It’s one month since thousands of lucky runners found out they’d landed a place in the London marathon. I’d wager that most of them haven’t started training yet. Too early? Well, it depends where you are to begin with. I believe a lot of runners make the mistake of waiting until January to start their official training. If you’re a seasoned runner, with a relatively high weekly mileage and, perhaps, other marathons under your belt, you may be fine delaying your official ‘build-up’ because you’ll be able to hit the ground running (pun intended). But if you’re less experienced, or not running much at the moment, or haven’t done a long race in a while, what are you waiting for?! I have had recent enquiries from potential coaching clients who despite knowing they are running London/Brighton/Paris, are currently only running 8-12 miles PER WEEK!
As a coach, I like people to be comfortable running 13 miles for their long run in week 1 of their plan (assuming we’re starting 16 weeks out from race day). If you can only start at, say 10 miles, you will waste valuable weeks building up to the point where you can run 13 miles – and that makes it a race against time to achieve a decent peak mileage and longest long run. The last thing you want is to run your longest-ever run (say, the holy grail of 20 miles) just once, three weeks before your longest-ever run (the marathon). It’s all too bunched up towards the end of the plan and it doesn’t give you sufficient time to recover from the peak long run. Having to squash in weekly consecutive long runs, just to ensure you can make it to a 20-miler also risks injury. There are far better ways to plan your training!
If you are doing a spring marathon, and you haven’t run 13 miles recently (or ever) – start working towards that now and you’ll be in a much stronger position come December or January when you embark on your ‘official’ plan.
One of the reasons I use 13 miles as a base measure is because it’s half the distance you’ll be racing (psychologically, you’re halfway there straight from the off). It’s also because I believe that anyone who has signed up to run a marathon in the spring should be able to cover the marathon distance over the course of a week right from the off. Think about it: you’re going to be doing this distance in a DAY, so it seems reasonable to be able to accumulate it over a week.! And I don’t like the ‘long run’ to comprise more than 50% of a runner’s total weekly mileage. Say you start with a weekly mileage of 26 miles – that allows you to include three shorter runs (one at faster-than-marathon-pace, such as a speed or tempo session of some kind, I’d advise) along with a long run. Then, as your weekly mileage gradually increases, so does your long-run distance.
Our Master Your Marathon workshop takes place in January 2020 and offers the perfect opportunity to get some expert insights into how to set a realistic marathon goal, how to train effectively and how to prepare for the big day. It includes a guided, supported long run tailored to the needs of every participant. Find out more or book a place here.