Can you train for a marathon 3 times a week?

  • suedeheadscot

    Posts: 1130

    Apr 30, 2014 9:42 PM GMT
    OK so I have been doing half marathons fairly comfortably and can now do 13 miles quite easily (!). Training has commenced for the Berlin Marathon in September.

    Did I bother with a training plan? Nah, I thought. If I have been running halfs for 4 years, I could easily just build on top like I've been doing - short run at start of week, medium run end of week and long run on the Saturday. Job done.

    Problem is now I have been checking programmes and most have been doing 4 times a week. The actual aim was to try to get 26 miles run over the course of a week with a few twenty miles done.

    What I've been doing is trying to do a 4 mile run, a 9 - 11 mile run and just build up the long run slowly each week (last week I did 17 miles and this Friday I was going to do 18 miles). I read that its best to try to get as many 20 - 23 miles as you possibly could under your belt so you could just get used to it. Probably try to do a 26 before tapering begins.

    And even better - I thought I could ditch the short run thanks to a new love of boxing, which I am enjoying and its just nice to keep my exercise varied.

    Now I am reading up on programmes and getting confused. I'm not keen on running 4 times a week and would rather do it 3 times. My goal is to finish below 4 hours - that would do me. As my PB for a half I did last March is 1 hour 31, then I feel I am already halfway there with training.

    Thoughts? The damn thing isn't until the end of September but I thought I would start now and build up slowly. I may have to go see my gym instructor and get a programme.
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    Apr 30, 2014 9:47 PM GMT
    I suspect that age is a factor; the older we get the more recovery time we need. So maybe look for training plans for seniors and from that extrapolate as best you can for your age.
  • DanOmatic

    Posts: 1155

    May 01, 2014 2:13 AM GMT
    There are all sorts of training plans online that can give you a framework that you can tweak to fit your own goals and your own particular parameters. My personal opinion is that most people tend to overtrain for distance events like a marathon, and a lot of training plans don't include enough rest.

    Sure, you want to be well-prepared, but that's mainly psychological. Many an athlete will tell you that it's better to be somewhat undertrained than even a little overtrained. Rest and stretching are very important, and are usually the most overlooked aspects of preparing for a marathon. The last thing you want is to incur an injury or be so overtrained that race day arrives and you have dead legs.
  • DanOmatic

    Posts: 1155

    May 01, 2014 2:16 AM GMT
    Also: If you're running a 1:31 half, I think you have enough experience under your belt to train 3 times a week (mindfully) and complete a marathon well under 4 hours. Don't sweat it, you'll do fine.
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    May 01, 2014 2:35 AM GMT

    First: congratulations finding a goal, and clearly identifying it.

    You ask many difficult questions, and there are No clear answers. I have learned many things running 12 marathons, 3 Ironmans, and many many shorter distance races.

    I would caution an athlete attempting their first marathon with a sub 4 hour finish goal, and only running approximately 25 miles total per/week. Seems your post marathon recovery could be very uncomfortable. But this could be achieved with additional cardiovascular cross-training for the athlete wanting to keep running miles minimal, swim(minimal skeletal impact), spin class (inhances your aerobic endurance, and increases LTHR), or any activity you enjoy and stay injury free, and placing a Big Priority on your weekly Long Run.

    I would suggest challenging yourself with incremental challenges. And asking yourself: How do I feel post long run? Can I keep on my training schedule?and am I enthused for my next workout?

    Additionally, if you are the social type find a running group, or coach, a good running store, or a minimum lots of E-research. September is along time away for a race. Write yourself a schedule with race-day / week as #1, and count back to today/week, this becomes your training plan.

