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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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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