Weeks 9-12: Mastering the miles

This third phase is probably the most important of your entire build up. It’s certainly the toughest, yet also the most beneficial to your marathon success story. The training done over the previous eight weeks will really be kicking in now; you’ll be starting to feel more confident and will be able to run for longer. Yet, it’s also the time that you need to tune in to your body, listen carefully as the miles build further and the demand you place on your body, your time, your family, friends and workload gets bigger. With care, this phase really makes your marathon.

Despite the wrestling you’ll face at this time, it’s also now that the chinks of light in your marathon success story start to appear; the moments when you realise it might just be possible. Now is the time to teach your body to deal with even greater distances, focus on building up your long run, spend time understanding and working out your marathon pace judgement and learning what psychological strategies you can draw on to give yourself the mental strength, bravery and courage you need
to go the distance.

Week 9

The next few weeks are all about progressing your long run and building your capacity to cover the marathon distance.

RUN ONE 40-minute easy run
Total: 40 minutes
RUN TWO 10-minute easy run; 4-minute tempo run, 3-minute easy jog/walk recovery x4; 10-minute easy run
Total: 48 minutes
RUN THREE 28-minute run, 2-minute walk x4
Total: 2 hours – or distance goal of 10 to 12 miles
Training tip

You might think you need to cover 26 miles in training to be able to run a marathon. Relax, you don’t! It’s the accumulation of regular runs that prepares you to do the distance. Consistency matters more than infrequent distance.

Want more?

Your long runs should by now be continuous, without walk breaks. Add an extra two miles to your longest run this week and while doing it, try to lock into what feels like your target marathon pace.

Week 10

If you’re not used to running with others, or have never done a race before then learn what to expect with a practice race or a race simulation in training. Familiarise yourself with your Race Day approach, your routines, your kit, your meal timings, content and quantities, how to stay relaxed, calm and in control and how to pace your effort.

RUN ONE 10-minute easy run, 3 x 3 minutes at tempo pace with 2 x 1-minute jog recovery; 10-minute easy run
Total: 31 minutes
RUN TWO 30-minute easy run
Total: 30 minutes
RUN THREE Race a half marathon, do a long run or 2 hours 30 minutes, or distance goal of 12 to 14 miles
Training tip

When you apply pressure, your form can slip. Lock in good form when you run with posture reminders. Keep your hips high, your chin level, your shoulders square, look upwards and forwards. Lift your spirits and run tall.

Want more?

A race opportunity gives you the chance to ask bigger questions of yourself and really push your limits in the race (or longer training run). Set yourself goals and a strategy to achieve them.

Week 11

It might feel like it’s getting tough now, the days are short, the mornings and evenings are dark (and probably wet!). This week get your head down and deliver on your runs.

RUN ONE 45-minute easy run
Total: 45 minutes
RUN TWO 10-minute easy run; 5-minute tempo run, 3-minute easy jog/walk recovery x5; 10-minute easy run
Total: 1 hour
RUN THREE 28-minute easy run, 2-minute walk x5
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes – or distance goal of 14 to 16 miles
Training tip

Get to know your target marathon pace. This is your ideal finish time divided by 26 to reveal a pace-per-mile (or mile split) expressed as ‘minute miling’. An average pace of ‘11-minute miling’ would produce a 4 hour 48-minute finish time.

Want more?

Drop in a mid-week eight-mile run at your target marathon pace. Add an extra couple of miles to your longest weekly run to hit 18 miles.

Week 12

You’re in the deepest part of your training right now and it’s going to take the greatest level of application and commitment. This week you’re holding tempo pace for longer, you’ve mastered breath control and you’re up to your penultimate long run.

RUN ONE 50-minute easy run
Total: 50 minutes
RUN TWO 10-minute easy run; 6-minute tempo run, 2-minute easy jog/walk recovery x4; 10-minute easy run
Total: 52 minutes
RUN THREE 28-minute easy run, 2-minute walk x6
Total: 3 hours – or distance goal of 16 to 18 miles
Training tip

Pay close attention to how you’re feeling before, during and after running. Listen to your body and look after it (usually with rest, recovery and food) when it hurts more than normal. Ignoring symptoms of injury or illness at this time can end in Race Day disaster. Stay on top of things.

Want more?

Drop in a mid-week marathon-paced eight-mile run. Add an extra couple of miles to your longest weekly run to hit 20 miles.