Its less than 6 months until I line up for the start of my first ever marathon – the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon – so it’s time to buckle down and get serious about training.
Even a quick 5 minute Google search can pull back hundreds of online training plans, all hugely varying in length and difficulty, so how on earth do you know where to start? To help gain some clarity on pinning down the right type of plan for me, I asked myself these three questions:
- How many times a week can you train?
- Which days are best for you to train?
- What finish time are you hoping for?
How many times a week can you train?
Like many of us training for a marathon I have a pretty full weekly schedule before even starting to factor in running session. I work a full-time job as a research scientist, with one day off every other Monday. My commute is pretty long, leaving home at 7.00am and getting home around 18:30 most days. Adding into the mix that I also have a 6yr old and a 3yr old to look after, and things are getting quite hectic. Despite all that, I’ve been managing to fit in 3 runs a week pretty consistently over the last year, so I’m confident I can keep that going and maybe push up to 4 runs some weeks.
Which days are best for you to train?
Without exception, all the training plans I’ve looked at have a weekly long run as the backbone of the week, with most plans putting this key run on a Sunday. For me, Sunday’s just aren’t going to work, as I want to spend that precious family weekend time with my children. Luckily I have my alternate Mondays off work, which will give me the perfect time to hit the trails for my long runs while the kids are at school. I already go to parkrun every Saturday, and a 5k running group every Tuesday night, so I’m hoping to incorporate these regular sessions into my plan, with a few tweaks to make sure I’m getting the right mileage in. I also think I can fit a shorter interval or hill session in at work on a Thursday lunchtime.
What finish time are you hoping for?
As it’s my first marathon I will be happy just to finish! But based on my current pace and ability, I would be delighted to finish in around 5 hours, and pretty happy to finish anywhere up to 6hrs.
Bearing all these points in mind I decided that actually none of the training plans out there were quite right for me! Instead I am piecing together my own bespoke training plan to fit in with my work schedule and home life.
As a base I am using the 2019 training plan from the Virgin Money London Marathon website, but adjusting the days to anchor my week around my Monday long run. I’m also blending in some ideas from this Caffeine Bullet sub-5hour training plan to give me targets for what pace I should be hitting on my long runs. Everything is going into my calendar spreadsheet, which I will keep refining until it all kicks off for real in the New Year!
Let me know how your training is going! Have you found the right plan for you?
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