RW smart coach.........will this be enough


Apologies if this has been done to death already but I have looked at smart coach for a trainng plan for VLM but am really unsure as to whether it will be enough so thought i would ask the experts.

I have been running on off for 2 years and if I am honest really only 'properly ( for me)' for the last 6 months. I have a 5k pb 26.10 , 10 k pb (split in HM of 58.10) and HM 2.02- these were achieved on 3 runs a week and at best a maximum mileage of 16 miles a week.I have been building up to a base of 22-25 miles per week ready to follow an official programme in the new year and have recently introduced a session of speedwork. I can train 4 days per week but SC programme suggests only 3:

Monday easy run starting week 1 at 6 miles rising to 9 as a maximum

Wednesday- speedwork alternating temp and long intervals again rising from 6 miles to 9

Saturday- Long slow run incorporating:

1x 10 mile

2x 12 mile

2x 13 mile

1x 14 mile

2x 16 mile

1x 18 mile

3x 20 mile

1x 8mile

1x 6 mile

Do you think this a sensible plan and will it be enough for me to enjoy the experience or should I look elsewhere- if so where do you suggest? Whilst i keep saying I just want to finish I would really like to post a time 4.30 ish. I am 44 female bmi 22 with no health issues. 

Many thanks in advance


  • What makes you think a mixed bag of forum users has more expertise than the people who put Smartcoach schedules together? image

    I've used their schedules, and they've worked very well for me.


  • good question image, guess I wanted reassurance as most of the numerous plans I have looked at are based on 4-5 runs per week. Its good to know they have worked for you I dont know anyone who has used them.

    thanks for replying

  • If you are honest with the time you input for a recent race, then the schedule it comes up with will be achievable for your current level of ability/fitness, and how your fitness will progress through the schedule.  The number of runs per week will take this into account.

    It will push you on the tempo/speedwork sessions, but the long runs will seem REALLY slow.  Don't be tempted to speed them up, though.

    I've used half and full mara Smartcoach schedules, and achieved PBs by using them.

  • I would see how the programme goes. If the speedwork feels too easy you can always  have another go at generating a programme for a little faster time. In the same way slipping in another running day, especially if it isn't a lot of extra mileage (10% rule and all that), shouldn't be an issue. 

    All the schedules are guidelines only you know how it is going. I tend to go with a programme for a reasonable but stretching target and then review it halfway to see whether it is achievable or not.

  • OC, the thing with Smartcoach shedules is that you don't input your target time (which may be hopelessly unrealistic - or too conservative), you input a recent race time and the schedule it delivers is based your you current level of speed.

    Therefore it is acheivable, rather than aspirational.

  • I did two marathons badly off the back of a training plan of 4/5 days per week that I couldn't realistically do given everything I had on at that time. For my third I set out to do 3 days a week and achieved it as it was realistic. That consistency got me a pb of 4.15ish. My times and baseline were not dissimilar to yours. I didn't use smart coach, but I would say that 'yes' it can be done on the plan you outline as not too dissimilar to the one I did in terms of long runs. I finished very comfortably.

    If this is your first marathon just treat it as an experience and see where your bench mark lies but I believe that plan will get you round and no reason not to hit 4.30 with it.

    Ps I'm not an expert though!
  • Thanks all for the replies I think I will be following SC as I want to be consistent and realistic with my training image  

  • Playing with Smartcoach and comparing it with the schedule I am following from the RW Garmin half-marathon programme is quite interesting. A "very hard" Smartcoach programme is generally slower than the RW Garmin programme I'm following. I'm not sure whether my goal is too hard (1:38) or my race time (1:40:48 Half) is out of date.

    At the moment my training is going okay, and the tempo runs are hard but doable, so I will stick with it. 

    Race day will tell !


  • (We have a similar set of stats, so this might help). I used a Smartcoach schedule for Brighton 2012, and it worked pretty well for me. I started a few weeks early, and doubled up the first few weeks, and I also did a few more 20+ mile long runs that it suggested, but basically stuck to 3 times a week. I think this is fine for a first time marathon, though I am looking to add a fourth run a week for my next plan.


  • Wilkie wrote (see)

    What makes you think a mixed bag of forum users has more expertise than the people who put Smartcoach schedules together? image



    I don't care if it was put together by Alberto Salazar. Someone who says they have time to train four times a week who is training for a marathon would be better off training four times a week than three times a week.

    dibdab - From your relatively low mileage base (relatively in terms of the demands of a marathon) your best bet is to increase your overall mileage.  I would definitely add a fourth run and make this another easy paced run.  As the mileage progresses you can increase the length of one of your mid-week runs, which will help support the long runs and make them feel easier.

  • I was thinking that Phil....I would much rather train over 4/5 days that do 3 sessions which all start to go long.............

    I also never do speedwork as i am injury prone and stop starting all the time in this kind of weather is asking for me tyo pull something...........

    i wouldn't think 20/25 miles a week is that low for base mileage.........

    the thing is we all train differently and respond better to different trainings.......


    Good luck........

  • I did my first marathon last year and basically adapted a Smartcoach plan to fit with two club runs a week (which included my long slow runs).  I thought that 3 times a week was a bit low, so added an extra easy 2-4 mile run on Tuesdays after my long Sunday runs (I ran Tues, Weds, Fri and Sun).

    Don't be afraid to adapt training plans to fit with what works for you.  Just make sure you don't increae mileage by more than 10% a week, don't put two hard sessions on consecutive days and run your long runs slow.

    Good luck

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