Ask the Experts: Marathon Training Q+A with Steve Smythe

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LIVERBIRD    pirate
21/01/2011 at 13:46
Steve Marathon Coach wrote (see)
Liverbird:Single thing: Don’t do a marathon too early. Only run a marathon when you have got years of endurance running behind you and enjoy the other events on offer – 5k, 10k and half-marathon and multi terrains  before you even think about doing a marathon. 

Thank you Steve.

I'm going to print your reply off and give it to someone who has seriously underestimated what he has let himself in for. I did try to say that progression through the distances was a better route! I enjoyed building up through the distances and attacking the next challenge! It took 5 years to get to marathon.

Even more worryingly, he's said "if I can finish London then I'm going to do IMUK in July". This is coming from someone whose longest ever run is 7 miles.

21/01/2011 at 13:47
I like to keep my training simple:

Tuesday 5-9-miles. tempo (45 to 60 seconds faster than race pace)

Thursday 5-9 miles. easy ish (15 to 30 seconds faster than race pace)

Saturday LSR (45 seconds slower than race pace)

Sunday 4 mile.- easy recovery

Does this pacing seem about right? I'm not doing any hill sessions
21/01/2011 at 13:48

Liverbird you are more sensible and realistic than your friend

Runbird - yes ie go week 5 then week 7 until you have caught up.

21/01/2011 at 13:48
I bet your fingers are starting to hurt!!!!
21/01/2011 at 13:50

Hi Steve

 I am running the Brighton marathon this year - it's my first marathon.

 At the moment I do my long run on a Sunday, Fartlek Tuesday & two 5/6 miles on other days.  I also squeeze in a 5-a-side football match in on my night off - is this wise, apart from breaking my leg could it be damaging my training?



21/01/2011 at 13:51


your training does look sensible, yes - personally I would run your Thursday run at marathon pace rather than that much faster to get used to marathon pace more but maybe I'm lazy!

21/01/2011 at 13:53


I don't think Paula Radcliffe would risk a 5 a side match but it's probably like a good fartlek session so as long as you do the kicks rather than get kicked and you enjoy it, then it may be a risk worth taking. I used to find football used to kill my legs with the turns and twistin g but if you play regularly it's probably less of a problem.

21/01/2011 at 13:55


No fingers are fine - years of training and good preparation help in typing as well as marathoning.

LIVERBIRD    pirate
21/01/2011 at 13:56

Steve - is Quorn evil?

I like it but Mr LB said it's the devils food.

21/01/2011 at 13:56
thanks Steve - I feel less guilty now!!
21/01/2011 at 13:58


re the football - it is important to be flexible and supple and be sensible - the Brighton marathon is Britain's second biggest marathon and the 5 a side is probably not to the same level. Missing a great marathon due to an injury picked up in a fun kick around could be regretted so be sensible.

21/01/2011 at 14:00
Yes Quorn is very evil but not as eveil as doughnuts, red meat and cream cakes. I like it myself and had a very nice quorn fillet last night but prayed before eating.
21/01/2011 at 14:01
Steve what was your v45 half marathon pb?
21/01/2011 at 14:01

Hi everyone,

I'm afraid we're going to have to draw things to a close now. Thank you for all your thought-provoking questions though, and Steve thank you for your time and marathon wisdom!


21/01/2011 at 14:05

Liam my M45 half marathon pb was 74:36 where I was very disappointed on the day as was on for low 73 when blew up mid race but now satisfied with it!

I'll have a look later and tie up any loose ends later in afternoon. Thanks for the questions.

21/01/2011 at 16:33

Steve Marathon Coach,

 Many thanks for taking the time to answer my question on Marathon pacing.

All the best


seren nos    pirate
21/01/2011 at 19:34
thanks steve
Edited: 21/01/2011 at 21:34
22/01/2011 at 00:10

Hi Steve - a belated thanks for the answer - only had the chance to catch up now after a busy day.

I think your replies were awesome to all the questions thrown at you, and your quick fire informative responses show a true understanding of running.

Peter is very lucky to have you as a mentor on the Super Six thread!

22/01/2011 at 09:22
Steve - a belated thank you from me as well. Great answer. Thanks, Rob
23/01/2011 at 16:09


I need advice for speeding up..... I am training yet again for the London Marathon (4 years running) I just did my first race of 2011 and am disappointed that I got exactly the same time as last year and the year before.

I completed 10 miles in 1hr 14mins - that included a lot of gradual inclined hills!!! I am good at uphill, which is probably why I do better in hilly half marathons, however I really want to speed up.

 what training advice can you give me to help increase my speed and get a new PB for my next race in Feb?? when racing I run around 7.5 min/miles.



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