Back in ancient Boards history, --amadeus—started the first mentored thread to guide novices through their training for DCM 2009. One of the runners that year, Rainbow Kirby, was the mentor in last year’s thread. I was a novice last year, and now it’s my turn to pass on my wisdom.
The thread is open to anyone. Most people will be running their first marathon, most will be running Dublin, and most will be aiming for a time slower than 3.50, but other people are welcome to join in.
First piece of advice?
DON’T DO IT
Seriously, don’t enter Dublin this year. Too many people start running and go straight into running marathons. It’s a bad idea. You are much better off spending a couple of years running shorter distances.
First, because shorter distances have their own challenges and rewards. If you go straight to the longer distances its easy to neglect running speed and just plod along. Learning to run faster is harder in some ways, but is also fun and will stand to you if/when you run longer distances.
Second, because marathon training is hard. If you don’t have a good base of running fitness before you start training, your likelihood of getting injured goes way up. Every year there are a few casualties from the novices group who have to drop out because of injury. And even if you don’t get injured, you will be completely exhausted by the end of training.
So do yourself a favour. Spend the next year running regularly, getting stronger, and getting better at the shorter distances. And do the marathon in 2012.
Not convinced? Fair enough, I didn’t listen either. Let’s start with some questions then –
- Have you raced before? If so what are your PBs? (Date and distance please!)
- Do you still need to take walk breaks in your training?
- How much training do you currently do? Distances, how many days a week, cross training - whatever you think is relevant
- What do you want to achieve? Dream finishing time and realistic finishing time?
- How many days a week can you train?
- Why are you running this marathon?
Through the thread, I’ll post up some more information about the time to aim for and marathon pacing groups, the Long Slow Run, taking water and gels while running, injuries and medical advice, strides/intervals/fartleks, racing during marathon training, where to run - running outdoors/on a treadmill/different surfaces/at different times during the day/group training sessions, stretching and cross-training, race rehearsals, and basically anything else I can think of or you can ask … and then as we get closer to the day I’ll talk you through the last week pre-race.
Each week I’ll post up a suggested training schedule. This will be taken from the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan.
The one change I’ll make to this schedule is to introduce speed sessions to one of the midweek runs. In the early weeks of the programme this will be a mix of different sessions (intervals, fartlek, etc - don’t worry, all will be explained) and later on it will be a Planned Marathon Pace (PMP) run.
There are a lot of good points to the Higdon plan -
- There is a steady buildup of miles through the weeks
- There is an 18 mile run and a 20 mile run
- The three back-to-back midweek runs will get you used to running on tired legs
- There are step-back weeks to allow your body to recover strength
- There is a defined taper period before the marathon
You don’t have to follow this plan, there are a lot of alternatives out there. But whatever plan you follow (and I would urge you to follow some defined plan) make sure it follows the criteria above. The bad points of the Higdon plan are that its very one-paced, which is why I’m including speed sessions, and that it only has the one 20 mile run.
For a beginner’s programme, the good points outweigh the bad points. If you complete the training plan, you will complete the marathon. (All of the novices from previous years who made it to the start line have finished the marathon) The plan is easy to follow, with no complicated sessions to learn about.
(I’d be happy to take a look at whatever plan you’re thinking of following, and offer my not-very-expert advice)
Two last points about the Higdon novice plan.
You don’t have to run on the days he says - you might have other commitments, the weekends might be bad for you, whatever. But you should try to follow that pattern - three consecutive days of running, one or two rest days, a longer run, and then one or two rest days before you start the next week. And whatever plan you follow, you will need to do one long slow run (LSR) a week. Very soon that will become two, and then three hours for a single run, every week. If you can’t make that kind of training commitment then this is probably not a good year for you to run a marathon.
It is an 18 week plan, and I will start posting it 18 weeks before the marathon. Some people like to start a week or two early, to build in a cushion for holidays, injuries, other races, and so on. That’s completely fine. You’ll want to be back on the regular schedule for the month of October, to follow the plan for tapering, but up until then its okay if you’re a week or two ahead.
The first week of the training plan has four days of running - 3 miles on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and 6 on Saturday. if that seems like a lot to you, you could build up with this Spring training planalso by Hal Higdon. It follows the same basic pattern of three back-to-back runs in midweek and a longer run on the weekend.