 Months or Less

Completing a marathon is on the bucket list for many people. If you’re not already a long distance runner, chances are you have no idea how to go about this mammoth task.

Running a marathon is very doable. I’m going to teach you how to train for a marathon so you can get it done in just three months.

A marathon is 26.2 miles and, depending on the race, you can expect runners to finish anywhere in between two and six hours.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

Running 26.2 miles is a long way. It is very demanding on your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, cardiovascular fitness, and is just as demanding on your mental stamina.

At any one time, 50% of all runners are injured. They have shin splints, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures and unexplained niggles. Do see your doctor for a check-up before engaging in any strenuous activity. If you experience any soreness other than general fatigue, you must see a professional right away for a quick fix–-better to miss a day of training while the injury is easily repairable than to a miss a month of training because you thought it would go away.

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One more warning:

Running is addictive. Once you finish your marathon, you will not be the same person you were when you started training. You will be stronger in your body and in your mind. You will know that sense of freedom unique to runners. You will salute others in your neighborhood with that grin known to all runners. And you will become a better person.

If you have the guts to commit to a marathon, you should start by familiarizing yourself with running terminology.

Long Steady Distance (or LSD) – This is your most important run of the week. You will go at a steady reasonable pace for a longer distance than your other runs. This run builds up your endurance stamina. Beginner’s tip: Include regular walk breaks.

Tempo – This run is the medium distance run in your week, and is done a little faster than your LSD. This run will improve your lactic threshold, which is that burn you get in your legs when you are pushing it. Beginner’s tip: Push the pace, but don’t go totally flat out.

Fartlek – This hilariously named run is Swedish for speed play. In this run you will alternate between fast and slow running. Over time, this will help increase the speed of all your other runs. Beginner’s tip: Alternate between running as fast as you can and walking. Use lamp posts or street corners to decide when to walk or run.

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Easy – Just like it sounds, this run is shorter, slower and more relaxed than the others. Its purpose is to keep your legs ticking over to add a few extra miles in your week, without putting additional stress on your muscles and bones. Beginner’s tip: Always run this slower than your natural run pace. If your pace is very slow, make this a walk.

Rest – Rest is the most neglected part of training. Rest is doing nothing, sleeping, eating, hydrating, getting a massage, and chilling out after the previous strenuous weeks. Rest is when your muscles and bones strengthen, your immune system rejuvenates, and your body prepares itself for your next session. Do not skip this!

Those terms are really all you need to know to complete a marathon. Once you’ve picked your race, you can start training.

Each run needs to be done once each week. Every 4 weeks, you’ll take a recovery week where you’ll only do Easy runs.

Most people do their LSD on the weekend when they have more time. Simply pick which day of the week suits you best and stick to that. Your Easy run will best fit either the day before or the day after your LSD. Your Tempo and Fartlek will fit in whichever other days work best for you.

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Here’s an example of how this might fit into your week:

how to train for a marathon in 3 months or even less

    Now you’ll need to build your plan–in this case three months (or 13 weeks)–until Race Day. It is best to plan it all out now, rather than doing it on a weekly basis.

    • Fill in your LSD run distances first. These will build up gradually over time.
    • Build in your recovery weeks approximately every 4th week.
    • Add in your Easy runs.
    • Add in your Tempo and Fartlek runs.
    • The 7-10 days before the marathon you’ll need to taper your training.

    Here’s a sample for you:

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    how to train for a marathon in 3 months or even less

      Tips:

      • If you have already been running for a while, you can skip the first 4 weeks of this plan and knock it off sooner!
      • Many runners have GPS watches. They are great to help you keep track of your distance and pace. If you don’t want to fork out for a specialist watch, there are many free apps available to download on your smartphone.
      • Depending how long the marathon will take you, you may need to learn how to eat food on the go. Glucose gels are the most convenient source of energy. You can also experiment with energy bars or by adding honey to your drink.
      • Carrying a drink bottle for more than a few miles is very annoying. There are plenty of waist packs, hands-free bottles, and hydration backpacks available so you don’t need to carry a bottle.
      • For your first marathon, time isn’t important. The important thing is that you did enough training to complete it. If you feel rubbish on the day, or the weather is crazy, that’s okay. Take it easy, chat to other runners, and soak up the atmosphere.

      When the going gets tough, dig deep and remember you are one of us now. You are a runner. Best of luck!

      Featured photo credit: Army 10-Miler – 2010 – AUSA – FMWRC – United States Army – 101024 / photo by familymwr via fotopedia.com

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      Last Updated on May 22, 2019

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

      One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

      In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

      Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

      1. Cat Camel Stretch

      Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

      Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

      Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

      Here’s a video to guide you through:

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      2. Go for a Walk or a Run

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

      Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

      Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

      3. Jumping Jacks

      Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

      Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

      4. Abductor Side Lifts

      Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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      Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

      5. Balancing Table Pose

      This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

      Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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        6. Leg Squats

        Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

        Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

        The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

        7. Push Ups

        You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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        An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

        Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

        This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

        8. Bicycle Crunches

        There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

        Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

        9. Lunges

        Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

        Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

        This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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        10. Bicep Curls

        You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

        Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

        Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

        Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

        Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

        These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

        You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

        Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

        More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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