running blog

Marathon training


This time last year I ran my first marathon at Rutland Water and this week I finally started training for my second.

It is just as well I’ve got 5 months until the London Marathon because it gives me time to get back in shape having lapsed my running a bit recently (not to mention gained a few pounds) and as many marathon training plans are for 16 weeks it also gives me a month to build up gradually and to try out my own ideas.

I’ve thought a lot about my training. What parts of training for races have I found difficult in the past? What are my barriers? What do I find easy to stick to and most enjoyable? Which bits do I find hardest or require a lot of self-determination and effort to get on with and how I can avoid situations that I will find hard to complete?

I’m not over keen on long runs, less so when I have get out of bed on a weekend morning to run them (or anything really) and even less so to run them by myself. I am good about getting to BMF classes regularly, even when I am totally unmotivated to do any other exercise because it’s sociable and fun, I (quite) like shorter speedy runs, I can motivate myself when there is a bit of self completion involved or a self or social commitment to fulfil. Some of the traditional training plans with 4 or more days running fill me with panic and dread about being able to keep up with them after many weeks.

So where does that all get me to?

Midweek training and long runs (unless it’s a race with buddies), keep up regular BMF classes with only 2 or 3 additional runs each week. Weekends for rest and recovery apart from when I can get myself to parkrun or have a planned race.

I will go to BMF classes on Monday Wednesday Fridays, Run my long run Tuesday (unless I have a weekend race) and a do a Tempo run or intervals session or go run club on Thursdays, I may swap a BMF class or the Thursday session for a Saturday parkrun when I want or if I need to rest tired legs midweek but otherwise plan to have my rest days at weekends.

As I planned this out I had in the back of my mind that by December I would revert to a ‘proper training plan’ will lots of runs. However the more I researched the more I felt confident with my schedule. The runners World Smart Coach gives me a marathon plan with just 2 key runs per week (a long run plus a speed/tempo/pace run) with cross training or rest on other days, no different from may own plan. I’ve also had a look at the FIRST training program (Run less, Run faster) which has 3 key runs (track repeats, tempo run, long run) and two cross training sessions. Effectively I am following the Smart Coach plan and its mileage and pace details (which I will check are in line with those from the FIRST plan for my target marathon time).

My plan starts properly 16 weeks before VLM so in the meantime I’m getting accustomed to my 5 workouts and building up my total weekly mileage gradually in preparation.

Author: fairweatherrunner

West London fair weather runner, British Military Fitness fan, mother of teenage sons and drinker of wine. Sometimes found on the Isle of Wight.

7 thoughts on “Marathon training

  1. stick with what works for you 🙂

  2. Looking forward to reading about your journey

  3. First of all I am jealous. London is on my ‘list’. One of these days I am going to get out of the US and run a marathon outside the country. First advice, is that as a running coach, use the plan as a guide and not a contract. Adjust the plan to how your body reacts. For more the “run less’ can “get you by” but I have coached a few runners who have used that plan and it just wasn’t enough. All completed their races, but all struggled more than their normal 4-5 day per week plans. Just my 0.02… Again, get that one long run in, the one speed/tempo run in (if you have run for at least 1+ years) and then fill in with normal training runs and you will be fine… Good luck and reach out to our community if you have any questions. ~ Steve

  4. For my last marathon I did a 23 week training plan. I had the time so I figured why not? Well, 23 weeks of intensity and focus is too much. By the time my taper came around I was done and I dropped my miles to much in the last three weeks.
    Be careful with your pre-training training. If the weeks are to structured and you are too focused it will really be an additional 4 weeks of training. It may work for you, but I think there Is a reason why most training plans are 16 weeks.

  5. You sound so very organised!

  6. Definitely a good idea to fit your plan around your schedule and not your schedule around your plan. Much more sustainable.

  7. That sounds like a perfect plan – only 3 runs whoop whoop! Happy to join you for a longer run or two but suspect I may be a little slow for you! Good luck.

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