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LetsRun.com Marathon Training Program

PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE TRAINING
Based on the legendary training philosophies originated by Arthur Lydiard in New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s (coach of two Olympic gold medalists) and implemented by Kiyoshi Nakamura (coach of Toshiko Seko, winner of the Boston, Chicago, London, Tokyo and Fukuoka marathons) in Japan in the 1980s and used today in Kenya (by the Fila Discovery program - whose athletes have won virtually every major marathon in the world) and the United States by Weldon and Robert Johnson the LetsRun.com/training program is a proven winner around the world. 

Don't be scared by the lofty accomplishments of the training philosophy.  If it works for the sport's best, it will also work for you.  

The training program features progressive mileage buildup over time, and alternates high and low weeks to allow the athlete a chance to recover.  This stress/recovery or stimulation/adaptation model also takes place within an individual week of training as harder or long runs are always followed by a day off or a day or two of easy running.   These recovery days are a very important part of the program.

The program features lots of  "easy days" or recovery days devoted to relaxed running with the goal of getting time in on one's feet or "mileage under the belt".  We believe easy running should be an integral part of any successful marathon program.  Base mileage helps one get stronger, fitter and feel more comfortable just simply running. There is a distinct correlation between mileage and performance.

The LetsRun.com training program emphasizes lots of high-end aerobic running (running at a speed slower than 10k pace but slightly faster than marathon pace for 20 minutes to 1 hour). High end aerobic running is geared to getting the athlete comfortable at running long distances at a decent pace, making the actual marathon seem a little easier.  

As with all good marathon training programs, the program focuses on long runs alternating most weeks between a moderately long run and a very long run.  One of the key components of the program is three long runs (each one a little longer than the previous one) with portions at or faster than race pace.

Most hard runs will be progression type runs where the pace is gradually increased but where one stays right at the edge of being uncomfortable - still in a good groove but right at the limit of the "comfort zone". 

It is also important to note that the program emphasizes effort based training or running by feel versus trying to force one to hit a specific time/distance that is down on a training outline.

WHO'S THE PROGRAM FOR?
The program is not designed for all runners. It is designed for runners who have a specific time goal in mind for the marathon or just want to improve their personal best- everything from five hours to 2:30 (or faster) (if you simply want to finish a marathon this program is not for you.  We hope to have some general guidelines up soon on the marathon that should help you run and finish a marathon.  Or click here for an abbreviated 11 week program for a 5 hour marathoner).  Finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment but running one in a specific time is an even greater accomplishment, and one where our coaching expertise will be most beneficial.  

Given that the program is aimed for hitting a specific time in the marathon, it also assumes that runners have a certain amount of experience behind them.  Look at the following chart to see if the program is for you:

Have you been running the following during the last 6 months?

(Please note: While the program has every time goal between 2:30 and 5:00, we only listed 30 minute increments on the following chart for simplicity sake.  If your goal time is not listed, you can approximate your requirements by taking an average between the times immediately above/below your goal time)

Amount of Running Experience Required For Program

Time Goal

Average Weekly Mileage In Not Too Distant Past When Training Seriously

High Mileage Week In Not Too Distant Past

Long Run In Not Too Distant Past

5:00

25

30

12

4:30

30

35

14

4:00

35

45

15

3:30

50

55

17

3:00

55

70

18

2:30

70

90

20

Met the requirements? Great!!!! Then we're looking forward to coaching you.  

WHAT TO EXPECT
During the first few weeks of the program, you will gradually build your mileage up the first couple of weeks before settling into a series of alternating higher and lower mileage weeks during peak training before tapering down during the final few weeks of the marathon.  

The minimum amount of training required differs based on your time goal.  Please see the following chart so you can understand what to expect:

Time Goal

Average Weekly Mileage (After initial buildup)
(+ or - 10%) 

Mileage of High Week
(+ or - 10%)

Longest Run

# of Days Running Per Week
(After initial buildup)

Length of program
(minimum amount of time needed)

5:00

37

40

20

4-6

14 weeks

4:30

42

47

20

5-6

14 weeks

4:00

45

56

20-21

5-6

16 weeks

3:30

50-53

68

21

6

18 weeks

3:00

65

80

22

7

20 weeks

2:30

74
(weeks 8-18, 88 mpw)

104

22-24

7

20 weeks

Runners can do a little more if they have sufficient experience and know they can handle it.

A TYPICAL WEEK
On high weeks, generally there will be two longish runs (a sort of long run at the beginning of the week (Sunday) and a truly long one at the end of the week (Saturday)) and a mid-week workout.  On low weeks, you will have two midweek workouts and only one longer run on the weekend.  For more detailed information on what an actual week might look like, click here to see a typical week from the 3 hour program or click here to see a typical week from the 4:00 program.  

WEEKLY COACHING CONTACT
The LetsRun.com Marathon Training Program is offered via the Internet.  Each runner receives a day-by-day personalized program that is posted on each person's password-protected personal web page or sent via email.  In contrast to many other programs, we pride ourselves on the amount of personal contact we offer each runner in the program.  The program features scheduled weekly emails from the coaches and bi-weekly phone calls.  However, we want you to feel free to contact us more often than that and thus we give out our cell-phone number so you can contact us in times of pressing need (For example, if it's pouring down rain on the day you're supposed to do your long run and you don't know what to do).

Well, we're tired of typing and don't have much else to say in terms of the describing the program so Click Here to See Pricing Info/Sign Up Now!

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Questions, comments or suggestions? Please email the LetsRun.com staff at marathonprogram@letsrun.com.