When most runners think about marathon training, the first thing that comes to mind is time consuming long runs. Marathon training is notorious for its massive time commitment – but it doesn’t have to be this way. 3 day a week marathon training is a simple way to prepare your body without feeling overwhelmed.
Can you train for a marathon running 3 days per week?
For a lot of runners, it might sound too good to be true: the answer is yes. It is certainly possible to train for a marathon running 3 days a week.
However, much like any other style of marathon training, success using this method requires consistency, diligence, and a great deal of hard work.
The key to 3 day a week marathon training is making sure each run is purposeful and staying consistent with your training. Long runs and weekly workouts become even more important when there occur less often.
Is 3 day a week marathon training enough?
Many runners might question whether or not running 3 days per week is enough to fully prepare your body to conquer the 26.2 mile distance. But again, we find that it can definitely be enough.
The key to making the most of 3 day a week marathon training is to be consistent, purposeful and diligent with your training.
Runners are often surprised to find that their body responds even better to a lower mileage training plan. Completing 3 runs a week during marathon training means that long runs remain the same. Those weekly, increasing double digit long runs are a staple of marathon training and remain consistent between just about any plan.
However, with just two mid-week runs, more time is freed up for cross training, strength training, recovery and rest. With more time to build strength and recover, it’s not uncommon to find that long runs begin to actually feel easier than with higher mileage training.
Whether you’re planning for your very first marathon or are hoping to find a way to balance training while maintaining family and work life, 3 day a week marathon training is a great way to do it all without feeling burnt out or overwhelmed.
How to Train for a Marathon 3 Days a Week
Successfully training for a marathon is possible even with just 3 runs per week. What you do during those runs and on your off days is key to success. Here are some tips to make the most of 3 day a week marathon training!
Give each run a purpose.
With just 3 runs a week, you won’t have time for junk miles. The key to success is making sure each and every run you complete has a purpose. Is it a long run? Recovery run? Speed workout? Be sure you know the goal of your run before heading out.
These 3 day per week marathon training plans focus on quality over quantity. As you begin and continue your training, it’s important that your mindset is the same. Avoid filling days with miles just to cross them off your training plan or simply because you “have to”.
Be consistent in training.
It goes without saying, but running 3 days a week during marathon training leaves less room for skipped workouts. With less workouts on your calendar, you have less time to make up for those that you’ve missed.
Consistency is key when it comes to low mileage marathon training. Stick to your training plan when possible, and try your best not to miss out on a run because you planned poorly or just weren’t feeling motivated. Always adjust when you are sick or injured, but otherwise, prioritize those miles and try to miss a cross training day instead of a run.
Make the most of off-days.
Use this training plan to prioritize recovery and strength training. Build your muscles to help improve your endurance on the run, avoid injury and stay strong. Try out those recovery measure that you never “had time for” during other training seasons. Stretch, foam roll, and try some yoga.
Find a quality training plan.
Ultimately, the key to successfully training for a marathon 3 days per week is a quality training plan. You’ll want to find a training plan that properly builds long run mileage, includes some speed, and still provides ample time for rest and recovery runs.
Every runner is different, which means that it might take a bit of experimentation to find the style of training to which your body responds best. Keep in mind the key elements of a successful marathon training plan during your search: long runs, speed workouts, cross training, rest and recovery.
Listen to your body.
With any style of marathon training, you always need to listen to your body. Even with less runs to spare, if you notice an ache, pain or general feeling of unwell – pay attention. Take time off when you need it and stay aware of your mental health.
Powering through the miles or workouts simply for the sake of crossing them off your plan often causes more harm than a missed workout or two when you were feeling off.
If you’re struggling to fit in those weekly runs, or wanting to train for a marathon but worry that you might not have the time or commitment needed, think again. It is possible to train for a marathon and still have a life.
3 Day a Week Marathon Training Structure
When we take a marathon training plan and strip it down to its core, we’re left with the most important aspect of training: the long run. Long runs are crucial for any runner preparing for a marathon, and are an element of the training plan that cannot be removed.
>> With 3 runs per week, that means we’ll have one long run and two runs left to fill.
During marathon training, recovery is especially important. Even with fewer runs per week, we’ll still be increasing mileage and wear on our bodies. Having one slow, easy run each week that is dedicated to recovery is a great way to avoid burnout. This easy run helps flush out lactic acid and keeps your muscles fresh, while still increasing your overall mileage.
>> With a long run and easy run, we’ve got one run left to fill.
The third run each week should be a harder workout to improve mental and physical strength. Speed workouts and interval runs are a perfect addition to any marathon training plan – even if you’re not training for speed. These intervals increase the efficiency of our cardiovascular system and give our legs practice with with faster turnover when they’re tired.
Sample 3 Day Per Week Marathon Training
- Day 1: Run #1 – Easy Run
- Day 2: Cross Training
- Day 3: Run #2 – Speed Workout
- Day 4: Strength Training
- Day 5: Yoga/Active Recovery
- Day 6: Run #3 – Long Run
- Day 7: Rest
The overall lower mileage emphasizes key workouts, reduces junk miles and provides plenty of time for cross training and recovery each week. Knowing that there are just three runs each week will help maintain motivation and reduce the temptation to skip a run.
Marathon training 3 days a week can work for anyone.
Anyone can train for a marathon. If you are healthy, motivated and committed, running a marathon is well within your reach.
Running a marathon is an experience of a lifetime. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to do it more than once. Don’t sell yourself short; if you want it – go for it. Remember that where there is a will, there is a way.