There are a great many training plans available from all sorts of sources so we will not add to that list by producing our own here. Below you will find our top training tips plus links to various marathon training plans. We are sure that you will find one that suits you.
There are some great plans produced by Ironbridge Runner. Just follow the link and scroll to the bottom of their page. Training Plans More links after the tips.
TOP TEN MARATHON TRAINING TIPS
- Increase mileage gradually
This applies to your total weekly mileage and the length of your long run. An increase of about 10% is about right, if your weekly mileage was 25 miles then increase to 27 or 28 miles. If the long run was 12 miles then increase to 13. Too big an increase can lead to injury or ill health.
- Get the long runs in
If you are reasonably fit you can run a half-marathon with very little run specific training. If you try this with the marathon distance you will get caught out big time. You have to get accustomed to running for a long time. It is Ďtime on your feetí that counts so do these runs at a slow pace. There is broad agreement that you should try and do at least one long run that is two thirds of the race distance i.e. 18 miles, but some people say that 15 is sufficient.
- Include rest days into your training plan
Training hard every day will lead to injury and poor performance due to overtraining. Include one or two rest days in your weekly plan. These need not be idle days, they can be used for cross-training such as cycling or swimming or gym work. Every fourth week have a lower mileage week to give your body time to recover.
- Vary the surface you run on
Pounding all your mileage out on hard surfaces such as concrete and tarmac may well lead to injuries. Try to get off-road for some of the time. Running over rough ground helps strengthen ankles and builds core stability. Early on in training be careful on rough ground to avoid twisting an ankle or picking up other injuries. Once you are used to it, running off road is a great way to build strength and endurance. Many of the top marathon runners spend a lot of the winter running in cross-country events.
- Donít neglect speed work
Lots of long slow runs could turn you into a long slow runner. Fitting in some speed sessions will help to prevent your speed declining too much. Track work, intervals and hill reps are all good sessions for building and maintaining speed, just donít do them all in one week. One session a week and one tempo run will be sufficient.
- Eat well
The extra training miles will mean that you need more fuel and when you are training you will be producing lots of free radicals that need mopping up. Plenty of carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables, of varying colours should keep you fit and healthy.
- Keep well hydrated
On your long runs you will need to drink during the run. Also make sure that you are drinking plenty of water during the day so that you start hydrated and replace the fluid lost during training.
- Be flexible
If your circumstances change and fitting the training in is too difficult or the plan you are following is just too hard for you, adjust your goals. If following a 3hr 30 min marathon plan is leaving you constantly tired and picking up injuries then adjust your goal to 4 hours and change training plans. This is not an excuse to wimp out when things get tough and the weather is bad, but being sensible when things are not going well.
- Avoid serious injury
If you are unlucky and pick up an injury, treat it straight away and rest. If it does not get any better in a reasonable time seek specialist advice. It is far better to miss a few training sessions or even a few weeks than to struggle on, make things worse and miss the marathon.
Two or even three weeks before the race ease off on the training. It is not the time to suddenly realise that you have not done enough training and try and cram it into the last few weeks. There is not a lot you can do now to improve your performance on race day but there is a great deal you can do to ruin it. Cut down on the mileage but keep up the intensity of the runs and get plenty of rest to increase your chance of a great performance on race day.
Links to training plans
The Running Bug have a variety of training plans from a beginners plan to more advanced one.
Several plans, invluding sub 3 hour, are available from the running shop, Runnersworld, which is entirely separate from the magazine, Runner's World.
Advice and plans from a UK website, Runnersweb, which is entirely separate from the American site with a similar name.
The magazine Runnersí World has a great website with lots of information that is free to access plus some that is only available to subscribers.