Help with Picking the right training plan for my next marathon in March 2012

I did the Rome Marathon last March, my first ever marathon and i did it in 4.31 following a Garmin training plan. i sort of just aimed to enjoy it and get round without huting myself.

 I've just registered to do it again next March and i could really do with some realistic and experienced advice on choosing a Garmin training plan from the RW site. I have been consistantly running through the year but not entering many races. i did the Lake Coniston marathon in July in 4.50 but that was quite hilly and in truth i had not trained properly for it.

 If i stick to a training plan including the hill work and speed work, would it be achieveable to pick a 3.45 training plan? I am currently doing about 28 - 30 miles a week. I know i can get round now, so this time i really want to get faster, which will involve weight loss and speed work.



  • Forget the speed work, up the mileage. 25-30m isn't enough to prepare fully for a marathon.
  • Really, what sort of mileage should i be looking at per week?
  • Well the simple answer I believe is as much as possible in terms of how much time you can commit to running withour getting injured.

    I averaged 60+ miles for my marathon (first one) 18 week training plan and don't feel that was enough to reach full potential.

  • Wow, that's a lot. what time did you do in the end with those sort of miles under your belt?
  • Not what I was hoping for that is for sure!

    Was aiming for 3:20 but would have been content with 3:30. Got tired, got cramp and my race died a death. Realised at 24m I was on for about 3:35-3:37 but being unhappy with that time, I spat my dummy out, gave up and walked back to the finish line and finished in 3:57. With hindsight, I probably should have just ran to the end and got the best possible time I could have done.

    That may contradict having higher mileage will produce a good result, but I am sure some more people with more knowledge than me will comment and tell you more successful stories of increased mileage.

  • That gives me a real insight into what i have to do between now and March - double my weekly mileage.

     Pity you gave up when looking at 3.35ish.

  • Hi Plook,

    There are many Marathon training schedules out there, persoanly I would take a look at one of Hal Higdons schedules -> He provides sechedules for all abilities on his site. 

    IMHO I dont think it's necessary to run 60 miles+ per week (unless you have the time). For a novice runner between 30 to 40 miles per week would be more than okay. It's a big ask to reduce your marathon time from 4:30 down to 3:45 (in one go), so I would suggest you aim for 4:15, then maybe sub 4 the one after that.

    One of the best ways to improve your pace is to focus on speedwork, so maybe one of the session per week you could focus on this.

  • Thanks for this advice. When i trained for the marathon last year i worked on a 4.30 schedule but because of workload i found myself skipping ALL of the speed work and some weekday runs, then on Sunday's i'd go out and try to do 16 or so miles, so with that in mind i was thinking that as i'm training right now and am at very comfortable 90 minute run levels, by the time i hit 28th Nov when my 16 week schedule for Rome 2012 starts, i am less likely to skip the speed work. I am certain that my lack of speed is due to excess weight (i don't look big in normal clothing but compared to other quicker runners i am carrying too much) and lack of speed work. I really appreciate the advice about 3.45 being too much though, there is so much info to choose from that it gets hard to know where to start, plus i'm not in a running club or anything.

     Thanks for the link, will look now

  • Your weight will drop for sure, I lost 3 stone in 12 months so I wouldn't worry about it.

    Also, my running transformed when I joined my local club - what a difference it made to my running. I found a group of runners at the club that ran at my pace and the confidence and encouragement that came from that. I would seriously look at joining a club if this is something you want to continue with moving forward (which sounds like to me you do).Good luck and let us know how you get on with your training.

  • I might just go ahead and join the local running club. i had been dithering about fell/trail club, which is what i'm most interested in and most of my training is in the massive hilly woods across the road, or drive to town to meet up with street runners for the Thursday evening meets.
  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    i recently started running again and am on a more structured plan of 50miles per week and 2 quality speed work sessions.

    I couldnt see how i could fit 50miles into one week, it looked impossible but the advice i was given was do one long run approx 15miles and do the rest in whatever length you can do.

    So i run a 10m on sat morning, 15m on sunday and monday to thursday i run 5miles in the morning each day.  So this running doesnt get in the way of work/wife/kids time i get up at 6am.

    Now after on 4 weeks i cant imagining not doing this!  It doesnt feel like a chore.

