Thursday, November 8, 2012


What should I call this? Maybe:
  • The secrets to training for a marathon!
  • Tips in getting to the finish line.
  • 26.2 is a long way.
  • 42.2 is a long way.
  • The more you put in the more you get out.
  • Boston here we come
So you are thinking about running a marathon?

Is it your first?

Do you want it to be your fastest?

Or do you just want to finish?

OK so if you just want to finish, all I can tell you is get out and run, the more you run the easier the finish becomes, so read on and then get out there and run...

First up, we need to tick over, so what I call ticking over and what you call ticking over might well be 2 different things, but we will work to get them closer to one idea:

If you were to pick up Runners World or something like that they would throw a marathon program at you which would read like this: Runner's World Marathon Plan for Intermediate Runners (16 weeks). Stop right there, 16 weeks, are they mad!!!

I could never have only one goal for 16 weeks, so I will tell you no marathon plan needs be longer than 6 weeks, yes 6 weeks... But the better you want your marathon to go, the fitter you need be when you start your 6 weeks....

So back to the ticking over: I run 7 + time a week with weekend runs up to 3 hours long, and that is just ticking over without looking and running any real races... You don't need that much. Maybe 3 times a week (45-60min) + weekends of 90+min. (this 90+min EVERY weekend is NB NB NB because as you start thinking about a marathon you need to be running 105-120min and that is so when your 6 weeks marathon training starts you are ready...

OK So let us start 11 weeks out (I know I said 6 weeks, but it's nice to build a bit before you start to train:
  1. Monday: Easy / rest / cross train
  2. Tuesday: Tempo, yes it would be great to head down to the track and run lots of reps, miles / 1000m / 800m or what ever floats your goat, but it's not about that, all you need to remember is: I need to work hard for say 20-30min of a 50min run, and by hard we are only talking of half marathon pace, Now you don't need to run all 30min in one go, so you could run 10 hard 2min easy. Don't run the hard to hard, you want to be running for at least 3 days before you rest...
  3. Wednesday: Easy and Hilly (keep the heart rate down, you don't need a heart rate monitor to track your heart, you can run by feel. Remember it's not about who has the bigest balls in training, it about who has the biggest balls in the races, easy days are there so you can train hard on the other days.
  4. Thursday: Tempo on hills (find a hilly route and run the hills so your heart rate climbs, but only on the hills, the rest can be easy)
  5. Friday; Easy / rest / cross train
  6. Saturday: Marathon race pace (20min of a 50min run (then adding a 3min to the run each week at marathon pace)
  7. Sunday: long (90 and building (90 / 100  / 90  / 120 over 4 weeks)
So after 4 weeks of running TAKE a WEEK OFF, rest... we want to be fresh and ready to train for a marathon, with 6 weeks to go we have 4-5weeks hard with 1-2 weeks taper. Remember: If you have had a good build and REST these weeks of marathon training will start and be very easy for 2-3 weeks before you start getting tired and wanting it to be taper time. We can then work that last week and a half easy to focus for a short time then it's race time.

OK 6 weeks to go:

So we are looking at putting together 5 weeks of hard running with 1 week of taper (OK the taper starts the weekend before the race) now let us have a look at a week:
  • Monday: easy run (we like those don't we) 45-60min (keep it easy!!!)
  • Tuesday: week one 2 x 5km (20-25min) hard, 2 min rest inbetween, you can warmup for 10min and warm down for 10 min. (by hard, I just mean hard, but remember you have to do it all again... Now I could say run at 10km pace, and because you are resting for 2min between the reps you sould be fine, some people might want to run a little slower... So hard is hard!)
  • Tuesday: week two 3 x 3km (10-12min) hard (same pace as last week, if not a little faster), 2 min rest... ect
  • Tuesday: week three 4 x 2km (7-8min) hard, 90sec rest... ect (see the rest is getting less, and you are still warming up and down, the rest can be a slow jog if you want)
  • Tuesday: week four 6-8 x 1km (3-4 min) hard 60 sec
  • Tuesday: Week five 6-8 x 800m (would nice to be on a track) at marathon pace (so if you want a 3h30 marathon, you run 3min 30sec, rest 60sec Yasso 800's
  • think of ME at the club, I run 5km warmup, then 8 x 1km, then 2km warm down... that gives ME 15km for the day, and half at pace... TICK distance, TICK speed.
  • NB do not run to fast, to hard, you need to finish the sessions...
  • Wednesday (took us a long time...) like the runs we did in the forest, get out there and run 7-12 miles easy, you want to recover from yesterday and not end up tired for tomorrow.
  • Thursday: Now this is where it gets dificult, because I don't know you well enough to say run 400's, run hills, So look at it like this: you need 50-70min for the day, hilly and like the building weeks just work the hills and get the hart going. Yes we would have you running 400's 200's or hill reps, but lets not go there today...
  • Friday REST (for me that means 4-10km easy, for you it could mean sleep / swim / cycled / dance)
  • Weekend: This makes your marathon easy or not...
  • MP (marathon pace) over the next 5 weeks (30min / 45min / 60min / 30min / 15min (week before the race)), warm up and warm down...
  • Long runs (2h10 / 2h30 / 2h30 / 2h00 / 1h00) (those first 4 weeks run easy and only pick the pace up for the last 10-20min to MP) if your marathon is going to be 4-5hours the long runs need to be longer, but I wouldn't go much over 3 hours, you will just get tired...
  • Weekend is 2 days, so use both of them... or some of the guys I know like to rest on one of the days, so it's long run on the Saturday with the MP at the end of the run a little longer, so sort of running the 2 days in one!!!
Now some of you might end up dead if you train this hard, so just cut back...


  1. Thanks, Coach! I plan to run a marathon next year.

  2. I wish I had those hilly routes of which you speak but treadmills have an incline! I got out today and did my mile repeats over the bridge near my YMCA (2 out of 3 kids were in the creche there and if we take our mobile we are allowed to go run the bridge). I wanted to die during the last of 6 reps, it's a different story from being on the treadmill, I had wind to contend with, hills (very gentle ones admittedly), turns and stupid cyclists. I nearly ran straight in to one such cyclist, he thought I should have slowed down I thought he should have, he was not doing mile reps! So when he shouted 'what a minute', I relied 'You wait a minute', it was only rep 2, by 3 I wouldn't have been able to utter a response! Thanks for posting lots if similar elements to the schedule I've been set :)

  3. I want to do a marathon in April and I'm excited and scared about it all at the same time. I've done one a couple of years ago and have battled with some health issues since then and that's why I'm scared. I'm on a four day a week program so I can get plenty of recovery in. Currently on day 4 of my first week - so far so good.

  4. great post! 6 weeks?! Yowsa! I wish. I just started marathon training for Boston in April LOL. But half of it is base building. I'll do other races but that's my main goal race.

  5. Lots of great info. I laughed outloud at the "might end up dead" part. Happy running!!!