Are you gearing up for the Tokyo Marathon? Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or a first-timer, this guide has got you covered.

Preparing for the Tokyo Marathon requires dedication and a well-thought-out approach. Depending on your fitness level, expect to dedicate around 16-20 weeks, which translates to roughly four to five months, to preparing for the marathon.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into all the necessary aspects to help you train for the Tokyo Marathon and finish with strength and determination. 

During the initial training phase, the primary focus is on laying a strong foundation and maintaining a consistent running routine for a period of 4 to 8 weeks. 

As you approach the crucial 12-week mark before the race (typically around December), it’s time to start your customized Tokyo Marathon training plan.

While the standard training timeline might not be feasible for everyone due to various commitments, there are alternative training options to consider. Depending on your availability and level of experience, you can choose between a 48-week, 36-week, or a minimum 12-week training plan.

For seasoned runners with specific time goals in mind, it is advisable to commence the specialized training program 12 weeks before the marathon to optimize your preparation.

How Many Training Sessions Should You Do Per Week In Preparation For The Tokyo Marathon?

The number of training sessions you should aim for per week can vary depending on your experience level, overall fitness, and individual goals. 

However, a general guideline is to aim for around three to five runs per week for marathon preparation.

For beginners or those new to long-distance running, starting with three runs per week can be a reasonable approach. 

As you progress and build up your endurance, you can gradually increase the frequency to four or five runs per week. 

It’s important to strike a balance between training and allowing your body enough time to rest and recover.

Remember that consistency is key, so it’s crucial to find a manageable schedule that you can maintain throughout your training period. 

Additionally, listen to your body and adjust the frequency of your training sessions based on how you feel and any signs of overtraining or fatigue.

What you do leading up to the Tokyo Marathon will either set you up for success or failure…
Ensure your success with 12 weeks of access to the Coach Parry 42k Training Roadmap!

Which Sessions You Should Include In Your Tokyo Marathon Training

If you’re new to running, you might initially believe that training for a marathon simply involves running as many miles as you can. 

However, experienced marathon runners emphasize the importance of incorporating a variety of runs into your training plan.

Long Runs

Long runs are a fundamental element of your Tokyo Marathon preparation. 

They serve multiple crucial purposes, with their primary role being to enhance your endurance and aerobic capacity.

Engaging in long runs helps your muscles become more efficient at utilizing the necessary fuels required for longer distances. Additionally, they train your body to endure extended periods of activity.

Moreover, long runs offer a valuable opportunity to experiment with various nutrition strategies, helping you identify what works best for your digestive system.

It’s important to schedule your longest run 3-4 weeks before race day. This run is crucial for both mental and physical preparation for the Tokyo Marathon. 

It allows you to evaluate your readiness for the full marathon distance and builds the confidence and mental resilience required for the race day.

Speed Work

Speed work in your training regimen can significantly elevate your performance, but it’s crucial to do it correctly and in moderation.

At Coach Parry, we recommend that if you’re including speed work, it should account for no more than 20% of your total training load. This approach not only enhances your aerobic capacity but can also make your regular runs feel less demanding.

There are two common types of speed work: intervals and tempo runs.

Intervals: This entails a series of shorter, hard efforts followed by recovery. For instance, you might engage in 4 sets of 1-mile (1.6 km) intervals at a brisk pace, with 5 minutes of slow jogging, walking, or rest between each mile.

Tempo Runs: These are longer than intervals but shorter than long runs, typically spanning 4 to 10 miles (6.4 km – 16.1 km), depending on your training phase. 

Tempo runs involve maintaining a challenging yet sustainable pace, not at your maximum speed. They train both your body and mind to sustain a demanding effort over an extended period.

Before starting your speed work, ensure that you properly warm up and cool down. Begin with a few easy miles at the start of your workout, followed by some short strides or builds and coordination drills. 

This primes your body for the intense effort. A cool-down recovery run at the end of your speed work is also recommended.

Easy Runs

Easy training runs are a crucial component of your weekly running routine. When we talk about “EASY” runs, we usually have comfortable ones. These runs should be so relaxed that you can easily chat with a running buddy without feeling breathless.

In Coach Parry’s training plans, you’ll typically find 2 or 3 easy runs each week. These runs play a significant role in gradually increasing your weekly mileage gently and sustainably.

Hill Workouts

Hill repeats are structured running workouts that involve a firm effort while running uphill and then recovering while running downhill. 

In simpler terms, you select a specific hill segment and repeat running up it multiple times.

For each repetition, you run firmly uphill, testing your strength and endurance. Following this, you turn around and jog, run easily, or even walk downhill to catch your breath before beginning the next repetition.

During a hill repeat session, you choose a hill that matches your fitness level and training objectives, typically with a gradient of about 3-5%.

These workouts are excellent for gradually building your running strength, improving your fitness, enhancing your stamina, and ultimately boosting your overall running performance.

In this article we dive into the importance of hill repeats, we teach you how to calculate the gradient of a hill & provide a built-in gradient calculator.

Now, let’s discuss the 80/20 Rule in running, a crucial principle for effective training. The concept revolves around finding the right balance in your training intensity.

