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The Anatomy of a Marathon Race

A marathon race – if run at your very best – recruits 100% of your slow-twitch fibers, 23% of your intermediate fast-twitch fibers, and 0% of your super fast-twitch fibers.

That translates to…

  • 80% of your maximal aerobic capacity
  • 40% of your maximal speed
  • 2.5% anaerobic contribution
  • 2.6 mmol blood lactate/liter

Training for a Marathon Race

Training for the half-marathon is in some ways similar to the 5K, 10K, or half-marathon – but it is not the same. The following 7 intensities should be used to maximize the necessary adaptations for a marathon peak performance.

General endurance: easy pace

Aerobic support: easy to steady pace

Direct endurance support: lactate threshold

Race-specific: marathon pace

Direct speed support: 10K pace

Anaerobic support: 5K pace

General speed: 1500 – 400m pace

It is not feasible, however, to train all of the above-mentioned intensities simultaneously. This would inevitably lead to overtraining, burnout, and injuries. Instead, I use a periodization model with focus blocks of 4 – 5 weeks. In each phase, no more than 2 of the 7 intensities are emphasized.

This particular method is called block periodization. It is a hybrid of linear and non-linear periodization that allows for long-term progress as well as frequent racing year-round across multiple distances since all physiological parameters – such as VO2max, lactate threshold, and stride power – are maintained at all times.

Block periodization is arguably the most advanced training method to date. It will enable you to break stagnation and set new personal records.

Hi! I'm Sandro Sket, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist from Germany. As an athlete I have won multiple awards in middle-distance and long-distance running events. My training plans combine science-based principles with the practical methods of professional athletes.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCSs) are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs.

Marathon Training Plans

Faster times at the marathon are not just the result of training more or harder. Real progress begins by maximizing aerobic fitness, muscular power, and race-specific endurance—in the right order.

Train with the block periodization method to set a new personal record at your next marathon race.

Elevate your aerobic capacity (VO2max)
Boost your lactate threshold/tolerance
Increase your neuromuscular power
Upgrade your fatigue resistance
Improve your running economy

MRA Intermediate

16-week plan
4 running days/week
40 miles/week (64 km/week)

MRA Advanced

16-week plan
4 - 6 running days/week
55 miles/week (88 km/week)

MRA Pre-Elite

16-week plan
5 - 7 running days/week
70 miles/week (112 km/week)