My 10-Week Marathon Training Program

It’s really easy to say you’re going to run a marathon one day and an entirely different thing to actually train for and run one. I’ve really only been actively running for about two years and I in those two years I typically take off all of the crappy winter months because I can’t stand running on a treadmill for more than 3 or so miles.

Within the last two years I’ve run in 2 official half marathon races and last summer I began training for longer distances until I irritated the meniscus in my right knee so bad I had to take time off. But after knowing that I could run almost 16 miles in one long run gave me the confidence to train for a full marathon the following summer. So, here we are.

The 10-Week Program

My personal 10-week marathon training program starts on April 1st, but I started running distances between 2-6 miles starting in late February, so I’m starting with a small but important foundation. Below is a month-view of my training plan. Sometimes things switch around, but this is the plan I’ve committed to sticking to.

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In summary, I’ll be running a total of 4x a week, 3 runs being training runs and 1 long run on Sundays. Each weekly long run will increase in total milage by 2 miles until I reach a long run of 20 total miles 4 weeks before race day. In addition to training runs I will also be cross training with pilates and cycling and strength training with weights and resistance bands. I have one planned rest day a week, normally on Tuesdays. During the first six weeks of training, one training run will focus on building speed and hill endurance. The final four weeks of training will scale down to 3 easy runs and split strength sessions to two shorter sessions a week.

Nutrition

Ok, let’s cover fuel briefly. I am not running to change my body composition (lose weight), so my focus is to maintain daily calorie in/calorie out balance by fueling with healthy carbs, fats and proteins. My basal metabolic rate with no physical activity is about 1,300 calories, but I have a fairly physical job and exercise almost every day, so I estimate my daily caloric needs to be closer to 1,500-1,600. From my estimates, I burn about 85-90 calories for every mile I run, so on top of my BMR of 1,500 calories per day, I do my best to replace the calories I burn while running.

I eat a wholly plant based diet, so I have a pretty easy time getting tons of healthy plant-based carbs in my diet like sweet potatoes, tempeh, beans, quinoa and brown rice - and all of those foods contain pretty good amounts of protein in them as well. I get more protein from pea protein veggie burgers, tofu, soybeans, and pea-protein powder if I feel like I’m down a couple grams. I cook with organic virgin, coconut and sesame oil, which are all sources of healthy fats. I also love peanut butter (who doesn't?!) and snack often on pecans and pistachios, which contain a good about of fat. Here are some of my favorite hearty meals and snacks I fuel up on while running:

  • Oatmeal with 1/2 banana

  • Curry roasted sweet potatoes

  • Quinoa bowls

  • Apples and peanut butter

  • Broccoli and cauliflower with vegan ranch

  • Loaded sweet potatoes

  • Vegetarian chili

  • Taco salads and taco bowls with brown rice

  • Beyond Burger patty with melted vegan cheese and 1/2 avocado

  • Chocolate peanut butter protein smoothies

  • Whole wheat bagels with tofu cream cheese

  • Open-faced BLTA with tempeh bacon

Also Important: hydration, sleep and stretching/massage

Ok, so there’s more to it than running and fueling. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stay hydrated. I notice minutes into a training run when I haven’t hydrated throughout the day properly. I try to fill my water bottle 2-3 times before I head out for a run. I also use Nuun tablets. For my longer runs I typically drink half a glass of water with a Nuun tablet dissolved in it right before my run and then fill it back up the rest of the way with water and finish it after my run. I don’t do drinks like Gatorade or Propel simply because I don’t like the taste and the thick texture.

I’ve already observed that I need more sleep than most people. I just operate exponentially better with 7+ hours of slumber and my need for sleep increases even more while training. It’s so important to get to bed a little earlier than normal while training. Even when I don’t feel tired when it’s time to hit the hay, I always fall asleep in minutes. Strenuous physical exercise is the best sleep aid.

I have to admit: I am SO bad at remembering to stretch. I typically only remember to stretch when I feel like my quad muscles are physically shorter in length (not good). So I try and make a ritual out of it. At least 1x a week, typically after my long run, I like to do a full foam rolling routine on my quads, hip flexors, glutes, IT bands, hips, calves and shins. Another, and maybe lazier (but who cares), way to break up and loosen tight tissue is to schedule regular medium to deep-tissue massages. I normally get a 90 minute massage once a month, but during training I’ve bumped it up to twice a month.

That’s all for now. I expect things will come up over the next 10 weeks that will make training difficult, but that’s life. I’m ready to check this off my bucket list.