The 80/20 Rule

Popularised by Mat Fitzgerald, the 80/20 training approach suggests that roughly 80% of your training should be at a low intensity, with the remaining 20% or less dedicated to mixed higher-intensity sessions.

This balance is critical as it allows you to challenge yourself during intense workouts while providing your body with the necessary recovery time during easier runs.

However, it’s important to understand that implementing the 80/20 principle isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. Several factors play a role in determining your ideal training mix.

For instance, if you run approximately eight hours a week, following the 80/20 rule would entail dedicating about an hour and a half to high-intensity training. 

Also note that the 20% or in this case 90min, includes the total session time, so warm up, cool down, and recovery between intervals. It is not 90 minutes total of hard running.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to consider the type of high-intensity sessions you’re undertaking. Whether they involve speed workouts or hill sessions, they should include adequate recovery time, so it’s not a strict 80/20 split.

It’s essential to recognize that there can be exceptions to this rule based on individual circumstances.

Exceptions To The 80/20 Rule

It’s worth noting that certain individuals should consider adjusting their high-intensity training to make up only 10% of their total volume. 

This recommendation is particularly relevant for runners over 50, less experienced runners, those recovering from injuries, and individuals with physically demanding jobs that require prolonged periods of standing or movement.

For instance, if you belong to one of these categories, you might opt to incorporate a three-mile or five-kilometer time trial every other week as a challenging workout without allocating a significant portion of your training volume to high-intensity sessions.

The key is to find the right balance that aligns with your specific circumstances to ensure effective and successful training.

Include Strength Training And Cross-Training

While running forms the core of marathon training, integrating strength exercises and cross-training is equally vital.

Strength training aids in building muscles that can effectively support long-distance running, while cross-training introduces workout variety, preventing the overuse of specific muscle groups.

Moreover, strength training contributes to improving your running economy by 4%–6%, enabling you to cover more distance efficiently with less energy expenditure and delay the onset of fatigue.

Incorporating strength training into your regimen plays a significant role in injury prevention and performance enhancement.

Ideally, you should target 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week. 

Proper periodization of strength training is also crucial, balancing it with running training and complementing the overall training plan.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Related: The POWERFUL Hack Endurance Runners Use To Get Faster

During running, our bodies undergo the impact of striking the ground, resulting in eccentric contractions of our muscles.

Cross-training serves as an excellent method for developing endurance and aerobic capacity without subjecting the body to the same extent of eccentric contractions, thus reducing stress and the potential for injury.

Incorporating activities such as swimming, cycling, elliptical training, rowing, and yoga into your Tokyo Marathon training regimen can diversify your workouts and alleviate the repetitive stresses associated with running.

Don’t Forget To Up Your Hydration And Nutrition Game

Hydration and nutrition are pivotal in marathon training. It’s essential to ensure that you’re consuming enough to fuel your body, but not to the extent that it hinders your performance.

Similarly, maintaining proper hydration during your runs is crucial. Dehydration can result in fatigue and muscle cramps, significantly impacting your training and overall performance.

How To Fuel Your Training Runs

“Hitting the wall” or “bonking” is a common experience for many marathoners, often occurring around the 20-mile (32.2-km) mark. 

This phenomenon arises when the body’s glycogen stores, its primary energy source during a marathon, become depleted. As glycogen levels decrease, muscles begin to feel fatigued and burdensome.

To prevent hitting the wall, it’s crucial to fuel yourself during the race. While fueling won’t entirely replenish the depleted glycogen, it can help delay or alleviate the effects. Energy gels, fruits, or energy bars are effective options for providing the necessary carbohydrates.

For runs lasting over 2 hours, aim to consume approximately 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. 

However, it’s essential to experiment with different types of fuel during your training runs to determine what your stomach can tolerate best. This preparation will enable you to confidently fuel yourself on race day.

Here are some of the best ways to fuel for your long runs (so that you don’t hit the wall)

Rest And Recovery

Rest days hold as much significance as your training days during marathon preparation. Here’s why:

1. Recovery is Key: Rest days allow your body to absorb and adapt to the training you’ve undergone. Proper recovery is crucial for fully reaping the benefits of your hard work. It’s during rest that your body becomes stronger.

2. Injury Prevention: Rest days are essential for preventing injuries. They offer your muscles and joints the opportunity to regenerate, a critical aspect of long-distance running.

3. Consistency: Maintaining a consistent training schedule is vital in marathon training. Rest days help you avoid burnout and overuse injuries, contributing to a more consistent routine.

Make sure to incorporate rest days into your training plan and use them wisely to recharge and prepare for your subsequent training sessions.

Related: A Practical Guide To Running Recovery

Training for a marathon demands commitment and effort. Nevertheless, with the appropriate preparation, you can enjoy and complete the Tokyo Marathon.

Ensure you have a well-structured plan in place, integrating strength and cross-training exercises. Pay attention to your nutrition and hydration, and remember to prioritize adequate rest and recovery. Consistency is key, so stay consistent and dedicated throughout your journey to the finish line.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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