Training for a marathon is a big commitment, and it can be difficult to carve out enough time between work, date night with the hubby, and the hundred other obligations you meet on a weekly basis. Although there are a number of marathon training programs available for free on the Internet, it may be hard to find one that perfectly suits your goals and needs. The trick is to sample from several of them and cobble together your very own marathon training program based on bits and pieces of others, to create a program that is uniquely designed to fit your lifestyle.
Define what your goals are for this marathon. If this is your first marathon or if you haven't run a marathon in a long time, your goal should be to finish in one piece. If you're an experienced marathoner training for a new race, you might be chasing a personal record.
Explore what free marathon training programs are out there. The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (F.I.R.S.T.) has an 18-week training program, and Jeff Galloway has a 30-week training program; both are designed to help you reach specific time goals. Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway both have beginner marathon programs available.
Pick and choose the workouts that appeal to you and that fit into your schedule. As long as you're doing one long run per week, the rest of your runs can be hand-picked from any of several programs, as long as you're choosing workouts from the same training week. For example, you wouldn't want to choose a week-eight workout from one program if you have only been training for four weeks.
- Build a solid aerobic base before you embark on a marathon training plan. You should be running at least three days per week, and be able to run for at least 30 minutes at a time.
- Start where you are, not where you want to be.
- If you become injured during training then step back and allow your body to heal. You may have to start your training program over or, at the very least, resume with an earlier week than you were on when you got injured, but it will prevent permanent damage and allow you to finish your race.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.