Four runs a week for a marathon?

21 to 40 of 43 messages
07/11/2002 at 14:46
The following 3.5 times a week got me a 3:15 and avoided injury:-
Sunday am - Long Run (at least 12)
Monday pm - Hills
Wednesday pm - Track
Friday - Tempo or Easy (this is the ".5" as I missed it quite often)
Monthly - Sports Massage

I'm going to try and work out my schedule in a spreadsheet at some point & will post it when I do.
07/11/2002 at 21:05
Question to the literate Chimp....
Why wouldnt you dream of doing less than 5 times a week for your marathon it becasue you really want your first marathon to be on a specific target time rather than just getting round? Not a criticism at all just interested in your thinking?
07/11/2002 at 22:16
Erm - call me crazee, but I actually like running.

so I want to do it as many times a week as my body (and my family, oh and my work, shucks!) will allow me.

what are the rest of you doing it for?
08/11/2002 at 09:52

Exactly. I would run more often if I could, as running is relaxing (!) and the full proper schedules would allow me to improve my performance. These would be the ideal.

But (1) excessive fatigue when following a marathon schedule, (2) fear of injury, and (3) lack of time due to domestic commitments (a young baby) mean a 4-day week is a very attractive second best. And to get back to the original question, adequate to do a decent marathon performance.

08/11/2002 at 12:46
Ditto, Dougie. Although not currently training for a marathon it's good to know that I could actually do so on 4 runs a week. I find more than that just interferes with the rest of my life too much. This way I can still derive all the benefit from my running without falling out with those 'nearest and dearest'!
08/11/2002 at 13:07
Had a look at the Hal Higdon 4-day programme as suggested and quite like the look of it. I noticed that both this schedule and the RW intermediate schedule only have one 20-mile and a couple of 18-mile training runs. Is this enough to avoid the dreaded wall - or are all novice runners going to hit it anyhow regardless??
13/11/2002 at 17:51
Ian Wood,

I really want to get around in sub 4-30 which is why I'm following the RW intermediate schedule. I've done a couple of sub 2 hour halves but my thinking (rightly or wrongly) is that I probably need to peak at about 60 miles per week and I cant imagine doing that on less than 5 runs a week.
13/11/2002 at 17:57
Lots of great advice from wiser people than me, but anyway here's my experience for what it's worth!

I agree with Johnny J, for many people, 4 training days a week for a marathon is plenty.

For this year's FLM I trained 15 weeks, 5 times a week, with a longest run of 22 miles. Ultimately, I picked up an injury in the last few weeks, had a bad and painful race. I couldn't run again until over 10 weeks after the event and spent quite a bit of cash on physios.

I ran this year's New York on the back of 14 weeks of training, running 4 days a week. My average weekly total was 30 miles, maximum weekly total 42 (at 5 weeks out). The longest runs were 2x18 miles and 2x20 miles with shorter weeks in between.

My week consisted of a speed/fartlek session, a hill/tempo session, a mid-long run at moderate pace (often broken up with walking) and a long run on Sundays. I also did a weekly yoga class until the last 5 weeks, when that became a rest day. I never ran more than 2 days in succession and never did hard days back-to-back.

What about the times? London: 4.16.50. New York: 4.11.59. And after just a week of I've already started light running again. To improve I know that eventually I'll have to add a few more miles, but I've learned through painful experience that the key is to do it very carefully and gradually.

Good luck from me too.
13/11/2002 at 18:02
Jonny J, thats incredible! Was this your first marathon? I'd be interested to hear what you mean by quality training. If it was your first marathon did you really have a long run no further than 15-16 miles? You see, if I have one misgiving about the RW schedule its that the longest run is 20 miles ("20 miles is halfway in a marathon" etc) and if , as I suspect, much of a marathon is as much psychological as physical (how do you get your head round the idea of running for up to 4 and and a half hours) then I'd rather have run 26 miles before race day no matter how long it takes.
13/11/2002 at 19:40
If you have already run a couple of halfs in under 2 hours you should be well on your way to sub four by April. If you are a new runner (I started in Jan 2001 but once a week until August when I increased to 2 and then in January with 4 runs. Check out my schedule on and you will see the amount of time lost in injuries by trting to build up to many miles too fast. I have read that the maximum peak milage is 1.5 time race distance for a beginner. A serious club runner will be doing 50 miles for a marathon but 36-40 for a beginer is fine and will certainly get you through in under 4.
I did a 20 mile race at the beginning of March in Thanet which was excelant practive from the psychological side. I remember thinking at 15 miles that I had been going for just over 2 hours and had at least another hour to complete the course, then realising that I had 2 hours to go for the marathon in five weeks time.

The distance is also very hard to come to terms with first time. Everyone kept telling me it was a long way and it wasn't until I was at Tower Bridge one lunch time looking toward Docklands thinking that looks a long way away before I realsised that I was at the half way point, and looking in the opposite direction towards the London Eye which seemed even further and is about 2 miles from the finish that I realised what a fantastic achievement completing the course would be in whatever time it took.

