Overall, is more miles always better? I am going to dig into 3 different levels of runners: the beginning marathon runner, the mid-level athlete looking for a personal record or perhaps place in their age-group, and finally the elite marathon runner.
Mileage for First Time Marathoners
First, lets talk about beginning runners. Many first-time marathoners are just happy to complete the 26.2 miles. So, how much marathon training mileage should they be putting in each week?
If you fit into this category, then you probably should be running 3 to 4 times a week with an average of 20 to 35 miles per week. For the most part, you can probably get by with 20 to 25 miles per week. Of course, at the beginning of your marathon training program, you would be running much less than that and by the end, you may be running a little more than 25 miles per week. In addition, you may have a 20 mile run or 2 that will put your mileage up into the mid 30’s for the week.
Here is a training schedule that basically shows this mileage level.
So, for beginners just looking to complete their first marathon, you can get away with doing 5 or 6 miles perhaps 3 times a week. Then on the weekend doing a long run of 10 to 12 miles. So, your typical weekly mileage would be around 25 or 30.
Mileage for Intermediate Runners
An intermediate level runner is someone who has probably completed at least one marathon and has been running for 2 or 3 years (or more). So, if you are someone that has completed your first marathon and is looking to improve your personal record or perhaps even place in your age group, you would certainly fit into this category.
Of course, there are lots of different training programs out there, but a “typical” intermediate plan would have mileage ranging anywhere from 35 to 60 miles a week. Average mileage over the course of a intermediate marathon training program would be around 40 to 45 miles a week.
Now obviously there is more to running that just putting in miles, as you move to the intermediate level, you would have to consider adding more speed workouts, hill training, and tempo runs.
Mileage for Elite Runners
Now when I start talking about “Elite” runners, we start to enter the “crazy” zone perhaps! These elite marathoners are often running between 100 to 160 miles a week (or more!) These are typically full-time runners that compete to win and take home the prize money.
I won’t even pretend like I know a good marathon training schedule for elite runners, but its certainly more miles than the average runner could handle. These running champs focus on speed, distance, tempo, and everything else you’ve ever heard about – all without getting injured. Anyone that can run over 100 miles a week consistently is a pretty impressive human being in my opinion.
So, in review as a beginning marathoner you may only need to run 20 to 25 miles a week on average to just complete your first marathon. Yes, this may sound like a lot if you are just getting started out, but trust me, its VERY doable!
Especially as you look at the mileage that some intermediate and elite runners are putting in each week, a “short” week of only 25 miles doesn’t sound so bad. Overall, you can see that others, also recommend around the same amount of weekly mileage that I have mentioned here.
I’m personally up to about 30 to 35 miles a week on average right now. I’m not signed up for a marathon at the moment, but I just know that I can improve on my personal record time, so I may have to sign up for a marathon before the end of the year.
If you have any comments or questions about weekly mileage, I would love to hear it in the comments below. Thanks!