Feedback on marathon training schedules?

Some weeks ago there was some discussion going on about the target times for the intervals in the RW marathon training schedules. At the time the consensus was that these times were all ridiculously too fast. Are people still finding this? Or has everyone else improved with time and it's just me that isn't making the recommended speed?

I'm sort of following the sub-4 schedule, but am doing less distance and training at a slower pace. I see I am actually following the sub-5 schedule almost exactly! I probably won't break 4 hours this time, but certainly will be closer to 4 hours than 5. Is it just me or are these schedules just stupid?


  • You pays your moneys Ratcatcher.

    I started a thread about sub 4.30 schedules that varied so wildly as to be laughable. Both are on the RW web-site ("intermediate" and "ultimate")

    My answer, however is probably not despite this. A marathon is probably the only time a runner follows a schedule so any sort of structure and discipline is likely to pay dividends.

    All I would say is have a look around. Whatever time you're after there will be a choice of schedules. Just choose one that suits you.
  • I've followed RW schedules for my last 4 marathons and they all seem to have done the trick! There are obviously times when you can't do a particular run on a particular day so you end up moving runs around etc.

    You have to put the effort in to achieve the goal I'm afraid!
  • I'm following the sub five hour schedule and I keep half-heartedly thinking about moving up (or is it down) to the sub-4:30. Mainly because I seem to exceed the LSD targets and medium slow run targets comfotably. But then again I'm not terribly convinced by my distance measurement and I know that there was one road that I had seriously over-estimated the length of, so any times on that route were faster than they should have been.

    The main reason I haven't switched is cos some of the speedwork on the sub-4:30 looks pretty tough! *wimp*
  • but I have to say that without these schedules I'd be pretty directionless and wouldn't be doing very well, so good or bad at least they're there!
  • What's your 1/2 marathon PB and what pace do you run your marathon pace runs? That's probably a more reliable guide to your likely marathon time.

    So far I've managed all of one interval session at the specified pace (800metres). My tempo and marathon pace runs are OK, but for some reason my easy runs are quite a bit slower even at the suggested hr range they suggest, and the interval sessions invariably a bit slower too.

    Take the 4* mile intervals on the 3.45 schedule this week - suggested time 6.40-7 mins which I think equates to their theoretical 10K time. I work my 10K pace out to be 7.15 based on a recent PB which incidentally also equates to my 1/2 marathon PB. Result: do the 1st interval in 7 mins, the rest at 7.10-7.20, just couldn't get faster than that.

    Compare this with the times given in the macmillan calculator ( :
    'Speed workouts' - 6.57-7.12
    'Stamina workouts' - 7.12-7.21

    Hey presto it all starts to look a bit more reasonable.

    Not to say the RW schedules are all rubbish, just that at the end of the day it's your marathon pace that matters, last year got around in 4.08 without doing a single interval speed session. Whilst sticking to a schedule to give shape and structure to your training you've also got to bear in mind the effect on your motivation of constantly 'failing' the speed sessions, unless this spurs you on to trying harder.

    PS Will email you about the socks!
  • Thanks, Laura. I have followed the RW schedules in the past, and usually have managed to do the speed at the recommended pace. It's just this year that I am so off the pace, but I am actually not running any slower than before. My worst ever marathon was last year and I think it was partly because I was doing 55 miles a week (on their schedule) whereas before I had never done much more than 40 miles a week. That's why I'm happily doing less this year. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

    I do still like the schedules because it means not having to think about what to do!
  • having just had a quick look at the latest RW that landed through the letterbox this morning, they've actually included an item in which they tacitly admit that they've got the target times a bit wrong. not that they say it in so many words! but basically they're saying don't worry about the times unless you find yourself drastically at odds with the targets in which case think about adjusting your goal time.

    it's a shame that they seem to have discouraged so many runners (to judge from the comments around these parts). most experts (and top elite runners) agree that you shouldn't be running intervals and other speed sessions to complete exhaustion (or only rarely and under controlled conditions). you should almost always feel that you could do one more repetition if someone put a gun to your head and told you you had no choice.

    it's odd that RW, who are otherwise great advocates of training smarter not harder, should have adopted these excessive target times.
  • Thanks, Ratcatcher. I am following the sub-4 hour schedule with a view to running the Edinburgh marathon in June. My times seem OK for everything except the speed sessions where I was way off the scheduled times. I was beginning to feel very despondant about it.

