How to choose the right training plan for a marathon

For many of us with our sights set on a Spring marathon, we’re already twenty weeks away from our goal race but how do you find the right training plan for YOU?

If you’ve followed a great training plan , consistently marking off each session, this is how you should feel at the expo – excited and raring to hit the race start line!

Generic plans off the internet and magazines

There are thousands of them all over the internet, printed in magazines, handed out my charities that you may be raising money for but, which one is good? All training plans are generic and we hazard a guess that 85% of them will have been written by men, who don’t have to juggle multiple responsibilities such as work, family, kids and everything else. Regardless of gender, few take into account running history, how many miles you are currently running NOW (i..e your running base), your lifestyle, or work/life commitments.  Recognise this FIRST so that you can acknowledge in advance that it will feel like a clunky fit. It is.

If you go down this route here’s what we recommend

  • Choose one that includes at least four runs per week and starts NO LESS than 16 weeks away from your race goal. Only if you’re very fit, and regularly run marathons should you look at a 12 week plan.
  • Write out your plan – and add your own sessions  print out your plan, or re-write it and plan in other sessions that are ESSENTIAL to help you avoid injury during your marathon training. This should include yoga/foam rolling/basic strength and continuing and sports massage at least every three weeks. Whoever said running is cheap had never run a marathon!

Training Apps

There are numerous training apps on the market, including Runner’s World’s MyRunPlan, and  Training Peaks where you can pay for a plan, which again is generic, but it loads to a calendar as an app on your phone. It’s easy to log in, see what the run is, do it, and mark it off as done. The calendar will reward you by turning green once you’ve completed. Fail to do the session and you get a red square. Training Peak plans are good because you can see clearly what you’ve got to do but suffers the same problems of any of the generic plans that you get anywhere else – except you’ve paid for it.

Personalised training plans

Many running coaches, ourselves included, will write training plans specifically for you. We tend to send you an in-depth questionnaire, followed by a chat on the phone and then we deliver a training plan, specific to your goals, your current fitness, life-work balance. The advantage is that it’s exactly for you. The cons are that if you get injured, fall ill, etc, the plan does not change to accommodate this in the same way as anything generic doesn’t. However, with it being written specifically for you in the first place, the likelihood of injury occurring due to a plan that does not reflect your specific running history is minimal.

 

Mentoring & Coaching

If you can afford it, and you want to run a marathon and enjoy it, race mentoring is the gold service for any runner. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in achieving a certain goal time or simply want to achieve a sense of satisfaction with each training session you do, not just the final ‘race’ goal. We charge £100 per month (some companies charge more, some less) but it means you have a personalised plan that can adapt and change week by week, according to how your training is going or the unforeseeable life events that can derail your training for a week or so, leaving you unsure how to proceed.

Plus, wherever you live in the world, your training is tracked via Strava or Garmin so we know what you’re doing – or not doing. It helps to hold you accountable and to help you feel like you’re achieving something with each session, because this method if training is so closely matched to helping to challenge and progress you as an individual; if you’ve ever struggled with a generic plan, you’ll appreciate how frustrating or disappointing it can be when you’re following something too easy or too hard. Where we differ with our plans is that we have a holistic approach, recognising the many elements must be balanced when you’re a woman training for a marathon juggling multiple tasks.

 

THE most important thing, no matter which option you choose is to start thinking about it from about 20-24 weeks away from your marathon goal. And follow a 16 week plan as an absolute minimum.

 

You can read more about our marathon mentoring service here.  Read about one woman’s experience of mentoring here.

 

Run for the Hills, Brighton course

It’s just a hill. And we’re going to get over it together…

Build strength so that the uphill feels just as easy as the down

Our hill training course for women in Brighton and Hove starts July 5th and is aimed at helping you to build strength, stamina and confidence to take on hills, both up and down. As long as you can run 5km or have completed one of our courses, THIS course is suitable.

Every week is different, some game-based sessions, some including strength and conditioning and some straight intervals. You’ll learn techniques to help you get up the hill and down easier, as well as build your confidence.

Dates are:

July 5th, no training the following week, July 19th, July 26th, August 2nd, August 9th and August 16. Book and pay online £48 for the course. Can’t make all of them? As long as you can attend a minimum of 3 you can attend at  drop in rate. Email info@girlsruntheworld.co.uk for more details.

Where we meet: We will meet at the corner of The Droveway as it intersects with Goldstone Crescent at 7pm promptly although not every session will remain here so be on time!

Event Review: The Weakest Link, Brighton

Although some people might be put off by the name of this event, it is one of the most inclusive and fun running events in Brighton. Great for building team morale and suitable for all levels of runners from total beginners to the super speedy. Here one of our runners, Sarah Crosier gives us her lowdown on the event

What is it: A relay race comprising of four team members. Each member takes it in turn to run 2.5km and then the entire team must run a final 2.5km together, ensuring that the whole team finishes together.

The Route: it is only 2.5km but with some short hills – don’t let that put you off though. It’s great fun and everyone is running different speeds so you never get left feeling like your the slowest runner.

The Weakest Link in June 2015, was the first event that I ever took part in with Girls Run the World. More a “team event” than a “race”, there were a few super speedy runners from athletic clubs ‘in it to win it,’ but my aim was ‘in it to finish it”. On entering, I’d done a few sessions of the GRTW hill training, Run for the Hills course but didn’t know anyone and was really new to running but GRTW organised all the teams and I found myself as part of a team a few other runners.

Before the day, we agreed that Karen would run the fourth lap as she was our strongest runner. It meant that she would have to run her 2.5km and then carry on running with the team without a break to finish. I’m always nervous on race days, and so I asked to go 2nd to get it out of the way. It also meant that I’d have someone to follow so I wouldn’t go the wrong way like one of our runners ended up doing!

There was a fantastic atmosphere with about 20 GRTW and runners from all the local running clubs – while there was racing it was also great for meeting people as there was lots of standing around cheering others while waiting for your chance to run. Plus, the distance is achievable and it was so informal and relaxed. Some people were even walking up the hills – not me, of course!

Our team was close to being last (or maybe we were?) but it really didn’t matter. We ran the final lap together and received a massive cheer from everyone as we crossed the finish line. I can’t wait to take part again this year. It’s great fun.