How to Train for a Marathon: Portland Edition

We reached out to Eric Dettman, who teaches coaches cross country and track & field at Lincoln High School, for advice on how to prepare for a marathon.

Here’s what Eric told us:

What’s your favorite trail or running route in Portland?

The Leif Erickson Trail in Forest Park for a long run or The Fairmont Loop in the West Hills for a hard tempo run. The waterfront path and the Springwater Corridor are really nice, too. 

What running/training groups do you recommend for beginners?

Red Lizard, Portland Running Company, and Athena.

What are your training tips?

1. Keep a training log. This will help you to see your progression from day one until race day. It’s particularly helpful for beginning runners to build confidence as you see your fitness improve over time.

2. Increase mileage by only 10 percent each week. This helps to reduce risk of injury and allows your body to adjust to harder training and workouts.

3. Long runs should be around 20 percent of your weekly mileage. Add up your goal mileage for the upcoming week, and plan to have your long run be about 20 to 22 percent of that total mileage.  

Long runs are important, especially for marathons, as they help build aerobic capacity and endurance.

4. Reduce your weekly mileage every four weeks. This will help the body recover and prevent future injuries.

5. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some speed work into your training. Most marathoners think they just need to run a ton of slow miles, but adding some speed work (like 200-meter repeats) into your training is helpful to improve running economy and make your goal marathon pace feel easy.

6. New runners should build slowly. Find the marathon of your choice and build fitness slowly.  Don’t look at that end date as the daunting task ahead, but focus on each week individually as you gain fitness.

7. On race day, trust your training. Your best friend and your worst enemy on race day are the same thing: your mind.

Trust the work that you’ve done up to that point and believe that you can hit your goal time. You’ve put in the work; now’s the time to get after it!

Where’s your favorite place for a post-run brunch?

Leaky Roof in Goose Hollow. The fried chicken benedict is the perfect meal after a long run.