    Its time on your feet that counts and dont feel every session has to be run at your fastest speed.

    rgds your goal goal of dropping 45mins off your PB, thats nearly 2mins per mile with is a lot.  A good guide is can you run 5miles now at this faster pace?  My advice is dont get caught up in big leaps in reducing your PB, find a good pace, get the miles up and it will happen naturally

  • My first was 4:43 in April 2010 and in October 2010 ran 3:41.
    The main difference? More miles - up to 55 mpw for 2nd and introducing some speed/intervals etc. Also did more longer runs with a max 22miles.
    So yes it is achievable if you want it and have the time and dedication to train. BUT you must be careful on the injury front ie not do too much too soon. A club will help with doing intervals etc - I get too lazy on my own. Use the time up to the start of training to get a solid base of miles
  • Oh and the fell/trail club would be better I think. It really helps to enjoy the running you do and I'm sure they would help with sessions. Most clubs let you run with them for a month so you can always try both to see which suits!
  • The thing is, i'm not really sure if the 4.31 is a true reflection of my PB what i am capable of because my training was terrible. i skipped all of the speed work and with the marathon on March 20th i missed the whole of January due to a virus and struggled to get going in February. With two weeks to go i went nuts and pulled a 16 miler on Friday, 22 miles on Saturday and 11 miles on Sunday, then a few 4 milers. So, complete madness. i knew i could get round at 10mins per mile pace then speeding up in the last 5 miles, but i also know i can do much better than 4.31 given a rigidly stuck to 16 week plan. having said that, i did 4.50 in a mountain marathon with wrong size shoes.
  • Hi Plook.

    +1 on JeremyG and pretty much exactly the same result. Did my first mara in April 2010 and didn't do any structured training, relied on hope & faith! Plus injuries didn't help. In the whole of April i did two runs - a HM at the start, and the mara at the end! Finished in 4:47. Knew I could do better. In June I started a training plan for a mara at the start of October. It averaged out @50mpw and it seemed so daunting at the start but it soon became second nature. I did all my runs during the week before I went to work and my runs at the weekend were done first thing too so they didn't disrupt my family life too much.

    Come the mara in October I did 3:45. I also climbed Ben Nevis the following day so obviously could have gone faster!

    So, in answer to your OP, yes without a shadow it is possible for you to go 3:45. But i'm not sure if it's possible on 25/30 mpw. I'm currently taking a couple of months off training as such and just going out running for the fun of it. I'm doing @35mpw just to keep maintenance.

    Caveat - I've only been running for a couple of years so don't know what I'm talking about!

    If reality matched intention I'd know I was dreaming
  • Fantastic replies and advice here, people who seemed to have been in the same place as me in recent times and have put up much improved PB's which is inspirational. Thanks all for your help, i'm definately going to join my local trail/fell running club and aim for 3.45 on my training plan.

    Chimney, dead impressed with your 3.45, that's all i need there + up my weekly total. Pre training plan has just got a kick-start and begins tomorrow with 8 miles in the woods.

  • Good luck Plook - I'm sure you will do fine. Just be aware once you achieve the 3:45 you will just set the next target! Just done my 4th in 3:15 which I thought would be the end of my ambition but no, immediately after I thought to myself - you know what I reckon I could do sub 3............
  • well, i can't see anything wrong with that, the reward of the imporoving PB and great health, fantastic.
  • Hi there-I did my first marathon this Oct in 3.55.I havent been running long -In March my half time was 1.57,I followed the FIRST marathon training plan  from July and by Sept my half was down to 1.47 and it was v.hilly!!

    Id really recomend  this plan -its not high on mileage at all(only 3 runs a week)and 2 cross training sessions so it really cuts down on the risk of injury.It works by pushing you out of your comfort zone-all runs are at a faster pace than other plans generally are.The measure is your 10k time and you calculate your paces from that.

    I ve just dived into the last 4 weeks of the FIRST half plan and  I find I can only achieve the paces 50% of the time-this one is really hard!!!

    I think another benefit though is that it builds your mental toughness-I quite often run now thinking of the mantra 'pain is temporary.......' so in the marathon I felt very strong(mentally and physically).

    Anyway good luck with whatever you choose..........


    Also Dean Richardson 7 what did you mean about can you run 5 mins at this pace now?Does that mean if you can run a certain pace for 5 miles you can extend that to a marathon with enough training???Answers or opinions would be greatly appreciated. 

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