How Advanced Marathon Training Works

Training for advanced marathon running may bring you even further off the beaten path.
Training for advanced marathon running may bring you even further off the beaten path.

The day you slapped that "26.2" sticker on your car was one of your proudest in recent memory -- it was the day you advertised your membership in the club of marathoners. You've seen major cities while pounding the pavement of major thoroughfares that were closed just for you. Maybe you've completed several marathons already, and you're wondering if you can shave a few minutes from your current best time. Congratulations, you're one of the elite -- or you will be, soon.

If you've already run marathons, stepping up to advanced training means only one thing: You want to achieve your best time. Though advanced marathon training programs all feature some variations (based on theory, experience, trainer preference or some combination of the above), all are designed with the same goal in mind. While beginner and intermediate training focuses on teaching your body to adapt to and cope with distance running, advanced training features long runs (some well beyond the 26.2 mile mark) and incorporates speed workouts. Instead of training to finish a marathon, you're training to race one.

Sound tempting? Generally, you shouldn't attempt an advanced program unless you've run at least one marathon before and you regularly run five or six days a week for at least 45 minutes at a time. For your body to handle the stress, you should have a minimum of a year's experience of running such at an intensity [source: Health Magazine].

Are your legs tingling in anticipation? On the next page, we'll discuss a typical advanced marathon training schedule, and you'll see how you can select one that's right for you.