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Marathon Training Plans – Do I need one? By Steve Way

June 19, 2014 0 Comments

Marathon Training Plans – Do I need one and if so …… which one!

It’s one of the most common questions I get asked on my blog and it’s also one of the most difficult to answer for any specific individual. In my opinion the answer very much depends on where you are in your marathon “journey” and how close you are to reaching your potential.

  • If you have only recently started running and are training for your first marathon then all you really need is a basic structure to your weeks running and some consistency.
  • Got a couple of marathons under your belt and looking to take a big chunk off your PB then a generic “off-the-shelf” plan will probably do the job nicely as long as you follow it and maintain the consistency.
  • Been around the block a few times and looking for that edge to allow you to knock a couple of minutes off that hard earned marathon PB? You will need to look at building a specific plan that caters to your strengths and weaknesses either put together by yourself or with the help of a coach


So for the guys and gals that are tackling their first marathon then what you really need to do is ensure that you get to the start line having enjoyed your journey while also getting yourself fit enough to enjoy your first 26.2 mile race! The key here is consistency and just building up your training miles, the exact details of the training are reasonably insignificant as the major fitness benefits will just come from getting out there week in, week out and running. To give some structure to your running and keep you on the straight and narrow though, following a very basic schedule like the Runners World ones (click here)will do the job and get you to the start line in good shape……. IF YOU FOLLOW THE PLAN
So for the second group of marathon runners that are looking to take some significant time off there marathon PB but are still in the first few years of serious endurance training, a generic plan can still be a very useful tool especially if you pick one that tests you in terms of your current capabilities.
Early in my marathon running I read and used the plans within a book called “Advanced Marathoning” by Pfitzinger and Douglas.

It’s a great book which will teach you the fundamentals of the different types of training methods and has a number of training schedules ranging from 12-18 weeks and weekly mileage maxing out anywhere between 50 and 100 miles.

I followed one of these plans for the 2008 London Marathon and it got me a 2:35 when I was “only” aiming for a sub 3! I have picked up schedules from a number of other books and online resources as well and would recommend the following two books which are a great read with some excellent plans in them.

These days I personally fall into the 3rd category of runners where I need a bespoke training plan which is geared to my own personal strengths and is built up around what I know works well for me. This has come from the 7 years’ worth of marathon training I have done and learning from my mistakes! I have come up with these plans myself and there are “bits” from all the previous plans I have read and used, advice from experienced runners/coaches and also a bit of 100km training creeping into them because that is what “works for me”

I had a 10 week schedule I put together for the Commonwealth Games marathon which I’ll be taking part in on July 27th. I’m currently around half way through it and everything seems to be going to plan at the moment but we will have to wait and see what happens on race day!

So one thing that holds true no matter how experienced a marathon runner you are and how complicated a plan you are following…………. all of them will work pretty well if you actually get out of bed every morning and actually follow them!

CONSISTENCY IS KEY so get to work!!

A huge thanks to Steve Way for writing this post for us. Read his Chia Charge Q&A by clicking here and be sure to check out his website and follow him on twitter @Marigold_bac.