Which Training Techniques Are Best For Periodization in Marathon Training?

Key Takeaways: Crafting Your Marathon Training Journey

  • Understand periodization: a systematic training approach that divides your marathon preparation into distinct phases.
  • Learn the importance of the base phase for building a solid aerobic foundation.
  • Discover how to increase intensity and strength in the build phase for enhanced performance.
  • Recognize the value of incorporating speed work during the intensity phase to sharpen your running skills.
  • Appreciate the taper phase for rest and peak performance on race day.


What is Periodization?

Think of it as the ‘divide and conquer’ approach to marathon training. Periodization divides your training into stages, each with a specific emphasis. This method does not only help manage your training load but also decrease the potential for injury and burnout. By progressively increasing training stress and allowing recovery, peak performance can be reached when it matters most.

Why Periodization Matters for Marathon Runners

All marathoners whether first-timers or seasoned veterans have one thing in common; preparing their physique and mind for the grueling 26.2 miles run. Periodization helps build endurance strength and speed gradually while giving your body time to recover and repair itself hence it matters most during these times. It means pushing hard enough to get gains without pushing too hard till you crash.

The Building Blocks: Periodization Phases Explained

Let us delve into periodisation’s phases appreciating how each contributes towards making a marathon ready runner out of you.

Base Building: Setting a Solid Foundation

The base phase is like the foundation of a house. It’s all about constructing a solid aerobic base, which is crucial for marathon running. Here’s how you do it:

  • Run consistently, focusing on easy to moderate efforts.
  • Gradually increase your weekly mileage to build endurance.
  • Include long runs to teach your body to burn fat efficiently and improve endurance.

Example: If you’re planning a 16-week training cycle, you might spend the first 6-8 weeks in this base phase, slowly ramping up your mileage and incorporating one long run each week that gets progressively longer.

Remember, the goal during the base phase isn’t speed; it’s about building a strong foundation that will support the more intense training to come.

The Build Phase: Upping the Ante

Once you’ve established a solid base, it’s time to raise the stakes. The build phase introduces more challenging workouts that start to simulate race conditions.

  • Increase the intensity of your runs with tempo runs and interval training.
  • Add strength training to your routine to improve muscle endurance and power.
  • Begin to incorporate race-pace runs to get comfortable with the pace you’ll need to maintain on race day.

During the build phase, your body adapts to the increased demands, making you stronger and faster. But it’s essential to listen to your body and not overdo it, as the risk of injury is higher with increased intensity.

As you transition from the base to the build phase, it’s time to start incorporating hill workouts. These are the bread and butter of building leg strength and improving your running economy. Here’s what you need to know about integrating hill workouts:

Integrating Hill Workouts in the Build Phase

Hill workouts are a game-changer. They’re tough, but they pay off in terms of building up your strength and stamina. So, include hill repeats once a week where you run up a moderate incline hard and jog or walk back down for recovery. Begin with some repeats then increase the number gradually each week.

However, one point to note is that hill workouts can be demanding. It is necessary to warm up before starting and cool down afterward so as to avoid injuries. Also most importantly, give your body time to adapt to these new stresses by not introducing hill workouts and speed sessions in the same week.

Speed Sessions to Boost Intensity

  • Introduce interval training: short bursts of high-intensity running followed by recovery periods.
  • Try Yasso 800s: Run 800 meters at your desired marathon pace in minutes and seconds, followed by the same amount of time for recovery. For example, if you’re targeting a 4-hour marathon, run the 800s in 4 minutes.
  • Incorporate tempo runs: sustained efforts at a comfortably hard pace to improve your lactate threshold.

Speed sessions are important for improving pace while teaching the body to deal with lactic acid build-up during marathon races. However, it is essential that such workouts are balanced out with easy runs for recovery purposes as well as for preventing overtraining cases.

When it’s close to the big day its time for tapering off . This means reducing training volume so that your body has enough time to relax and recover before going into the competition proper; however how do you optimize recovery during this critical phase?

Optimizing Recovery During the Taper

The taper is all about balancing between maintaining fitness levels and allowing oneself sufficient rest period s . Lower your mileage progressively in last two or three weeks before marathon race begins . throw in some very short intervals so as t o stay sharp , but focus more on rest and recovery. Ensure that you drink enough water, eat well, and get as much sleep as possible. Now is the time to trust and allow your body to prepare for the effort it will soon be exerting.

Customizing Your Plan: Adapt Periodization to Your Needs

Every runner is unique, so every training plan should reflect this individuality. Customizing your training plan is crucial to address your unique strengths, weaknesses, and life circumstances. Here’s how you can adapt periodization to fit your needs:

Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Take a close look at where you shine and what could do with some polishing up. Are you a speed demon but struggle with endurance? Do you have a strong base but lack the finishing kick? Use this self-assessment tool to shape your training accordingly. In order to become an all-round well-balanced runner concentrate more on your weak areas while maintaining the level of strength in other words.

Balancing Training Volume and Intensity

The right combination of mileage and tough workouts isn’t science; it’s art . So start out conservatively to avoid injury or pain , observe what changes this increase in volume or intensity does for your body . Remember always that more is not equal better . Quality workouts are better than just running many miles when preparing for marathon race.

FAQs: Periodization Training Techniques Uncovered

How Long Should Each Training Phase Last?

Generally, the base phase should last 6-12 weeks, the build phase around 4-8 weeks, the intensity phase 4-6 weeks, and the taper usually lasts 2-3 weeks. However, this can vary based on your experience, goals, and the time you have available before your marathon.

Can I Skip the Base-Building Phase?

Skipping the base-building phase is not recommended. It’s the cornerstone of your training, where you develop the endurance needed for a marathon. Without a solid base, you’re more likely to encounter injuries and may not have the stamina to finish your race strong.

What’s the Ideal Balance Between Speed and Endurance Workouts?

The ideal balance will depend on your individual strengths and weaknesses, but a good rule of thumb is to have one or two speed sessions per week during the build and intensity phases. The rest of your runs should focus on endurance, including your long, slow distance runs.

How Do I Know if My Training Plan is Working?

You’ll know your training plan is working if you see gradual improvements in your running performance without signs of overtraining. You should feel strong during your runs, recover well afterward, and see your pace for long runs and speed workouts getting faster over time.

What Are the Signs of Overtraining?

Signs of overtraining include persistent fatigue, declining performance, increased susceptibility to infections, irritability, and insomnia. If you notice these symptoms, it may be time to reassess your training plan and allow more time for recovery.

Remember, marathon training is not just about logging miles; it’s about building up to your peak performance strategically and sustainably. By understanding and implementing periodization in your training, you set yourself up for success, whether you’re aiming to finish your first marathon or set a new personal best. So lace up those shoes, hit the pavement, and embark on your journey to becoming an enduring marathon runner.

Post Tags :

Endurance Training