Can you get away with low mileage marathon training plan

MrSoftMrSoft ✭✭✭
I know a couple of runners who are training for marathons, who are using low mileage training plans.  Their mileage never gets above 32 miles a week, several weeks it's dropped to below 15 miles, and some of the runs are less than 4 miles.  They only plan to do 3 runs above 17 miles, and a lot of the runs are above or at MP. They both want to break 4 hours but I fear they will be ok for first 20 miles but struggle for the last 6 miles.  Neither do any sort of cross training. 


  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    The MP or faster sessions especially seem, urrrrm, unwise.  But a lot of people seem to do that kind of training and get around, but I'd imagine it won't be pleasant!    As a matter of interest, is this actually a written/acknowledged plan they're following, or are they just doing what they think they should do?
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    I ran London in 2016 in 3.08 following a low mileage plan. My average mileage in the schedule was circa 28 miles with 2 cross training sessions. I think I ran splits of 1.32.xx and 1.35.xx so a slight drop off 2nd half but modest compared to probably the majority.

    I should point out it wasn't my first marathon and I'd been running 4 years. This year off 32 mile average I did 3.04 with almost even splits. 
  • MrSoftMrSoft ✭✭✭
    I believe it's one of those online plans where you can adjust according to how much time you can spare and time target.

       Personally I don't see how you can run a decent race with such low mileage and only 3 runs above 17 miles.  Wouldn't you lose the training benefit of accumulated fatigue if you did each long run pretty much fully recovered? 
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    In my schedule the long runs are 20 x 5 and gradually get faster so the first 2 x 20 will be mp pus 60 seconds, then plus 45, then plus 30 and finally plus 15. I see the idea as being that this additional effort replaces the  accumulated fatigue of a full mileage schedule. Mentally at least, completing 20 at mp plus 15 gives a huge dose of confidence.
  • HA77HA77 ✭✭✭
    I've had friends run solidly sub 4 hours off similar or even less training. They were pretty sporty guys anyway but hadn't done much running before. I think your friends will suffer at the end but they could still break 4 hours. If you're only doing 3 runs a week I think you should be doing more running at MP or faster.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    It's definitely possible if you have some kind of fitness background. I doubt you will be anywhere near your actual potential though.

    i managed a 3:38 for my first with an average of approx 35 miles a week. I had been playing lots of rugby beforehand so wasn't a stranger to fitness.
    in the last few years I have been increasing my mileage up to 55-70 per week and have got down to 2:55.
  • For my first marathon I averaged 29mpw and finished in 3:30, but this was well below what I considered to be my potential at the time.  The race experience was quite unpleasant as well.
  • Yes, low mileage is fine, if you want to just complete a marathon and you do not care about finish time. No, low mileage is inadequate, if you want to run a fast time, qualify for Boston or win your age group. 
  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    Why would anyone want to!? What's the point? You know, you don't HAVE to run marathons, don't you. 
  • Low mileage = poor performance.  Thought I would get away with 35ish miles a week, did I hell.

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