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Training sessions that will improve my Marathon time

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Improving your marathon time requires a well-structured training plan that includes a variety of workouts to build endurance, strength, and speed. Here are some training sessions to incorporate into your marathon training:

Long Runs:

  • Long runs are the foundation of marathon training. Gradually increase the distance of your long runs, peaking at or near the marathon distance to build endurance.

Tempo Runs:

  • Tempo runs are sustained efforts at a comfortably hard pace, slightly slower than marathon race pace. These improve your lactate threshold and your ability to maintain a challenging pace over a long distance.

Interval Training:

  • Incorporate interval workouts to improve your speed and aerobic capacity. Intervals can vary in length, from 400 meters to 1600 meters, and should be run at a pace faster than your marathon pace.

Progression Runs:

  • Start your run at a slow, easy pace and gradually increase your speed throughout the run until you finish at a pace faster than your marathon goal pace.

Hill Repeats:

  • Hill workouts help build leg strength and running power. Find a hill with a moderate incline and run hard uphill for a specific distance or time, then recover on the way down. Repeat this several times.

Fartlek Runs:

  • Fartlek training involves unstructured speed play. During a run, vary your pace by sprinting for a certain distance or time and then recovering at an easy pace.

Race-Specific Workouts:

  • Practice running at your goal marathon pace or slightly faster during specific workouts to get comfortable with your target race pace.

Yasso 800s:

  • Similar to the 800m workout for the 10km and half marathon, Yasso 800s involve running 800 meters at a pace that corresponds to your goal marathon time.

Recovery Runs:

  • Incorporate easy, slow runs into your training plan for recovery and to help build your aerobic base.


  • Include activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training to improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury.

Strength Training:

  • Include strength exercises to improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on core, leg, and upper body strength.

Rest Days:

  • Ensure you have scheduled rest days in your training plan to allow your body to recover.

Mental Training:

  • Work on your mental toughness through visualization, positive self-talk, and race strategy planning.

Back-to-Back Long Runs:

  • Occasionally, schedule long runs on consecutive days to simulate marathon fatigue and enhance your ability to run on tired legs.

Marathon Pace Work:

  • Run a portion of your long runs at your goal marathon pace to get used to maintaining that speed during the race.


  • In the weeks leading up to your marathon, gradually reduce the volume and intensity of your training to ensure you're well-rested on race day.

Race Simulation:

  • Run a few shorter races or time trials during your training to practice race-day routines and gauge your fitness.

Remember to adapt these sessions to your specific needs, and follow a structured training plan that gradually increases intensity and volume. Consult with a coach or experienced runners to get personalized guidance and adjust your training plan as needed. Proper nutrition and recovery are also key components of marathon training.

Matt Fox is the Head Coach at the Sweat Elite Coaching Academy and the Founder of Sweat Elite. Matt is a 2:20 Marathoner with over 18 years of training, racing and coaching experience.


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