How to Run a Good Marathon Time? Run More!

Recently I’ve chatted with some running friends, and we’ve discussed the subject of fading toward the end.  My advice to run a good marathon time,whatever that may be, is to simply run more.  Often beginners get caught up running faster, which may be cool to show people how fast they can run, but that won’t necessary result in a good marathon time for them because you build endurance from running more miles, not necessarily running faster miles.

Building Mileage

Using Slate’s marathon calculator allows the runner to plug in information, preferably a half marathon now more than a few months ago, to see their

Alum Creek Trail -- achieving millennial

Run more, slow down, and take in beautiful rail trail vistas like this! Meditation like this will help you achieve a good marathon time.

predicted marathon time.  A good marathon time is of course a personal goal, but the calculation is the result of mileage and the result of a recent race (a half marathon is as good of an indicator as any, and within two-four months so it’s recent, and preferably within the current marathon cycle).  A full marathon of 26.2 miles is a quintessential endurance race; elites often log well over 100 miles.  Do you honestly think that running a peak week of 40 will result in that good marathon time you’re hoping for?

Average Weekly Mileage

Many people see marathon training plans and look at the peak weeks.  Some people freak out.  Others are excited by that intrepid achievement.  Running 40, 55, 70, or even 100 miles in a week for the first time is a laudable achievement, but your average mileage matters more for a good marathon time than peak week.  Running 70 miles in a week a couple of times with most weeks in the 40s or low-50s doesn’t average the same as running 60s every week, even with a shorter peak week.  You want consistency with your weeks.  With few exceptions, you build your endurance over time.  Cheating with building lots of miles in a short span is a great way to get hurt.  As well as speed work while increasing miles.

Forget Speed Work

You’ve probably seen and read articles and books discussing strides, tempo, lactate threshold, fartleks, intervals, and a multitude of other confusing speed work.  You will run a good marathon time utilizing them, but they’re for people with an adequate base and experiences runners.  My recommendation is until you’re averaging mileage in the mid-50s stay away from more than one speed workout per week.  And then be careful.  Speed work will bring your game up a notch or two but you also have a much greater chance of injury if you’re running mileage in uncharted waters and running like a maniac.  The 80/20 rule of 80% easy miles/20% hard miles almost requires one to be high mileage to safely combine quality, hard miles with easy, relaxed miles.

Listen To Your Body

At the end of the day, listen to your body what you can do.  My number one rule of running is to have run.  My number one rules of training is to listen to your body.  Run as much as you can for achieve your goal, good marathon time while simultaneously listening to your body.  If you’re following a “canned plan”, don’t be afraid to adjust it here and there based on your current fitness and time available.  While I’m undoubtedly a fan of “more is more”, hurting yourself for a good marathon time probably isn’t worth it long term.  The worst thing for an endurance athlete is to get injured because not only does it take time away from training, we lose fitness and must get a back.


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