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Marathon Training Program
Helpful Advice for You to Complete a 26.2-Mile Race Smiling All the Way to the Finish Line!

What's this web site about?

Welcome to "State of the Art Marathon Training". The material presented in this web site contains helpful information that runners of all abilities can use to safely and successfully complete a marathon, whether you are a first-time marathoner an advanced/experienced competitor. Presented here in a streamlined and straight forward manner, you'll find all the essential marathon training topics, from training schedules to race day tips, plus much more. I will assume that visitors to this page are runners and have a general knowledge of training principles. I hope you will enjoy your visit. I wish you the very best of luck in both the training for, and participation in your marathon.

What should I consider before beginning marathon training?

There are two major considerations that center around marathon training: The first concept is that the 26.2 mile distance of the marathon must be respected and deserves adequate preparation to successfully finish. Next, you must ask yourself if you possess the discipline and desire to complete the necessary training for the event. Quite frankly, most people can "B.S." their way through the training in the months leading up to a marathon. This type of approach oftentimes leads to the marathon participant "surviving" instead of enjoying the race. In short, if you decide to enter a marathon, please train properly! You will no doubt enjoy your race and will want to someday run another marathon.

What's Art's training philosophy?

The information contained within this site will enable runners of all ability levels to finish a marathon comfortably and safely. This program centers on a few simple training concepts: (1) A gradual increase in long run mileage, (2) Modest weekly mileage totals, and (3) Injury prevention strategies. The biggest challenge of the marathon is NOT the ability to finish the race but rather, the task of making it to the starting line both rested and healthy. For this reason, I do not believe it is necessary to undergo a lot of high intensity training (e.g., speedwork, hill repeats, entering lots of shorter races, etc.) for the runner whose primary goal is to finish the race. Thus, I have elected NOT to include comprehensive information related to speedwork training (click here to find out why) or other high intensity workouts as incorporating advanced training techniques without the individualized guidance and support of a coach can lead to injury. I also strongly believe that it is NOT necessary to run the full marathon distance in practice. In fact, the longest training run I recommend is 23 miles no more than four weeks leading up to the race. Although I can't promise that the training will be easy, I can say that most runners who have followed my training plan not only finished their first marathons successfully but also have entered subsequent 26.2-mile events, both enjoying their training and avoiding burnout. You can too!

So when can I begin training?

I recommend that you don't consider training for a marathon until you have been running consistently for at least one year. This means that you should be training a minimum of four to five days a week and averaging a minimum of 25 miles per week. While it is possible to begin marathon training at lower weekly mileage levels, one should keep in mind that doing so greatly increases his or her chances of incurring an over-use injury in the subsequent mileage buildup stage. If you feel that you have any medical or health concerns, it is important that you visit your physician for clearance to begin training. Of course, don't proceed with marathon training if you are presently injured or have recently resumed training after incurring an over-use injury. If you are presently running less than 25 miles per week, it is important that you review the Mileage Buildup Schedule (Schedule I) and pick up your training at the appropriate level before proceeding to the Marathon Training Schedule (Schedule II). If you are now running at least 25 miles per week, you are ready to begin marathon training. If your present training includes as a maximum, a long run of 10 miles, and 25 miles as a weekly total, target a marathon at least four months down the road.

What are Art's coaching experiences and qualifications?

Some people may be surprised to know that I didn't begin running until I was nearly 30 years old. If someone told me when I was a teenager that I would be a marathoner, much less one who had run 20 marathons (in 19 different states), I would have told them that they were insane! In high school, I couldn't even make it around a quarter mile track without becoming short of breath and gasping for air. I started running as part of a lifestyle change and soon after, realized how much I enjoyed my new found sport. On February 12, 1983 after a year of running, I completed my first 26.2-mile race, The Carolina Marathon in Columbia, SC, finishing in 3:24. My personal best was at the 1984 New Orleans Marathon, completing the event in 3:11. Competing in the masters division, my fastest performance was in 1995 at the Houston Marathon, crossing the finish line in 3:22. The bottom line is that if I can train for and run a marathon, you can too!

During the early 1990s, I served as assistant cross country coach at The College of Charleston (S.C.), and also served as head coach of North Charleston High School's cross country team. I am proud of my affiliation with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's "Team in Training" Program where I coached the Charleston, S.C. team from 1993 through 1998. Through my work with the "Team in Training" program, hundreds of runners I've coached have successfully completed their marathons while at the same time, raised thousands of dollars in a gallant combined effort to help find a cure for Leukemia.

Currently, I serve on Runner's World Magazine's "Medical Advice and Training" panel of experts. Over the past 12 years, I've answered runners' questions for that column and have been interviewed for a wide range of feature articles. I presently consult on a weekly basis with runners from around the country (and world), most learning about my coaching services as a result of reading the information contained on this web site.

I invite you to read my book, The Everything Running Book. First published in 2002 by Adams Media, its 3rd edition was released in January 2012 and is widely available both in bookstores as well as on the web. To order your autographed copy, please visit State of the Art Marathon Training's On-Line Store.

For more information, see About the Author/Coach Art Liberman.

Would you be interested in receiving personal coaching?

The majority of marathon training programs found in books, magazine articles, and even "State of the Art Marathon Training" are to some extent, designed to provide general information for the masses. In order for a training program to be the most effective, it must be individually designed to meet a single runner's goals and needs. For further information, please see Personal Training.

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