Ask the Experts: Marathon Training Q+A with Steve Smythe



  • Steve Marathon Coach wrote (see)
    Liverbird:Single thing: Don’t do a marathon too early. Only run a marathon when you have got years of endurance running behind you and enjoy the other events on offer – 5k, 10k and half-marathon and multi terrains  before you even think about doing a marathon. 

    Thank you Steve.

    I'm going to print your reply off and give it to someone who has seriously underestimated what he has let himself in for. I did try to say that progression through the distances was a better route! I enjoyed building up through the distances and attacking the next challenge! It took 5 years to get to marathon.

    Even more worryingly, he's said "if I can finish London then I'm going to do IMUK in July". This is coming from someone whose longest ever run is 7 miles.image

  • I like to keep my training simple:

    Tuesday 5-9-miles. tempo (45 to 60 seconds faster than race pace)

    Thursday 5-9 miles. easy ish (15 to 30 seconds faster than race pace)

    Saturday LSR (45 seconds slower than race pace)

    Sunday 4 mile.- easy recovery

    Does this pacing seem about right? I'm not doing any hill sessions
  • Liverbird you are more sensible and realistic than your friend

    Runbird - yes ie go week 5 then week 7 until you have caught up.

  • I bet your fingers are starting to hurt!!!!image
  • Hi Steve

     I am running the Brighton marathon this year - it's my first marathon.

     At the moment I do my long run on a Sunday, Fartlek Tuesday & two 5/6 miles on other days.  I also squeeze in a 5-a-side football match in on my night off - is this wise, apart from breaking my leg could it be damaging my training?



  • Dibbers

    your training does look sensible, yes - personally I would run your Thursday run at marathon pace rather than that much faster to get used to marathon pace more but maybe I'm lazy!

  • Liam

    I don't think Paula Radcliffe would risk a 5 a side match but it's probably like a good fartlek session so as long as you do the kicks rather than get kicked and you enjoy it, then it may be a risk worth taking. I used to find football used to kill my legs with the turns and twistin g but if you play regularly it's probably less of a problem.

  • Andy

    No fingers are fine - years of training and good preparation help in typing as well as marathoning.

  • Steve - is Quorn evil?image

    I like it but Mr LB said it's the devils food.image

  • thanks Steve - I feel less guilty now!!
  • Liam

    re the football - it is important to be flexible and supple and be sensible - the Brighton marathon is Britain's second biggest marathon and the 5 a side is probably not to the same level. Missing a great marathon due to an injury picked up in a fun kick around could be regretted so be sensible.

  • Yes Quorn is very evil but not as eveil as doughnuts, red meat and cream cakes. I like it myself and had a very nice quorn fillet last night but prayed before eating.
  • Steve what was your v45 half marathon pb?
  • Hi everyone,

    I'm afraid we're going to have to draw things to a close now. Thank you for all your thought-provoking questions though, and Steve thank you for your time and marathon wisdom!


  • Liam my M45 half marathon pb was 74:36 where I was very disappointed on the day as was on for low 73 when blew up mid race but now satisfied with it!

    I'll have a look later and tie up any loose ends later in afternoon. Thanks for the questions.

  • Steve Marathon Coach,

     Many thanks for taking the time to answer my question on Marathon pacing.

    All the best


  • thanks steveimage
  • Hi Steve - a belated thanks for the answer - only had the chance to catch up now after a busy day.

    I think your replies were awesome to all the questions thrown at you, and your quick fire informative responses show a true understanding of running.

    Peter is very lucky to have you as a mentor on the Super Six thread!

  • Steve - a belated thank you from me as well. Great answer. Thanks, Rob
  • Steve,

    I need advice for speeding up..... I am training yet again for the London Marathon (4 years running) I just did my first race of 2011 and am disappointed that I got exactly the same time as last year and the year before.

    I completed 10 miles in 1hr 14mins - that included a lot of gradual inclined hills!!! I am good at uphill, which is probably why I do better in hilly half marathons, however I really want to speed up.

     what training advice can you give me to help increase my speed and get a new PB for my next race in Feb?? when racing I run around 7.5 min/miles.



  • thanks very much Steve, your answer has encouraged me to get on with it, I was assuming missing a month had ruined my chances, I just wish my legs would stop aching now I've started running again, they never ached like this before!
  • Ania

    this thread is officially closed now but I am around on the Asics super 6 threads.

    vey basically to run faster in races you need to train faster - try and do much of your speedwork or faster running at closer to 7 min miles

    If you can run 10 miles in approx 75 mins

    then do something like (one session per week)

    4 x mile in close to 7 minutes with 400m jog in 3 mins

    6 x 800 in close to 3 minutes 20 with 200m jog in 90 seconds

    10 x 400 in close to 95 secs with 100m jog in 60 secs

    15 x 200 in approx 45-47 secs with 45 secs rest

    and then go back to he reps a month later and see if you can run them slightly faster.

  • looking at my first competitive half marathon in may. hoping on sub 1hr 20

    want to know what you would class as my threshold pace?? how do you gauge it??

    i ran a 35.12 10km last summer , presently doing tempo runs 2mile steady, 4-5 miles at 6min/mile

    quick, followed by 2miles steady. what do you consider the most important sessions other than the obvious long runs.


  • Technically this thread is dead but just this once....threshold pace should be around your half marathon pace so around 6:10 miling would seem to be a target

    I ran 35:12 for 10k last year and from that I was targetting a half of around 77 but I ran 78 something so 80 should be feasible for you.

    Your training looks good but I would also perhaps do a few sessions at 10k pace ie 5 or 6 x a mile in 5:40 or 8 x 1000 in 3:30 with 2 minute recoveries say once every 2 weeks and some longer slower runs say 15M at 7 min to 7:30 miles

  • that's encouraging, i did 2 x 2km at 3:30 with, but was struggling so didnt do 4 as intended.

    at the moment my speed is lower than last summer, but on the rise, so would 5-6 x 1mile in 5:50-6min

    be ok?

    many thanks

  • To run sub 80 yes 6 miles in 5:50 should be ok -

     actually while I was doing reps well inside 3:30 last year that was with a big group and would have been struggling to probably run even 3:35s on my own.

  • Steve, could you help with some advice for beginners (12:30 min miling ) who are starting out on half marathon training, but struggling to increase distance or pace.

    What is the best approach to take, should someone concentrate on base training with low HR (e.g. 70%) for a couple of months to build a running base (base training) from and gradually increase distance while sticking to a low HR or is it better to do a mixture of sessions e.g. slow long distance, medium temp and shorter session e.g. intervals/tempo?
  • Bouncing

    I think the best way is to set a base down of a few months with steady running  gradually building distance and then do a month gradually increasing the speed but holding the same distances. Once you have that base and some faster running in your legs then do the traditional mix of long run, slowish medium length runs tempo and speed/fartlek/intervals/hills

Sign In or Register to comment.