Marathon Training Plans – Are you missing these pieces to the puzzle? 27/11/2018

Who got the exciting news that they have a ballot place for a Marathon in Spring 2019! I’ve see so many social media posts either celebrating the rare ballot place, sharing their fundraising or the disappointment of missing out…again!


As we start to approach the end of the year, many runners start to prepare their training plans for Spring Marathons. I regularly have patients or friends asking for my opinion, and I can’t stress enough how invaluable time is. We can’t borrow time or buy some more, which is why I always recommend training well before Christmas. These are the missing pieces to the puzzle to a marathon training plan.


Piece 1: Add the intensity of your daily activity onto your training plan. This will help display your weekly intensity to make sure you don’t do too much in a matter of days.

Table 1: This is a table with a common training plan over 4 weeks. It includes the long runs at the weekend, with short runs during the week with cross training. There are a couple of rest days, one the day after the long run, and one in the middle of the week.

Table 2: Adding colours to represent intensity, allows you to see where you could be applying too much load and not enough recovery in your training plan. The black arrows show the flow of the intensity of the activity. There is an increase at the start of the week, a dip for the rest day, before a gradual rise for the long run on Sunday.

Table 3: This table shows the benefits of including your intensity’s of your training over 2 weeks. On this plan, you always finish a week with a high intense training day, and start the next week with a rest day, a low intensity day.

Table 4: I’ve included the arrows again to show the flow of the activity’s intensity over the week. This will help you to visualise where you can easily go wrong with your planning, or when you change the plan.

Table 5: If you end a week with a high intensity training day, and start the next week too high, it could increase fatigue and add too much load onto your muscles and tendons. Therefore increasing the chances of sustaining an injury. The table above shows a good example of bad planning.


Here’s a video summarising all of the 5 tables above…


Piece 2: Have an adaptable training plan! What does this mean?

  1. Adapt the training plan to your weekly schedule, socials, birthday parties, parental duties/responsibilities, kids activities and anything else
  2. Have a training plan you can change incase you can’t run every mile on a particular day

It’s quite common for training plans to be considered as the instruction manual you have to abide to, in order to achieve your goal. By abiding to every mile, pace, distance or interval training your plan states when you feel tired from work, family, feeling ill or struggling with an injury can add unnecessary pressure. This unnecessary pressure could affect you physically, mentally and emotionally.


By having an adaptable training plan, and planning your training according to intensity levels, you can allow yourself to progress through your training in a safe way. You will relieve pressure on yourself, and give your mind and body the right amount of time to adjust and adapt to the training.


I’ve heard on numerous occasions from runners who are running themselves into the ground  (please excuse the pun) by sticking to their training plan, and not listening to their body. By having a training plan which allows you to change the intensity, maybe add a couple more miles on another day, gives you options which I believe is very important.


What do you think about these aspects of a training plan? Is this something you’ve thought of in the past? Is this a good addition to your training plan? Let me know what you think






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