Lesson - DO NOT OVER DO IT in your training, Like Tea & Toast I spent a lot of time with a physio ( I can recomend a very reasonable one if you are in South London\North Kent who speacialise in Marathon runners) and you wont want to injure yourselve and have to pull out at the last minute
14/11/2002 at 08:31

Thanks a lot for that. I'll certainly have a look at your web-site. This will be my first marathon (Blackpool btw, not FLM) and I got invoved in a thread where people were talking about 100-120 mile per week (minimum in some cases!) training for a marathon.

To say I got a little discouraged is an understatement. Like most people on this thread I have family and work committments to consider and whereas I appreciate that running a marathon will be the hardest thing I ever do (physically at least), I'm encouraged to see that despite the extra time I'll have to commit to it, it seems do-able. Thanks again.
16/11/2002 at 14:13
Like others here, 4 days a week worked for me with the odd 5 / 6 day week where circumstances allowed .... and sometimes 3 days !

General schedule, 1 long run, 1 sustained piece of 8 - 12 miles, 1 speed work and a "general" 6 miler to give a total of 30 - 45 miles a week.

The key for me was to get in one long run every 2 weeks (18 - 22 miles) for 2 - 3 months leading up to the race, with a couple of 1/2Ms to get used to moving a bit quicker.

This schedule got me through my first marathon in 3:19. The single biggest help I feel was getting in a number of runs in the 20 to 22 mile range, for me these are very different to 16 to 18 milers and took a bit of getting used to.

Like others, I found building the mileage up to fast introduced niggles and slight injuries.
16/11/2002 at 14:46
chimp - I think its only only elite runners or nutters who need to do 100/120 miles a week. Because I'm no longer a youngster! yet still new to running for London this year I thought it was as important to look after my body as it was to do a massive amount of miles. I did max. 4 runs a week but looking back they were not all good quality, yet I managed to get round in just under 5 hours. I recently ran New York but signed up late so didn't have enough time to build up slowly so I made sure every run be it short or long was quality. I did lots of very hilly courses and my midweek shorter runs were about increasing speed. I still only did 3 or 4 a week. However, I've signed up for Paris and no longer want to be a 5 hour marathon runner and so will keep the quality and still do a max of 4 a week but the long runs will start much earlier and there will be more of them which will include a couple of 22 milers, the last being 4 weeks before April 6th.
10/08/2003 at 14:46
I am running the NY marathon in Nov, my first ever marathon, but am only training 3 days a week; between 9-12 miles 2 days, getting upwards of 15 miles now on a w/end. Will this be enough to complete the race? Dont care about winning, just want to make sure i can finish!?
10/08/2003 at 15:52
Hi Stuart
if you want to get round, you will
Its a mental thing
15 miles sounds good
10/08/2003 at 21:25
Did 2 of my marathons on 4 runs a week and another 2 on 4/5.
11/08/2003 at 15:00
I can totally appreciate the comments from people that say they can't manage more than 4 runs a week due to time commitments.

However, I find it very odd that so many people are talking about being limited to 4 runs a week due to potential/actual injuries if they do more than this, who don't seem to have considered the need for strength training and stretching sessions...

IMO it is almost essential for novice runners to do some leg specific weight training and stretching if they want to train successfully and injury free for a marathon. Most novice runners' legs just aren't going to be up the battering that a marathon training schedule will inflict on them without strengthening them up first and building up the mileage gradually.

Having said that, I am inclined to agree with everyone who has said that 4 runs a week should be sufficient. After all, if you make these 4 sessions hard, quality sessions (long run, tempo run, hills, etc) then all that you are leaving out from most schedules is going to be the easy/recovery runs.
16/08/2003 at 10:18
I'm doing my third marathon in a year - all on four runs per week. Have tried stepping this up to five but found that I was just too tired. In all three 'campaigns' I have lost time thru injury...probably not enough time spent on stretching and leg specific weight training (as Lawrie says).
16/08/2003 at 14:03
Good point Lawrie!

My four runs were quality as you say and I did circuits once a week and swimming for recovery, so in terms of effort there was quite a lot involved.

I'm training again for another marathon and because I want improvement I'm now running 5-6 times a week, swimming and circuit training when I can fit it in.
17/08/2003 at 03:07
Never done any weight lifting.

I am currently doing three runs a week. One speed session with a coach (with 1.7 miles warm up and cool down). The one hour session in the middle consists of techniques and sprinting up hill.
One session is a lng run up to 23 miles and one is circa 10 miles. I average 30 miles a week and am aiming at a sub 4 time.

After Thanet I will then be building up the miles gradually and also adding a fourth day and also increasing the miles so that I peak at 70 ready for London to Brighton in October 2004.
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