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The Best Marathon and Half-Marathon Running Workouts

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How to Warm Up for a Run

For easy runs of 1 hour or less, simply walk briskly for at least 5 minutes. Then start out at a really slow jog for 5-10 minutes before progressing to your normal easy run pace. For runs 1 hour or more at easy or moderate pace, warm up with 5 minutes of very slow jogging, then perform a dynamic warm-up routine of drills and exercises (see running.competitor.com for suggestions).

Before races or speed workouts, loosen up your legs with 1-2 miles of easy jogging. Then perform a dynamic warm-up routine (see running.competitor.com for suggestions) and add 4-6 strides.

Easy Runs

Easy runs are the most common run for marathoners and the workout that will make up most of your weekly miles. Easy runs build general running fitness. You should run your easy runs at a pace slow enough to be able to hold a conversation. Having to pause every few sentences to breathe means you’re running too fast for an easy run.

How fast to run during an easy run: For runners preparing for a half-marathon, easy runs will be 1 ½ – 2 minutes slower than the pace you’re planning to run on race day. For runners preparing for a marathon, shoot for 1-2 minutes slower than your goal marathon pace.

Long Runs

Any run longer than 90 minutes is called a long run. Long runs boost your fitness, build muscle, burn fat, and boost confidence. It’s important to stay fueled and hydrated during long runs.

Speed work

For marathoners, speed workouts are challenging workouts that can take many forms: strides, fartlek, hill repeats, track workouts, or tempo runs. Speed work comes later in the training program when your body is prepared for it. A little speed work goes a long way to making you a fitter, faster runner.

Strides

Adding strides to your runs is an easy and effective way to fire up the fast-twitch muscle fibers that will power your future speed workouts. Strides are runs of 20-second accelerations performed at a fairly fast pace.

How to do strides: Following a few of your weekly easy runs, find a flat stretch of road that’s roughly 100 meters long. Accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath, and then go again. 4-5 strides will help your running form.

Fartlek

A fartlek workout is a series of faster running segments that have some time for recovery in between. The length and speed of the pickups, as well as the recovery intervals, can be totally up to you.

How to run a fartlek: Following an easy warm-up jog of 1 or 2 miles, find an object in the near distance, be it a tree, rock, or telephone pole, and run to it at a pace faster than you would if you were out for an easy run. Once you reach your destination or start feeling fatigued, jog gently or even walk until you feel recovered, and then repeat the process all the way home.

Hill Repeats

Few running workouts offer more bang for your buck than running up a hill. Uphill repeats will help you get stronger and faster and will improve your running form all at the same time.

How to run hill repeats: Find a moderate grade hill, run up it for 20-60 seconds, and jog or walk back down to where you started. The number of repeats depends on how far along you are in your training.

Track workouts

A track workout is a run made up of short-to-medium intervals of paces faster than your goal half-marathon or marathon race pace. They improve running form and efficiency and quickly build fitness.

How to run a track workout: Find a local running track that’s availabe for use (check with schools) or a flat path around a pond. Warm up with 1–2 miles of easy jogging and then perform a set of 4–6 strides in order to get your fast-twitch muscle fibers ready to work. Then follow your training plan’s prescribed workout.

Tempo runs

In its most basic state, a tempo run can simply be described as comfortably hard running for a prolonged period of time, usually at a specific speed for a specific amount of time. Tempo run workouts are very specific to your training plan and are always based on your goal race pace.

How to Cool Down after a Run

After a distance run at an easy to moderate pace, walk for 5 minutes, putting your hands on top of your head to open up your lungs and catch your breath. After a long tempo run or challenging speed workout, the same principle applies: Keep moving! Walk slowly for 3–5 minutes upon finishing, get something to drink or eat, and then head out on a slow 10–20-minute (1–2-mile) jog. This gives your legs a chance to relax after your extended effort. The pace of the jog should be easy and therapeutic.

Note: After a distance race, walk for 5 minutes or more after crossing the finish line, but don’t worry about heading out to run any extra miles afterward. Just don’t sit!

Choose Your Race

Now that you’ve got a training plan, it’s time to choose your next race! The Rock ’n’Roll Marathon Series is the ‘World Largest Running Series’ with more than 500,000 people taking part in 26 North American cities each year!

Races feature live bands along the course, cheer teams, and entertaining water stations. The outdoor festival encapsulates cities in their entirety and culminates with a finish line festival featuring some of the best music acts around. Learn more