Marathon Training: 6 Week Review


There’s only 6 weeks left until the October Bank Holiday and my absolute favourite thing about it: the Dublin Marathon. For the first 21 years of my life, Halloween was the indisputable champion of October, being a lover of horror movies, scary stories and all things spooky. Not anymore! Swapping dracula costumes for a costume of a whole other kind. And doing scary things of a whole other kind…

With just over 6 weeks left to go until marathon day, it’s a good point to take a moment to take stock of how training has gone so far and get my head straight in terms of what I want/ need to get out of the next 6 weeks of training. I came into this training block quite quickly after the Stone Mad Marathon in mid-July, which is a first for me as prior to this year, I’ve only ever done 1 marathon in a 12 month period. So it’s all a bit new this year with taking in 2 marathon training blocks and I’m not sure what I can expect when it comes to the October marathon. I’d love to run Dublin in under 4 hours (anything under!) but my best Dublin time to date is 4.05. I completed the July marathon in 3.57, which I was thrilled about but Dublin involves a lot more hills and gradual inclines, which not only take longer in their own rite, but can also play havoc with your legs and tire you out / trick your legs quite a bit, resulting in a knock-on impact for the remainder of the race. So although I ran a sub 4 hour marathon for the first time this year, I also know that that particular course probably flattered my marathon ability. Dublin may yet reveal a less speedier marathoner…


Like the last marathon, I’m following a Douglas and Pfitzinger plan and discounting the last 2 weeks of tapering, that leaves just 4 weeks of real training and only 4 long runs left to do. Doug and Pfitz have prescribed 15, 20, 17 and 20 mile long runs for the next 4 weeks, respectively, before then assigning 16 and 12 for the last 2 weeks of training. Previously, I’d never have done it this way, as I would have followed the rule of upping the long run by 1 or 2 miles every week except for every 4th week, which would be a recovery week. Doug and Pfitz plans tend to have the long run going up and down all the time, depending on the total weekly mileage, the intensity they ask from the long run and whatever other runs you might be doing that week. Being honest, I was doubtful about their plan when training for the last marathon but having finally ran under 4 hours for the first time, I was delighted with the result and they now have my full trust! I will go up and down with them as they see fit 😉

Only possible exception – I might up the second 20 mile run to 22, as I think I get a great psychological advantage from going beyond the 20 mark in training. Then on race day, going from 22-26 doesn’t seem like such a long stretch, if only in my head!

This weekend is a 15 miler long run with 12 miles at marathon pace. For a sub 4 marathon, goal marathon pace works out at 9.10 mile. This is my goal but I cannot stress enough that my absolute goal is to enjoy myself. The worst thing in the world is to train for a marathon, putting in all of that hard work for months, running when you’re tired or just not at all in the mood, sacrificing late nights, alcohol, fast food (etc., you know who you are Ben and Jerry…) and putting your heart and everything you’re worth into running 26.2 miles, only to get to the end and having fallen short of the dream goal, feel like bursting into tears because the first thing someone asks you is “What time did you do?” (note: usually someone who has never run except to the bus) We work too frickin hard, as marathon runners, be ye awesome like Paula Radcliffe or awesome like the last person to finish, to deserve to feel like this on marathon day. You finish a marathon, you rock. Simple as that.

We’ll see what happens 🙂


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