Game On: ASICS Target 26.2 Team Progress Check

ASICS Target 26.2 training day, the University of Birmingham, January 28.

Roll call: the ASICS Target 26.2 team, Runner’s World, ASICS UK, the Target 26.2 coaches and the ASICS PRO Team experts.

The first training day was an opportunity to hit the road for a team long run – and then take a progress check and refine all five Paris Marathon contenders’ training plans.

Read on and you, too, can take that elite expertise into this crucial stage of your spring marathon training. We reveal expertise on high mileage from ASICS Target 26.2 coach Sam Murphy and PRO Team dietitian Ruth McKean. Then discover our five runners’ progress on their spring marathon journeys.

ASICS Expert Clinic

ASICS Target 26.2 coach Sam Murphy and PRO Team dietitian Ruth McKean are here to help you crank it up a gear as the mileage starts to climb.

Ramp it up: High mileage training

Sam says: Your peak mileage weeks shouldn’t be a real shock to the system. It will feel harder and the long runs will be longer, but it’s something that you’ve prepared your body for over the first half of training.

It’s important to focus on recovering well. You’re going to be out there for much longer, so make sure you refuel really quickly and take care of any niggles.

The tough runs are the ones that are going to help you reach your goal. On race day you’ll have more confidence because you’ve gone through it in training.

When your training winds down, your body begins to consolidate and reap all the benefits of your hard work. It’s important to cut the sessions down in terms of length and distance, but not in terms of intensity.

Listen to the latest episode of our podcast for more top training advice from Sam:

Power up: Marathon nutrition

Ruth says: In the higher mileage weeks improve your recovery by focusing on taking in carbohydrates and protein after a long run. Carbohydrates are most important to get on board first; there is a longer window for protein – within two hours of the run.

When you come down in mileage during the last three weeks, you need to also reduce your calorie intake. Cutting back on snacks or quantities of pasta will help.

This is also the time to practise eating the meals you’ll have in the buildup to the race – including your race-day breakfast.

You should expect to feel a little bloated on the start line because you’re holding water and carbs – that is normal. If you eat little and often, and get most of your carbs from fluids (such as smoothies and milkshakes) you shouldn’t feel too bloated.

Keep visiting for Ruth’s podcast.

Progress Check

As their marathon training moves up a gear – just like yours – we check in with the ASICS Target 26.2 team and their coaches.

First up, it’s coach Sam Murphy and her mentees Craig (first-timer), Emma (juggling a busy lifestyle) and Rosie (on a plateau).

For Sam’s runners, this is all new. First-time marathon runner Craig is approaching distances he’s never run before, Emma is adding variety to her packed week and Rosie is giving her running some much-needed structure.

For Craig (sub-4:30 target), who took up running last year, it’s a case of having a training schedule for the very first time. “Before, I was making it up as I went along, but this is much more structured – there’s feedback and it’s focused.” That structure has resulted in increased confidence. “It’s gone from ‘I’ll give this a go’ to ‘I want to run a marathon and give
it my best shot’”, he says.

Coach Sam says, “Everything we’ve done he’s found so new and exciting. He’s benefitted a lot from the shared knowledge on the forums. He’s not just a kid in a toyshop – he’s a kid in a toyshop who’d never even heard of a toyshop before.”

For Emma (sub-4:15 target), a teacher and mother of two, it’s the new variety that has made the difference. “I love the fact that I’ve got something that’s laid out so clearly and I’ve got very different sessions, rather than more and more of the same.”

And it seems to be working – as Sam says, “She looks really strong, she looks comfortable at her goal pace and I think she’s on target.”

The challenge for Rosie has, says Sam, been “tough – but in a good way. Rosie [sub-3:30 target] has a pace she runs everything at, whether it’s a half marathon, a 10K or a long training run. It’s not a bad pace but it’s not going to help her reach her goal. To do that I’m trying to get her to do less mileage, more speedwork and to be more focused on pace”.

Rosie has gone from running a long run every day – without any rest days and with a poor diet – to having a firm structure to her training, thanks to the PRO Team and Sam. The transformation, says Rosie, has been massive: “Structuring a rest day every week has come as a shock but it’s actually been good for me and stopped me getting bored. The support on the forum has been great – when you’ve had a rubbish day they really understand.”

Next up, it’s coach Steve Smythe and his runners Colin (PB-hunter) and Lee (targeting a qualifying time).

As veterans of many a marathon campaign, the challenge for Colin and Lee is to adapt to the tweaks Steve has made to the training they’re used to.

Long-time forumite Colin (sub-3:15 target) has relished having his own thread.

“It’s been great, I’ve enjoyed being on the forums, having Steve’s input and the various paces I’ve gone through,” he says. “There’s been some great banter on the thread. People are picking up on things and taking on board the advice that Steve’s giving me, because it’s relevant to them too.”

For coach Steve, the months ahead look bright: “Colin has done everything to plan – it’s almost going too well. He’s done all the long runs, the speedwork at the right paces and he hasn’t had any injury problems at all. There’s a lot of training still to do but I almost feel if the marathon was now he’d give it a good shot at his target already.”

Marathon veteran Lee is getting ever closer to his toughest target yet: a 2:45 finish and Virgin London Marathon Championship qualification. He says, “It’s the best plan I’ve ever had and I feel so much stronger now. Knowing why I’m doing each session and how to do it to produce the greatest effect on marathon day is the biggest difference.”

For Lee, the input from ASICS PRO Team physio Sarah Connors has already had an impact. “I’ve been doing some of the core exercises that Sarah put together for me and now I’m not collapsing in my stride. It’s all coming together for me and it feels like being a proper athlete,” he says.

At this level, small tweaks to training can make a big difference. Coach Steve says, “He’s probably doing less mileage than he did before, but it’s getting him to think about pacing and focusing on the sessions that really matter.”

Training Tips

Whether you’re training for your very first marathon or looking for essential tips and training tweaks to shave minutes off your time, log on to Craig’s, Emma’s and Rosie’s threads to pose your questions to the PRO Team experts and the coaches.

You might have your beady eye on Boston qualification, or a Good for Age spot at London – or just a shiny new PB. For training, physio and nutrition tips from Steve and the PRO Team experts to make you a lean racing machine get involved on Lee’s and Colin’s forum threads.

Get Kitted Out

Our five contenders have been kitted out head to toe with ASICS gear to cover every training eventuality on their way to Paris. This month, why not mix up your training and hit the trails? The kit on the right is designed especially for offroad running:

l Women’s trail zip tee (£35)
l Women’s trail knee
l tight (£38)
l Men’s trail zip top (£35)
l Men’s 2-in-1 shorts (£40)

Shop for the ASICS running range at

Get Involved

- Visit – the home of spring marathon training.
You’ll find Sam and Steve, our two coaches, on the forum threads dishing out advice for tougher sessions.

- Why not take inspiration from one of our marathon schedules, if you haven’t done so already?

- Pose your questions directly to the experts supporting the Target 26.2 team. As well as popping on to the forums regularly, the Target 26.2 coaches and the ASICS PRO Team are all hosting exclusive lunchtime webchats between now and race day.

- Forum chat not enough? Log your training on My ASICS to train alongside the Target 26.2 team.


Motivation is the key to marathon success – and the key to staying motivated is appreciating your progress. Once you’ve set your target time and downloaded a personalised training plan, keep your training on track with the My ASICS app.
The My ASICS app provides a clear and simple structure for your training – guiding you through every step. It explains the benefits of each session, gives you the pacing advice you need before you start – and a place to log your runs afterwards.
Head to to download the My ASICS app.