We know, 26.2 miles seems crazy, but you’re going to have to trust us. You’re ready. Completing your first marathon, and even scoring a competitive time, is within the reach of any experienced recreational runner willing to go the distance. With this 12-week program, broken into three simple steps, you’ll be ready to race with confidence.
“You don’t have to start running all 26.2 miles in the first week,” says Steve Gisselman, C.S.C.S., assistant coach for athletic performance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a local running coach. “If you can end up running 30–35 miles in a week, you can handle 26.2 in one day.” If you’re already running 15 miles per week spread out over four or five days, start by adding two or three miles per week to your distance. So, in Week 2, you could run 17 miles, in Week 3, 20 miles, and so on.
Of your four to six weekly runs, devote one to a pace ses- sion and another to interval training. For your pace run, go to a track and run one mile at a pace faster than usual. Eight- and-a-half to nine minutes per mile is a good goal for a reasonably fit guy. Give yourself up to 10 minutes to recover and then repeat for up to six total miles.
Add some mileage every week, but keep the same pace. For your interval train- ing, run at a pace you can maintain for nine minutes, and then walk for one minute. Repeat until you hit your total planned mileage for the day.