Having Patience When Marathon Training

I’ve coached many runners to their first or second marathons and I tend to specialise in coaching older athletes who have the same time constraints as myself i.e. work, children and the normal time constraints and commitments older runners have.

When coaching new marathon runners (most of them are experienced runners, looking to make the step up to the marathon distance) I will commonly use a 20 week training plan. I start by giving them a reduced training load as a lot of them are members of running clubs and so tend to already be doing lots of miles or races and I find that most club runners don’t like to take any rest.

Once past the initial easy miles it moves into a speed phase, then a distance phase before moving into the marathon specific phase. So twenty weeks can be a long time to be training for the marathon and I find new marathon runners can be impatient to get to the long miles.

One of the early challenges is to get runners to run less and run easy and this feels counter intuitive and so some will continue to run the same long runs at the weekend and they want to run it fast.

Other occasions, I have had athletes who go out for their long run only to find that they have set out very fast and on for a distance PB and rather than reel in their speed and slow down, they go faster in an attempt to get the PB (this happens on training runs as well as when running in organised events - told you - club runners want to compete with themselves all the time).

Also, of course, athletes want to get faster and want to run faster and know that they are getting fitter and so want to constantly challenge themselves.

Finally, on the marathon day, the challenge is not to go off too quickly and run faster than you have trained for.

Patience is key when training for and running a marathon. Patience is needed when following the plan in order to get the training effect needed. Going too far or too fast could mean that the following training sessions aren't as effective as they could be because you are still tired from your previous session. Worse still, going faster or longer too early could lead to an injury and force you to take time off and miss a chunk of your training. 

Most training plans are designed to deliver you to the start line of your marathon feeling in peak condition. The danger of rushing any of the steps is that it could lead to overtraining and peaking too early.

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