Mileage plays an important role in the buildup of your training programs. However, it’s more about what you do with that mileage that matters. Here are some considerations to determine how much mileage to run:
1. Your Experience: How many miles did you run in the past decade, year, month, week?
2. Short-Term Goals: Is your goal just to finish? Are you trying to run a personal record time?
3. Long-Term Goals: Do you plan on running more marathons? Is this race part of a long-term buildup to get you to another goal?
4. Intensity: How many hard workouts do you run per week? Are you running your easy runs at the appropriate easy run pace for your current fitness level?
This is your starting point. You need to look at yourself. Training for a marathon is an individual process. There’s no magic number of miles to run to achieve a goal.
I have coached athletes for the past 16 years, and I have learned quite a bit. Generally speaking, I find the following to be true for most athletes if you are training smart:
20 miles/week average: You can finish a marathon
30 miles/week average: You can run a 4-hour marathon.
40 miles/week average: You can run a sub 3:30 marathon
50 miles/week average: You can run a sub 3-hour marathon
60-100 miles/week average: You can run a sub 2:30 marathon
The above numbers do not apply to everyone, and there’s obviously a lot of factors that come into play. What’s your weight? How well do you fuel and hydrate? How smart do you pace? Are you living a healthy lifestyle? Do you get at least 6-8 hours of quality sleep nightly? Are you prepared mentally?
Now… all of the above gets thrown out the window if you are not training smart. So what is training smart?
Training smart is following a custom training program designed, monitored, and adjusted by a professional. Not an algorithm. The custom training program should identify your weaknesses and strengths, turn your weaknesses into strengths, and strengthen your strengths.
Running 60-100 miles/week, and NOT training smart, will most likely NOT get you to a sub 2:30 marathon.
Running 50 miles/week, and NOT training smart, will most likely NOT get you to a sub 3:00 hour marathon.
Running 40 miles/week, and NOT training smart, will most likely NOT get you to a sub 3:30 hour marathon.
Running 30 miles/week, and NOT training smart, will most likely NOT get you to a sub 4:00 hour marathon.
Running 20 miles/week, and NOT training smart, will most likely NOT get you to the finish line of a marathon.
Every run you complete should have a purpose. Your target pace should be based on your current fitness level. AND, here is where many people mess up, every workout should fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, gradually challenging you in progress over time to help you peak on race day.
Yours in training,