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Returning to the Marathon

Updated: May 14

There can be many reasons to take some time away from the marathon, but there are just as many - if not more - reasons to return to it. If you, like many people, find yourself coming back to the marathon after some time away, this article is for you.

First off, congrats on the decision to return to the marathon distance. It is a big goal, and big goals require big changes in your life. Sometimes you need that big challenge to push yourself to return to a higher level of fitness. It will be an exciting journey, and probably a very different one from the last marathon you ran. Having been away from the distance for a while can also be a little intimidating, so I’m here to help provide some guidance.

The first step is to devise a plan in order to progress gradually back to the fitness you will need to complete the marathon. Assuming that you have a few months until the marathon, it may be helpful to divide up the time into at least two training blocks. This will help keep you focused on the week-to-week progress. If your goal race is too far away, it can be too easy to miss days or lose focus because the goal seems far in the distance. So having at least one other preliminary goal race, like a half marathon or other “benchmark event”, will both increase your motivation to get going now, and also give you an opportunity to assess your progress mid-way through the training.

If we divide your training into these two training blocks, the focus of the first block should be more on general fitness, whereas the second block should be focused on specific (i.e. marathon) fitness. During the first block, gradually increasing your volume and frequency of running will be the primary goal. The exact amount of running you are targeting depends on your running experience and goals, but as a rule of thumb, you should be accustomed to running most days of the week before beginning a marathon training program

This article originally appeared in the The Connection, TCM's weekly e-newsletter. Subscribe here. Find more Motion Expert content here.

Chris Lundstrom, PhD, is a running coach and exercise scientist who specializes in endurance exercise performance. He is one of the team of Motion Experts TCM has gathered to help its subscribers and participants get the most out of their running. He coaches the Minnesota Distance Elite team and their squad of national class runners, including Olympian Dakotah Lindwurm. He teaches in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, and also works with novice and high school runners. Follow and support MDE on their website: and on Instagram: @minnesotadistanceelite.


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