Women Jogging on Pier above Scenic Lake

Want this fall’s race to be your best ever? Well, you’ve got to work and now’s the time to do it.

Allowing enough time to properly prepare for an upcoming race is essential– especially when it comes to the marathon. Those targeting a fall marathon should very soon be thinking ahead and counting down the training weeks until race day.

RELATED: Train for your first or fast ever half- or marathon with our Training Plans

Where do I start?

For most runners, but especially newer ones, a marathon training plan will begin with four to six weeks of aerobic base building. What exactly is that? Thinks weeks of mostly easy running to gradually increase mileage and toss in an occasional (one to two times per week) addition of strides or hill sprints.

Man jogging on the road

Progressing to phase two

The next step is your “strength” phase of three to four weeks which include hill repeats and tempo runs. A “speed” phase lasting another three to four weeks introduces faster paced intervals of 800m to thee kilometres. Runners aiming for the marathon should run those at threshold pace or faster.

Topping it off

Lastly, the final three to four weeks should introduce marathon race pace tempo or intervals to get used to running at goal pace. After that you’re into the taper. That two to three weeks allows the body (and mind) to rest and recover so it’s in shape for your best performance.

RELATED: Training tips: Build your own plan

Most runners should aim to dedicate at least 16 weeks to marathon training. More experienced runners and those already logging a good amount of mileage (at least 25 to 50K a week) should expect to commit eight to 12 weeks of specific marathon training.

Still need a goal? The following is a list of some of the most popular fall marathons in Canada and the United States. Running your best ever marathon means taking the time to properly train and prepare. Use the dates on this guide to know when you need to start training:

New York City Marathon time lapse

Race Day: September 25th (14 weeks away)

Start training: On or before July 3rd

Berlin Marathon

Marathon Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll de Montreal

Race Day: October 9th (16 weeks away)

Start training: On or before July 17th

Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Chicago Marathon

BMO Okanagan Marathon

Race Day: October 16 (17 weeks away)

Start training: On or before July 24th

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Prince Edward Island Marathon

Race Day: October 30 (19 weeks away)

Start training: On or before August 7th 

Niagara Falls International Marathon

Race Day: November 6th (20 weeks away)

Start training: On or before August 14th

Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon

New York City Marathon

Race Day: November 20th (23 weeks away)

Start training: On or before August 28th

Philadelphia Marathon

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