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.

Best part:

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.

The key:

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.


Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications, based out of Chicago. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of Labrador Retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association.

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