Since June this year, 1983 London marathon winner Mike Gratton has been coaching three forum readers, live on the forum for everyone to share. (They had marathon goals of four hours and 3:15, and we called the threads Hard Training
The threads have been among our most popular, and some of our more experienced readers have asked for some help in the build-up to the Flora London Marathon.
On this new thread, Mike is obliging with training schedules for robust, serious runners who want to train near their limits. He'll post schedules each week, and answer questions where he can (but don't be offended if he can't reply to them all; he's generously volunteering his time).
Mike offers up two levels here; the first is aimed at regular daily runners who don’t want to start afresh each new season, and the second is a glimpse at what is needed to excel at the highest level – in fact, it is Mike’s actual training plan leading to his victory in 1983.
The Hard Training plans do not work on the basis of ability level, more a desire to do more than the normal in order to make improvement. There are no specific speeds set: the long runs are based on time on your feet, and the speedwork is based on relative speeds at various distances – you need to make the adjustments yourself.
Mike’s elite schedule is based on the specific distances and times he did, based on years of elite preparation (he was already a London Marathon third-placer and Commonwealth Games bronze medalist from the year before).
These are no easy options, and only very regular runners should attempt the schedule. Most days offer two runs; if you're not ready for 14 runs a week, start out with seven, and add extra runs gradually over the months. If time doesn’t permit that, simply stay at seven runs, choosing the key session each day.
Week 1 – December 5 to 11:
Sunday: am - 2 hrs steady (70% max HR), pm 30 to 40 mins easy
Monday: am – 30-40 mins easy, 1 hr steady
Tuesday: am 30-40 mins easy, pm 1 hr fartlek – 12 to 15 efforts varying between 1 min and 5 mins
Wednesday: am 30-40 mins easy, pm 1 hr steady
Thursday: am 30-40 mins easy, pm 1 hr steady
Friday: am 30-40 mins easy, pm rest or 30 mins easy
Saturday: am 1 hr steady, pm 40 mins hill circuit (continuous run on 1km circuit with approx 500m shallow uphill, 500m downhill)
Mike’s elite training:
Sunday: am 22 miles steady, pm 6 miles easy
Monday: am 5 miles steady, pm 8 miles group fartlek
Tuesday: am 5 miles steady, pm 8 miles Canterbury loop with club (5:45 miling)
Wednesday: am 5 miles steady, pm 13 miles steady
Thursday: am 5 miles steady, pm 10 miles steady
Friday: am 5 miles steady, pm 5 miles steady
Saturday: 11 miles steady cross country, pm 6 miles easy
(There's more about Mike and some of his key answers from the original Hard Training threads here