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Organisers of the Canberra Walking Festival

AussieWalk Training Programs - Marathon

This training schedule has been designed by Dave McGovern, the author of The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking and an experienced racewalking coach in the USA. He has kindly allowed us to use his beginner's marathon training program to help our walkers prepare for the marathon at the Canberra Walking Festival. This program is designed for the first-time marathoner, but it assumes that you are currently walking for exercise and can successfully complete an easy 90 minute walk. The goal is to get you ready to comfortably finish a marathon in 6.5 to 8 hours (you are allowed up to 8.5 hours to finish our marathon!), at a pace somewhere between 5 - 6.5 km/hr. If you have previously walked a marathon and wish to improve your time, Dave has alternative training programs available on his website.

If you do not currently walk for exercise, you'll need to build up gradually to the point where you can walk at least 30 minutes per day, three to five days per week, with a long walk of 90 minutes one day per week. Add no more than 15 minutes to the duration of your current longest walk during the week. If you are not walking at all now, allow six weeks to get up to 90 minutes: (6 x 15 = 90). At that point you can move on to week 1 of the beginner's schedule.

The basic principles of marathon training are the same for everyone: you build sufficient endurance to get yourself through 42.2 km of walking by gradually increasing the distance of a weekly long easy walk. Then closer to the marathon you do a certain amount of training at your marathon pace or faster to get yourself ready to walk that 42.2 miles at a solid pace. The long easy walks are what get you through the race safely. They build the muscle and joint strength that keep you injury-free, and they provide the capillaries and higher blood hemoglobin concentration that supply your walking muscles with more oxygen. The more oxygen you can get to those working muscles, the higher the percentage of fat you'll burn during your marathon. And that's the key to breaking through or eliminating "the wall. After you've developed sufficient endurance to get through the marathon, intervals and tempo work will improve your speed and conditioning, which will get you through the marathon faster. Added to the mix are your easy days, which allow you to recover from the hard workouts, and help to improve your overall endurance.

When you do each type of workout is important. But actually doing the workouts is the most important thing. You can have the best training schedule in the world, but if it doesn't fit your lifestyle, it won't do you any good at all. Everybody has different goals and a different starting point, so the path you take may not be the same as anybody else's. With that in mind, the following schedules should be used as a starting point; a guide, not scripture. They're designed to give you the most bang out of the least amount of work. There are plenty of hard workouts to make you stronger, with enough rest to prevent fatigue from overtraining. But again, everybody is different: Some days you may be too tired or not have the time to do a particular workout. That's okay. Let your body tell you what it can and can not do. Missing a few workouts will not keep you from walking a great marathon. But at all cost, try to get that long day in every week, even if you have to switch days to do so. Then make sure you walk at least 30 to 45 minutes on at least two other days during the week to help you to retain the endurance gained during your long workouts. If you have more time to train, great-go longer. If you only have a few minutes to train, it's still worthwhile to get out and do something. If time is limited do less, but go faster. If you get in those three workouts, you'll finish the marathon. If you can add a few faster workouts during the week, like intervals, tempo workouts, or even an occasional 5K race, you'll finish the marathon faster.

Tapering - Once you've done your mileage build-up and completed several 29-32 km walks, the real work is done. About three weeks before the race you'll "sharpen" by cutting your mileage back by anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of your normal workload to give your body a break from the long stuff and to work a bit more on marathon goal pace. This is your taper period. The goal of a taper is to ensure that you're well rested, but also to make sure you're "sharp" and fast. Your schedule should stay pretty much the same, but with less mileage and maybe a little bit more intensity (that means faster walking). Your main objectives in the weeks before the race are physical and mental rest, and glycogen storage, but you also need to keep active enough to retain fitness and flexibility. Too much rest can leave you feeling flat and sluggish, but it's better to err on the side of doing too little rather than too much in the last few weeks. One of the biggest mistakes first-time marathoners make is trying to do too much too late. Whatever training you've done is "in there." You can't do a whole lot to improve your fitness in the week before the marathon, but you can beat yourself up and make yourself overtired and overtrained by trying to "catch up" on missed training.

