Can you train for a marathon with less than 3 hours of training a week?
That was the question that has me training for a marathon. My wife and I recently had our first child (he is currently 4 1/2 months old). Besides daily walks with my dog I had not done any serious exercise for about 4 months. I figured it was time to get back in an exercise routine.
The problem is that having a kid completely kills your free time. After staring at my schedule for a couple of days and talking with my wife I figured I could carve out exercise time 6 days a week if I kept the workouts, including warm up and cool down, below 30 minutes.
I am a competitive person and do not enjoy working out just for the sake of working out (I need goals). So after carving out some time on my schedule the next question was, what should I train for? Should I sign up for a 10K, go for a personal best in a mile race, or something else? Which brought me back to something I had been pondering for a little while. Can you post a good time in a marathon with a low mileage training program? And more specifically could I train for a marathon with less than 3 hours of training a week?
Now is a good time to point out that the longest race I have ever run was an 8 mile leg of a marathon relay (also probably the furthest I have run at one time). So what makes me think that I can put up a competitive time in my first marathon with a fraction of the recommended training?
While it is a bit more complex and I am continuing to do more research it basically comes down to these three ideas.
- If you are a professional runner you need to do everything you can to decrease your time even things that drop only a few seconds a mile. Basically they need to do a 100% of the training that helps lower their time. However an amateur runner should be able to put up a good time by focusing on the training items that do the most to lower your time (80/20 principle). Basically to be efficient an amateur's training program should not mirror a professional's training program.
- If you can run 2 miles at a 6 minute mile pace then running 8 minute miles is very easy for you and barely causes you to breathe hard. Same applies at other base times, for example someone who can run 2 miles at an 8 minute mile pace should be able to talk the entire time they are running at an 11 minute a mile pace.
- Most people shy away from "hard" training, instead they stay within their limits and avoiding failure. Training that pushes you to the edge and sometimes beyond the edge is where the most growth happens. However, most people train for marathons by putting up lots of easy miles. I believe a larger emphasis on shorter higher intensity workouts would be a more efficient use of time (albeit a much less enjoyable use of time).
I am currently doing research and some basic training. I will post again with a detailed training plan and provide links to resources after I finish my first round of research and planning.
26.2 here I come. (Boston?)