Q+A: My second marathon: overweight and slow

Our experts answer real-life questions


Posted: 9 September 2000
by Bruce Tulloh

Q I’m a 33-year-old female, and after being collected by the ‘slow police’ after 19 miles in last year’s Berlin Marathon, I’m desperate to get my time down in this autumn’s race. I guess I should do speedwork but I don’t know what my targets should be. My other problems: I’m overweight by about a stone and a half; and step aerobics and evening classes take up a lot of my time.

A 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 RUNNER’S WORLD Get-You-Round programme, with the emphasis on a long run every weekend.

Bruce Tulloh, RW Coaching Editor


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