    Best of Health, and stay focused on your Goal, TriKen
  • jock_n_ca

    Posts: 148

    May 01, 2014 3:21 AM GMT
    Unless those three runs are all quality and no junk you might get by with 3x week. I'd suggest sucking it up and run 4-5x week. It's great to x-train but focus on the marathon and make it a quality experience.
  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    May 01, 2014 3:30 AM GMT
    I did just that last year. I didn't do my cross training with any consistency, so my three runs were pretty much my three training workouts most weeks. I didn't have the time I wanted, but I finished and enjoyed it enough I'm running one again this year. I believe in lots of rest and minimal (but sufficient) mileage. Less is often more.
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    May 01, 2014 3:37 AM GMT
    jock_n_ca saidUnless those three runs are all quality and no junk you might get by with 3x week. I'd suggest sucking it up and run 4-5x week. It's great to x-train but focus on the marathon and make it a quality experience.


    Ditto..listen to this guy.icon_smile.gif
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    May 01, 2014 5:05 AM GMT
    RunnerMD saidI did just that last year. I didn't do my cross training with any consistency, so my three runs were pretty much my three training workouts most weeks. I didn't have the time I wanted, but I finished and enjoyed it enough I'm running one again this year. I believe in lots of rest and minimal (but sufficient) mileage. Less is often more.

    +1
  • suedeheadscot

    Posts: 1130

    May 02, 2014 7:30 AM GMT
    ^ Thank you everyone. It does look like the boxing is gonna have to slide later on *sigh*. Am already a member of a running group though none of them are doing long distances right now.

    I do need something too make the long distances (17 miles or above) more bearable (they are pretty boring and I'm not enjoying them right now). Keeping the training to 3 times a week would have meant I could still have enjoyed weights and boxing.

    That said, I'm sure it will be worth it all when I cross the finish line in Berlin (he says).
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    May 02, 2014 10:24 PM GMT

    Hey.... I would encourage you to maintain your boxing, it sounds like you enjoy it, and miss it when you don't participate. It will contribute cardiovascular fitness. But complete your run workouts.

    As for your running group not on your plan, I enjoy mixing it up.
    Ie: 17 mile total run for day, if group is running @7 (or whatever) run the other 10 (or whatever), first then join the group run.... It will build your confidence, and your support group. You could do it reverse, but if your being challenged finding motivation, remember the early miles are easier, and group should encourage your finish....

    Go Have Fun.... Just remember the Long Run each week, is the Most Important weekly workout.

    Ps: is your nutrition plan in order? post workout recovery fuel is Critical.
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    May 03, 2014 6:35 AM GMT
    suedeheadscot said^ Thank you everyone. It does look like the boxing is gonna have to slide later on *sigh*. Am already a member of a running group though none of them are doing long distances right now.

    I do need something too make the long distances (17 miles or above) more bearable (they are pretty boring and I'm not enjoying them right now). Keeping the training to 3 times a week would have meant I could still have enjoyed weights and boxing.

    That said, I'm sure it will be worth it all when I cross the finish line in Berlin (he says).

    Running should always be enjoyable. If it becomes a chore you're enduring you could eventually give it up and that would not be good.

    I've probably ranted about this before, but for me races hold no interest. I would more highly esteem some fat slob who donates money or their time to a non-profit than I would someone who's run a marathon. In other words, running a marathon doesn't help make the world a better place. Keep things in perspective.
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    May 03, 2014 7:58 AM GMT
    Hey Lumpy,

    Sueds..questions and concerns posted here are about being successful at his defined goals. Athletes appreciate contributions toward positive success.

    I learned Years ago: An Athlete Races toward the finish line.....
    Others never see a start-line. Our RJ friend is looking for positive encouragement.....

    and remember despite a races sometimes selfish profile ALL Races are for a charitable cause. Athletes and their donors contribute Big $$$ making events successful. Think about your local: Aids Walk, Susan Komen race for Cancer, Leukemia Team in Training...etc.

    I find it unfortunate you chose to profile who has Greener $$$, And a travesty you call those on the side-line "Fat Slobs" .

    Though as I read your comments it is a self reflection....
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    May 07, 2014 5:50 PM GMT
    I trained for my last one with just 3 days a week and did it in just over 4 hours. And if you are already doing 17 miles this far out then I have a feeling you will easily go under 4.