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I will be participating in a marathon in next 12 weeks. I want to know how can I improve my stamina so that I can run for longer distances.

Also, I want to know what diet plans should I follow in order to assist the same? I've increased my protein intake and gymming for 6 days a week. On three days I'm running for 3-4 miles, but I am not satisfied. What other primitives can I follow in order to achieve my goal? Will meditation help in this regard?

And what accessories can I opt for to assist me in achieving my goal? I mean what type of shoes and other gears for improved performance. And, how can I keep track of my daily progress.

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Whatever training plan you decide to try, you should remember to not try to "make-up" a missed long run by cramming it into the remaining schedule. If you miss a long run, you need to re-plan how you're going to spend your remaining time. Ideally, your plan has enough buffer to account for some changes. –  Bernard Chen Jul 30 '12 at 19:55
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There is a high risk of injury but it is possible. You want to get a 20 mile training run about 3 weeks before the marathon, so you have to work up your long run to 20. You can stick to 3 days a week of running, but make sure you do a long run. Below is a plan that gradually increases your long run each week. I included a floating safety week just in case you are out of town or you have to take a week off. This is a high risk plan so it is likely you will have to take off a week to nurse an injury. Do two runs during the week, and make sure you get your long run in on the weekend.

Week 1: 6
Week 2: 8
Week 3: 10
Week 4: 12
Week 5: 13
Week 6: 15
Week 7: 17
Week 8: (safety)
Week 9: 20
Week 10: 10
Week 11: 8
Week 12: 26.2

Just to let you know, I tried doing a similar high ramp up plan to this several years ago. It was going fine for a while, but I got a knee injury in my 17 mile run, which took several months to fully recover from. So be fully aware of the high risk of this plan and don't be afaid to abandon it so you don't spend six months getting back to normal.

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Good advice, but there is so much here that needs more info, and there is so much risk (Which you declare) that I would be concerned with this attempt in general. –  geoffc Jul 26 '12 at 17:07
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I'm actually worried that this was accepted as an answer. I give 5:1 that the OP is back in a few weeks asking how to rehab some kind of injury. –  JohnP Jul 27 '12 at 20:27
    
Thanks JohnP, I added additional warnings and agree that for me, 5:1 sounds about right. Some people are less injury prone, so I wanted to answer the question rather than just say it can't be done. –  James Lawruk Jul 30 '12 at 14:43
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Get used to the idea of running slow. If you try and extend your 3-4 mile pace to marathon distance in 12 weeks you're begging for injury (as has indeed been amply stated).

If you slow down about 20%, or even more, there's much less likelihood of injury, but it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline to run slower than you want to.

Good luck, but please be careful.

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If your base is 3-4 miles, and you intend to run a marathon in 12 weeks, you are very likely to either hurt yourself, or fail to succeed.

While it is possible you can do it, you are starting from a very low volume point. I would suggest considering training more to build up a stronger base before considering a marathon.

Usually the plan is 10% improvement a week, on a 4-5 week schedule of

increase    
   increase
      increase
        increase    
    down week
      increase
        increase
          increase
            increase
        down week

and so on. That is you slowly increase volume each week for 3-4 weeks, then drop back for a rest week for recovery, but not all the way back to nothing, and thus you start back building from a higher point each time.

Your problem is you are starting at 4 miles, and you want to get to the point where you run 18-20 miles in training in a single run. Doing this in 12 weeks will be problematic, and will require some big jumps in distance which your body may not be able to handle (thus the concern about injury).

Of course your mileage may vary.

The more I think about this, the more I would suggest if you are determined, to pick a marathon a bit later in the year. There are races almost every single weekend of the year in North America. Even in the fall season, they start in September and run till December for big name races. (Toronto has an early September one, Chicago/Cincy/DC are in October. November is NYC/Philly, and then there are some in December as well, even Jan for Disney and when is Vegas again?)

This is really risky. If you do go ahead, be prepared for injuries, and be willing to bail on the goal race, as it will just hurt you if you push through the injuries.

As for the rest of the questions:

Gear: Get the proper shoes. Find a reputable running store (Not Footlocker, or big name shoe chain. You want a running store. Running Room in Canada, JackRabbits in NYC, or some other style store). If they do not watch you run on a treadmill, or watch you walk a straight line, or make you balance on one foot to see which way your foot falls, walk away. (All those are valid methods).

Get the proper clothes: It is summer, it is hot in most of the northern hemisphere. Get wicking clothes, they work, and make a huge difference.

I like a water bottle, on a bottle carrier. Others prefer the silly smaller bottles on Fuel Belts, whatever. On the long summer runs, you need to carry (Or stash ahead of time on your route) water and drink it.

Sites like Mapmyrun.com are excellent at integrating with the GPS in your phone to track where you ran, show you a map, and store for later review. Or else simply map it later on Google Map or GMaps Pedometer. Or else get a GPS watch and upload the save sets to some mapping site.

Otherwise this is all about teaching your legs to run (muscles) and your heart/lungs to handle the demand (Cardio). There are no short cuts around those two things. The best way to train to run long distance, is to run long distance. TANSTAAFL. Alas.

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I would add that if you are absolutely determined to do the marathon, you can take a look at Galloway's run/walk methodology. I absolutely agree that the likelihood of injury/failure is still high and that I also would wait until you have the training base, but the run/walk might give you at least a chance. –  JohnP Jul 26 '12 at 15:06
    
@JohnP I personally have been doing the Run/Walk thing since I started and swear by it, but even then 12 weeks is SO very tight. It could be this is a 18 year old young feller, in perfect shape, who can do it. Or it could be a 30 year person whose mind is writing cheques his body may not be able to cash. Tricky. –  geoffc Jul 26 '12 at 17:06
    
I absolutely and totally agree. If the OP is determined to do it, I want him to at least know the "safest" way to attempt something risky, if that makes sense. :D –  JohnP Jul 27 '12 at 0:32
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@JohnP Point taken, alas I fear this may end poorly. –  geoffc Jul 27 '12 at 2:43
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