Boston Marathon

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How long should you train for a marathon

The motivation for many runners to complete a marathon is a personal one. You could push yourself beyond your comfort zone or show your endurance. Maybe a friend persuaded you to do it. Perhaps your goals are to get healthy, lose weight, or promote a good cause.

Whatever your motivation, keep it close to your heart. Also, try to keep it in mind throughout the upcoming months. Keeping your motivation can allow you to leave the house when the weather is bad, or you’re fatigued. You might be wondering how long should you train for a marathon, I’ll be discussing that in this article.

When to start your training for a marathon

Your race date will dictate this, but you’ll need to use common sense to figure out exactly when to get going. The more fit you are, the less time you’ll need to spend on your running training.

When getting ready for a marathon, training may be more efficient if you’ve already completed a marathon. Your year’s most anticipated race may also influence your decision. 

You don’t want to run more than one or two marathons a year if you’re serious about competing in the sport. When you’re not creating a personal fave, a fun race may need less time than an effort to break new ground in your goals.

Marathon Gas Station
Source: / Miguel A. Amutio

Negative effects of training for a short period:

  • Have a short time to adjust to your training, develop endurance, and reach your peak.
  • When you push yourself too quickly, it becomes more difficult to avoid harm.

Negative effects of training for a long period:

  • Overtraining and not being at your best on race day is a recipe for disaster.
  • It is simple to disregard your training runs because there’s no sense of urgency.

How long should you train for a marathon?

Marathon training can take anywhere from 16 to 20 weeks, depending on the runner’s pace. You need to prepare your body and mind for the rigors of the race. Start by following a training schedule that’ll slowly increase your workout’s difficulty level. The schedule must also provide you with at least 3 rest days each week to have adequate time to recover and mend.

Runners often train for 16 to 20 weeks. But, some train for only 12 weeks, while others train for 24 weeks or longer. It comes down to creating a training schedule that is ideal for you.

Nyc Marathon
Source: / Mārtiņš Zemlickis

Factors to consider when training for a marathon

How much time you need to spend training for your marathon depends on a variety of factors:

  • If you’ve already been running for some time and are doing other forms of exercise, you may find it easy to progress to longer training runs. But, it’s good to slowly increase your level of exercise if you aren’t in great shape or are a little overweight.
  • If you have foot, joint, or other ailments, check with your doctor before preparing to run a marathon. It doesn’t mean you can’t do one, but you should give yourself extra years to grow up and pay attention to your body.
  • There is always a chance that overtraining could harm you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any underlying injuries. A smart step would be to allow yourself a few extra weeks. With that, you can build up your fitness level if you need some time to recover.
  • If you have a typical 9-to-5 job, it shouldn’t be too difficult to squeeze a marathon into your schedule. But, someone whose employment needs hours and shift schedules may find it difficult. If your job or lifestyle stops you from getting training, give yourself time to prepare. It will relieve the burden of feeling unprepared. 

What are the phases for marathon training?

You’ll likely follow a three-phase marathon training plan. But, if your goals include improving your technique and hitting time targets. There are several names for these three training phases that are frequently used. But most people prefer to use:

Base training

Base training is a period spent increasing one’s aerobic and cardiovascular fitness. This stage typically lasts two to ten weeks. Depending on how to fit you are for running right now, this phase may be longer or shorter. 

During this period, you will likely perform a few high-quality workouts. As your base mileage increases, you’ll gradually increase the number of long runs you do.

Quality training

The quality training phase would start to incorporate running sessions. It will allow you to move closer to your goals. There’s a scheduled hill and speed session. It will assist you in gaining strength, endurance, and speed while focused on your long runs. This stage typically lasts 8 to 12 weeks. 

Peak training

The peak training period prepares your body for running at its best while getting you race ready. Rest periods known as tapers are also commonly part of this process. This period typically lasts four weeks, including the one to two weeks you taper. 

Your peak training week includes marathon-specific workouts. This week is often scheduled two weeks before your marathon race. It helps your body function at its peak before you start tapering weeks before the marathon.


Tapering means reduced training load (volume, quantity, and intensity). People do it to reach peak performance before a race. A successful taper period typically lasts two weeks. It may last for a week, or it may last a little longer. It all depends on your degree of commitment, intensity, and goals that you set for yourself.

All these recommendations are broad ones. You can change it to suit each runner and their objectives. There aren’t any hard and fast laws to abide by, but using sound judgment is always better!


Although it might appear like everyone who runs does so for marathons, this is untrue. A marathon is not necessary to qualify as a “serious runner.” Many Olympic and professional athletes have never completed a marathon!

So, how long should you train for a marathon? You’re ready when you want to run a marathon for yourself, and not because your friends are doing it. You shouldn’t do it because you feel obligated to. Running a marathon is difficult, and the preparation takes a lot of time and effort. Marathon training can be difficult if you aren’t motivated to do it in the first place.

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