Tuesday, 3rd September

I have mentioned the prospect of going through 18-20 miles as your final run before the marathon, perhaps I should re-phrase that as your final “long” run before the marathon, ideally done 2-3 weeks before the event takes place.

You need to be able to do this distance or you are unlikely to be able to complete your marathon. If you are still struggling on 12-14 miles for instance, then you are putting yourself at severe risk doing the marathon.

You are risking injury or even strain on your heart by trying to make such a big jump up, and it would be very unwise for you to attempt a marathon in such physical condition. This is why I give people plenty of time to get their training in for such a monumental run.

Things can and do wrong.

If you have a sore Achilles for instance, then you need to rest full stop until it gets better. This can take 3-6 weeks depending on the severity of the injury.

Indeed, if you pull an Achilles, you will certainly have to pull out of the race, and will probably never run long distance again, but I stress that this is pulled Achilles, and not a slight strain.

Its allowing for these minor mishaps and injuries that will dictate your training programme so please give it more time than you thought!

So once you have overcome all these obstacles along the way, then it should be around 2-3 weeks left that you attempt your biggest distance, after carefully working up to it over a period of weeks, and indeed months when you take your whole programme into account from start to finish.

If you can finish this distance, then you know you should be able to complete the marathon, but bear in mind it is still very likely to be a very hard day.

More on that day tomorrow!

Monday, 2nd September

The emotions of long distance runs can vary wildly, from the highs of completing a marathon when you may think you’re invincible, and most people who experience it never get to feel as good emotionally.

Then you have the lows of a rough training run, in the pouring rain and cold when nothing is much fun, and you get back in the shower and you cant warm up for the rest of the day no matter what you do.

Then you can have training injuries/overuse injuries which soon become tedious and really test your resolve, especially when it comes to running the marathon, when every week becomes crucial especially when it comes to those last few weeks.

This is why I try to manage people’s training programmes correctly, and conservatively which is always important. This gives us the leeway to tweak things those last few weeks when you may have the odd niggle in your back/knee or ankle.

I always like to leave MORE time to get it right, and start my marathons programmes sooner than most people. This is why most runner magazine programmes wont work for the average person, as they do not take into account the average person making common mistakes.

I always tell people to change their trainers every 6 months, but many don’t if they are not training with me regular.

I tell people to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but many do not follow it if I don’t see them regular.

Sleep, the good food they need to eat, spacing their workouts out properly, resting and recovering properly are all absolutely essential for runners who want to go well in the marathon, and actually enjoy the process!

Emotions are vital to keep under control and the only way you can do this is executing your plan to the letter, and not let anyone put you off by following a programme that typically champion athletes follow, which is absolutely NOT good for the average person with everyday commitments!

Friday, 30th August

The next leg in the story was that we got to a certain level, but then we had to re-structure her week differently, because of work changes and in the end it gave her a fresh focus.

We then started to put the interval running on a Monday evening, because it was a quick session due to work pressures. This quick session which originally lasted just 5 minutes had grown into 35 minutes of interval sprints, and anyone who has ever done this type of intense session will know how hard it is to get to 35 minutes!

Then we did a inside strength session on Tuesday.

Wednesday was rest day and it worked well for her because she always worked 12 hours on a Wednesday.

Thursday, turned into an uphill sprints session.

She picked the steepest hill she could find, and picked a point 30 yards away.

She sprinted this distance uphill until she could do it 10 times, then she would do it 10 times backwards, when she got a really good level that is!

You know if you have read this blog earlier that I recommend this workout for big results!

Friday was a light inside strength session.

Saturday was a her distance day. She wanted a day she said that she could commit to, as her distance would need to go up right until 19-20 miles, and this could take some time!!!

Sunday was indeed a day of rest so this marathon schedule starting REALLY firing well for her!

All of these workouts were hard to get used to, but the results soon started speaking for themselves, and next week we will talk about the feelings of running these much longer distances!!

