It's time to get to the good stuff! While cross training is a good idea, the majority of your workout time from now on should be devoted to running and recovery. As the weeks go by and your fitness level continues to build, you should be following some kind of progression. Long runs get longer, and intervals (if you do them) get tougher.
There are any number of marathon training programs, some better than others. Here are some key points to remember.
1. BE FLEXIBLE! Vacations, work-related tasks, illness, and family obligations often interfere with running, so you have to be flexible. In any training program, the focus should be on 2 or 3 essential workouts per week. The BIG 3 are long runs, interval sessions, tempo runs and or races. When something comes up, use that as a recovery day and put off your key workout. More often than not, your best race will follow weeks of uninterrupted training. CONSISTENCY!
2. START EARLY! You cannot rush adaptation to training without risk of injury. The general rule is no more than a 10% increase in long runs or weekly miles per week.
3. SET A REALISTIC GOAL! Don't go into this with unrealistic expectations. Generally speaking, marathons fall into one of the following categories:
a. Serious racers: This group includes men who run under 3 hours or women who run under 3 hr 30 min (dependent upon age group- I consider myself pretty serious, but at 54 am finding a sub 3 rather difficult!)
b. Passionate runners: They may train just as hard, but don't have quite the natural ability to lead the pack. Between 3 and 4 hours.
c. Just let me finish: These are runners who for some reason have targeted the marathon as a life-long ambition. They train and hope they can just finish. (over 4 hours)
4. Individualize! Set up a running program around your life, not
the other way around. If time is at a premium, you can be successful at the
marathon running your BIG 3 quality sessions a week!
To help measure your ability to run a marathon, use this chart from marathonguide.com that predicts your time based on performance at a shorter distance.
(c) Dave Elger 2008 All rights reserved