That first marathon of the season marks the end of the training cycle. Whether you did a 16, 18 or 20-week cycle, it’s a MAJOR accomplishment.
That race is a celebration of all the hard work you put in. But then what?
Well, for me I take off about 5 days from running then get back at it, albeit with a few adjustments. Because I truly enjoy the training, it’s not just a means to an end. It’s legit my lifestyle.
That being said, I cannot be in full-on marathon training mode all the time. It’s not sustainable and we’re after a long-term, heart-healthy life here, right?
So I switch to maintenance mode after Marathon 1 and here’s what I that looks like for me.
My Marathon Maintenance Training Plan
🏃🏻♀️ Flexible workout schedule.
My brain needs the break from the rigidity of the training cycle so I don’t stick to a strict time of day or exact mileage for my runs. I set a 2-mile range on my calendar for each day (7-8 easy, 2-5 tempo, etc) and schedule it into the workday wherever it fits.
If I want extra sleep, I take it and work out later in the day. I get to choose sunrise runs because I love them, not because it’s going to be hotter than hades if I run later in the day.
🏃🏻♀️ Set a target range of weekly mileage.
Through experience I have found a range of 35-40 miles per week is good for me to stay in marathon shape without getting burned out on training. Then every few weeks I cut back to 30-35ish.
(NOTE: If that seems like a lot to you, believe me, it did to me at one point too. Each training cycle I have pushed my peak mileage higher, which has made maintenance also go higher.)
🏃🏻♀️ Mix up my workout plans.
Since I know how many miles I want for the week, I can be more flexible than usual on how I hit them.
During training I’ll run anywhere from 3-5 miles, then go straight to an OrangeTheory class. Back-to-back workouts are UBER effective for me to see big gains in my fitness and, as recent results have shown, my race times.
They are also a lot and after doing that twice a week for 18+ weeks, I need some changes. The classes are always different so that’s built in variety, but the mileage beforehand is now up for grabs. Some days it’s two miles at a tempo pace. Some days it’s four at an easy pace.
I can do what I WANT to do.
I don’t have a set plan to follow in order to hit my goal. Just need to keep moving.
Key Elements of Maintenance Mode
✔️ Continue running 35-40 miles per week.
✔️ Relaxed approach to getting there.
✔️ Two cross training workouts per week.
✔️ Two hard efforts per week. This could be intervals, tempo, progressive runs – or all of them!
Then as a new race day nears, I gradually increase my long-run mileage until I hit at least 16-18 one week. Then I can taper down to race day.
Once I cross that first marathon finish line, the only time I am doing a 20+ mile run is in a race environment. My head is just not up for that kind of mileage as a long run anymore.
By following this plan I know my physical fitness is in a place to run another marathon and I use those 16-18 mile long runs to simply remind my head how it feels at those higher mile markers.
If I can do that, then I’ll be solid for pushing from 18 to 26.2 where I’ll be able to chalk up another physical challenge (the only kind I legit sign up for) under my belt.
Or rather, on my medal wall.