Webchat with coach Steve Smythe

Join us this Friday at 1pm (Jan 18) for a marathon training webchat

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18/01/2013 at 13:45

The Broker

Re your target yes it’s possible based on your shorter distance times if you can train close to you what you were doing two years ago and stay fit and healthy and avoid injury.

It may be possible to run a long run of just 16 miles and survive but personally I don’t think it’s worth the risk and the majority of schedules suggest you need to do a few 20s. I would be wary with a maximum of 16 about worrying what would happen when I get to 17 miles in a race and running faster than I normally do in training! I’m sure it may work for some though, but I suspect for most it wouldn’t.

18/01/2013 at 13:46

Hi Steve,

I'm going for my 4th LM in a row in April and the last 3 times have gradualy improved from 3:51 to 3:36 to 3:23 last year.  I have joined a club in the last year and my PB's on shorter distances have significantly reduced (38 mins 10k & 1:25 HM).  I want to convert these times into a sub 3hr mara but I appreciate this is nearly 1min/m quicker than my PB set last April.  My key concern is cramp that I got at mile 24 last year and this prevented me from going sub 3:15. Any tips on how to prevent cramp?

18/01/2013 at 13:47

This is my second marathon the first one I did 18 mornths ago in 3 54, my average half marathon time is around 1.40-1.42 (1.40 in novmenber last year). What realistically should I be aiming for as a time for VLM - 3.40? or lower?

I aimiing to run 40-50 miles per week with 4-5 LSR of between 20-23/

18/01/2013 at 13:47

Thanks for the advice Steve - all makes sense. I will try adapting & even try some long slow running (sounds pleasant! as well as the 15 seconds slower than target race stuff.

The advice about 3:45 target is obviously sensible & seeing Bob's PB of 4:20 off the back of running 10ks at 40mins makes me think I am being hopeful with a 3:30 figure. I'm doing the Silverstone half in March as a fast(ish) training run & practice of big race atmosphere. If that goes miraculously well & I come in around 1:35-1:37 do you think it is still too much to set off in April at 8min per mile & see if I can keep it up (I suspect I know the answer)? I'm just thinking at my age I may never have a chance again of sub 3:30 & if I set off too slow I'll never make up the lost time.



18/01/2013 at 13:48

Hi Steve, I've been running just over two years but only really increased the distance to half marathon distance just over a year ago.  I'm trying to increase distance and managed a couple of 15-16 mile runs before Christmas but have been having problems with foot pain since November and the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with it (did an x-ray and it's not a a stress fracture) but it hurts most of the time when i walk although eases off mid run, starting to hurt again after about 8 miles.  I don't want to make it worse so haven't run more than about 8-9 miles since Christmas apart from a 12 mile run last weekend which REALLY hurt (especially afterwards- couldn't walk properly for the rest of the day), but am hoping to do a marathon in April so need to increase mileage!  I'm alternating running and gym days (used to run every day) which is helping a bit...  Is it too much to hope to do the marathon?  It's my first one so am very nervous already, and not sure I'll even be able to run that far!  Any advice would be great...  Thanks!

18/01/2013 at 13:49

Hi Steve, I'm running VLM for charity and it is my first marathon, I've done a couple of halfs and the longest run I've done previously was 15 miles. I'm a bit concerned about the training plan I'm following, it is a 16 week plan I am on week 3 (13mile LSR) and has 20 milers at weeks 7, 9 & 11 and a 21 mile at week 13. Is this too much for a first time marathon or about right? I know friends have followed plans that have incresed gradually with the longest run at 20 miles but just the one 20 mile....This may just be a confidence issue so looking for reassurance from the expert  As the plan falls I am due to do the following LSRs over the next few weeks 13M, 15M, 13M, 17M should I go out and do what I can given the conditions and then contiunue with next weeks 15 or rearrange the plan to be 13M, 15M, 17M, 20M, 13M - Am unsure if the continuous build before a fall back distance will do more damage than good...Thanks

Edited: 18/01/2013 at 13:58
18/01/2013 at 13:57


you are definitely capable of a s-3 it may take a re marathons yet and you may have to chip away at it.

