Marathon training help


Hubby and I have run two half marathons and two 10 mile events this year and have entered Brighton Marathon for our next challenge. 

With 20 weeks to go we are now looking at our marathon training plan.  There are so many out there and they all seem different, its so confusing!  So far with our training we haven't followed any set plan, pretty much making it up as we go along - but we have done ok with it. A marathon is a bit more serious so we wanted to follow a proper plan.  But the problem we are finding is that they all start off with small distances.  We curently do no more than 3 days a week and distances of anywhere between 5 and 13 miles.  Although we need to increase our days per week going back to 3  or 4 mile runs seems like we are going backwards.

Would you suggest trying to increase our days a week while still keeping our distances up until we step into the later stage of a plan, or should we religiously follow one of these plans and build it up again?  We don't want to burn ourselves out before the big day so its hard to know what to do!  It is also hard to set a plan when hubby works every other weekend and has days off all over the place.

Any advice would be much appreciated image


  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    Plans are like recipes, they're a guideline, add bits in or leave bits out as suits you.

    In your case I'd carry on with what your doing until it coincides with the mileage recommended in whatever plan you've chosen and then follow that as suits you.

    The big thing with Marathon training is the LSR, long slow run, and personally I like to do around 4 in the 6 weeks running up to the race and then taper for 2 weeks.

    As has been said many times in forums, the LSR should be around the 20mile mark, and run at your projected Marathon pace plus at least a minute per mile.

    Hope that helps a bit and Good Luck
  • Thanks that is very helpful.  I have found the Hal Higdon plans from another thread and I think Novice 2 will suit us, so we can work into that as you suggested.

    There are a couple of 20 mile events which we had been looking at doing in the build up so we will choose one of those to fit in as part of the plan.  Thanks for the tip about the pace, we know from experience how important it is to get that right!


  • Hi...

    I'm still a bit of a 'newbie' so can't start a have tagged on to this old post!...

    So...I'm just after a bit of advice/feedback as I get ready for my first Marathon in April.

    I have always been 'sporty' playing football, squash, going to the gym etc...but I only really got into running at the start of 2016. Since then I have done a few 10ks, and 4 half marathon's, with a half marathon PB of 1:43 - not amazing I know...but I'm seeing improvement.

    My training for the marathon has been going well...I did the Great North Run in September so I was already kind of at Half Marathon level.

    A typical week's training right now would be...

    TUES - Tempo run of about 8 miles
    THURS - A Speed/interval run (using Nike+). These are about 3 miles followed by a 2 mile easy run
    FRI - 3 mile easy run
    SUN - Long run

    I also do 2 easy(ish) gym full body strength sessions

    I average about 30-40 miles a week

    Last week I completed my second 20 mile long run (in about 2:54) and it felt pretty good......I am planning on a 22 mile and a 24 mile before the marathon.

    I have been relatively injury free...I had a bit of knee trouble (still do a little) but it seems to be improving with stretches and work in the gym (squats, lunges etc).

    I am aiming to complete the marathon sub 4 hrs........

    and I guess what I'm asking is if you think I could be doing anything more? anything different? sub 4hrs realistic?

    I'd really appreciate any comments.....I'm 36, about 13.5 stone, 6ft 1....and certainly not a 'natural runner' and I've only really been 'into running' about 2 I'd love and appreciate any feedback or advice from some of you much more experienced runners!

    Thanks in advance..

    I would say far too much fast running/work sessions.  80% of your weekly mileage should be done at easy to long run pace, you can calculate your training paces here

    You are doing your long runs at race pace, that is a recipe for disaster, for a sub 4 marathon long run training pace would be about 10 minute miles.
  • Thanks Shades....yea, as I say, im a bit of a novice, so really value advice.

    My theory was to get my speed up using one tempo run per week, one interval session...along with a long run.

    I find it really interesting about the long, is there no real benefit to doing my long runs (top is 20miles) around my marathon target pace? I just presumed that doing that would make me stronger running that pace....? worth saying I am fully aware of the taper...and will make sure my last long run (20 or more) is at very least 3 weeks from marathon.


    If you do all your long runs at marathon pace you are effectively racing every single time you do a long run.  On race day you will crash and burn as there's a limit to how much the body can take.   This website is littered with runners that did their long runs at their planned race pace and on marathon day finished way, way slower, and so disappointed after having such an awful experience.

    What I would suggest is that you find a half marathon to do say roughly 4-5 weeks before marathon day.   The time you do that half marathon in is your best indicator at what pace you should target on marathon race day by putting that result in a race predictor.   The 2nd most common error, after doing long runs too fast, is to run the first few miles of your marathon race too fast, and that error will lead to a painful and miserable 2nd half.   Your first marathon should be a positive experience and is to be enjoyed, although there will be a few tough bits, but that's all part of this sport.

    You might find this interesting reading on predicting your marathon time

  • Yea, that all makes sense....appreciated.

    I guess, with it being my first marathon, i've been keen to do long runs at race pace to kind of see 'where I am at'....and my 20 miler at 2:53 does give me that.

    Yea...that predictor gives me between 3:50-3:58 which is pretty much what I had in mind.

    I think im going to try a long run of about 22 at race pace this weekend....then essentially taper down from there. Brighton Marathon is 15th April so after this planning a 24 at below marathon pace maybe 11th March, an 18 below marathon pace 25th march....then keep it slower than marathon pace as i taper down from there.......along with keeping up slower mileage.

    again, appreciate your advice....being a novice, I've just been keep to 'get close to where I need to be' and it's difficult to essentially take the foot off the pedal....but im certainly going to clock many more slower miles now.

    Completely get going out too fast in first few miles...I did this in my first Great North Run and learned from that.


    Norm - NO, don't run 22 miles at race pace, it's of absolutely no benefit to you and is more likely to have a detrimental effect on your training.   

    If you want some miles at marathon pace run the first 15 miles at 10 minute miles and the last 7 miles at no faster than marathon pace.  

    But you'd be better running it all at 10 minute miles.   The long runs at slower than marathon pace build your aerobic endurance and prepares you for the marathon by making you a stronger runner.
  • Ok, understood.....i'll try the 15/7 split.

    and for my runs in the week...would you suggest a tempo run of 8 miles AT marathon pace?...or quicker than marathon pace?
    For your tempo run, do one mile easy then 6 miles at between half marathon and marathon pace and one mile easy to finish.

    Or you could do mile intervals, one mile easy, one mile at half marathon pace, one mile easy, one mile at marathon pace, one mile easy, one mile at half marathon pace, one mile easy.  Total distance 7 miles.   This sort of session teaches you to change pace and can be good mental training for the latter stages of a race.
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