First Marathon - Training Advice

I suspect this has been asked several times but I am about to start training for the London Marathon having done a few half marathons now. I am going to follow a beginners schedule being my first time and have two schedules printed out (one from RW and the other from the Virgin Marathon official magazine). The problem is they differ so much. One recommends training three times a week (with long runs on the weekend), the other six times a week.

Is there a tried and tested schedule that people would recommend?


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Hi Nicki - It's all about preference. Some people only have time to fit in 3 runs a week, others can do more and do that. Hal Higdon is a pretty good place to start if you're a beginner. 

    All of the plans will have similar elements:

    - An easy run
    - A tempo/interval run
    - A long run

    There they'll be added 'flavours' to the mixture: A mid week long run, intervals/fartleks etc.

    You don't provide much of your background or what distance/mileage you're currently running. Are you starting from 0 or 20 miles a week? What's your base fitness like?

    A lot of people use the RW schedules because they're easier to understand and you can program to your garmin. 

    If you go and look around the Beginners Threads - you'll see what others are using. Also, if you like podcasts - download: marathontalk. They're great for advice and ideas in the run up to VLM.

    Good luck in your training!

  • Nicki, I am the same, I am doing my first Marathon (Greater Manchester). Like Emmy said there isn't much information really you have given or what your aim time is. 

    It would be better to keep the information going on line as you train and give information how you feel on each session set up a standard template. You never know you may get on experience coach guiding you on line. My advice is to join a club, because most runners will always have a number of people getting ready for the London. 

    We have 3 from our club running the London Marathon. I am sure you have a great experience running one of the best Marathons in the world. Good Luck!

  • Thanks for responding both.

    I am generally pretty fit and run around 20 miles a week. My times are not amazing (2 hrs 20 for last half marathon). I have stamina but no speed!

    Realisitically I am looking at around 4 1/2 hours for a full marathon.

    As a very busy woman who works long hours a three times per week schedule would suit perfectly but I'm concerned that won't be enough.

    Will check Hal Higdon as you suggest. 

  • Hi Nicki/TR

    There are 6 new threads on here where there is an experienced runner mentoring a less experienced runner. There are many discussions around training plans and many other matters and some of the information on there might be useful to you. The threads are split into estimated finishing times for their marathons so you could pop into those threads and ask some questions and also pick up some useful tips. I personally would recommend the thread between Spoons and CarterUSM image

  • If you're at 2.20 for a half - then your full marathon time is more likely to be 5 hours or so.

    The more running you can do - the better (with one proviso)

    . How many runs do you do at the moment ? If you're doing say three runs a week then it may be best choosing a plan that has 3 runs. If you tried doubling your runs you run a risk of injury - and you need to avoid that more than anything.
  • Just a quick question I am on VLM and am looking at training

    Plans I have found a 20 mile race near me 6 weeks before

    London would this be good as my final long run or would it be to early

    To do that .
  • It would be perfect to race as a pace test for the marathon then do another couple of normal lsr's before the VLM, 6 weeks is plenty of time to recover and it will give you a time to re-evaluate pace.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    @Nicki - have a look at Shades training plan on here if you're busy? It's based on 3-4 runs a week and i use it for all of mine.
  • 6 weeks would be too long to leave between final long run and the race. 2 weeks or so would be better. So as lard arse says - do some extra long runs in between.
  • what sort of distance in that 6 weeks would be best ?

  • It really depends.... but typically those last 6 weeks might be.. week 1 do 15miles (a bit of rest), week 2 18-20slow miles  (to build back up)  week 3 20.5 slow miles (to consilidate... 20 miles is fine but I did the extra half mile to psychologically beat the 20 mile barrier  week 4 14 miles (starting to taper off)  Week5 8 miles (definitely tapering off...  could do even less)  week 6 Marathon.

    But it so depends on what you've been doing, how you feel  etc.  But you asked for a flavour... and that's perhaps typical (based on my vast experience of one marathonimage ... but a lot of reading)

  • Cheers for info gonna get signed up for the race
  • Well I have still not picked a Marathon plan yet. I have not found one what held my interest yet. 

    So for the start of 2013 I have done a 6 Miler and a 4 Miles hard run to see what I had in the tank image laughing not much it seems. But as long running is fun it doest matter image 



  • I am doing regular quick runs through week mid week 5 / 8 then long run

    Of around 12/14 miles on weekend will start to increase

    My miles over next 13 weeks so hard to fit it all in with family commitments

    Booked onto a 20 miler as a test 6 weeks before London so just hope by then

    Am in good shape :0)
Sign In or Register to comment.