Over the last few weeks a few messages have landed in my inbox asking for my advice on training for a spring marathon. Now, I’m not an expert, but with three marathons under my belt I can share how I approach training and the things I think about when I’m thinking about how to train.
work out where I’m at
The very first thing I do is workout how long I’ve got to train and where I’m at as a runner. For a marathon I like to have at least 12 weeks, if not more. For me it’s all about building gradually and getting enough rest so that I don’t get injured or exhausted. I also think about where I’m at as a runner, what type of distances am I running? What are my times like? Am I strength training? Most importantly how does my body feel? This helps me work out where my weaknesses are and what I might want to focus on in my training.
what are my goals
Working out where I’m at helps me decide what my goals are for the race. Do I want to test my endurance? Do I want to PB? Is this one just for fun? I like to make sure that my goals stretch me but are also achievable in the time that I’ve got.
how much time can I commit to training
This is a big one for me. In an ideal world marathon training would be my only focus, but in reality I have a job and study so I need to make sure that everything works together. Marathons are a huge commitment, and training will inevitably take over your life - especially during the weeks where your milage is really high - so I always think carefully about how much time I can dedicate to training, whether that time equates to my goals, and crucially whether I have enough time to rest and recover. If I can’t make the time work I’ll give the race a second thought (there will always be other races), if I can then I crack on with training!
coach or no coach?
I love working with coaches, I find that having extra support really works for me as I navigate balancing life, training and my mental health, but they come at a cost. While training for Bournemouth marathon I worked with Chevy Rough one to one which was an awesome experience that taught me loads, but it was expensive. At the moment I’m working with Rach and Tom at Run Namaste Eat and they’re coaching me virtually which is much lighter on the pocket. In the past though I’ve used Hal Higdon’s free plans which have served me really well. It’s all about you, your goals and your budget really.
Even if you choose not to work with a coach (either in person or virtually) it can be worth seeing a PT for a one off session to put together a strength training programme. I just don’t have the confidence to do this myself, but by asking Megan at Kimi Ora to pull something together for me I know that I’ve got a plan that will help me achieve my goals.
Marathon training is such an exciting time, and some of my fondest memories are from training for marathons with friends. It’s a fantastic journey however you choose to make it work for you, and bottom line remember to enjoy the process!
*image: Alex Dixon Photography