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Mrathon training newbie - which plan?!

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Jun 2012
11:36am, 29 Jun 2012
First-time poster!!
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JuliaD
Hi
I'm looking for some suggestions and advice as to how to build a marathon plan. There are lots out there but I am struggling a little with all the conflicting advice aout where to start. If there is another thread I should be reading (I am sure there must be somewhere amidst this) then I would happily be pointed toward it.

I'm 36 years old, have been running for a little under 2 years and have signed up for Amsterdam this October. I have 4 halfs under my belt, the last two were in March within a week of each other (Bath and Baldock) and there was just 7 seconds between the times in spite of the wildly different terrain. Each was just under 1hr 45 so in my head, I think a sub-4 first marathon should be reasonably possible.

I've been advised to look at the Hal Higdon plans, but the novice ones don't have much by way of cross training.

My usual weekly routine is a Monday hour session which involves either speed, hills or core, a Tuesday session which is either track or road work (fartleks, tempo, etc) and then I usually get at least one or two runs between 8-16km in the week, and at least one pilates session. My average mpw is currently at between 15-20. Up until recently I was doing a long weekend run as well but I had deliberately slowed up on these after the halfs on advice to not wear myself out to soon and to pause before starting marathon training in earnest in the summer. So the summer is here now and I need to get cracking!

Does anyone have some advice as to where best to start?
Jun 2012
11:49am, 29 Jun 2012
2801 posts
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rf_fozzy
Hi Julia, Welcome to Fetch!

A lot on here follow the Pftizinger and Douglas plans (Advanced Marathoning book), but I find their plans very mileage heavy! I know a lot on here also use the Hal Higdon plans, but I haven't looked at them in any great detail. My favourite (and the one I based my training on) was Jack Daniels' plan (Daniels' Running Formula) - I find his plans much more adaptable for the "normal" runner.

One good thing to try is to set yourself a mileage/time budget for the week - how much time do you have/want to train and then tailor whichever plan you decide to use to that.

One thing to think about is that training for a marathon requires a lot of specificity - i.e. it's a long way, so you need to include a lot of running. You can include X-training, but it should not be at the detriment of running - i.e. you could replace an easy 5mile recovery run with an easy cross-training session, but don't replace your key running sessions - long runs, intervals, tempo runs etc.

From the looks of your training, you're on the right track - just need to add the long run in and generally up your mileage a bit. Not sure who told you not to do a long run, but I do a long run every week (standard is approx 14-16mi) that I'm not racing in "normal" training - that's all year round. When I go into training for something long, then I obviously up that.
Jun 2012
11:52am, 29 Jun 2012
2803 posts
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rf_fozzy
Although having said the above, my longest run currently each week is only about 10mi, but then I'm suffering from motivational failure at the moment!
Jun 2012
12:02pm, 29 Jun 2012
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JuliaD
Thank you for the welcome!

I was reading about the P&D plans and everywhere the advice seems to be 'not for your first one'. To put the advice in context about the longer runs, I had started upping my mileage perhaps a little too steeply (leaping from 12 to 16 miles) and was starting to suffer for it, and I need to do some work on my rubbish gait, so the advice was to recover from the niggles, do some more strengthening work and then start building up June/July. My legs definitely feel better for it but I am aware that the 10 miler I did last week was my first longer run since the halfs in March so I do definitely need to get back on track making those normal and starting to step them up.

In terms of timing, I can comfortably do a 10km in a lunch hour. I tend to be doing something 4 evenings a week and have been supporting some couch to 5km -ers in my evenings before going to track or core sessions.

Do you have any advice on running more than once in a day? In other words, if I were to go out for 10km at lunch time would an evening long run be silly or perfectly acceptable?
I've not heard of Jack Daniels so I will go and see how that one looks too - thank you for the pointer!
Jun 2012
12:09pm, 29 Jun 2012
10215 posts
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SODIron © 2002
I'm working off a Pftizinger and Douglas based plan at the moment...like fozzy said though, these are more mileage based but if followed should give you a solid aerobic base and result in a reasonable marathon performance.

I think before you can decide what plan is best for you you need to know the following;

1. What are your goals/targets for the marathon
2. How much time can you realistically spend training (not the time you would like to, but the real time you can spend subject to life and work)
3. Are you prone to injury when you increase mileage and/or intensity
4. What your current level of fitness is

If I were in your shoes I'd take a look at ALL the plans available with a view to how they fit in with the above goals/targets, then make a call from there...only you can decide though.

Good luck
Jun 2012
12:12pm, 29 Jun 2012
10216 posts
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SODIron © 2002
For the record...I did my first marathon on a little over 6 weeks training and hit sub 4 (just)...this is still my marathon PB.

I just dropped all speed work and just ran aerobically...one long run each week starting at 13 and up to 19, then a couple of mid/short length 6-7 milers during the week. I wouldn't recommend it, as miles 20 plus were VERY tough on marathon day...but it can be done.
Jun 2012
12:27pm, 29 Jun 2012
12197 posts
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DeeGee
The key with a marathon plan for a first marathon is how quickly it takes you to the longest long run and how many runs of 20+ miles it has.

If you've never run more than a half, a plan which takes you from 12 to 16 in a week isn't the one for you. Likewise I'd suggest that running 20 and 22 every four weeks might be a little excessive.

Speedwork and suchlike are nice, but they're not the key.

My first marathon was run on the back of 3x17 milers, though. That was a poor idea.

I've used an adapted P&D for my last two "target" marathons, successfully last time round.

For my next target marathon I'm concentrating on running long, not using a plan, dropping in the occasional short race as speedwork, as that's how I can best fit it around family life at the moment.
Jun 2012
12:28pm, 29 Jun 2012
12198 posts
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DeeGee
If you want cross training to be an important part, you might have a look at Furman.

www2.furman.edu
Jun 2012
12:30pm, 29 Jun 2012
3 posts
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JuliaD
Ha yes I really don't want it to be a painful or miserable experience if I can possibly avoid it!

1. I've said my goal is sub-4, but if I'm honest I want 3:45 :)
2. I'm finding it relatively easy to prioritise exercise over everything else. 5 days in a week seems do-able at the moment. As for the longer weekend runs, I'm just going to have to wake up earlier. Work involves a certain amount of travel but I'm getting used to packing the shoes and running in new places or if I absolutely have to, a hotel dreadmill but I absolutely hate them.
3. I do lack muscles where they ought to be on my inner things so as I start going over 10 miles my knee really niggles. Also I have terrible posture so back pain is a staple of my life and made worse by running. I am working on both of these though and just need to build gym and weights time in there somewhere. I much prefer to be outdoors though so to be honest running is easy but cross-training is harder!
4. I would say I was reasonably fit. I'm off for an MOT this weekend to see if I can get some idea of how fit. At 5'1" I'm 7st 2 so i'm not carrying any excess weight. After 13 miles I can still break into a fast 100m sprint finish without much difficulty. After 16 miles the worst of it was stiff heavy legs for 3 days, but no injury.

Hmmm ... so maybe focussing on road miles for the first one is going to be the best strategy for me?
Jun 2012
12:31pm, 29 Jun 2012
4 posts
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JuliaD
Ah ha I bought that book but not read it yet!
:-)

About This Thread

Maintained by JuliaD
Hi
I'm looking for some suggestions and advice as to how to build a marathon plan. There are lots...

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