My first marathon is now just 18 weeks away. To be accurate, it is actually 17 weeks and 6 days away, but today is day number one of following my selected 18 week marathon plan. Oddly enough, with a long run yesterday, day 1 on the plan does not even mandate a run. If only it was always going to be this easy.

I have been poring over training plans for months now to select the one that best suited me. Work sometimes demands travel for a few days or a week at a time. The lure of a 3-day-week running plan was strong, but I had some concerns about both the intensity required (with the associated potential for injury) and the fact that it had less of a slow foundation being built. I have previously followed 10k improvement plans from Hal Higdon ( and they have really worked for me. His marathon plans are conservative and injury avoidance is a recurring theme. Given that injury is my biggest threat and having great success in improving my speed by following the plans before, I elected to go with one of these plans. Hal Higdon has a wide range of plans presented in his book and online. Having been running up to half marathons for some 30 years I consider myself experienced, have reasonable regular mileage, improving speed, committed to training and a desire to beat 3:20. Hal himself would not approve – this being my first marathon – but I have chosen to go with his “Advanced 1” training plan. As previously stated, this covers an 18 week period, allowing quite a steady building of the distance and intensity but also plenty of time to have step-back weeks.

I have adapted the plan very slightly to include the following:

  • 10k, 10M and half marathon races at Grangemouth, Lasswade and Alloa respectively. I love to race and mixing the distances in late February and March gives me the chance to test myself in race conditions
  • Incorporated the local parkrun as part of my Saturday run by bolting on the required distance. This allows a tough 5k with hills to be covered every Saturday and also gives me the chance of a regular race fix
  • The plan itself allows for the Monday to be either an easy-ish run or a cross-training day. I normally like to cycle or swim on the day after my long run so this flexibility will be good and I expect there will be more cross-training than running on a Monday

If someone tells you it is 18 weeks until you have a big family event or holiday it sounds like it is ages away. Funny how the same does not apply when you have your first marathon coming up.


Planning for a Plan

On January 21, 2012, in Injury, Marathon, Physio, road running, running, by Alf

This is my first post in some time. While I continued my rehab from the foot injury I had a few doubts about my ability to really commit to the marathon training and as a result my blogging mojo seemed to dissipate a little. The good news is that things are going well and I’m ready to get cracking with a challenging four months or so.

After gradually and very slowly increasing my running volume and intensity I was able to achieve my key objective of 15km last week. The next milestone was to be able to run on two consecutive days for the first time in three months. While the foot is not completely symptom-free, the discomfort is progressively less even as the running is stressing it more and more.

Last week I was “discharged” from my physiotherapist. The foot is responding gradually to the additional workload and no further treatment is required, just caution as I continue my training. Special thanks to David at Life Fit Physiotherapy for his guidance over the last couple of months.  It seems that an old ankle injury has been one major contributing factor to my various injuries in recent years.  I have very poor dorsiflexion in my left ankle and this can apparently contribute to my Achilles issues in my right. At the suggestion of my physio, I have consulted a podiatrist and the diagnosis was confirmed. In a few weeks time I will be running with orthotics and fingers crossed will be able to step up the training with reduced risk of the injuries that have hampered my training in recent years.

I have been considering various training plans for my first marathon and finally selected an 18-week plan. This means that I officially start on Monday and has forced me to “plan for a plan” over the last couple of weeks. Running 3-4 days in a row is going to be my first big test, but I am confident that I now have a platform to get on with the training plan. The big question is how I will react when I add in speed work.

Edinburgh Marathon is 18 weeks tomorrow.