You’ve signed up for your first marathon but the furthest you've ran so far is only 5km. Thanks to our running experts, we're going to help you survive your 42km without crawling over the finish line. This training plan will help you prepare for the marathon over the next five months, as well as overcome common training hurdles.
Training Hurdle: No Motivation To Start
Solution: Set your goal
“When the runner has a specific goal in mind, he will be more motivated to train – however arduous the process is” says Adrian Mok, one of Singapore’s top endurance athletes, and general manager of Polar Electro Singapore. Jason Lawrence, winner of Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2011 adds: “Make your goal SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.” So, if you’ve signed up to lose 10 kg or to complete the marathon in less than six hours, you’re on the right track.
Training Hurdle: No Training Plan
Solution: Use the Men’s Health five-month marathon training plan
If you’re aiming to complete the race in six hours or less – with minimal walking – the 20-week training plan drawn up by Adrian is a good starting point. He explains the importance of such a plan: “It provides the inexperienced marathoner runner with a systematic and progressive way of training. It will also help the runner avoid injuries.”
Training Hurdle: Insufficient Endurance
Solution: Clock mileage during training.
Lawrence highlights a common problem that the first timer will face: “On paper, the runner may find that his target pace is very manageable. However, because he lacks endurance, he is unable to run at that speed for the entire marathon distance.” The solution lies in this unavoidable piece of advice: “Mileage is king for the marathon”, says Lawrence. Adrian concurs, pointing out that logging high mileage is of utmost importance if the runner is aiming to complete the marathon.
Training Hurdle: Too Busy To Commit To A Training Plan
Solution: Sacrifice some sleeping time.
When other aspects of our lives come a-calling (did we mention sheer laziness also?), training becomes a chore. To commit to his training plan, Adrian explains that some sacrifice is required: “If you can sacrifice some sleep, train in the morning – it gives you an adrenaline rush and makes up feel charged up for work! If you value your sleep, night training is also possible – it helps you to relax after a hard day at the office. It’s also useful to train with a group of friends – you’ll be more motivated not to skip training.”
Training Hurdle: Too Tired To Train
Solution: Rest when you are tired.
There’s no problem with missing a day of training. Lawrence explains that if the runner should listen to his body: “Rest when you’re tired. Don’t try to make up for the missed session later in the week – just continue with the plan. Run longer and stronger when you’re fresher.” Alternatively, Adrian suggests rescheduling, within the same week, the missed session. And rescheduling can be easily done because the training plan has been drawn to include only two to three workouts per week. Adrian points out that it is important for the runner to commit to two key workouts a week – one long run session and one interval training session. The two sessions will help the runner maintain his fitness level.
Training Hurdle: Workouts Are Too Challenging
Solution: Be flexible with your routine.
At times, for reasons that relate to fatigue and lack of fitness, you find that you are unable to complete a particular workout in the plan. “Err on the side of undertraining,” says Singapore's top marathoner, Mok Ying Ren, “Check if your plan is overambitious because you don’t have the requisite fitness level.” Lawrence adds: “Avoid taking short cuts in training. Adjust your plan so that you allow yourself to build up your fitness level. Re-try that uncompleted workout a few weeks later.” Adrian also has a suggestion “Put the uncompleted training time in that session to good use – spend more time warming down or stretching.”
Training Hurdle: Too Much Mileage Is Boring
Solution: Add variety and improve your running form with interval training.
They are not high-speed workouts per se, but interval training. Lawrence explains: “Interval training is very useful for marathon runners – it helps them become more efficient. This is because when we run fast, we quickly learn that inefficiencies like excessive head or arm motion may affect our performance.” Adrian adds: “Intervals will help to boost the runner’s fitness level as well as train him to run at the correct tempo during the race.”
The Five-Month Marathon Training Plan For Beginners