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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marathon Training: Beginner's Guide




April 19, 2010 and the 114th Boston Marathon is now completed. Marathon season to me is now officially begun, although I know there has been a few so far this year. Something about the Boston Marathon is so magical---memories flood my brain of Bill Rogers, Alberto Salazar, Greg Meyer, Miki Gorman, Joan Benoit, and Jacqueline Hansen. What athletes they are!! What excitement they brought for all marathoners when 10 years before most Americans had barely ever heard of a marathon. Yes, 26.2 miles long, but arguably the greatest single athletic feat the average athlete/person can actually do!! Why? I also believe it is beyond doubt proof that the human body is meant to run. It is natural for us to run. My good 2:56:34 as a 21 year old would only be the world record for 70 year olds. Maybe I will journal my marathon training soon!! The photo is of my son Steve after 14 miles on his way to conquering the 2007 San Francisco Marathon. He didn't win, but everyone is a winner!!

For those of you ready to start training for your first marathon, I will be happy to help. Post your questions to this blog post. If you have a question others have the same question. I love this part of sports medicine. In 1984, I was the medical director of the San Francisco Marathon in which over 10,000 runners finished. It sadly has never been that big, but it is coming back in popularity!! In the 70s, it was marathon training that got me first interested in podiatry. I ran 4 marathons in the 1970s before I ever heard about podiatry. Podiatrists were keeping runners running. Most in medicine were saying how bad it is for your joints. But it is not bad for your joints!! Bad training is bad for your joints!! Bad shoes can be bad for your joints!! But marathon training is a natural activity for the human body, and we can excel in it. Go for it!! But Listen to your body!

I will title my Marathon Training Schedule as Dr. Blake’s Gentle Marathon Training Schedule. Give yourself 6 months to properly train. Use my friends at Team-In-Training to help. www.teamintraining.org/ What an incredible service they provide! My schedule is based on 4 days running per week. For 30 years it has been helping athletes achieve this incredible goal. You must have a long day each week, in which I will use Saturday, but the days can be slightly rearranged based on individual schedules. What is non-negotiable is the off day before the long run and the light jog the day after the long run. I love Grete Waitz’ (9 time NY Marathon Winner) rule of 3 up 1 down as the mileage builds and I have adapted a modified version. This is based on total weekly mileage. Time your first week with the weeks left before the marathon you want to run. Then, step out of your comfort zone and go for it!


Week 1 Total 6 Sun 1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 1 Fri 0 Sat 2

Week 2 Total 7 Sun 1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 1 Fri 0 Sat 3

Week 3 Total 8 Sun 1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 3

Week 4 Total 9 Sun 1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 4

Week5 Total8 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 1 Fri 0 Sat 4

Week6 Total11 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 6

Week7 Total 12 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 3 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 6

Week8 Total 13 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 8

Week9 Total 14 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 7

Week10 Total16 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 1 Fri 0 Sat 10

Week11 Total 14 Sun1 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 9

Week12 Total 18 Sun2 Mon 0 Tues 2 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 12

Week13 Total20 Sun2 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 3 Fri 0 Sat 11

Week14 Total22 Sun2 Mon 0 Tues 3 Wed 0 Thurs 3 Fri 0 Sat 14

Week15 Total22 Sun2 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 4 Fri 0 Sat 12

Week16 Total24 Sun2 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 2 Fri 0 Sat 16

Week17 Total26 Sun3 Mon 0 Tues 5 Wed 0 Thurs 5 Fri 0 Sat 13

Week18 Total28 Sun3 Mon 0 Tues 4 Wed 0 Thurs 3 Fri 0 Sat 18

Week19 Total26 Sun3 Mon 0 Tues 5 Wed 0 Thurs 3 Fri 0 Sat 15

Week20 Total30 Sun3 Mon 0 Tues 5 Wed 0 Thurs 4 Fri 0 Sat 18

Week21 Total 33 Sun4 Mon 0 Tues 7 Wed 0 Thurs 6 Fri 0 Sat 16

Week22 Total 35 Sun4 Mon 0 Tues 6 Wed 0 Thurs 5 Fri 0 Sat 20

Week23 Total 30 Sun4 Mon 0 Tues 6 Wed 0 Thurs 5 Fri 0 Sat 15

Week24 Total 20 Sun5 Mon 0 Tues 8 Wed 0 Thurs 5 Fri 0 Sat 2

Week25 SunMarathon


This gentle training schedule is based on multiple factors which include:

• Slow long run on Saturdays building up to one 20-miler concerned with distance only to build endurance
• Easy cool down run on Sunday to relax muscles
• Faster tempo runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays to build up leg speed (never on track as intervals or focusing on hills for the beginner). These runs should be a comfortable pace.

One very common change based on how the athlete feels is to remain for 4 weeks at levels 7, then level 13, and finally level 17. This is done to add 9 weeks more to the over-all program when the running is going slow with too many aches and pains, job interruptions, building better leg strength, or simply timing the date of the marathon.

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.