Are You Running Too Many Workouts in Marathon Training?

Training Tips

I was surprised that when I put up a picture about my workout on Instagram, I got quite a few questions from other runners about why doing two workouts is a rare occurrence for me.

Most weeks during marathon training I only do one workout per week.

This surprises a lot of people, but with marathon training, it is more about the accumulation of miles in total that really gets you ready; the long run of 2-3 hours and the workouts faster than race pace for more than a few miles.

I replied to a few people saying that I believe that is why so many people never make it to the start line of a marathon.

Not only because they are running their easy days too fast (I still run 8-9 minute pace on my easy days, and my race pace will hopefully be 5:50-6:00 per mile ish) in a few months, but I also think people overdo it on the workout side of things.

If you have a longer, workout with a sustained portion and a quality long run, meaning more than 2 hours, I believe that is enough to get you ready.

There is no need to do lots of speed workouts, and certainly not every week.

I understand most of you are not going to be running 80 miles a week, but if you are doing a lot of miles for you, and keep ending up with injuries or burned out, maybe it is time to consider removing some of those second workouts in the week.

Within a 10 day period, there should only be three hard efforts in there, and I count a long run over 2 hours as a hard effort just from the time on your feet.

If you really feel uncomfortable about doing only one workout a week, then you can do two within a 10 day cycle, but instead have only one long run.

This is actually what a lot of elites do; one long run every 10 days.

I essentially just switch out a long run for a second workout as we believe this plays to my strengths as a runner.

We also have a down week for long runs once a month.

That means if my usual long run is 18-24, we will take a week at 14-16. Bear in mind that for me, even the 24 is under 3 hours.

So I am not out there for 4-5 hours, and even the 24 milers, I only do once or max twice in a segment. Most of mine are around 20-22, which is about 2.5 hours.

Think about your training within a 10 day period, could you be doing too much?

I will share another week in the life of sometime in the next few weeks, but for now, this just made me think about the conversation Steve and I had when I interviewed him on the podcast.

Steve talked about the importance of the accumulation of workouts, and how important it is to have that coach to put a plan together for you.

As much as it seems to make logical sense in our minds (and I am guilty of this too), you cannot just take someone elses training, make a few adjustments to pace or distance, and think it will work magic for you.

Steve has made me see through marathon training, that there is so much more to this than the workouts themselves, you need to have a plan laid out over the months, with each and every run having a specific purpose to get you ready for race day….and yes, recovery days have a purpose of their own!

It is complicated. It is “just running”, but if you truly want to see just how good YOU can be, then it is worth it to find a coach.

That is why I am not coaching athletes…..well, of course in addition to not having the time 😉 but I believe that coaching an athlete is a VERY important job, that person is trusting you with their hopes and dreams, that can be easily shattered.

I just do not feel I have the ability to be able to create a training plan on my own for someone.

So my friends, PLEASE be very careful who you select as a coach. And if you can’t find one as of right now then feel free to take a listen to my marathon podcast series, it has 5+ hours of solid information all surrounding marathons.

Look at their previous athletes, not just the success of those runners in the short-term, but that they have lots of consecutive successful seasons, with improvement over years rather than just months.

You will often see a runner who makes HUGE jumps in performance, but then they either become stale, and never really progress beyond that, OR overtrained OR go through the endless heartbreak of injury after injury.

There are a lot of coaches out there who will do you more damage than good.

So do your homework, and for the record, I do recommend Runners Connect coaching plans for runners of every level, and no, I don’t get any commission from signing anyone up……but if you do join us, tell them I sent you.

Make me look good please 😉

Finally, if you are not ready to take that step to getting a coach, but you need something to get you through your next marathon, this marathon training schedule should be helpful to you (it’s free too!).

Apologies for the random jumping around of this post, but my brain is not functioning enough to be able to create a streamlined post.

Actually, that’s not true. I rarely create a streamline post.

Usually when I show Steve my posts before I publish them, his remarks are pretty much the same every time:

“It’s good, jumps around a lot, but otherwise good”

So you should be used to it by now.

But hopefully you took some snippets from today that can be helpful, or at least make you think. I may dive into this a little further in the future, but for now, after a busy weekend, I have a lot to catch up on.


How do you structure your marathon training workouts?


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