Marathon training is a very personal thing. Ask any number of marathon runners about their weekly training schedule and the chances are that not one of them will be the same. Different runners will differ not only in their weekly mileage but also in the breakdown and nature of the runs which make up their running week. Previous running experience, injury history, your actual time available to run, personal commitment to training, as well as individual ambition all combine to shape your weekly training schedule. As does the training blueprint you select at the outset of your marathon journey.
Anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of training for a marathon will tell you that there is a phenomenal amount of suggested marathon training schedules available on the web. Just tap it into google and you’ll find yourself trawling through plan, after plan, after plan. Great in one way to have so many options and possibilities depending on what might suit you best as an individual, but it can also be massively confusing, particularly if you’re a beginner with no experience as regards what the runs involve and what kind of mileage your body can take.
I found my first marathon training schedule on the web. I googled it. I trawled. I got confused. In the end I picked one which I thought I might actually be able to do and given that at that point, I had no intention whatsoever of actually doing a marathon, the goal was simply to find a plan that would challenge me but that was also not completely unattainable. It was a four day a weeker, with 2 short recovery runs, a medium run and a long run. It worked for me and in the end it proved itself to be great for a beginner as I ended up doing the Dublin marathon after all and not just doing it, but actually enjoying it and feeling very happy at the end of it all. Winner, winner.
That was 6 years ago and since then I’ve played around with different schedules. Last year, I was a little over-enthusiastic and started training for the Dublin marathon earlier than I should have. In my mind, I somehow convinced myself that this was a good thing as it meant I would have more time to get in some extra 20+ milers and I did… but this turned out to be not such a good thing because while I was able to do the training runs, I ended up over-training and picked up a few injuries just 2 weeks before marathon day. I couldn’t run for the 2 weeks before the marathon and was seriously facing the possibility of not being able to run the race at all, which I was gutted about. I was lucky. On race day, I had no idea what was going to happen but the injuries didn’t kick up at all and I was able to finish the race, albeit at a slightly slower time than I would have originally planned for. It proved also to be the case that my best runs were left out on the roads during those long training runs of 20+ miles. Chalk it up to experience and take the lesson.
This year, I treated myself to the much referred to Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas and I’m currently mid-schedule in preparation for the Stone Mad Multi-Marathon. The beauty (ironically…) of the Stone Mad Multi is that it allows you to pick and mix your combination of races over the 2 days of the event such that if 2 days of ultra-marathoning is your thing, you can have at it. Alternatively, you can do any combo of ultra, full or half marathon. I’ve never done multi-marathon event before so I’m going for the full marathon on day 1 and a half-marathon on day 2. If I make it to the start line of day 2, I will consider it a victory.
I have to confess that I did miss a 4 mile recovery run this week because I was feeling uncharacteristically lazy but other than that I felt I did a good week’s work. Next week sees it step it up a notch again with my first 20 miler of the year and with one of two medium-long runs going up to 12 miles. What is it they say… challenges are what make life interesting.
Tuesday: 4 mile recovery (missed)
Wednesday: 10 miles (with 6 x 1 mile at 10km goal race pace) – 1:29:26
Friday: 11 miles – 1:45:00 (9:32 per mile average)
Saturday: 7 miles (4 miles easy followed by 5km parkrun)
Sunday: 18 miles – 2.53.39 (9:38 per mile average)