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5k Marathon Training. Treat it With Respect and You Will Be Allright.

5k marathon trainingIs it possible to combine 5k marathon training ? Because of my background as a 5k /5000 meter runner I am often asked if the 5k and marathon training/10k work is possible to combine. Successfully.

Of course it is.

It is actually elements that should be part of the same kind of plan.

But if you want maximum results in your marathon, a good suggestion is to focus most on it in the beginning of the marathon training schedule.

When you are within 12 weeks of the marathon you should not be able to run your best 5 k.

  • Not if you are a marathon pro.
  • Not if you are a beginner marathon runner.

If you do your fastest 5k right before a marathon, the marathon training program has probably not been specific enough.

Or you are simply in the running form of your life.

Partially Conflicting Energy Systems, the 5k and the Marathon..

Because the marathon is such a special event, it involves partially conflicting dominating energy systems as compared to the 5k.

To run your best 5k it is an absolute necessity to have some speed work in there.

And at the same time a need to stay away from the really, really longer hard stuff the weeks before a peak.

To run your best marathon you need to have some of the longer stuff in there, within those last weeks before the race.

Again it is a matter of knowing

  • When,
  • Why,
  • And how much work

Ok, lets examine these aspects a little bit.

And how the different parts of the training cycle can help you "determine" the specific training.

First Part of the Marathon Program : Improve Your 5k.

For the first part of the marathon training, to improve your 5k to the fullest is actually a very good plan.

  • Say your marathon program goes over 20 weeks.

A model to aim for may look like something like this :

The first 4-5 weeks of good 5k training with just touches of marathon runs will benefit you later in the training.

As you approach more marathon-specific runs.

In the next part of the marathon plan your goal would be to improve the 10k and half marathon time.

You move over to half marathon training/10 k training with a touch of marathon in it. In the 10k section on this webpage you can read more about that.

Typically this is the time when your 5k will be at the best. Which is about 6-10 weeks into a 20 week marathon training schedule.

So if you wish to set a personal record 5k. Do it in this period.

Then, after the two parts of 5k training and half marathon/10k training you gradually get just enough of the marathon specific stuff in there.

For the last trainining period.

That is the trick.

It is simple. But it usually works extremely good for the overall performance.

The Key is Combination of 5k Endurance Type Training with the Marathon Work.

That was the general periodization. But what kind of 5k work to do ?

The key, if you wish to combine 5k with marathon training is to have the endurance-based-approach to the 5k

Otherwise you may injure yourself. Speed work and marathon work combined is often not a very promising combination.

See, the problem with 5k specific speed training in combination with marathon training is what marathon training is : repeats.

Lots of repeats.

Over and over and over again.

To deal with the long demands of the marathon race.

Speed Work = Increase in Muscle Tone = Increased Risk of Injuries

The speed work for a 5k increases the muscle tone, the tension, which means you do get more power but you also get a shorter and less elastic muscle if done too hard.

And a short and less elastic muscle is a very bad combination with long repeats.

So the advice here ?

As much as possible, try and avoid the specific 5k speed training in the marathon program.

Which means avoidance of,

  • faster training under 1 minute pr repeat in time run.
  • and long recoveries, very hard effort.

Go for periods of 5k training early in the training cycle and aim for more specific marathon training at least the last 10 weeks.

At that time, there is no need to improve your 5k training anymore for maximum marathon results.

By that time, the only important thing is to get the marathon-highly-specific-workouts right.

I wish you good luck with combining 5k marathon training !

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