Laura Fountain explores your last-minute marathon training options and shows you how to put together a 10-week marathon training plan
I’ll be honest: training for a marathon in just 10 weeks isn’t the most ideal way to prepare. But, depending on the level of fitness you’re starting from, it’s possible to do it successfully.
How fit do I need to be to train for a marathon in 10 weeks?
If your marathon is 10 weeks away, I’d hope that you were already capable of running 10 miles as a long run. Anything shorter than that, and you are unlikely to be able to build up the mileage enough to prepare you safely for race day.
The final three weeks of training for a marathon will see your mileage decline as you taper towards race day. So, although you may have 10 weeks to go on the calendar, you only have seven weeks of building up your runs. Look at how long your longest run is right now. Could you reasonably build up from there to 18 miles (or 30k) in the next seven weeks without it jumping up too quickly?
If you’re confident in your fitness levels, then read on. If you think that’s out of reach, it might be worth postponing your race, or switching to a shorter distance. There are some great half marathon training plans out there that will get you race ready in 10 weeks.
How do I train for a marathon in 10 weeks?
Let’s talk about how to build a 10-week marathon training plan. For starters, it can be helpful to have a longer marathon training plan to work off. Then you can adjust it to suit your needs.
To do that, we need to work out why you’re training for a marathon in just 10 weeks. In my experience, there are two scenarios. Firstly, there are the runners who have recently been training for a half marathon. They’ve had a great race and decide that they may as well carry on training for the full 26.2 miles.
Secondly are the runners who recently trained and ran a marathon, but their race didn’t go to plan. It might have been illness, injury, poor nutrition or any other extenuating circumstances, but they’re basically keen to get back on the horse ASAP.
Read on for my advice on how to build a training plan in each of these scenarios. If neither of these are you, read on to understand what kind of considerations you might need to take into account when planning the next few weeks of training.
It’s also important to remember that having less training time doesn’t mean that you should skip your running warm-up or those important strength training sessions. Keep calm and remember that preparing your body for this race isn’t just about the running.
How to build a 10-week marathon training plan as a half marathon runner
In this instance, the key will be to make sure you’re recovered from your half before you push on with upping your mileage. So, take it easy for a week and see how your legs feel.
Next, reflect on your training so far. If the plan you were following has been working well, you don’t need to switch onto a new plan. It’s clearly working for you and you can easily add to it.
You can keep to the same structure, but you’ll obviously need to build up your long runs (and overall mileage). Increase your long runs by no more than a mile a week, with 18-20 miles as your longest run. 18 miles is plenty to run a marathon off of, and pushing yourself to get to marathon distance is a common training plan mistake that you’ll want to avoid.
If you do want to switch onto a marathon training plan, check to see if the long run distance that’s planned for 10 weeks before the race coincides with a half marathon distance. If it does, you can pick it up from there once you’re recovered. If it doesn’t, you can amend the plan as above.
How to build a 10-week marathon training plan after a recent marathon race
For these runners, the 10 weeks needs to include a recovery period from the previous marathon, some maintenance weeks, and a taper.
Recovery will depend on how much your last race took out of you and if you have any blisters or muscle aches that need to heal before you restart training in earnest.
If you’re feeling great, try a few, much shorter runs per week for a week or so of your training. You’ve already got the distance under your belt, so there’s no need to worry about losing endurance during this time.
Once you’re fully recovered, you can continue with the kind of mileage you were doing before your previous marathon. If you’re looking to repeat your performance, you can repeat the last few weeks of your marathon training plan again, including the taper.
If you have a new goal time in mind for your marathon, you’ll want to add in some marathon paced miles into your week. This could be in the form of a tempo run (6-8 miles midweek at marathon pace) or as the final miles of your long run.
If you’re running another marathon because your first didn’t go to plan, it’s also a good idea to reflect on what went wrong. Was it under-training, or was it an outside factor on race day?
If you found yourself the victim of bad luck (bad weather, illness, freak accident) then it’s absolutely a good idea to get another marathon in while your fitness is still high. But if injury forced you to drop out or hobble your way to the finish, speak to a physio before you sign up.