Thursday, 29th August

Following on from the story yesterday, and the difficult path the lady in question initially went on, and I am talking about strictly following the ludicrous book called “run a marathon in 26 weeks”.

It should have been retitled “run a marathon in 26 weeks as long as you can put up with severe blisters, a wrecked back, very painful knees and the most miserable time of your life”, but maybe that title is too long, but still the truth for individuals living in the real world!

Back to the story, we got the lady on a twice a week, Monday and Thursday running schedule, with a lot of walk/run sessions to start with. She did the usual inside workout on Tuesday and Friday, the rest were rest days.

Then 15 yard runs soon became 30, 60, 120 yards run, and the rest period of 40 yards soon become down to 10 to 15. Then the elation of being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping was almost uncontrollable. The lady wanted to run different days and more days I mean by that, but we resisted that urge and get the running to Monday and Thursday.

As soon as she was able to run 15 minutes in one go (which took around 6 weeks), we did then start splitting the runs up.

On Monday we kept to the endurance runs meaning our aim now was to be able for 30 minutes, which we got to in the next 6 weeks.

The Thursday session became an interval session, meaning using lampposts for markers. You run for one lamppost, walk for the next, run for the next, walk for the next and so on. You soon become incredibly out of breath with this way of training, but it gets your lung capacity going unlike anything else. The goal eventually is to sprint for one lamppost, jog the next, sprint the next, jog the next and so on.

This way of running brings an awful lot of results very quickly, but is difficult and your sessions wont last very long to begin with. With practice though, you will be surprised how your distance covered lengthens and your recovery improves.

So it was endurance on Monday, the interval session would be on Thursday and its at this exact stage that this lady was really motoring and rapidly improving.

More tomorrow on how she improved greatly from here!

Wednesday, 28th August

Catherine asked a great question about marathons, and how to become a good runner in the first place, or become A runner of some description, run longer than a couple of minutes would be an achievement for many people I have started with the last couple of years.

As I said yesterday, I have one lady about to do a marathon but I have had MANY who have been through the same challenge and each a different story to tell.

Before we get into all of that, and the problems and challenges that the 26.2 miles presents, its vital you start at the beginning. You either do it the proper way or it’s like reading a book and going straight to the back of the book to find out the ending, because you couldn’t be bothered to read the book!

Some people have started off better than others, and doing it your own way is frought with danger.

I remember one lady really wanted to become a good runner, or even be able to run for ONE MINUTE was an achievement, she wasn’t overweight whatsoever and in some disciplines, had a reasonable level of fitness.

The first thing I told her was to buy running shoes, and change them every 500 miles (I tell everyone this).

I then took her out running and the best she could do was run for around 15 yards, then she had to walk until she got her breath back. She would walk for 40 yards, then run 15 again, then walk for 40, run for 15 etc.

This lasted for around 20 minutes and she was really tired, felt more than a little frustrated but explained this was the best way to go. This session was on a Monday lunch time.

I gave her other exercises to do on Tuesday inside, rest Wednesday, and to try the same run/walk Thursday. Inside exercises again on Saturday after a Friday rest.

When I saw her the next Monday, I could tell things had gone badly wrong.

Number one she hadn’t changed her trainers, she was still wearing the thinly supported “fashion” trainers.

Number two she had tried to run EVERY night!

Two things happened as they usually do following this schedule, she had blisters due to poor trainers, she pulled a calf muscle due to overdoing it, and when I saw her she was almost in tears fearing she would never run again.

I asked her why she didn’t follow my schedule and admitted she followed a book her brother had bought her (to encourage her).

It was called “run a marathon in 26 weeks”, claiming you could run a marathon in 26 weeks. This may be technically possible with perfect conditions and support for 1 in a 1000 people, but I can assure you I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT!!!

I soon had it out with her and told her to throw away the book, as its going to permanently injure her if she keeps to that impossible schedule!

It turned out to be the best thing she ever did, and she went on to reach an incredible standard which I will fill you on tomorrow!