Is 40 Miles a Week Enough for Marathon Training?

For beginners, 40 miles per week is a long way to run and avoid injury.

Still, for more experienced runners, additional mileage may be necessary to build the endurance and strength needed for a successful marathon.

The Importance of Mileage in Marathon Training

As someone who has trained for multiple marathons, I can attest to the importance of mileage in marathon training.

The number of miles you run per week can significantly impact your performance on race day. In this section, I will discuss how mileage affects performance and the risks of low mileage.

How Mileage Affects Performance

Increasing your weekly mileage is one of the most effective ways to improve your marathon performance.

Running more miles each week helps build endurance, which is crucial for a marathon. Endurance is the ability to sustain physical activity for an extended period without fatigue.

By running more miles, you increase your body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently and delay the onset of fatigue.

Additionally, running more miles can help you to develop mental toughness. The marathon is challenging and requires mental strength to push through difficult moments.

By running more miles, you become more comfortable with discomfort and better equipped to handle the mental challenges of the marathon.

The Risks of Insufficient Mileage

While running more miles can be beneficial, increasing your mileage gradually and safely is essential.

Low mileage can lead to various issues, including injury and burnout. In addition, if you don’t give your body enough time to adapt to the increased mileage, you may have aches and pains that prevent you from running.

Additionally, if you push yourself too hard, you may become burned out and lose your motivation to train.

It’s also important to note that everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Some runners may be able to handle high mileage without issue, while others may need to stick to lower mileage to avoid injury or burnout. So again, listening to your body and adjusting your training plan is essential.

Factors that Affect the Adequacy of 40 Miles a Week

Experience Level

As a runner, your experience level significantly influences whether 40 miles a week is enough for marathon training.

If you are a beginner, 40 miles a week is too much, and you should start with lower mileage.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced runner, you may need more than 40 miles a week, and you may need to increase your mileage to meet your training goals.

Training Goals

Your training goals also determine whether 40 miles a week is sufficient for marathon training. If you are training to finish the marathon, 40 miles a week can be adequate.

However, if you are training to improve your time or qualify for a race, you may need to increase your mileage to meet your goals.

Individual Physiology

Each individual’s physiology is different, and it can affect the adequacy of 40 miles a week for marathon training.

Factors such as age, weight, gender, and overall health condition can impact your ability to train 40 miles a week. Therefore, listening to your body and adjusting your training is essential.

Training Schedule

Your training schedule is also crucial in determining whether 40 miles a week is enough for marathon training. It can be challenging to fit in more miles if you have a busy schedule.

In this case, 40 miles a week can be enough to prepare for a marathon. However, if you have more time to train, consider increasing your mileage to meet your goals.

Alternatives to 40 Miles a Week

Increasing Mileage

While 40 miles a week is a respectable amount of mileage, some runners may need to increase their weekly mileage to achieve their marathon goals.

Gradually increasing mileage is critical to avoiding injury and burnout. Adding an extra mile or two to each run every other week is an excellent way to increase mileage without overdoing it.

For example, if you run four times a week for 10 miles each run, you can add an extra mile to each run every other week until you reach your desired mileage.

Another way to increase mileage is to add a long run. Long runs are essential for building endurance and preparing for the demands of a marathon. I recommend adding 1-2 miles to your long run every other week until you reach your desired mileage.

It is important to note that long runs should be at most 30% of your weekly mileage to avoid injury.

Incorporating Cross-Training

Adding cross-training to your marathon training plan is a great way to build strength and prevent injury.

Cross-training can include activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga. These activities can help build cardiovascular endurance, improve flexibility, and strengthen muscles not used as much during running.

One popular cross-training activity is strength training. Strength training can help build muscle and improve overall fitness.

Adding 1-2 days of strength training to your weekly routine. Focus on exercises that target the legs, core, and upper body.

Adding Intensity

Adding intensity to your training plan can help improve speed and endurance. Intensity can include hill repeats, tempo runs, and speed work. Adding 1-2 days of intensive training to your weekly routine.

It is important to note that adding intensity should be done gradually to avoid injury.

Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the length and intensity of each interval. It is also essential to include a proper warm-up and cool-down to prevent injury.

Final Thoughts

My research and experience show that running 40 miles per week can be enough for successful marathon training. Still, it depends on fitness level, experience, and goals.

Starting with lower weekly mileage and gradually increasing it over time is recommended for beginners.

Intermediate and advanced runners can benefit from running more miles per week, but they should also focus on quality over quantity.

It’s important to note that running a marathon is a challenging and demanding activity that requires proper preparation, dedication, and discipline. Simply running a certain number of miles per week doesn’t guarantee success.

You also need to incorporate other aspects of training, such as strength training, cross-training, rest and recovery, nutrition, and hydration.

Some runners may find that running more than 40 miles per week works better, while others may find that running less works better.

The key is to find what works best for your body, schedule, and lifestyle, listen to your body’s signals, and adjust your training accordingly.

In conclusion, 40 miles per week can be a good starting point for marathon training, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Personalizing your training plan based on your needs and goals is essential, as seeking advice from experienced runners, coaches, and healthcare professionals if needed.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.