Berlin Marathon Training Plan- an exercise in creativity or stupidity?

  Around about six weeks ago I was in desperate need of a training plan to follow for my Berlin preparations. I looked around at several places for training plans (Hal Higdon, Pete Pfitzinger, runners world smart coach) and not one really looked a good match for me.  I fall somewhere between the beginner and intermediate levels and there is no way with work and life that I can be cramming 50+ mile weeks every week.  Other things had very long runs on the week nights, which are no good with late finishes and a whole family of pets to look after.  Then by chance I was listening to episode 17 of the Marathon Talk Podcast (iTunes link here) which had a huge feature on personalising marathon training and how to map out a schedule of running.

I know a little about running training and made it most of the way through my girlfriends marathon training with her as moral support, even getting up to 18 mile long runs. So in what may turn out to be genius, mediocrity or naivety I set out to construct my own marathon training schedule.  Realistically with life, work and my heavy body I reckon that around 5 runs per week would be the most I could realistically manage.  So with a little help from the podcast I set out to make my own schedule.

The prime piece of guidance was to set out your three key sessions and plan the rest of the week around them to make sure you get the most out of them.  The most important run for marathon training has to be the long run, as it is by far the most specific to the race being run.  I was in shape to start around 8 miles in distance and gradually make it up to 20 miles, which I would do once.  From past experience it seemed that having every fourth week as a "light" week with shorter runs really helped with my recovery. So these were mapped into the calendar and formed the backbone of my training schedule every Saturday.

The next big workout was an interval session on the track, and by random chance and good luck a brand new shiny running track had just been opened at the local leisure centre. However what intervals to do seemed to be a much more complicated matter, Tom from marathon talk gave the example of 7x2min hard effort with 2 min rest which led to a massive PB for him. Other places recommend wildly different schedules like yasso 800's or mile repeats, working on holding speed for longer. I think my major problem though is an inability to get up to any descent speed, not just a problem with speed endurance. So I went for 7x400m (which takes me around 2min+) with 400m recovery and I will think about going onto yasso 800s as the weeks pass by. To space this out for recovery time I run this on Tuesday nights.

The third hard workout was the tempo run, and I was a little confused about this, lots of different people seem to have different ideas about what a tempo run comprises. To me they all seem to be a very long interval with minimal rests. Some recommend a pyramid of speed, other two long faster intervals and others just a steady state maintainable fast speed for the duration. To ease my confusion I went for a single long effort with a mile warm up and a mile warm down, moving from one mile hard to 8-10 miles towards the end.  Again for spacing this was planned for a thursday night, which is god as it follows a particularly long day at work, there is nothing like fast running to ease a little stress!

That left 2 runs to fill in the gaps, a very easy recovery run on Sunday after the long run and another easy run Wednesday between the two faster workouts.  The recovery run is mapped out to be half the distance of the long run, to try and train my muscles to recover fast.  The Wednesday easy run will probably stick around the length of my tow local routes (4.5-6 miles).

I will have a three week taper before the event, gradually reducing distance.

So my week looks like:

Monday - Rest Day
Tuesday - 7 x 400m with 400 easy running (may change to 4-10 x 800m later in programme)
Wednesday - 4.5-6 mile easy run (possibly rising to 8 miles later in programme)
Thursday - 1 mile warm up, 1-8 miles tempo, 1 mile warm down
Friday - Rest Day
Saturday - Long Run (8-20 miles)
Sunday - Recovery run (half of long run distance)

If anybody has any ideas to help me out or correct any problems, it would me much appreciated if you would leave a comment or drop me an email (seanstansfieldatgmaildotcom).