Marathon Training Mileage

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Madtown Runner 14 years ago.

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  • #2411

    I have a question. I am training for my first marathon, MadCity on May 29. I’ve been running for about 2 years and consider myself to be in decent running shape. I’m not the fastest, but not the slowest either. I haven’t done a ton of racing, I ran a 10K in December and PR’d at 39:12, but my training was pretty shoddy.

    I started training for my marathon without a ton of knowledge on what kind of training program to do. I’m about 6 weeks out from my marathon and the training is going great. But, I’m only averaging about 40 mpw, peaking at about 54 mpw. My goal is to run a 3:10 or below, right now I think I can shoot for a 3:05. All my training seems to point towards this. By the time I’m finished I’ll have completed four runs of 20 or more miles and two 18 milers. But, I keep seeing posts and more experienced runners say that you should be running 60-70 mile weeks to run close to 3 hours or under for a marathon. Now I know every runner is different, but is it imperative to run more miles?

    Thanks to anyone who chimes in.

  • #18331

    Madtown Runner wrote:
    But, I’m only averaging about 40 mpw, peaking at about 54 mpw.

    At least you’ve peaked at higher than 40 mpw. Lately, there have been a couple of guys that were talking about running a marathon on 40 mpw, which I took to mean that was their high. So I said I think you can complete a marathon on 40 mpw, but not race a marathon.

    Nice to see 6 runs of 18+ miles. Have you done any tempo work or marathon paced work?

    My goal is to run a 3:10 or below, right now I think I can shoot for a 3:05.

    You need to figure out your goal. If you’re in 3:10 shape, but you think you “can shoot for 3:05” you’ll probably end up running 3:20 or worse. With 6 weeks to go, you can still do some pace work to hone in on your goal pace.

    Personally, I need 60-70 mpw to break 3 hours. Keep in mind that you have to work up to that too. Maybe next time around you average 55 mpw, then the time after that you’re able to handle 70.

  • #18332


    First, thanks for the advice. I have done a lot of MP runs, mainly between 7:08 and 7:12 per mile. I guess 3:05 would be the “preferred” race for me. When the gun goes off, I’ll try to maintain a 7:12-7:14 pace. Even 6 weeks out I feel confident I can do that.

    I definitely plan on doing more miles for my next marathon, but I don’t want to add too many know to avoid injury or burn-out (like you said).

  • #18333


    Personally, I feel you need some weeks of 50+ miles to be able to handle a marathon without killing yourself. To me, this comes from observations of runners who have tried to do marathons without running even one 50 mile week in training and from simple math. If you can’t run 50 miles over a 7 day period, how do you think it’s going to feel to run more than half that distance in a single morning?

    The thing I see here is that you have run at least one week of 50+ miles. While I still think a 40 mpw average leaves you short of being ready to race a marathon, depending on how many 50+ weeks you’ve had, you might be ready to complete a marathon without killing yourself. As for your time, there are way too many factors to say X miles per week will get you Y time but it is a fact that the trend is the more miles you run, the faster you are in the marathon.

  • #18334

    Ok, I appreciate the feedback. I will have 3 weeks of 50+ miles…so what I’m hearing is this is a good start, but I may want to consider more mpw for future marathons. Thanks everyone.

  • #18335


    It sounds like you managed to hit my usual suggestion right on the head without even knowing it. I usually say at least 3 weeks of 50 or more miles tends to be as good of a guideline as any if your goal is to run a marathon without the final 10k being a more painful than necessary experience.

  • #18336

    I hope to be able to run the last 10K strong…but, I am putting a lot of pressure on myself. This being my first marathon, I’m going to have to avoid a lot of common marathon mistakes to reach my goal.

  • #18337


    I am planning on running the 1/2. To give you some perspective, 2 years ago, I trained for my 1st marathon. I averaged 47 mpw for the 4+ month period before the marathon, with about 6 weeks at or above 50, and a high of 60. My goal was to run 3:03-3:05, and I ran 3:06:51. I did’t get in as many sustained long runs as I would have liked, and I was injured about 6 weeks out and missed about 7-10 days of training.

    Your plan to run a little slower to start is good. Good luck!

  • #18338

    Ed 1

    For my first marathon my big surprise was at about mile 23 that was when I was just plain done physically – my legs tightened up like iron rods – stiff as hell. Breathing pattern was totally disrupted you name it. I hit a mental wall at 25 – man I wanted to lay down even with just 1.2 to go. (thanks to the volunteer that kept me going)

    That said – you have some higher mileage weeks than I had (for sure) and better base training (by far). So – keep track of how your body feels throughout the race, 26.2 is a hell of a lot farther than 23. I have a hard time explaining that those last 4+ miles are harder and farther than 4 or so miles – to me they felt like 10 miles honestly they did. But again you have a much higher level of fitness going into your first than I did.

    Most people have told me to make my first marathon goal to finish and have a secondary goal as a time goal. That was great advice for me. But start out on the slightly conservative side and feel your way through. I am sure you would rather see a 3:15 than a 3:45 or not being able to finish. Good luck with your training and if you want try Lakefront (early Oct) to get your goal if Mad City doesn’t work out. If the winds are cooperative Lakefront is a great race.

  • #18339

    Thanks for all the stories and advice, I do appreciate it. Also, I am thinking of running the Lakefront regardless of how MadCity goes. I am from Milwaukee and my mom lives right on the course!

  • #18340


    Don’t worry, I’m staying away from Lakefront this year so there shouldn’t be any 30 mph headwind. 😉

  • #18341

    Oy! 30 mph headwind?!?! No thanks!! 8)

  • #18342


    Don’t worry. The 30 mph headwind only seems to happen when I’m running and I’m not going to run Lakefront this year.

  • #18343

    Ed 1

    Thanks for not running Lakefront this year Ryan – I am going for my big PR at that race. I need all the help I can get. 😉

  • #18344


    Mad, I think it can vary depending on the runner. I ran my P.R. [3:05] on less than 40mpw average but I was much younger [28] and much faster than when I averaged 55mpw for 12 weeks with a peak of 65 miles. Now I’m planning on using the Pfitz 18 week / 70 mile schedule in hopes of running 3:35 at age 48. I know guys that never run more than 15 milers and can run 3:12, whereas I ran 26 milers for the same finish time. Regardless, I would trust in the training you’ve done and after the marathon access how you could improve on your next attempt. Don’t get too concerned on what you could / should have done differently this time. Best of luck!

  • #18345

    Thanks Moth,

    I’m hoping to just go run a smart race and finish strong. I am 28 so hopefully, I can cruise!!

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