So you've gone from half crazy to fully crazy, huh? All jokes aside, training for a marathon can be difficult, but so fun and rewarding in the process! If this is going to be your first marathon, I *strongly* recommend that you've run a half marathon before. In short, your muscle memory will help prevent injury. I've personally run a marathon (or two) untrained, and it honestly was miserable, and I hurt extremely bad afterward.
Training for a marathon takes time - about 18 weeks. When picking a marathon to run, make sure you have enough time to train. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later. It's also important to note that when starting a marathon training plan, you will need to be trained up to 8 miles. If you're not, then add about 3-4 weeks to the training program to allow yourself time to build up. Below you'll find an 18 week plan that includes long runs, rest, speed, and cross training!
After looking this over, I'm sure you have questions. No fear - I've listed some notes and explanations below!
First and foremost, have fun! Running should never feel like a punishment, unlike what many other sports make it. Second, the most important run of your week is your long run - what I've put on Saturdays. If there is only one run you get in per week (I don't recommend this!), it's your long run. For example, your first long run is 4 miles! Pretty doable, right? On your long runs you want to take your race pace and add 30 seconds per mile. So if you typically run 8:00 min/mile, you'll want to take these runs at 8:30/mile. Simply because you're adding distance your body isn't quite used to. Another important aspect of long runs is nutrition. You're burning a lot of calories and don't want to literally run on empty! There are several options here: gu, sports beans, clif chews, and so many more! Typically, you won't need nutrition until you hit 8 mile long runs, and you'll want to take in some calories every 4-5 miles. For example, if you have an 8 mile run, taking in calories around mile 4 is probably all you need. However, everyone is different. I am hypoglycemic and sometimes my body just needs something - so always be prepared! You'll learn what's best for you as you go through the program.
I have 6 days of workouts on here, all of which serve a special purpose. I've gone over why long runs matter, now the day after long runs serve as a shake out - to loosen the lactic acid and soreness your body may feel. These workouts will be easy mileage. The day before your long run is a good tempo/speed run. It's your weekly challenge to run the race pace you're shooting for. You want these runs to be consistent pace wise. Meaning each mile should be roughly the same time, give or take 10 seconds. Not sure what a good race pace is? Go for a few runs one week and try to run consistently and you'll have a pretty good idea. Some workout days including biking. Why? Cross training helps keep you moving, getting good cardio, but allowing your body some rest. If you don't have access to a bike (stationary or outdoor works), you can do pretty much any other form of cardio that isn't running: swimming, dancing, workout video, etc. You'll also see tempo runs - which are similar to race pace days. This simply means you want to run the same pace per mile, but you don't have to run as fast as your race pace.
I've also incorporated some speed workouts. While a marathon is not a sprint, having a few speed workouts will help you push up a hill or sprint at the end. Workouts like 4 x 800 mean 4, 800 meter repeats (so, 2 laps on a track, or a half mile). You'll want to run these 800 meter repeats at a consistent pace - and faster than your normal jog. If you can run a half mile in 4 minutes, a good goal might be to run your repeats at 3 min 40 seconds, and try to do all 4 at this same pace. 6 x hill means 6 hill repeats. Again, want to try to run these at a similar pace. On these two speed days, do a half mile-mile warm up & cool down.
Finally, you'll see days that say rest or yoga. I can't emphasize enough how important rest days and yoga days are. They both allow your body a break from the pounding on pavement. Rest is physically taking the day off, while yoga helps loosen up your muscles. Yoga videos can be found on youtube, or you can go to a gym if you have a membership.
Training for a marathon is more than just running a lot of miles every week. Eating right and staying hydrated are also very important factors. Everyone's diets are different - but make sure you get enough protein, carbs, and fruit and vegetables. I live by the motto of carb-loading the night before a race/long run and having a rich protein meal after. Also - drink a lot of water - everyday. I promise you, the more hydrated you are, the better you will feel. It's recommend to have 60+ ounces a day anyway!
My final note for training is this: listen to your body. Not every run is going to be fantastic, and that's okay. In fact, it's normal. If you're not feeling well - then cut the run short. Rearrange your training schedule for what suits you. If you feel overly sore, or serious joint/bone pain, take a few days off. No run is worth getting injured for.
If you'd like more info, have questions, or would like a "coach" to go along with your training, head over to the contact page and shoot me a message. I'd be happy to help in any way I can!