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2457 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Jul 13, 2009 2:55 PM by Lady Paramedic
Lady Paramedic Amateur 9 posts since
May 18, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Jul 2, 2009 5:32 AM

Marathon Training for beginners/ miles vs minutes


I am a newbie to marathon training. I am still at the walk/run phase, however, one resource says build minutes(time) and yet another resource claims mileage is the only way to go. With time training you build the amount of time you are out running, starting with 30 minutes and you eventually reach like 3.5 hours etc..., the mileage is simply build a base and build miles.



So, which is better for the beginner trainer?



Any opinions would help.



  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,541 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008


    They're basically the same thing. Try to slowly build your weekly mileage total to 20 - 25 miles as your "base". At the same time work on a once-a-week long run that will get to about 10 miles during this base-building phase. The rule of thumb is to increase your total weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week. A couple months after reaching your base mileage, you're ready to start a marathon training program.






    I have put this in terms of miles but it could as easily be said "minutes" instead. Most people use miles because it translates more easily to your goal, the marathon, which is 26.2 miles, rather than 240 minutes, or whatever pace you're shooting for. There are advantages to minutes as well, for instance, on an out-and-back course, you run out for "x" minutes, turn aroound and come back. On the other hand, there's less accounting for how you run on a particular day. If you run 4 miles, it's 4 miles, whether fast or slow. 40 minutes is 40 minutes, but it might be 3.5 miles on a bad day and 4.5 on a good day.  If you start doing speedwork, though, it's usually based on distance, more than time.










  • Steve Carton Legend 369 posts since
    Oct 11, 2007


    I agree with Len - and to add to it, there is a personal side to this in terms of your goal. That said, I've personally always thought about training in terms of miles and pace. But that creates (for me) a certain tension in that if I'm aiming for a mile-goal (an 18 mile LSD, for example), then I automatically translate that into a time expectation (3 hours or something). And if I'm not on that pace, then I worry about it and run faster than I should. Whereas if I'm out for a certain time, I don't sweat the distance too much, so that tension disappears.



    If your goal is simply to finish, I would consider using Len's formula (10% increase/week) applied to time, with a goal of getting close to 4-hours (depending on how fast a runner you are) running time on a single LSD 3-weeks prior to your planned marathon. If you can run for 4 hours, you'll probably be able to finish the marathon.



    On the other hand, if you have a target time in mind, then you need to pay attention to speed work (as Len says) and that almost always means miles at a pace.Though some recent work is being done training at low heart-rates for more time. Results look promising and with fewer injuries.



    Not sure this all makes sense.



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