To understand well the logic of a training plan, it is important to define the skills to work on and the forms of training which correspond to the development of these skills.

The marathon runner is an endurance runner, but he must not only focus on developping his stamina for a long and and relatively slow race. It is necessary for him/her to develop all the capacities of a runner: stamina indeed, but also resistance and speed.

It goes without saying, that a preparation for a marathon represents for the body an important effort and has to be the object of a preliminary medical check of non-contraindication to this type of effort, and in particular with the test of the maximum heart rate. An effort test is recommended, supervised by a doctor.

You will find on this page the general principles of marathon training (see below) : 
Program from MAY to AUGUST click here
-10 weeks before the Marathon click here


How to respect the training speeds?


There are two methods :


- By running to a given speed (for example at 12km/hour or in 5 minutes/km). We settle the speed with a chronometer on a known-distance (track or tested course).


- By running to a certain effort, determined by the heart rate. We run for example to 80 % of his/her maximal heart rate (144 beats/ minutes if we have a maximal frequency of 180 beats/ minutes). The essential tool is not with the chronometer, but the cardiofrequencemeter (it exists on the market at reasonable prices).


The determination of the speed by the heart rate is preferable, because if we respect the planned frequency, we are sure to run to speeds corresponding to the runner's abilities. While in reference to the speed, we risk to be too fast (for example to run to 12 km/h while we should be at 10 km/h).


In order to run at the speeds corresponding to a percentage of given the heart rate, the runner should determine this firts.

For that purpose, a test is necessary:

After half an hour of easy slow running, followed by some short progressive accelerations, we gradually speed up for a race of four minutes. The objective is to reach its maximal speed in a progressive way by keeping the possibility of accelerating completely at the last minute (You should therefore not leave too fast, nor accelerate too early).

During this effort, we watch our cardiofrequencemeter to check that the frequency continues to rise. We take note of the maximal speed reached. It is often necessary to repeat the test on another occasion, if we are not sure to have done the best training. Indeed, if we leave too fast or accelerate too early, the pulse reaches a ceiling and does not reach its maximal value. The reached value will serve as a reference to all your trainings.


What are the speeds to work on?

They match skills that have to be developed.

The stamina:
It is your capacity to support long efforts. It is essential to the marathon runner, because it shows an adaptation of the runner's cardio respiratory system to the effort. It is developped by slow pace running (70 to 75 % of your maximal heart rate on average) on durations which can gradually achieve or exceed two hours.

This kind of training corresponds to the " long runs ", but also to " easy joggings " that allow the regeneration, the recovery between fast speed trainings. It also corresponds to the basic speed of the sessions, on which are added acceleration phases.

Attention: it is generally reached too fast, especially in the beginning of session. It is situated between 8-9 and 12-13 km/h according to the runners.


The active endurance (or soft resistance):
It is your capacity to cope with more intense efforts (80 in 85 % of the maximal heart rate). It is worked for 20 to 40 minutes, generally at a normal pace, or through interval training. This kind of work is essential in specific preparation periods, because it is close to your marathon speed.

Attention: it is hard to work on this specific pace within a group, because runners can be influenced by faster runners. 


The maximum aerobic speed (MAS):
It corresponds to the speed that you can support, without creating an early oxygen lack (we can hold it approximately over 1500 in 2000m), it is not a sprint. We improve it by fractions of fast races from 30 seconds to two minutes with short intervals.of recovery.

Attention: Running fast requires a good preliminary warm-up and has to remain compatible with the muscular relaxation: no tension, no violent start, no rough cut.


The anaerobic threshold (or lasting resistance):
It is called this way because it is on the verge of the debt of oxygen. It corresponds to the capacity to mobilize a high percentage of your maximal speed, on a rather long time. It is essential in the progress of the runner, but must be requested with moderation and in a very rigorous ways. It consists in series of efforts from 5  to 15 minutes with a low recovery. The heart rate is situated at 88/90 % of your maximal heart rate.

Attention: beginning these sessions too quickly leads inevitably to slowing down the speed on the next repetitions or to increase the duration of the recovery, or also to finish exhausted.

In this case the session will be unsuitable, even harmful because too tiring. It is better to make the first repetitions more slowly.