RW Winter Maintenance Plan (6 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

This six-week program will keep you fit through the dark days of winter so that when it's time to start training for your target race, you'll be fit, fresh, and ready to start strong. Each week includes two easy runs, a long run to preserve your endurance, and one session of faster running to keep your fitness sharp. Three days are reserved for rest or cross-training. Throughout the program, you'll get tips on cross-training, running in cold and snowy conditions, plus advice how to maintain your healthy eating habits and fend-off holiday weight gain.

Sample Day 2
5mi
6 Miles Easy

Run six miles at a comfortable, conversational pace, about 45 seconds per mile slower than goal race pace. When running on ice or snow, shorten your stride to prevent slipping and falling. You'll get better traction on snow that's been packed down (fresh powder can cover up ice patches). Run on the street if it's been plowed (as long as it's safe from traffic), and watch out for black ice. Run on the sidewalk if it's clear of ice.

Sample Day 3
5mi
Tempo Run

1-mile warmup 3 miles at tempo pace 1-mile cooldown Tempo runs teach your body to run stronger for longer before fatiguing. By regularly including tempo runs in your training schedule, you will increase the speed that you can run before lactic acid begins to accumulate and slow you down. Tempo pace should feel comfortably hard. Tempo pace is typically about 20 to 45 seconds slower than 5K pace. To figure out your tempo pace, plug in a recent race time to our training calculator at runnersworld.com/trainingcalculator.

Sample Day 5
5mi
5 Miles Easy

Run five miles at a comfortable, conversational pace, about 45 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace. When you're hitting the treadmill for the first time in a while, make sure to build up gradually. Be sure to run at a pace that you can comfortably sustain. This may take some extra effort. When you're on the road and start to tire, you naturally slow down. But on a treadmill, the belt is moving you, so you may overstride to keep up with it when you're tired, which can put more stress on your joints. It's best to start with 30 to 40 minutes and add 10 minutes per workout. Vary the pace and elevation to break up the monotony. And make sure to keep running some miles on the road, so you stay accustomed to coping with the unique challenges of running outside, like wind resistance and uneven surfaces.

Sample Day 7
10mi
10 Miles LSD

Run 10 miles at your usual long-run pace, which should be about 45 seconds slower than goal marathon pace. These long, slow distance runs will help you preserve your endurance and keep you accustomed to running for up to two hours at a time, as you'll do during formal marathon and half marathon training. You can stay warm and dry no matter how low the temperature drops. Dress in thin, light, wick-away layers that you can add or take off to suit your temperature. Make sure you have running gear that blocks the wind and base layers that wick sweat away from your skin; don't go out without gloves, mittens, and a hat or headband to cover your head. Wear a scarf or a ski mask to warm up the cold air so it doesn't burn your lungs. Wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry. Consider investing in some gaiters to keep snow out of your shoes. To avoid overheating, dress for 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. You should feel slightly chilled when you walk outside. As you warm up and your body temperature starts to increase, you'll feel better. Use the Runner's World 'What to Wear' tool (runnersworld.com/what-to-wear) to help decide what to wear in all kinds of conditions. After your run, be sure to change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible. Damp clothes increase heat loss.

Sample Day 9
6mi
6 Miles Easy

Run six miles at a comfortable, conversational pace, about 45 seconds per mile slower than marathon goal pace. Since much of winter training takes place in dark and cold conditions, and you have to negotiate tricky footing, achieving a target pace can be extra challenging. Try measuring your effort level by feel rather than by pace. That way, your watch won't push you to go faster than conditions allow.

Sample Day 10
5mi
Mile Repeats

1-mile warmup 2 x 1-mile at 10K pace with 800-meter recover jog 1-mile cooldown Mile repeats are helpful because they are short enough to run fast and long enough to build stamina. Typically, they're done at 10K pace, which is about 25 seconds slower than 5K pace. To find your 10K pace, use our training calculator at runnersworld.com/trainingcalculator.

Sample Day 12
6mi
6 Miles Easy

Run six miles at a comfortable, conversational pace, about 45 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace. If you run during dark hours, wear a reflective vest, a headlamp, or flashing lights so you're seen in traffic. In snowy weather, wear bright clothing. Run with ID, just in case. Stay alert and assume that drivers don't see you. Be especially cautious around cars with dew, snow, or ice on their windshields. Aim to run in an area of town where there are streetlights.