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7 Tips to Shorten Your Marathon Training Plan: Train Quick, Run Quicker

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Whether be it an exam or a marathon, the preparation bit is the arduous part that can become tedious sometimes. Long sessions of training, from warming to strength building to increase your stamina and endurance, there’s a lot to work on. And if your training window is small then condensing your marathon training plan is the best step to take.

Know about the  Top 15 Misconceptions about Marathon Runners: Clear Up Your Doubts and Run!

Ditch the traditional regime as you would need a smart plan. The mileage in the weeks before a race is pretty huge and in the absence of proper preparation, you are risking your health and potentially creating some serious fatigue that will linger until the Race day.

Keep reading if you want to know how to cut down your marathon training plan short.

7 Quick Tips to Shorten Your Marathon Training Plan

Short marathon training plan
Short Marathon Training Plan for Immediate Results (source)

Here's a go-to marathon training guide on how to add miles to a marathon training plan within a compressed time frame.

Tip #1: Identify the Key Runs

Between your training period and the race day, you have to complete a ton of runs. Right now, the long runs are the key ones so do not skip them. Then pick another set of short runs. If the route is hilly then hill work is important, it is flat then focus on tempo runs (not track work). Try to do at least one long run per week.

In case, you are running your first marathon, take some tips and prepare yourself.

Tip #2: Accelerate the Long Run Progression

Runners usually use a moderate progression of a 1 to 2 miles increase for each long training run. But when one is in a training time crunch one needs to step up that progression. The best way to do that is to increase your long run progression to 2 miles for each long run when you are at 12 miles or less and go to a 3-mile increase for over 12 miles. While a speedy progression like that is far from ideal, it will help you create time quite quickly.

Check out the Top 15 Benefits of Long Distance Running

Tip #3: Condense Your Long Run Schedule

A number of long-run schedules are used in marathon training plans. Some include a long run every week, while others have long runs scheduled every second week or even every third week. Trainers mostly favor a schedule that incorporates a long run every week up to 12 miles in distance and then switches to every other week for extra recovery time.

But if the training time before the marathon becomes an issue, you probably won't have the luxury of enjoying the additional recovery time that bi-weekly or tri-weekly long runs give. Hence, include a long run every week in the crash marathon training plan. If you are left with any extra time that would allow a week of more recovery, save it for the very long training runs in the later stages of the training program.

Read Planning to Run Long Distance? Tips to Help You Out for Long Runs

Tip #4: Build a Plan: 8 Week Marathon Training Schedule

A 10-week marathon training schedule is an ideal marathon training plan. But if you do not have as much time to spend on an elaborate 10-week marathon training program than at least do an 8-week marathon training program.

Let's assume you have two months until the marathon - that leaves you with 8 weeks of runs. Technically not an equal 8 weeks, because you will need to take it slow with the long runs before the race. So, remember that the early runs are more important to be get done than the later ones. Then build an actual weekly table that fits into your current life/training cycle. 

Here's an 8-week marathon training schedule to try.

Marathon training plan table
8-Week Marathon Training Plan

The above table is a simple plan that gives the sense of the kind of training to do in a span of 8 weeks.

Next, build an actual weekly table that fits into your current training cycle. Here's an example:

8 week marathon training plan
Elaborate 8-week Marathon Training Plan

It is important to note that the tempo or hill run is on Tuesday, after a day of cross training and before a day off. This means it will be a run you can hit with maximum power. Next, the long run is on Saturday, again after the cross training and followed by a day off. The new run scheduled for Thursday is essentially 50% of your long run volume for that weekend. Repeat the cycle for 8 weeks until the race day.

Check out this Ultimate Marathon Guide for a 12 Week Marathon Training Plan.

The tempo runs scheduled should be manageable as they are short. The new 50% runs done at a pace close to your goal marathon pace will give a fitness indication i.e the kind of fitness you would like to achieve for the final day. On the other hand, long runs should be managed differently. Begin the first half of the long run at an easy pace and then pick up in the second half. Your second half pace should match your goal marathon pace. This is a negative split run wherein you go faster over the course of the day.

Know all about What are Tempo Runs and How Do They Help

And those are three main runs for a week. Avoid forcing more on the schedule in terms of bigger runs. Also, it's likely your mental strength and focus will need some adjustment to immerse completely in this crash 8-week marathon training plan.

All that is good but why include Cross-Training? 

Cross-training is an excellent alternative to running that keeps the training exciting yet effective. It can be any activity outside of running. Cycling is a great alternative, as is swimming or almost any aerobic machine at the gym. Regardless of which cross-training style you choose, keep the effort moderate so that it doesn't impact the main runs. Try also to spare some time for pre-run and post-run stretches.

If you want to build up more miles, then adjust some light running on the cross-training days. But there's no requirement to do longer, harder runs than the ones already listed per week.

Also, check - Endurance Training: Elevate your Stamina for Running Longer Distance

Tip #5: Increase Your Recovery

An extra rapid long run progression and a condensed long run schedule will impose greater stress on your body and mind. To tune off the additional stress and minimize the risk of injury or over-training, it is vital that you indulge in extra rest and recovery time. Use the day after your long run as a complete rest day and squeeze in an additional rest day later in the week. As you reach the high mileage long runs later in your marathon training plan, take at least two days off after your long run.

Short marathon training plan with rest days
Short Marathon Training Plan with Rest Days (source)

Tip #6: Minimize Your Taper

Never overlook the importance of a taper. It will allow you to enter your race fully recovered. Experts think that a three-week taper is ideal for marathon participants. Three weeks of reduced distance and decreased intensity does a commendable job of letting your body and mind regain full vigor. Unfortunately, in an accelerated marathon program, you won't have that luxury. Instead, go for a two-week accelerated taper period. And since your taper is only of two weeks in duration, increase total rest day numbers and decrease the mileage at a faster rate.

Also, Master the Art of the Perfect Marathon Taper

Tip #7: Stick to the Race Plan

Marathon is much more than just a fitness run. You will need an actual plan to execute on the big day. This plan needs to take into account your training, your current fitness, and most importantly — your new race day goals. Stick to the plan that you decide for yourself as it will help you achieve your end goal. 

This is how you can predict your marathon time.

Marathon running
Even a Short but Good Marathon Plan Can Prove Helpful (source)

Before we sign off, a word of advice- believe in endurance fate. Listen to your body, if something is threatening your big race experience, chances are that might not be a bad thing. Think long and hard about your condensed marathon training plan. If it doesn’t feel 100% then do not go ahead with it. After all, there will be another marathon next weekend, and the one after that. It is better that you arrive at the race with 100% confidence than score a sub-optimal result that could set you physically and mentally back.

So, if you sense any pain or discomfort, or aren’t able to meet the training paces please reconsider the effort. Even have a general lack of motivation to run shouldn’t be excluded. At the end of the day, this is all just a game and is meant to be fun.

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