Training Q+A: Steve Smythe



  • Hi there

    this will be my first Marathon, am very excited ! can you recommend an ideal warm up & stretch period before my long runs

    Many thanks

  • Elhne

    as long as you do the major sessions then missing the easy ones don't matter. NB sometimes the body adapts to the training and it gets easier. sometimes you just get more tired!


    the most important thing about a first marathon is to enjoy it so set your sights lower. Until you do a marathon, there is no way of knowing what you are capable - most people aim far too highbased on half marathon times and formulas and most runners struggle to hold pace after 20 miles - especially if it's hot.

    So aim for four for your firs one and if you run 3:57 and feel easy go for 3:45 next time.

  • Hi Steve

     Im doing the London marathon for the first time this year!! scared!!! I have been running for a while now and really enjoying, i did the great north last year.

    However!! Im finding it hard to fit so much training in! Im a pig farmer so work quite long hours, i also ride horses and also play hockey and have a match every sat! So all in all i think im quite active, does any of this help me?

     Ive done my long run for this week which was 16 miles and two 8 miles which is fine but my plan says i need to do more however im playing hockey on Sat and Sunday! What would you think of doing a 3 day plan? with everything else i do will i be ok? I want to do well at London and know i need to start doing some speed work or is hockey good for this? I play midfield so i do run alot!!! I know ive asked a lot but think i will kill myself if i try run every day then on my rest days play hockey!!!


  • Hobbling - for my 2:29 I ran 100 miles a week from january. was probably in 32 10k shape, 53 for 10 and 70 for a half. I went through in 73:30 in the marathon.

    Breaking 2:30 so early was a bad thing for me as it took away my ambition to run faster as I thought 2:25 was unlikely and so I raced shorter races.

    There were no gels back then - n race day I just had a sip of water and a cup of tea for breakfast.

    I probably did my long runs at seven minute miles but raced every week.

    caroline I like to have a short jog before the marathon - I live 800m away from the start so that's lucky and then I do a few stretches but for a marathon you don't need too much pre exercise, it's a case of saving energy and the chances are because of the numbers of runners, you'll be starting slowly anyway.

    Curly - sub 4 is a good starting point - it's a much bigger target.

  • Thanks Steve, been having issues with tight calves, I'm guessing a gentle jog prior to my runs is going to help ?
  • Kate

    If you do three big sessions a week - long run, speedwork, tempo then you could probably just about get away with it but the more you do the easier it will be and the faster you will get.

    However doing alll the sessions and doing lots else means you will just get tired and probably injured

    The hockey probably helps but not sure about the riding!

    It's difficult when you have a busy life and lots of alternatives but it may be best if you can to put some of those activities to one aside until after the marathon. Once the marathon is over you will probably want a rest from running and will enjoy the riding etc more!


    You do the speedwork because it's on the schedule and have to set an example!

    The more speedwork you do, hopefully youu will get faster and apart from running quicker times at shorter distances which is great in itself, adds a pyschological boost, it also means you feel more comfortable running a slower pace at marathons.

  • Gul Dar

    your training looks well balanced as it is but perhaps a marathon pace run every 2-3 weeks would be a good idea.

    You don't have to do a long, slow run  every week and a race every third week or a marathon pace run may get you fitter

  • Hi Steve.

     training for London, my first marathon, and i was up to 14 miles on LSR. Had to miss the past 2 weeks due to knee injury (Poplitial tear), but now nearing recovery.  I'm worried about the time lost and the time left and wondered the best way to make up the miles, bearing in mind i will be taking baby-steps for the next week or so while i get back on the road....drop recovery run? drop fall back weeks? add a mile or 2 to LSR?...etc.

     Many Thanks

  • Jokerman

    I once did 5 marathons a year but now just tend to do the one so I don't do long runs all year around.

    I did 30k last weekend and will do possible 3 20s before the marathon and post marathon will maybe do a 2 hour run every 3 weeks or so to keep endurance but that will depend on what distance I'm targetting. I like to do a few track races during the summer and  road relays so will try and not run too long and get some speed back in my legs. One of the advantages of having 40 years of running behind me is I retain a lot of endurance from the past years.

  • Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer everyone's questions Steve!

    Don't forget Steve is mentoring two of our Lucozade Sport Super Six team as they prepare for the Virgin London Marathon so you'll find him on Andy and Kim's threads throughout the course of their campaigns.

    Pop March 5 in your diaries too - Paul Evans will be joining us at 1pm for another live training Q+A here in the forums.

    Thanks again Steve - and good luck everyone with your marathon preparations,

  • Mouth breather

    the most important thing is t be patient - do too much too quickly and you may get injured again.

    For the first 4 weeks back, I would not try and gain anything - just ease into gently and don't do anything more than was scheduled. If by the second week of March you are fit and healthy and feel you are nearing where you want to be you could just add 5% in terms of speedwork and longer runs.

    You have a month before you need to start tapering where there may be room for extra training but of course that is the peak period anyway.

    The key thing is to be fit and healthy and being able to do the marathon rather than do too much now and not get there at all.

  • ... and thanks to you too Catherine for organising this.
  • I think I answered everything and happy to answer anything further on Kim and Andy's threads - both are gaining in knowledge all the time and there are plenty of other similar speed runners there.

    Good luck in the marathon - remember to enjoy the training as much as possible and the race on the day. Make your targets realistic ones - work on pacing and test your gel strategy.

    Do some of your training at marathon pace but don't run your long runs at a pace that is going to wear you out. Time on feet is important.

    While I hope to run sub 6:15s at London, most of my long runs are nearer 8:15 to 9:15. I get the speed from the speedwork and races.

  • Thank you very much Steve.

     see you in London!!!

  • The London Marathon will be my first full Marathon, having only completed halfs until now all under 2 hours. 

    I tore a calf muscle when we had the snow in January and have take quite  a while to fully reocver.  I have now recovered and am pleased to mave managed 17 miles on Sunday in 2.5 hours.  However, my calf muscles are still tight and I struggle to get them loose enough to run confidentialy for a few days after the long run - even by today Tuesday.  Any tips on how I can get rid of the lactate build up any quicker??  I am even using compresison socks but these don't seem to have much effect.


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