Cramps are more prevalent when you aren't as fit and less likely if you are running relaxed and so may be less of a problem now you are running quicker. physio, massage, stretching, the right clothing ie compression socks and good diet and electrolytes should help

18/01/2013 at 13:59


3:40 is a realistic target and 3:35 may be doable if you can get that HM time to nearer 1:36 to 1:39

Edited: 18/01/2013 at 14:00
18/01/2013 at 14:01

Cheers for the advice Steve - top man! Think I'll be taking the foot of the gas a little more this year, will do Edinburgh mara in May as it's my home town race, but use it as a training run and aim for an Autumn mara as the biggie for this year.

All best, and thanks again.

18/01/2013 at 14:02

F I C2

the marathon is possible and hopefully it's not serious and it's possible that a physio, chiro or osteo could solve the problem with just some manipulation.

Edited: 18/01/2013 at 14:02
18/01/2013 at 14:06


For your first marathon, it may be best to be cautious and take some of those long runs out and replace with a shorter one. I would suggest going down in distance two of those weeks. The trouble is some schedules can be for first timers or experienced runners and if they are both aiming for the same time, then the schedule prescribed may be the same but the beginner may be better doing less until they are stronger and have more miles in the bank.

18/01/2013 at 14:07

Hopefully i can answer any other questions or answer follow -ups on the  Asics threads for RRR and AW

18/01/2013 at 14:09

Steve, I am running the Brighton Marathon this April. Only done one 20 miles and Brighton Marathon (both 2011) prior to this. Been training for a month now , doing 20 miles per week. Trying to break the sub 4, last time my time was 4:32. Is it doable? I am running 10min/ mile comfortabley at the moment. Ur yes is all the motivation I need

18/01/2013 at 14:10

Thanks Steve, I shall rearrange to as of next week ( week 4) to be 13,15,13,17,13,20,17,21,15,10, Marathon...Am I right in thinking a shorter LSR every other week would be more beneficial to me rather than continuous building? My only goal is to complete the marathon and hopefully with a smile on my face (or grimace as the case may be) so time is not of the essence, am concerned that I will either over or under train...

18/01/2013 at 14:12
Hi Steve,
What are your thoughts on 20 mile races in the marathon build up.
I've always underperforformed in the mara after a decent 20 mile race even though it's been 6-8 weeks out. Eg, 2.04, 2.05 & 2.07 then couldn't get near that in the mara and never broke 3.10

Last year I had a very comfortable 2.02 at Bramley, but the mara 6 weeks later I struggled through 20 in 2.04 and finished in a disappointing 2.48.

Should I just bin the 20 mile races, run them slower, or do something different between them and marathon day?

18/01/2013 at 14:13

It's doable but will be more doable if you increase the 20 miles per week! You need to gradually build up the mileage to at least 40 and a sub 4 requires nine minute miles so you will need to gradually up the pace too and probably best to try and get a half marathon in the buiild up where you run at least sub 1:50

18/01/2013 at 14:16

Thanks Steve - some great Q&As there.

As Steve mentions, he's the coach for Sarah and Alex, two or our Target 26.2 runners, and you can get involved in their forums - RunnyRunRun and A.W - for more marathon training advice.

Thanks everyone - enjoy the snow!


18/01/2013 at 14:17

ROGER that. I am also following steve's (super six) forum and pick up the hints and tips. I will try to do a half marathon before april and also include speedworks and increase the weekly milage on the run up to the big one. Thank you.

18/01/2013 at 14:46

Dan A

yes a hard 20 takes more out and often means a worse marathon. I don't see a problem at slower than marathon pace or maybe just on marathon pace if you are experienced and very fit but I too went through a period of running very good 20 mile races and four to six weeks later some very underwhelming marathons.

I think they are useful training exercises for pacing and race simulation but maybe it's best for you to run around 2:10 and just target marathon pace for second half or last five 

18/01/2013 at 14:49


I think if experienced, building it every few weeks is fine and especially if one of them is slower and then the next one is slightly quicker before going up again but agree with relative beginners orrunners who want to ensure a finish rather than a specified time, it is safer to put a shorter run in every 3 or 4 weeks. Ideally though there should be a shorter week or two in the marathon build up when you do a race or two

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