When it came to chosing a training programme I did what I always do when looking for advice on something… spent 3 hours looking around on the internet trusting complete strangers as experts, then made up my own solution.
This might sound mad, but the reality is there doesn’t seem a particularly perfect way of training for a marathon. My heart specialist has run something like 18 marathons… his training schedule was “run every single day of the week, never more than 13miles”. The marathon beginners book I’m using has a 16 week training programme that scales from 15 – 37 miles a week – and their starting point is someone who can jog for only 30minutes!
The most important questions for me were…
- How many days a week did I want to train for? This is likely to be either 4 or 5. What was most important to me was that you need to seriously consider ‘recovery’ days… so I have one big run a week and need a free day before it and afterwards so immediately that uses three of the week days! In addition you will want to get your long runs in at the weekend when you have the most time free.
- How much time do you have and what is your overall goal (just finishing, right?). It’s going to take you a minimum of 6 months and more realistically a year to prepare for the big day. If you’re going to do it you need to feel you at least did it to the best of your ability.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can come up with a plan that suits your timescale and available time. I ended up with (so far) the following…
- Monday : Recovery day
- Tuesday : Fast short run
- Wednesday : Medium hill run
- Thursday : Recovery day
- Friday : Just a good decent medium length run
- Saturday : Recovery day ready for…
- Sunday : Long run
One of my big downers was that my initial training plan ideas never gave me ANY time to consolidate. Every single week was harder than the last. When the hell was I going to get time to improve my speed rather than distance??? So in terms of schedules, I’m following a training plan that ‘sort of’ looks like this…
- Stage 1 : 6 week beginners stage, going from 5 to 10 miles a week.
- Stage 2 : 6 week intermediate stage, going from 10 to 16 miles a week. (this should get you to a good 5K race time)
- Stage 3 : 10 week quality stage, going from 13 to 20 miles a week (this should result in good 10K race times)
- Stage 4 : 16 week advanced stage, going from 18 to 27 miles a week (this gets you ready for half marathons)
- Stage 5 : 16 week superman stage, going from 25 to 43 miles a week (then you’re ready for marathon!)
Do I know if this plan is any good? Well I’ve found very similar versions around on the net… I will be verifying it with brainiacs when I get a bit more confident as well. But what I liked about it was that each stage gives me the opportunity to go back and improve on what I could do before. Mentally that’s really positive for me as I’ll be able to look back and say “a month ago I did exactly this run and it took me 5minutes longer” – which will be a real boost.
p.s. the awesome photo is from the Great Wall Marathon. No.Bloody.Way.