A month into your marathon training program how should your fitness have progressed? A standard marathon program duration is usually 14-16 weeks giving you basically three months of training and a two week taper before your race.
In this initial month the goal should be two fold;
- Increase your endurance
- Increase muscular strength
This first month or even longer can be considered your base phase of training where you work on these two goals. We have spoken in depth about increasing your mileage to increase your endurance, this is a fundamental goal in the base phase of marathon training. You can build your mileage and endurance through regular aerobic workouts and stretching your long run time each week.
During the first month of the marathon base is the time to increase muscular strength, incorporating hills into training is essential for this development. Ensuring you complete your weekly hill session as well as running regular aerobic runs over hilly terrain should be increased during base training phase. This increase will build strength for when you do longer or more challenging interval and tempo sessions later in the training. Simply put running more over hills at an aerobic pace will develop both your endurance and strength.
If you use Strava or another online site to log your mileage you can focus on two metrics. Monitor your weekly mileage and elevation run. Your Strava profile will measure your last 4 weeks of running, focus on increasing this number during this period of training.
While the focus is on endurance and strength in this phase running a weekly interval session should still be completed. As part of the three weekly sessions it is recommended that an interval workout is run every week. During the base phase you can run longer intervals, the goal of intervals is usually to increase speed. However running a longer interval will give you an endurance pay off as well and teaching the body to be able to run fast as it fatigues. Being able to run fast through fatigue is a vital component of developing endurance for the marathon. At some stage in the marathon you’ll be asked to dig deep and stay on goal pace and these longer intervals and long runs are where you’ll teach yourself this skill.
After this first month of training you should be feeling comfortable with running the increased mileage you’ve developed. From here the recommendation is to continue to build the endurance through increasing long run distance, strength through hill workouts and more focussed speed through shorter, faster intervals. However you will need to recover from the harder workouts and you can run your aerobic runs on flatter terrain and possibly slower than the previous phase. After eight weeks of marathon training you should be reaching close to your maximum distance of your long run and be ready to build speed and strength to get you through the marathon. the value you’ll get from a quality base phase of marathon training will help you get through the hard training thats ahead and to the finish line of the marathon.