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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 January 21, 2020

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

      your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

        Why You Need a Vision

        Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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        How to Create Your Life Vision

        Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

        What Do You Want?

        The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

        It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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        Some tips to guide you:

        • Remember to ask why you want certain things
        • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
        • Give yourself permission to dream.
        • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
        • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

        Some questions to start your exploration:

        • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
        • What would you like to have more of in your life?
        • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
        • What are your secret passions and dreams?
        • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
        • What do you want your relationships to be like?
        • What qualities would you like to develop?
        • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
        • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
        • What would you most like to accomplish?
        • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

        It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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        What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

        Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

        A few prompts to get you started:

        • What will you have accomplished already?
        • How will you feel about yourself?
        • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
        • What does your ideal day look like?
        • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
        • What would you be doing?
        • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
        • How are you dressed?
        • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
        • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
        • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

        It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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        Plan Backwards

        It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

        • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
        • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
        • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
        • What important actions would you have had to take?
        • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
        • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
        • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
        • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
        • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

        Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

        It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

        Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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