Marathon Intermediate

This programme is intended for those who can already run for 10-13 miles and now want to increase their distances, or for those who have already run a marathon but wish to improve their speed and performance.

The programme incorporates different techniques such as interval trainingand speed work, to really hone your fitness and strength and to promote greater stamina for longer distances and faster speeds for shorter distances. However, speed work may be better carried out on a treadmill and is not always conducive to road running, so feel free to replace speed runs with further interval training if preferred. Interval (or tempo) running is a key part of marathon training.

The programme requires a commitment to run 5 days a week over 16 weeks, but if you find a particular week too difficult at first don’t be afraid to drop back a week, or to repeat a week before advancing to the next. However, if this happens you must allow for the extra training time necessary to catch up with the programme.

The Programme

Monday  Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Rest 30 mins easy run Rest 40 mins interval run Rest 30 mins easy run 6 miles steady run
Week 2 Rest 30mins easy run 40mins interval run 5 miles easy run Rest 30 mins easy run 8 miles steady run
Week 3 Rest 40 mins steady run 40mins easy run 6 miles interval run Rest 30 mins easy run 9 miles steady run
Week 4 Rest 40 mins speed run 6 miles easy run 40 mins steady run Rest 40 mins easy run 10 miles steady run
Week 5 Rest 40 mins steady run 6 miles easy run 50 mins interval run Rest 45 mins easy run 12 miles steady run
Week 6 Rest 30 mins speed run 5 miles easy run 50 mins steady run Rest 50 mins easy run 13 miles steady run
Week 7 Rest 50 mins steady run 6 miles easy run 50 mins interval run Rest 55 mins easy run 14 miles steady run
Week 8 Rest 60 mins speed run 6 miles easy run 60 mins steady run Rest 50 mins easy run 15 miles steadyrun
Week 9 Rest 50 mins steady run 6 miles easy run 30 mins interval run Rest 20 mins easy run 6 miles fast run
Week 10 Rest 40 mins steady run 5 miles easy run 60 mins speed run Rest 40 mins easy run 18 miles steady run
Week 11 Rest 40 mins steady run 5 miles easy run 60 mins interval run Rest 50 mins easy run 15 miles steady run
Week 12 Rest 60 mins speed run 5 miles easy run 50 mins steady run Rest 20 mins easy run 13 miles at race pace
Week 13 Rest 60 mins easy run or Rest 5 miles easy run 50 mins interval run Rest 30 mins easy run 20 miles steady run
Week 14 Rest 60 mins easy run 7 miles steady run 60 mins speed run Rest 50 mins easy 12 miles steady run
Week 15 Rest 40 mins easy run 6  miles steady run 45 mins interval run Rest 40 mins easy run 10 miles easy run
Week 16 Rest 30 mins easy run 30 mins easy run Rest Rest 20 mins easy jog

Hints

For the first few weeks take things easy and just let your body get used to the increased activity. We recommend timing your mile times for your own interest and motivation, particularly the Sunday runs at week 9 and week 12, and to give you an accurate idea of how long the marathon should take you.

Asyour distances start to increase, take things steady and don’t try to speed up your longer runs. Consider using a heart-rate monitor to maintain a steady effort on these runs. If a longer run gets tough slow it down a bit – speed is not important. If you need to walk for a minute at any time, then do so strongly and with  purpose until you are ready to start off again at a gentle jog.

Start your interval training sessions with short bursts of faster running (5-10 mins) interspersed with recovery jogs. However, as your stamina improves(from about week 6) try lengthening the duration of the faster runs to around 10-15 minutes, and/or shortening the recovery jogs in between, to further build your stamina and endurance. By week 12 you should be able to manage 15-20 minute fast intervals with a recovery jog between bouts, but don’t be tempted to do the entire session at a constant fast pace.

The training tapers off in the final weeks, and the 10 mile run in week 15 should be comfortable and easily achievable and leave you feeling able to do more.

The gentle jog the day before the marathon is simply an exercise to warm up the muscles. Don’t be tempted to go faster or further, and even just do a 10 minute jog if preferred. Rest and relaxation are the order of the day!

We recommend that you avoid consuming spicy food and alcohol the night before the race.

A few things to remember from the start:

  • Respect your Rest-Days as these are necessary to allow your body to recover and adapt.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat a week if you are feel unprepared for the next part, or to drop back a week if you find the next stage too demanding at first. Everyone is different and bodies adapt at different rates.
  • Wear proper running shoes in the correct size (usually around ½ a size larger than your normal shoe size) as these will provide shock-absorption, support, protection, comfort and an efficient exchange of energy from the ground. Seek advice from a specialist running shop for shoe advice and information, and to check your “pronation” (see our separate section on this).
  • Think about your running apparel: avoid wearing cotton fabrics as these absorb moisture and can cause painful chafing and increased weight over long distances. If you are prone to cramping or “pins & needles” in the legs try running in compression socks/leggings, or using these after a run to aid recovery of the muscles.
  • Blisters are caused by 3 main factors: moisture, heat and friction, sousesynthetic socks (unless you have a skin reaction to synthetic fibres) that have flat seams and do not wrinkle up inside the shoes. Use running shoes made with a breathable, synthetic, mesh fabrics, rather than leather or PVC, and always tie shoes-laces firmly to ensure that the shoe holds fast to the foot.
  • Start in the correct place in the race line-up. If you start with faster runners you will burn out quickly and find the later miles exhausting. If you start with slower runners you may get “boxed in” and find yourself having to weave a lot to overtake; effecting your pace, your overall time and the stress on your legs and ankles.
  • In the event of muscle aches and strains, remember the “RICE” rule: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
  • However hard it feels at first – you will get there with perseverance. Believe in yourself!

To maintain this new level of fitness, try to do at least three 40-60 minute runs every week and incorporate interval training at least twice a week.