Q Im a 33-year-old female, and after being collected by the slow police after 19 miles in last years Berlin Marathon, Im desperate to get my time down in this autumns race. I guess I should do speedwork but I dont know what my targets should be. My other problems: Im overweight by about a stone and a half; and step aerobics and evening classes take up a lot of my time.
Obviously, losing weight will be a help in being able to run faster. You will have to keep a strict watch on your diet during the first part of the training period not necessarily by eating less, but by eating better. As you increase your training, you will naturally burn more calories, which will help. Regarding the speed sessions, after a warm-up, run 50 metres four times to stretch your legs out, increasing the pace a little each time. Then move on to the main part of the session: six times 400 metres fast, 400 metres jog, if you have a track available. If not, pick a piece of quiet road or a playing field and do eight times one minute fast, two minutes slow, to increase your running speed.
With your particular problems, I suggest that you divide the year into three sections. Up to the end of February, aim mainly at weight loss, but start doing a weekly speed session to improve your running pace. From March until the end of May, work on speed and take part in races of three to six miles (5K-10K). Start your marathon training at the beginning of June, at a time when you have long evenings and can put in one long run a week. For now, your weekly pattern should be: Sunday step aerobics plus a four-mile walk or jog; Monday rest; Tuesday a 30 to 40-minute run on the road or a treadmill; Wednesday step aerobics; Thursday a 30-minute run over a hilly course; Friday rest; Saturday speed session as above.
When you come to the marathon training, follow the RUNNERS WORLD Get-You-Round programme, with the emphasis on a long run every weekend.
Bruce Tulloh, RW Coaching Editor