If you’re working with a coach you’ll have your workouts/sessions lined up for you on a weekly basis but if you’re going about your marathon training alone it can sometimes get a little confusing.

What should I be doing? How fast should I do them? Should my long run be slow? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions I receive.

Firstly, your marathon training should be progressive in that you are extending the duration of your marathon pace each week, sometimes you’ll need to jump back and touch on shorter intervals at a faster pace but a good coach will recognise when you need to do this and plan your training accordingly.
You need to ensure that enough of your training is done at your goal marathon pace, your body has to get used to running at that pace.

Here are 6 key marathon workouts you should do in your build up!

1. 20 miles run with the first 10 miles at an easy pace and the last 10 miles run at goal marathon pace. The staple marathon long run, it’s simple, it doesn’t look like some of the fancy workouts we see on Instagram or strava but it’s effective, it teaches your body to run at marathon pace when already tired. Keep it simple!
Long runs with a lot of marathon pace running are great and should be done by all athletes of all abilities training for a marathon, but generally no more than 15-16 miles or so at MP. More than that and you risk derailing some of your training the following week..

2. 30 minutes at Marathon pace, 4 x 5 minute intervals at half marathon pace (2 minute jog recoveries), and then another 30 minutes with the goal being to run further than you did for the first 30 minutes. The 5 minute efforts really test your legs over the final 30 minutes.

3. 10 mile marathon race pace. This will acclimate the body to running at marathon race pace and boost aerobic stamina (endurance). Being familiar with desired marathon pace is crucial in successfully racing a marathon.

4. 6 x 1 mile @ slightly faster than marathon pace with 400m jog recovery. This workout improves the bodies aerobic capacity as well as its ability to process and get rid of lactate. This increased efficiency enhances the body’s ability to handle, remain relaxed at, and run efficiently at marathon pace. Studies have found little benefit to running at more than 10% faster than goal race pace, so if you’re finding the workout easier than you expected, add reps or shorten the recovery rather than increasing the pace.

5. A favourite of mine is one from the legendary coach Renato Canova. It consists of 10 x 1000m @ 10secs faster than MP, with 10 x 1000m @ 10 secs slower than MP for recovery. Generally this session would be done in the final stages of training before the taper.

6. Another one I like to give athletes in the latter phase of training is:
3 Mile w/u – 4×3 miles at MP with 1 mile float (steady, not recovery so you’re still working in between) – 3 Mile c/d
Generally, the training will have progressed to this workout from the first stages starting with 1 minute intervals and building to 2 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. and so on. Always adding a little bit each week but jumping back now and again to touch on different energy systems with shorter faster reps.

Hope this is useful to some of you who are currently on your marathon journey – Feel free to message or email with any questions