    You have managed to re-motivate me!
  • This year I have done more training for the FLM than ever but, when I ran the Brighton half last week, I was so stale from all the miles I have done recently that I was nearly 5 mins off my PB. Hopefully it will all come good in April, but at present I wonder whether I would run any slower if I kept to my usual 30 miles a week - perhaps I will try it next time I do a marathon.
  • I am using the sub 3 hour RW schedule and have no problem with the interval pace, I just struggle a bit on the longer marathon pace runs- although it gives 6:40 min/miles as being the pace, actually 6:50 is enough to get sub 3. What I am doing is aiming to do 6:40 but not bothering too much if it's 6:50.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Monique, are you running with the elite women this year? 'cause I think we'll be aiming for pretty similar times.
  • Once you've run a couple of marathons you tend to be able to devise your own schedule which is a mish mash of club sessions, previous experience, advice from clubmates, how you feel and what other commitments you have.

    Used the RW as a guide for my first marathon but use the advice from people here as a better guide because as someone has already said, RW is thinking about a conglomerate average runner.

    Disappointed also that the RW schedules stop at sub 3. Why nothing lower than this?
  • Maybe they just assume that if you can run sub 2.45 that advice comes from a coach or other experienced person.
  • I wonder if personal style/ability comes too much into play when going for anything under 3 for a magazine schedule to help?

    For instance I'm fairly sure that I run better on only 4 quality sessions per week with days off after each of the harder sessions (track, hills and either the very long slow or a 10+ tempo) and an overall mileage of usually no more than 40. I also cycle a slow 20 minutes to work everyday for "recovery". This worked for a sub-3:15 first-marathon last year and will hopefully work for a sub-3:00 this year.

    However others obviously thrive on more mileage and more sessions per week (like you Barnsley man?).

    The other thing is I now have a stack of books, old magazine editions and online schedules/advice to reference which I use in addition to the odd comment from the coaches at our club.
  • I have been using the timeoutdoors plans based on target times, number of days you can run per week and which are time based also using hrm and race times.

    Used the half marthaon one last year and now using the marathon one. Really varied and good fun and although quite tough have not left me feeling too exhausted.

    Worth checking out on their wbe site.

  • drew- I am with the elite women, so far, afterall there is talk of merging the two races.
    I also have a folder of just marathon schedules, I checking against the one that Bruce Tulloh did in RW in 1997 as it has 10 steps most of which are races in certain times, which is why I liked it.
    Very happy so far with this years RW one though.
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    I need to choose a marathon schedule in the next couple of weeks as I have a marathon in late June. At the moment I´m just building up mileage (averaging around 40 miles pw) and doing some speedwork.

    I´m aiming for 3.20 - 3.30. But choosing a marathon schedule is worse than shopping for shoes! Should I choose the easiest (cos I´m a lazy bum) or go for a tougher one (Frank?) in the hope of greater rewards later in the year???

    My biggest problem is that there are no races within a 6 hour drive of my house from Sptember to May, which makes pacing and race practice difficult.

    Any pointers very welcome!

    BTW did you have a good weekend in the Peaks Monique - wasn´t it last weekend?
  • Lizzie -when I get home tonight I will attempt to scan some schedules in and email them to you- I have never done this before so it may not work.
    I like the ones that give you a bear minimum and a "belt and braces option" so you don't start to feel you're dropping behind if you have a tiring week or two.
    I also start a week earlier so I have a week to play with- it may be to spend time having flu or complete one weeks training over two weeks so I'm back in line for the taper period.
  • Lizzie- you have also got me worried, was I supposed to be somewhere else last weekend?
    I hope not, I was running back from Skipton along the canal.
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    Thanks Monique!

    I like the idea of starting a week early - makes a lot of sense. As the marathon I am running is one of those midnight sun marathons, the next thing I have to do is convince my body that it is totally normal to run 26 miles in small hours of the morning .....

    Peak District - I probablay got the wrong weekend - or the wrong person? Must be cos Friday - pressure of work an' all that.

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