Is Running 40 Miles A Week Enough To Successfully Train For A Marathon?

I found this question asked on Quora last week and thought it was a great question. A lot of runners who haven’t run a marathon before will probably be thinking along a similar line where they would like to know what specific mileage they need to hit to reach their marathon goal.

Well the simple answer is, running 40 miles (just over 64 kilometers) a week is more than enough to get you ready for a marathon, but it’s a lot more complicated than simply running 40 miles a week. That’s the beauty of this question and hopefully by unpacking things a little further I can get you more comfortable with the decision of running a marathon in your near future.

Do You Have Enough Time To Train

Before you enter a marathon, you need to make sure you actually have a bit of fitness and endurance behind you first. I always tell people they need to be running regular, at least three times a week, for between six and twelve months. With this training behind you, you can then look to dedicate twelve to sixteen weeks for your marathon training plan to get ready for you goal race.

So if your starting from the couch, you probably need to give yourself eight to ten months before you should be doing your marathon. As well, if it has been a few years since you have done any physical activity, check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy and ready to take on a running training plan.

Set A Realistic Goal

If this is your first marathon, all you might want to do is finish and this is a great approach and a perfect goal to set. Some people may be aiming to complete their marathon in a specific time and just remember to set your goals realistically. Even if you have a bit of running experience, be a little conservative with your goal time and once you have one race under your belt, maybe then look to set a more challenging goal time.

If you are planning on running 40 miles a week, this could also impact the goals you are setting. Experienced runners might be hitting close to 100 miles a week, with professional runners running more during their peak training weeks. The extra distance you cover in training, if performed correctly can lead to a faster marathon time.

Use Your 40 Miles A Week Wisely

We mentioned earlier, you should be giving yourself twelve to sixteen weeks to get ready for your marathon. You could simply do four 10 mile (16 kilometer) training runs a week. If you do this consistently, you will definitely be ready to run your marathon and should be ready to run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers). Even though you are only running a small portion of your race, the fatigue you accumulate over the weeks will build up, allowing you to improve your endurance over time. Just make sure you do take a few days off before your race day to ensure you are fresh for your race.

Running 10 miles, four times a week is not the best approach to taking on your training as most marathon training plans will build up slowly, incorporating a weekly long run, as well as other race specific training sessions, all of which should fit in with your 40 miles a week.

There are some newer approaches that can have you ready for your marathon with even less than 40 miles. They use the latest in sports science research to have you training efficiently as possible.

The first you should look at is the The 9 Mile Marathon Training Plan that uses heart rate to have you build up over a number of weeks to only be doing three 9 mile training sessions as you approach your race date.

Another training method you might also want to look at is the Run Less Run Faster approach which is similar but uses three specific training runs a week to build different aspects of your marathon run. The training is a lot more difficult than other plans but aims to prepare you for a faster race time.

Summing Up

  • Give yourself plenty of time.
  • Set yourself a realistic goal.
  • Organise your time, so you can run consistently and be prepared for race day.

Check out my new book “Stop Overthinking And Start Running” for more information on how to embrace physical activity and change your life, one run at a time.

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Vince Sesto is a DevOps Engineer, Endurance Athlete, Coach and Author. One of his passion’s in life is endurance sports as both an athlete, coach and author. He is a certified running and triathlon coach with a goal to inspire people through his coaching and competition and to encourage people to live active and healthy lives.

His motto in life is, “I am trying to change the world, one run at a time”.




Open Water is a small magazine dedicated to open water swimming. Although there are a few mentions of competitions and races, the magazine’s main purpose is to capture the essence of adventure and fun that open water swimming can offer.

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Vince Sesto

Vince Sesto

Vincent Sesto is a DevOps Engineer, Endurance Athlete, Coach and Author. One of his passion’s in life is endurance sports as both an athlete, coach and author.

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