24 week marathon training

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  • #21379

    Hi guys,

    I’m trying to build general mountain fitness. My goal is enjoying a mixture of trail running and long multi-day hikes around where we live in Colorado. I also enjoy climbing as a hobby, but I’m less motivated to get really good at that and just like to do it for fun.

    By way of background, I’ve run marathons in the past and done one 100km flat race, but I’ve always been a plodder and never really felt “fit”. I haven’t done any regular running in the last year, either, meaning I think I need to build up slowly to avoid injury on the running front.

    I followed the TFTNA methodology all the way through the transition period and then to week 9 of the base period in the last few months to get my aerobic fitness and strength up, mostly focusing on hiking for my aerobic training for that, and getting up to 11 hours per week across hiking, strength and climbing. And was really liking it. To start building running back in, I just purchased the 24 week intro to marathon running as I’ve run road marathons in the past and want to run my first flattish trail marathon this fall in October.

    My question is, having looked at the marathon plan I’ve just bought, I worry I’ve made the wrong decision for the more general goals that I have. Lots of the TFTNA methodology around strength and building ME seems to be gone from it! I do want to run this trail marathon in fall, but I want to build my overall fitness for mountaineering days too. I figured it would be OK to aim for more than one thing as I’m so beginner at everything. Should I stick with the 24-week marathon training and just add strength training back in, perhaps replacing one of the general conditioning runs with a strength session and working through max strength and ME? Can I add in a climbing day too to keep that going?

    Sorry for the vague questions! I think the problem is that I’m somewhere between wanting to work on trail running and mountaineering!


Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #21439


    Thanks for writing in. Our plans are written for a single goal as they need to be. As insightful as we are……..not even we can foresee all the possible combinations that folks can dream up. So, this marathon plan is designed to focus on running a good race not running a good race and also making you strong in the mountains. Because you say you are at a beginner level I can 99% promise you that if you complete this marathon plan you will also be much faster moving in the mountains. How can I be so sure? I have coached a pro alpinist for 3 years who decided he wanted to run a sub 3hour marathon last fall. We trained exclusively for that marathon for 5 months. He ran under 3 hours and when he went back to his normal mountain training he was fitter and faster than ever before.

    If you want to add some weighted carries for uphill ME then substitute them for the high intensity run training. But, I think you might be surprised how much running a lot helps your fitness in the mountains. it will definitely put you are a new level when you do shift back to more mountain oriented training.


    emilykatemarchant on #21515

    Hi Scott,

    Thank you so much for the reply. This reassures me about focusing on my running this year – and then I’ll probably try doing the more mountaineering-focused training after the marathon. I like your idea of doing some weighted carries as the marathon I’ve chosen is fairly hilly.

    Thinking it through, I think part of the reason I was keen to keep strength training is because I’ve been a little injury prone in the past, specifically IT bands and I think I was vaguely assuming strength training would help with that – but I’m hoping the slow ramp-up built into the plan, getting a fair number of miles on trail rather than road, and focusing on foam rolling will help this time around.

    One question I have – is there a reason that the functional runner stops at some point fairly early in the program?

    Thanks again for your help!

    Anonymous on #21544


    I think you’re ,making a good choice. For the IT band: Running will likely exacerbate IT band problems that manifest as knee pain. We recommend a religious rolling program (daily sessions) as explained here https://uphillathlete.com/foam-rolling-why-how/ and here https://uphillathlete.com/practical-recovery-essentials/.

    If you stay on top of this you can probably beat the IT band demon.

    The Functional Runner strength workout is dropped when the over intensity of the plan kicks up a notch or two. If you feel like you are getting good benefits then by all means continue it.


    emilykatemarchant on #21637

    Thank you Scott! Really appreciate the help.

    achristie01 on #22040

    I’m a beginning runner (again) & i’m looking for a half marathon plan that isn’t just simply long runs that progress in distance

    my history:
    48yo, 6-5, 210#. I sit a lot during the day for work. i have done periodized training before in prep for triathlons (longest being 70.3), but it’s been 10yrs. I was COMPLETELY off of exercise all of last year with spine issues. Those spine issues have settled. My ski season was a wakeup call to my lost fitness. I’ve done a couch to 5k this spring & have an additional 4wks of 9mi/wk in my legs. Historically, I’ve managed to get broken down as I approach the half marathon mark. My goal for this summer is to get stronger & more durable. If I hit 13mi, that’s gravy. The bigger goal is to have the legs to walk uphill to ski more (& keep up with the 14yo).

    I’ve targeted a half marathon in the first week of Oct which gives me about 20wks from now. I think it’s reasonable, but the various plans I’ve been able to find have been not particularly compelling (run/walk progessive time strategies that seem boring, or speed/recovery/LSD that seem too aggressive).

    I found the 24wk beginner marathon plan here…wondering (sight unseen as of now) if it might be a decent fit, just taking it with the recommended repeat weeks (2,3,5,6) & going as far as it goes until my targeted race.

    thanks for any thoughts,

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