This post was last updated on February 16, 2017\nWhether you\u2019re training for your first marathon or just want to pick up a new, studied approach to training for a big race, there\u2019s always room to improve your training regimen. In our Marathon Training 101\u00a0post we covered the first two of seven phases of training: off-season building and endurance. Now that we\u2019re into March, you may have moved into the next phase of your training. In this post we\u2019ll cover phases 3, 4, and 5: strength and speed, race preparation, and taper.\n3. Strength\/Speed Phase\nThe third phase, taking place in February and March for people running the Dick\u2019s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, is about building aerobic capacity. In this phase you should put a focus on cross-training and strength training. In order to build strength, consider adding hill workouts where you do a 45 to 75 minute easy run, incorporating uphill segments at a faster pace.\nTo increase your speed, begin to add tempo and fartlek runs into your training schedule. A fartlek run is a 45 to 75 minute easy run with fast segments intermixed. Similarly, a tempo run is a fast-paced workout where you increase your speed to run faster than your goal race pace. We suggest doing a 45 to 90 minute easy run and intermixing 15 to 45 minutes of tempo running.\n4. Race Preparation Phase\nTowards the end of March and moving into April you will be moving into the fourth phase of marathon training. The focus during this phase is to meet your goal pace. To do this you should run a portion of your runs at goal pace. For example, marathon runners should run eight to 14 miles of their long runs at their goal pace.\nMarathon runners can also incorporate a tune-up race into their training schedule. Tune-up races are races you enter for the purpose of having fun with your long run and practicing your race day routine. Full marathon runners should plan to incorporate a half marathon tune-up race and aim to run the first 10 miles at their goal pace and then speed-up for the final 3.1 miles.\n5. Taper Phase\nThe taper phase of your training is one of the most important phases as you approach race day. During this phase you\u2019ll begin to reduce your weekly mileage and distance of long runs. Starting three weeks out reduce weekly mileage by about 25 percent from the highest mileage you\u2019ve ran. At two weeks reduce mileage by 40 percent, and finally on the week of the race reduce mileage by 60 percent.\nWhile you should reduce your mileage to allow your body to be rested for race day it is important to maintain intensity during these runs. During your final week incorporate dress rehearsal runs where you do a 15 minute warm-up, followed by a 20 minute run at your goal race day pace, and finish with a 15 minute cool down run.\nAlso remember that no workout during your final week of training will improve your race day preparedness. Listen to your body and structure your runs based on how you\u2019re feeling.\nWhile continuing to train for the May 6 Dick\u2019s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, remember there are other aspects of training to focus on, including:\n\nStretching\nFinding the best shoe for your feet\nStaying hydrated\nEating a proper diet\n\nThe marathon experts at UPMC Sports Medicine are available to answer questions you may have during training. To ask a question of our experts, call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678) to set up an appointment.