Amby Burfoot’s 10 Tips for Marathon Training

I’ve been a long time reader of Runner’s World and always find their articles informative and valuable. The marathon isn’t for everyone, but if you do decided to train for one, these 10 tips from Amby Burfoot will help you do it right.

“Three weeks before last spring’s London marathon, I received an e-mail from a friend who’s an ophthalmologist (smart, scientific, precise) and a very talented marathoner. He was concerned about Ryan Hall’s just-posted blog at runnersworld.com. Hall described a long, fast-finishing 26-mile workout. “Don’t you think that’s a mistake?” my friend asked me. “He won’t be fully recovered in time for the marathon.”

Three weeks later, Hall ran 2:08:24 at London, and my friend e-mailed again. “I guess I was wrong,” he said. No, not wrong, I replied. We simply don’t know whether Hall’s success was specific to him or could be extended to other runners. This point was affirmed several months ago by an exciting new study in the International Journal of Sport Physiology and Performance. In his research project, running coach and exercise physiology Ph.D. student Jason Karp asked 93 U.S. elite marathoners how they trained. All of them had qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials by running at least 2:22 (the men) or 2:48 (the women). Karp was hoping to find many universal themes. He didn’t.

Sure, the elites all ran a lot, from 40 to 125 weekly miles, and more than 70 percent of their marathon training was at a relaxed pace. Beyond that, Karp was forced to conclude, “Among U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers, there is no consensus as to how to prepare for the marathon.”

What? No consensus? Well, things aren’t that bad. While marathon training hasn’t been studied extensively, millions of runners have managed to go the distance, some of them at a sub-five-minute clip. And runners incessantly exchange their tales of success and failure. When I look at the accumulated science and shared knowledge of marathon training, these overarching principles emerge. Continued…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.