As the saying goes, “Marathon training is a cruel mistress”, why else does every marathoner feel the need to tell you about their training regardless if you have asked our not?
It’s a lot of time, effort and sweat equity put into one day, months away, where you will test your mettle on the road…
Which is why you need to be cautious with which marathon training plan you choose!
You need to choose a plan that will work best for you; a plan that will fit within your time constraints but also work with your body and how you as an individual respond to training. However, sometimes it’s hard to tell which plan will work best, especially if you are unsure what to look for!
Take the plan below for instance:
It’s a beginner marathon training plan I pulled off of Google – simple and progressive , it isn’t going to burn you out… but it isn’t going to make you as fit as you should be (especially after 26 weeks of training!).
Lets break it down a bit (and get into my general (keyword general) keys of training))
1) It doesn’t follow the 10% mileage rule
Mileage doesn’t progress at a 10% clip throughout the program, not a necessary but it jumps big at first and then stalls out – if you are a beginner you need to take you’re time getting into training and then jump up your mileage a bit faster, not the other way around.
2) It doesn’t follow the 20-25% long run rule
It seems ridiculous to me that this plan would have you supplementing 20 mile long runs with 5 mile medium long runs… it seems very inefficient to me. 20 miles in a 40 mile week is 50% of your mileage for the week, I don’t care if you’re a beginner – that is just not going to cut it.
*My goal as a coach is to deliver you to the starting line confident, it may seem counter-intuitive but doing an 18 mile long run with more mileage overall will allow you to conquer your long run and have a better overall fitness than struggling your way through a 20 miler, not sure if you’re going to make it to 26.
3) Only 1-2 quality (hard) days a week
I’m a bit torn on this one and it may be a necessity for some of you, you’re increasing your quantity of mileage so you may need less quality overall. However, this is not the case for the majority of beginners and there are some weeks where you have 0 quality days which is not going to help you recover in the right way or gain fitness.
4) Too many recovery and cross training days
The goal of a training program isn’t to make sure you feel fresh for every run, there will be easy runs where you feel fatigued. That’s ok though as long as you are taking care of yourself and able to put on the effort when it’s needed!
5) No supplemental work
This is something you may be able to find elsewhere, but I always like to include my dynamic warm up, core routines and strength training programs with every plan. Again I like to individualize everything, depending on the amount of time you have and how much experience you have/what’s worked for you in the past.
I don’t like generic…
I know it marginalizes the hard working people that make those plans you find in Runner’s World but I am confident that you can do better. That plan doesn’t know that your best distance is the mile, that plan doesn’t know about how you react to long runs over the course of the week… but I will!
My philosophy hinges on what works best for you – what you see above is the April plan for a June 10k. I will usually pencil in the 2 or 3 key benchmark workouts and take the rest of your plan; one cycle – 7-10 days – at a time! Mileage is laid out but that’s always subject to change depending on how you are handling it so far. I won’t be easy on you, but I will work with you and what suits your body best.
This way I can judge how you recover between workouts and what we need to do to make sure you run your best race on race day!
That is the goal after all.
Alright, that’s enough for part 1 – let this sink in because next I’ll be diving head first into the specifics. This will be how I decide what workouts fit in best where – and how to train you mentally for the task ahead!