Getting ready to run a full marathon takes time and discipline. In this article, we’ll look at some of the critical elements of marathon training and tell you how to prepare for a marathon in 6 weeks.
Covering the basics, like nutrition, training, and rest days. Knowing what to do and what not to do will help prevent injuries, boost stamina, and enhance your mental toughness.
Keep reading for more.
How to Prepare for a Marathon in 6 Weeks
Check out our foolproof training plan on how to prepare for a marathon in 6 weeks. Let the countdown begin:
During this week, you should aim at running two 4-mile runs as well as two 6-mile runs during the week. These mid-day runs should be about comfort and steadiness rather than mileage or speed. They’re designed to prepare your body for all the intense runs and training sessions in the upcoming weeks.
The weekend, however, is another story. First, check to see what day the race will be on. They’re usually held on either a Saturday or Sunday.
Then, plan your long runs to match the day of the race. Say the race will be on a Sunday, then plan those long endurance runs for Sundays. The same goes for a Saturday race.
Aim for about 12 to 14 miles for your long run. Alternate between 5-minute runs and 2-minute walks. Then, gradually increase your running time until you hit your desired mileage.
To make those long runs more enjoyable, use landmarks along the trail. Like you can walk for a couple of minutes until you get to the next tree. Then, run for five or six minutes until the next landmark, and so on.
Take the second day of your weekend off. Use it for resting and recuperating.
Another option is to go on short 20-minute light-paced recovery runs as a way of maintaining your stamina and endurance.
With five weeks to go before your race, you’re at that phase where you’re warming up and pacing yourself. Still, you want to improve on last week’s performance gradually.
During this week, maintain those short mid-week runs. In addition, you’ll be adding four extra miles to the long runs for a total of 16 to 18 weeks.
This is the peak phase of your 6-week marathon training plan. You should start to feel you’re getting stronger. The best part is you’ll feel you’re running faster and putting in extra miles with ease.
In other words, mid-week runs should go up to two 5-mile runs and two 8 – 10 mile runs. Likewise, long runs will increase by another four miles. Ideally, this means you’ll be running between 18 and 20 miles on the weekend.
It’s also when you should focus on what you’ll be wearing on race day. Pick gear made of soft, moisture-wicking material for maximum comfort.
Furthermore, you should have started a meal plan from week one. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect week to do it.
This is your last week of proper marathon training. With three weeks left to go, your mid-week runs will be like week 4: two 5-mile runs and two 10-mile runs.
Yet, it’s the Sunday Endurance runs that you’re going to amp up. Aim for these long runs to reach up to 20 – 22 miles maximum.
They should get close to an actual marathon, but never the full mileage. That will only wear out your body and may even result in injuries.
At two weeks out, it’s time to cut back mileage and taper down your runs. Mid-week runs should go back down to four and six miles per run. You can get away with doing only three of these short runs, as opposed to the four runs of the previous weeks.
Then, those long runs on the weekend should go back down to about 15 miles. Again, don’t push yourself in terms of speed. Just focus on finding a comfortable, steady pace and stick with it.
Experts recommend a sports massage during this week to work out all the kinks and knots of the previous weeks. If you can’t, try some yoga. It’s a terrific way to keep up your strength without the risk of overexertion.
Another thing many runners swear by is dynamic stretches. You can do these before and after each run to loosen joints and eliminate lactic acid buildup.
Can you convince yourself to sit still and do the bare minimum this week? If yes, then great!
Don’t worry about your body losing its momentum during this time—just the opposite, as a matter of fact. Your muscles will use those rest days to grow and become leaner.
If you can’t sit there and do nothing, you can always go on a couple of gentle, light runs for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes each. They’ll help get the blood pumping through your legs and get rid of those pre-run jitters.
Remember to take it easy and not overdo it. It may end up doing more harm than good.
A final pre-run tip: don’t forget to hydrate. Dehydration can be extremely dangerous, even fatal at times.
It can cause extra strain on your cardiovascular system and metabolic dysregulation. Not to mention it can make your body overheat, leading to fatigue and cramps.
Experts recommend drinking small sips of water and sports drinks intermittently before the race. You should also aim to drink during the race. You can either take a sip every 20 minutes or when you feel thirsty.
Finally, dink up after the competition as much and as often as you want. Just don’t drink too much too soon, or you’ll get sick.
What Is It Important to Follow a Training Plan
Having a suitable training schedule is a sure-fire way to prepare for a half marathon. A good program should have the entire 13 weeks all planned out. It should start out at a short mileage and relatively intermediate pace.
Afterward, the schedule should gradually increase the mileage by 10% each week. It should also include cross-training exercises, speed work, and rest days.
Accordingly, you get in different sessions spread out throughout the week for the entire six weeks. All these various elements work together to help you prepare for race day. At the same time, you lower the risk of overtraining your muscles or getting injured.
Nutrition for Marathon Runners
During your 6-week marathon training program, you should focus on three types of foods: protein, fats, and carbs.
When training for a marathon, you should incorporate more protein into your diet. Protein is the building block of muscle fibers. Therefore, eating the right amounts can promote muscle growth and strength.
In addition, the main components of proteins, amino acids, are responsible for repairing muscle damage. This means proteins also help reduce post-run muscle soreness.
As long as you eat the right kinds of fats, they can be your friend, especially when training for a marathon. The good types of fat are responsible for providing your body and mind the fuel it needs to get through the grueling six weeks of training.
Healthy, unsaturated fats mainly act as a backup fuel source when your body runs out of glycogen. They’re there to help you get through those 22.2 miles with minimal fatigue.
Even when you’re not running, good fats play a role in lowering cholesterol and heart disease. They also help your body absorb vitamins and minerals from your food.
Your body transforms carbohydrates into glycogen, which it then stores away and uses later for fuel. In fact, research shows that boosting your glycogen stores can help reduce fatigue by almost 20% for every 90 minutes of physical activity.
That’s why high-carb foods should account for about 60% to 70% of your meals. Then, during those final three days before the race, try to eat anywhere between 420 and 600 grams of carbohydrates each day.
On race day, elite runners usually fill their pockets with energy gels. They help keep their energy levels steady during the race itself.
Final Thougths On How to Prepare for a Marathon in 6 Weeks
People often underestimate what it takes to train for a marathon. They either push themselves too hard or not hard enough.
However, if you use our guide on how to prepare for a marathon in six weeks, you’ll be fine! Just make sure you always listen to what your body is telling you.
You have no one to beat but yourself. So, work at your own pace, eat right, and make the most of your rest days.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Yes, preparing for a marathon is hard work, and you want all those hours of training to pay off. Nevertheless, race day isn’t about how fast you can run. It’s about being in the moment and accomplishing something few people get to see through.
So, enjoy your big day and see you at the finish line!