Understanding the Schedule

* = "must do" workouts (Mon, Wed & Sat) - but if you can't fit the workout in on the scheduled day, fit it into your week any way you can

Tempo: 10-20-10 (or similar) = do an easy ten min warm-up, twenty min at tempo pace (half-marathon to 10K pace), then an easy ten min cool-down

Easy 30-60 (or similar) = walk anywhere from 30 to 60 min at an easy pace

Economy: 6x1 min = 6 short, fast intervals with relatively long recoveries - always do a complete warm-up before starting a fast workout
6x1 min workout indicates six fast 200-meter or 1-minute intervals with about 200-meters (or two-minutes) of very easy walking to allow recovery between each fast interval

Off or Easy On days = you can either walk the prescribed amount of time, or do some easy cross-training like swimming or cycling for a similar amount of time - but easy means easy - if in doubt, err on the side of doing too little rather than too much

Fartlek = a Swedish word for "speed play" - these are easyish walks, interrupted by 1-2 min bursts of faster walking - don't worry about when or how many bursts to do, just throw in a fast spurt whenever you feel like it

Goal pace = the same pace that you expect to walk your marathon

Push = push the pace, usually down to half-marathon race pace-fast, but not crazy fast

Week

* Mon

Tue

* Wed

Thu

Fri

* Sat

Sun

1

Easy 30-45 min

Off or Easy 30 min

Tempo: 10-10-10
(easy 10 min,
fast 10 min,
easy 10 min)

Easy 30-45 min

Off or Easy 30 min

2 hrs easy

Off

2

Economy: 6x1 min
(10 min warm-up, then
1 min fast, 1 min slow
repeated six times)

Off or Easy 30 min

Tempo: 10-10-10

Easy 30-45 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

2¼ hrs easy

Off

3

Economy: 8x1 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-10-10

Easy 45-60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

2 hrs easy

Off

4

Economy: 8x1 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-10-10

Easy 45-60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

2½ hrs easy

Off

5

Economy: 10x1 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-10-10

Easy 45-60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 hrs easy

Off

6

Economy: 10x1 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-20-10

Easy 45-60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

2½ hrs easy

Off

7

Economy: 12x1 min

Off or Easy 45-60 min

Tempo: 10-20-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3½ hrs easy

Off

8

Economy: 12x1 min

Off or Easy 45-60 min

Tempo: 10-20-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 hrs easy

Off

9

Economy: 6x2 min

Off or Easy 45-60 min

Tempo: 10-20-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

4 hrs easy

Off

10

60 min Fartlek

Off or Easy 45-60 min

Tempo: 10-30-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 hrs easy

Off

11

Economy: 8x2 min

Off or Easy 60 min

Tempo: 10-30-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

4½ hrs easy

Off

12

60 min Fartlek

Off or Easy 60 min

Tempo: 10-30-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 hrs @ Goal Pace

Off

13

Economy: 10x2 min

Off or Easy 60 min

Tempo: 10-30-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

5 hrs easy

Off

14

60 min Fartlek

Off or Easy 60 min

Tempo: 10-40-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 hrs @ Goal Pace

Off

15

Economy: 12x2 min

Off or Easy 45 min

Tempo: 10-40-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

5 hrs easy

Off

16

60 min Fartlek

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-40-10

Easy 60 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

3 easy, push 3rd hour

Off

17

Economy: 8x2 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Tempo: 10-30-10

Off or Easy 30-45 min

Off or Easy 30-45 min

2 hrs @ Goal Pace

Off

18

20 min Fartlek

Off or Easy 30 min

Tempo: 10-10-10

Off or Easy 20 min

Easy 20 min + 4 x 30sec

Marathon!

Off

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