Training Guide

Basic Training for the Napa Valley Marathon
by Richard Benyo

No Longer Intimidating

When the marathon began as an Olympic event in 1896, it was considered by many sports enthusiasts to border on cruel and unusual punishment of the human body. Today, in the U.S. alone, more than 400,000 people per year run at least one marathon; this is more than four times the number of marathoners per year as 1979, the peak of the Running Revolution.

With proper training, nearly anyone can cover the marathon distance in a reasonable amount of time. This is not meant to belittle the challenges inherent in covering 26.2 miles on foot. The marathon is one of the most demanding athletic events in the world. Before embarking on such a strenuous challenge, have your current health evaluated by your family physician.

Most first-time marathoners--and this program is aimed at first-timers--set a goal of safely finishing a marathon, not running one as fast as they can. Time and speed goals usually come later, and present a whole different set of challenges..

Quantity And Quality

There has been a shift in emphasis over the past decade away from high mileage training for marathoners and more toward quality mileage. Certainly a first-time marathoner who does not have tremendous amounts of time to spend on training must emphasize quality. But quantity, as in building a solid foundation or base of easy mileage, must not be overlooked. The base of (relatively) high mileage is the foundation upon which all other specific/quality training is built. Build a skyscraper on a faulty foundation at your own risk.

Although there are instances of people taking up running and doing a marathon within less than a year, it isn't a good idea. And the older the runner, the less advisable is such a scenario. Jumping into marathon training without a sufficient base is a good way of becoming chronically injured.

The simple rule of physical training is this: stress the body, rest, then stress the body a little more, then rest again. Without the rest, the body does not adapt to the stress.

Before embarking on the 20-week first-time marathon training program that follows, a runner should be comfortable running 25 miles per week, with the ability to do a long run of 10 miles at least every third week.

The Prime Building Blocks

There are several factors around which a solid marathon-training program should be built:

1. The Long Run. The long run is the backbone of any marathon training program. The long run should be incresed by several miles roughly every two weeks. If your body is not taught to run long, then to run longer, the marathon itself will be one of the longest experiences of your life.

2. Regularity of Training. To run well, the body needs to be trained regularly, i.e. 5-6 days a week, with set workouts for certain days, set up in a hard/easy pattern.

3. Good Nutrition. Good nutrition fuels the body's performance. In spite of whatever trendy dietary gospels are out there, ignore them and cut back on fats and increase carbohydrate intake.

4. Speed Play. Don't be afraid of speed. If you can throw some speed play into your workouts during the week, it will train your legs to turn over faster, and as a result, the marathon--run at a much slower speed--will seem more effortless.

5. Shorter Races. Some runners take up the sport and then train for and run a marathon without ever running a shorter race. Bad move. Racing at shorter distances has two advantages: it presents an opportunity to do speedwork under the guise of racing, and it makes you comfortable with a race situation.

The Program

The 20-week training program that follows is keyed to a runner who is currently running regularly, at least 25 miles a week, and who has been running 40+ minute 10Ks. (The notation WHR refers to "working heart rate." This can easily be determined by subtracting your age from 220, which establishes your Maximum Heart Rate, or 100%; from that number, determine 60%, 70%, and 80% of your Maximum Heart Rate for purposes of the program that follows. A heart-rate monitor would be a valuable tool to incorporate into your training program for ease of determining your working heart rate during exercise.).

Week 1

Sun Rest Day
Mon 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 1 hill mile at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 2 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10K race

Week 2

Sun Rest day
Mon 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 4-mile run at 70% WHR
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 2 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 3

Sun Rest day
Mon 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 1 hill mile at 80% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 2 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 8-mile run at 70% WHR or 10K race

Week 4

Sun Rest day
Mon 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 4-mile run at 70% WHR
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 1 repeat mile at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 12-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 5

Sun Rest day
Mon 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 2 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 3 mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 3 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 1K race plus 5K jog

Week 6

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 2 hill miles at 80% WHR, 1 mile jog
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 3 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 14-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 7

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 3 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 4 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 8- to 10-mile run at 80% WHR, or 10K race plus 5-mile jog

Week 8

Sun Rest day
Mon 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 2 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 3-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 3 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 15-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 9

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 3 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 4 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10K race plus 5-mile jog

Week 10

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 3 hill miles at 80% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 4 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 16-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 11

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 70% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 4 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10- to 12-mile run at 80% WHR, or 10K race plus 1K jog

Week 12

Sun Rest day
Mon 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 3 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 4 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 18-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 13

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 8-mile run at 70% WHR
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10K race plus 10K jog

Week 14

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 70% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 4 hill miles at 80% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 20-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 15

Sun Rest day
Mon 6-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 8-mile run at 70% WHR
Wed 4-mile run at 70% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 12- to 14-mile run at 80% WHR

Week 16

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 4 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Thu Track: 4 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 21-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 17

Sun Rest day
Mon 6-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 10-mile run at 80% WHR
Wed 5-mile run at 70% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 13- to 15-mile run at 80% WHR, or 20K race, or 20K time trial

Week 18

Sun Rest day
Mon 6-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 1-mile jog, 5 hill miles at 70% WHR, 1-mile jog
Wed 5-mile run at 70% WHR
Thu Track: 5 repeat miles at 70% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 22-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 19

Sun Rest day
Mon 5-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 6-mile run at 60% WHR
Wed 4-mile run at 70% WHR
Thu Track: 2 repeat miles at 80% WHR after 2-mile jog warm-up
Fri Rest day
Sat 10- to 12-mile run at 70% WHR

Week 20

Sun Rest day
Mon 4-mile run at 60% WHR
Tue 2-mile run at 60% WHR
Wed 3-mile run at 70% WHR
Thu Rest day
Fri Rest day
Sat Rest day or 2-mile jog
Sun YOUR MARATHON!!