In my last post I described what minimal run training is, and why more mileage isn’t always the key to running faster. In this post I’m going to get into the details about how I’ve used minimal run training to run two sub 3 hour Marathons, 2:55 and 2:57, while averaging less than 25 miles per week.
Both ways of training will give you the same number of miles, but I would argue that the later is more specific to the marathon and will help you run faster.
Stress + Rest = Adaptation
Minimal Training for the Marathon
Listen to Your Body
What should you do in between your long efforts? That depends on how you are feeling. This might mean taking complete rest days or going out for short easy runs at a comfortable pace. Try to go for a short 10-30 minute run at a comfortable pace if you are feeling up for it.
If you are feeling recovered between your longer efforts, but not quite up for another one yet, you could try working in some speed with a shorter faster run, or by including an interval session.
If I am feeling somewhat recovered, but not quite up for another long run, I will include a medium run of 8-13 miles at a pace that is slightly faster than marathon pace.
Race Your Way to Faster Times
Another advantage of training this way is that you will know exactly what to expect come race day. You will have trained yourself both physically and mentally for your race. In your build up to your marathon, you will have done a series of tapers and race-like efforts. You won’t have to guess what you’ll feel like on race day after a 2-3 week taper, because you’ve essentially been doing it in your training.
Here is an example of the previous 8 weeks leading up to my most recent Marathon of 2:57.
- Week 1
- Key workout: 10 miles @ 6:02/mile
- Weekly Mileage: 23
- Week 2
- Key workout: none
- Weekly Mileage: 28
- Week 3
- Key workout: 18 miles @ 7:09/mile (very hot/humid)
- Weekly Mileage: 25
- Week 4
- Key workout: 13 miles @ 6:11/mile
- Weekly Mileage: 26
- Week 5
- Key workout: 20 miles @ 6:27/mile
- Weekly Mileage: 34
- Week 6
- Key workout: none
- Weekly Mileage: none (sick w/ flu)
- Week 7
- Key workout: 12 miles @ 6:30/mile
- Weekly Mileage: 22
- Week 8
- Key workout: 8 miles @ 6:30/mile
- Weekly Mileage: 18
- Week 9
- Marathon 2:57 (6:47/mile)
Average weekly mileage for previous 8 weeks = 22 miles/week
Will This Work For You?
It is certainly unconventional and has its limits. But if you are pressed for time, or have been struggling with injuries, it may be worth a try.
Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good
You don’t have to give up on running a marathon or other race, just because you can’t follow the prefect training plan. Don’t be afraid try different approaches to training and find something that fits your lifestyle.