So you want to run a marathon? Maybe your first, maybe your second. Great. Got yourself a training plan? Stuck it to the fridge? Ready to start training for it 16 or 20 weeks out? Great.
But your training plan doesn’t start for a month or two. What are you doing now?
The error I see a lot of runners making here, is to think that the 16-week windows in the lead up to their marathon will take care of everything. It will bring back their motivation to get out running, it will build their endurance and their speed and make them love running again. They’ll tick off their runs each week and pick up some strength training sessions too to sort out their weak glutes/dodgy hip/core strength or whatever else they’ve been told they need to address.
And the error is this: you’re expecting too much of a 16-week period if you’re not laying the foundation of marathon training now. The sooner you start, the more successful you’ll be and, more importantly, the more you’ll enjoy it.
I don’t mean start your plan now. Definitely not. The build phase of your marathon training shouldn’t be any longer. But look at the running you’re doing now and the running that you’re being asked to do in week one of your plan. Are they similar? Because they should be.
If your training plan hasn’t been written specifically for you, then it’s likely to look quite different to your current volume (miles per week) and frequency (number of runs per week).
So if you’ve lost motivation recently and you’re only managing to get out running once or twice a week, it’s not a great idea to jump into a plan that has you doing five runs in week one. It might be that it’s not the right plan for you (and you’ve still got time to change it) or that you need to do some work to get your body ready to start training.
Tips for building your base…
- Forget about intensity for now, you can deal with that later, work on building up your number of runs a week and your total mileage gradually. Aim for 3-4 short, easy runs per week and gradually add a few more miles, but keep the pace easy.
- Start your strength training now, while you’ve got time. It’s likely that the first few sessions will leave you a bit sore – not much fun in the middle of marathon training. So get your body used to it now.
- Make sure you don’t have a massive jump in frequency or volume in week one of training – that’s the way to get injured. So if your plan starts tomorrow, you may need to amend the plan.
- Remember that a PB isn’t just built in 16 weeks, it’s everything you do from now until the start line. Even if you’re planning a spring marathon next year, your Autumn should be all about regular easy miles, building the base, ready to start training properly in January.