How to Prepare for a Marathon in 11 Weeks
Getting ready for a marathon can be overwhelming if you don’t have a proper training plan. It can also be taxing on your body because your body has to get used to running for hours on end.
Sometimes, runners commit themselves to a marathon less than three months away, putting them in a bit of a bind. So, to help them get ready the right way, we’ll talk about how to prepare for a marathon in 11 weeks and outline a training method to fit all runners.
Are you excited to get started? Let’s go!
How Far Is a Marathon?
A marathon is typically 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. Preparing to run such a long distance means you take the time to fully prep your body.
This includes building endurance, boosting muscle strength, and improving your cardiovascular system. You also have to know which training schedules to prioritize and how to avoid getting injured during your runs.
How to Prepare for a Marathon in 11 Weeks
Running coaches generally recommend that runners spend around four to six months getting ready for a marathon, especially first-time marathoners. That comes down to about 12 to 24 weeks.
However, there will be times when you don’t have the luxury of training for that long. Sometimes all you get is 11 weeks, so what do you do then?
Luckily, our bodies are capable of adapting. With the right training schedule, you can get ready for almost anything, including running for 26.2 miles straight.
Here’s our fool-proof training plan to prepare for a marathon in 11 weeks.
Step 1: Build up Cardiovascular Strength
Building up and maintaining a baseline of cardiovascular fitness should be your number one goal when preparing for a marathon. First, make sure you’re familiar with the running process as a whole, then just build on that.
The best way to do that is to start as follows:
Run for 20 minutes three times a week. If you feel it’s too much at first, take a 2-minute walking break for every five minutes of running.
The other four days should be planned out as either rest and recovery or for low-intensity workouts. This gives your body the time it needs to consolidate the gains it’s made while building muscle and endurance.
Weeks 2 – 3
Increase the amount of running time gradually. Make sure you work at a comfortable pace, so you don’t overexert yourself, which can lead to serious injuries later on.
Weeks 4 – 6
It’s important to keep your mileage constant during these three weeks. In other words, use this time to maintain a steady pace and allow your body to feel comfortable when you run.
Weeks 7 – 9
Now, it’s time to add more running to your workout. The best way to do that is to run for one mile, then walk for 30 to 60 seconds to recover, known as the ‘structured run/walk method.’
This is also the best time to incorporate weight lifting and active recovery workouts into your routine. They’ll help give your legs the rest they need from the constant pounding on the pavement. Plus, they’ll allow you to reach your running goals while being a sustainable and strong runner.
Weeks 10 – 11
These two final weeks are known as the ‘marathon taper.’
It’s where you wind down your training in the days leading up to your race. As a result, this phase of your training schedule plays a vital role in boosting your training potential.
At the same time, it gives your muscles and joints enough time to phase out. Not only that, but your body will use this time to put everything it’s been working towards these past few weeks to good use come race day.
Also, don’t forget to do a practice run 1 – 2 days before the actual marathon. This means putting on all your gear and taking along everything you’ll need on the big day, such as food, drinks, and equipment.
Then, find a surface resembling that of the race and run at the same time of day. By fully simulating the race, you’ll be able to prepare yourself psychologically for the big day.
Step 2: Train Smart
With only 11 weeks to go until your upcoming race, you don’t have time for misses and fails. Instead, you need to hone in on the right approach to avoid over-training, burning out, or getting injured.
A smart training plan needs to be gradual, systematic, and structured if you hope to see any improvements in the short time you have prior to the marathon. Follow these pointers to help you stay on track and train smart:
- Work on endurance strengthening exercises to boost intensity and power
- Keep your mid-week runs at a comfortable, conversational pace
- Mix in your runs with regular walking breaks to increase endurance
- Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to keep tabs on the intensity of your runs
- Fuel up with proteins, carbs, and regularly drinking water
- Avoid doing speed work, like interval training, to steer clear of burnout and fatigue
- Focus on completing the miles rather than running farther or faster
- Take advantage of rest days to give your body enough time to recover
Step 3: Work to Prevent Injuries
Preparing for such a steep curve in endurance and stamina means you don’t have time to get injured. The alternative is that you won’t be able to compete in the race. Then, you’ll have to spend weeks doing physical therapy only to end up back at square one.
To prevent all that, here are a few tips to keep you injury-free during your training schedule:
- Take your time to warm up, cool down, and stretch before and after your runs
- Give your legs a break between runs, even if it means skipping a training session
- Try some active recovery workouts, such as swimming, yoga, or weight lifting
- Deal with injuries at once with supports, Kinesio tape, or ask a sports therapist
A Final Note On How to Prepare for a Marathon in 11 Weeks
So, how to prepare for a marathon in 11 weeks? By working hard, staying humble, and setting realistic goals.
For example, one realistic goal is to finish the entire 26.2 miles. However, regardless of your time, the fact that you complete a marathon is a feat in itself.
So, train smart, eat right, and, most importantly, be proud of all the hard work you’ve put in.
See you at the finish line!