A marathon has always been, for some, the ultimate achievement. There is a mythical aspect behind it. I receive many requests for a simple marathon training plan, so I have published the one I have been giving to athletes since last year. There are many plans out there on the web, people copy and replicate and most of the plans you can find are really well written.
I have run about 25 marathons so far, with times between 2h51 to 5h21 depending on the conditions or if it was at the end of an Ironman triathlon. Even as a coach I always listen to people’s comments about what I should do to improve. They are not always right for me, but I always learn new things from them, and I do appreciate that they are taking the time to talk about their own experience. I do believe that sport is all about your own experience of it, like life is. We take what suit us and leave what does not because we are all different.
I usually don’t make generic plans, simply because I love tweaking things for people. My teams always say I like details and find things which work for some people and not for others. There is a big demand for small gains, and I can see from the huge amount of email we receive at RunIreland.com that it might be no harm to have this useful info on the site.
There are a few points that I ask my athletes to follow:
- If you miss a session never try to catch it up, it will stress you and can lead to believing that if you miss one, then two then three sessions you will always be able to catch them up. The only one you will trick with this is yourself.
- If you feel at any time soreness, you need to learn the difference between muscles tiredness, and bad pain or injuries. In the case, the answer will always be to recover, first for a day, then seek the advice health professional and or rest three weeks.
- Listen to your body and don’t follow the plan too rigidly, sometimes you need to adapt it for yourself with your own timetable, family, moods etc…
- Hydration is important especially for beginners, not just only after training as some people think but every day, carry your bottle and make sure you drink at least 2.2 to 3litres each day with 60% of water in your body, we lose about 1.5l of water every day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. So if you consume 2 litres of water or other beverages a day (a little more than 8 cups) along with your normal diet, you will typically replace the lost fluids.
- Nutrition, well not my speciality but I know a few simple rules if the plate that you cooked looks good and colourful it should be healthy. Always cook your own meal especially if you are preparing a marathon, so you know what is in it and what you like or not. Again there is lots of specialised literature and sources of information everywhere.
In training, you need three important factors, the physical, social and psychological. They all affect each other. If you feel physically tired, then you won’t want to go out, and you will feel bad about it and certainly train less. Or if you feel a wee bit down, you will certainly drop the training a wee bit and maybe some social/family aspect. So basically just be happy to do what you do, if you miss one session to go out, that’s ok, but make sure you enjoy it. It will always be better than running and thinking “I don’t want to train, I could have been out with my friends”.
The funny part about injuries is that we always think they will go away, from personal and professional experience, an injury not treated early or in time will always take longer to cure than just taking three weeks off. I know lots who took twice longer to recover simply because they thought “ah sure, I’ll be alright!”.
To conclude this, there is no secret to run a marathon, certainly lots of tips from experience athletes, books, magazines, and website. But there is something that nobody will be able to do for you, and you know it, train and do the mileage.
Good luck in your training, and let us know how you get on with it.