Hi Hayley,

I'm thinking of signing up for a full marathon in May of next year. My goal is to finish in under 4:30. What's the least amount of running I can get away with to reach this goal? A bit about me: I'm in fairly good shape. I currently run 2-4 times a week (mostly 30-40 minute HIIT workouts on the treadmill), I will sometimes (but very, very rarely) go out for a long run - maybe up to 15-20km), spin a couple times a week, lift weights a couple times a week, and go to various boot camps 2-3 times a week. I get bored easily so I change up my routine quite often. I do try to include yoga and Pilates once in a while. I've run several half marathons with little to no "traditional" training. Meaning, I've never followed a traditional running program nor have I joined a running group (I prefer to exercise solo). I'm neither fast nor slow. My half marathon times have always been between 2:00-2:10. I've looked up several full marathon training guides and there is just so much...running. HA! I'm wondering if there is a program that will allow me to continue most of my other training (so spinning, weight lifting, HIIT workouts, and boot camps) but will include just enough running to prep me for a full marathon?



Running a full marathon is a whole new ball game from running a half marathon and although you may have got away with minimal training for the 21.1 km distance, running 42.2 will not be as forgiving.

Why do you want to run a marathon?  Because running a marathon is so much more than the distance between the start and finish line. The marathon day itself is your party day; it is your day to celebrate all of the sacrifices that you have made to get to race day morning and it is your time to reflect on how far you have come, as well as how much you have grown as a person. It is about the friends you make along the journey. It is all the times you wanted to give up but continued to push. A marathon is the rainy Sunday mornings when you would rather roll over and go back to sleep but somehow convince yourself to get up, tie up your shoes and hit the pavement. It is the sore muscles, blistered feet and lost toenails.  It is the one less glass of wine you have with your friends because you have a big run the next day. It is the 400m, 800m and 1600m track intervals that you do time and time again in hopes of shaving mere seconds off of your personal best. It is the excitement you feel when you go to pick up your race bib because you know, more than anyone, that you have earned it. It is standing on the start line with thousands of other runners who have sacrificed just as much as you have to get there, and it is the smile on your face when you cross the finish line because you just accomplished what you set out to do after weeks of dedicated training.

I would be disrespecting a race, a race of any distance, as well as everyone standing on a start line, if I said you can do minimal training for a marathon. Yes, some people have different lifestyles and can dedicate more time than others to their goal, but it is not because others are trying to do as little as possible to cross the finish line, they are doing the best that they can do based on everything else that is going on in their life. A busy mother of two may have less time than myself, for example, to train for a race but the effort she is putting in is no less than the effort I am putting in. It is all relative. Her best is just as worthy as mine.

If you really want to run a marathon, there is no option of slacking. You don’t get to skip workouts. You will need to run 4, if not 5, days a week for 16 weeks. Spin classes offer great cross training and yes, you will still have time to do yoga and Pilates once a week, or a HIIT workout when you are up to it, and hitting the gym to stay strong and avoid injuries is highly recommended, but your focus for your training needs to be on the race.

You want to arrive at the start line knowing that you did everything that you could possibly do to get there in the best shape that you can possibly be in, or the 4 to 5 hours that you will spend out on the course will be meaningless.