• Helen Phillips

Time to get organised to train for your marathon


It's December and if you're running a spring marathon, as well as Christmas, you're probably starting to plan when you're going to kick off your marathon training.

Start too early and you risk burn out, start too late and you could be tempted to cram in too much late in the day.

Read on for my advice on when you should start to train.

Start the plan before you think you should

Most marathon training plans are 16 weeks long. If you're running London on 26th April, count back 16 weeks and you'd start 6th January, if you're running Brighton (19th April) you'd start 30th December, and Manchester (5th April) get going on 16th.

However, I recommend kicking off your plan a l little earlier and here's why.

Are you training over Christmas?

Manchester or Brighton runners, counting back you'd start your training on 16th and 30th December to follow a 16 week training plan. That's fine, but what are your plans over Christmas and the New Year period? Chances are your friends, family, the in-laws and out-laws aren't going to be in training with you, so will have other ideas about your time and you might find it difficult to get quality training (as opposed to over indulgent and hungover 'I'm going for a run to clear my head and my tum' runs) in over the week and a bit Christmas week of fun.

Skip a week that early in training and you'll be tempted to play catch up, which is never a good idea.

I suggest starting your training at least a week earlier and giving yourself an easy week off over Christmas in case training gets compromised by festive fun.

Make time to 'fit in the flu'

Have you ever (be honest) NOT had a bad cold or flu during winter? Nope ... me neither.

I've trained and ran a spring marathon each year since 2015 and have succumbed to at least one bad cold or worse each time.

You might be made of sterner stuff, but I find if I've a bad cold (as 'm writing I'm sniffling badly) I'm in no fit state to exercise for a good few days and once I'm 'better' it takes another few, maybe a week, before I'm fighting fit and full of beans.

Since marathon training isn't I'm just going for a run running, it's training with a purpose to get your body fitter and adapted to run the marathon distance it can be near impossible to do a marathon training workout well when you're ill.

Once feeling good and strong, when aches and pains and sniffles have subsided you could find long runs and fast paced running hard. That's your body telling you that, despite you 'feeling' ok, it's still not back to full strength.

When you're on a schedule, following a 16 week training plan it can be tempting to jump back into training too soon (you don't want to miss any more days!), or you rest up and wait it out, then struggle to workout what to do.

Do you pick up where you left off and then play catch up during the rest of the plan? Or do you jump ahead a week or so to keep to your schedule?

I have a better idea!

Why don't you plan ahead. Anticipate that you're going to be out a week or so and start your training a week earlier than 16 weeks before your race. That way if (when) you're laid up with the flu or a cold you're not tempted to keep on training and when you're better you can pick up your training where you left off without being tempted to squeeze missed runs in too!

I'm running London 2020 and this year I'll be starting training Christmas week to give myself a few weeks 'sniffles grace' should I get sick sometime before spring.

If you’re looking for a marathon training plan with information and advice on why, when and how to run each of your marathon training workouts, plus advice on how to eat right for your marathon training, strength & conditioning workouts for running and tips and advice to get ready and prepared for race day check out Marathon Club Hub, my Marathon Plan PLUS 'YOU GOT THIS' COACHING SUPPORT that’s perfect for first timers.

Marathon training involves more than running. Join Marathon Club Hub and I'll guide you month by month, helping you to focus on what's important to get trained, ready and prepared, to get you to your race in great shape.

Let's do this!

Helen x