Marathon Schedule Training Made Easy With The Smart Scheduler Tool [20]

marathon schedule training

Marathon Schedule Training Tool

The Smart Scheduler is a marathon schedule training tool that makes it easy to plan and manage your marathon training.

To access it, check out the Marathon Mastery online training area and community.


Marathon Schedule Training Tool

We have a different format this week because some viewers have asked for more details on the Smart Scheduler tool that’s featured in many previous episodes.

So I thought I’d run you through exactly how to use it.

There’s lots of great takeaways on how to plan, log, track and tweak your marathon plan.

I‘m going to show you how you can create your personalised marathon training plan in just a few seconds.

And then keep a training log of what you actually did…

So you can track and tweak the plan as you progress towards your marathon goal.

Guidance is also provided on the scheduler itself if you need it.

Yes, I’ve sacrificed the clean minimal look!

Based on feedback from fellow runners who wanted all the info there and then when they most need it.

Planning Your Marathon Training  

First, choose your target marathon…

Which if you’re looking for a PB should be a flat, fast course in a suitable climate for endurance running.

Let’s use the London Marathon as an example.

Once you set the date of your event, the dates for each planned session are auto-populated.

Select the number of weeks you have available to train.

I recommend at least 16 to move through each of the marathon training phases.

Up to 20 to give yourself plenty of preparation time without getting stale and losing motivation.

So, if we reset the weeks to 16, notice that the dates change accordingly.

The number of weeks in each marathon training phase also adjust…

So you get the best preparation for the time you have available.

Notice, for example, that week 5 of the Trail Phase is sacrificed when you have fewer than 20 weeks available.

If you’re an experienced runner and you have a solid fitness base

You have the option of just training through the marathon-specific Pillars and Pediment Phases.

Worth bearing in mind when your marathon isn’t that far way…

But don’t be tempted to do this if you’re not ready for race-specific training!

Select the number of run days you can commit to each week.

The range is 3-6 because any fewer days don’t get you very far for a marathon campaign…

And I also firmly advocate at least 1 rest day per week.

You have the opportunity to switch from the traditional long run Sunday to midweek…

If that suits your lifestyle better.

Enter a recent race time…

So you can get personalised pace ranges for your sessions.

Please note that you must always enter duration data in full hh:mm:ss format…

Regardless of whether it’s then displayed as hh:mm:ss, hh:mm or mm:ss.

A recent race time will provide a better gauge of your current fitness…

And providing a half marathon, or better still a marathon time will be more specific than using a 10k time…

Although you have that option too.

Note that whatever you enter is used to estimate your marathon goal time at that point.

The dashboard now displays personalised pace ranges (average, fastest and slowest) in minutes and seconds per mile across all the marathon training zones.

You might be tempted to enter that stretching yet hopefully achievable marathon time you aspire to.

If you do, be prepared to work at the lower end of the pace ranges…

Or even reset a slower marathon goal time…

As you will be in the early stages of your marathon preparation and therefore at risk of overtraining.

You also have the option to enter your Threshold Heart Rate.

This is your average heart rate in beats per minute in the last 20 minutes of a 30-minute time-trial.

The dashboard displays upper and lower heart rates in beats per minute across the endurance and stamina training zones only…

Because it’s less reliable as a measure at higher intensities.

Finally, to create your personalised plan you just have to select your marathon training preference.

If you handle long runs well, but struggle with faster repeat-based work…

Choose the Camel template.

And if you handle faster repeat-based work well, but struggle on long runs…

Choose the Ostrich template.

So that’s it in terms of creating your plan…

But we’ll quickly cover the other readings on the dashboard before we get on to logging your training.

The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) across the zones is a 1-10 scale…

Which is made more real with the Feel Test and Talk Test indicators.

Then between the HR and pace ranges…

You get some idea of how long you could maintain the intensity of running in each zone…

If you were racing rather than training.

So taking the two extremes…

In the slowest zone, you’d be running an ultra marathon race lasting between 7-10 hours…

And in the fastest zone, you’d be doing a short track-type race lasting between 1 and 4 minutes.

The final reading is a summary of the percentages of total training time spent in each of the three broad zones for your plan.

What’s neat about this is it’s optimised for marathon running for any plan you create.

So let’s look now at the different settings for a planned training week.

Next to each auto-populated date we have the planned sessions.

I’ve created a quick reference checklist on how to perform each workout in the sessions tab.

The measure for tracking intensity is customised for different sessions…

And the emphasis also shifts from RPE/HR to pace as the training becomes more marathon-specific.

The session grid displays the number of reps, the duration of efforts, their intensity by virtue of which zone they’re in and how much recovery you get.

Don’t ever let this overwhelm you…

Particularly for the mixed intensity sessions like hilly runs or fartlek.

The data reflect the time spent in the various training zones…

But in practice just follow the simple guidelines on how to perform each mixed intensity workout in the sessions tab.

Don’t forget to read the weekly previews…

To better understand where the training fits in to the overall marathon campaign.

And always remember the plan is just a framework not a prescription and you’ll be fine.

There are two further tweaks you can make to your plan within each training week.

Firstly, you can switch the key sessions around and even insert practice races in some weeks.

These choices are informed by where you are in your marathon build up to stop you overreaching.

So, you won’t be offered marathon-specific workouts like faster repeats in the Trail Phase.

And the practice races only become options towards the end of the earlier phases and in the middle of the Pillars Phase.

Secondly, you can adjust the volume of steady running to match your current mileage.

Please don’t abuse this though by ramping up your mileage and putting yourself at risk of injury or burnout.

Also, because this feature is available every week…

You must remember to apply any changes consistently throughout your plan to maintain the right balance.

Logging Your Marathon Training

So let’s now look at how easy it is to log your training in the right-hand grid on the scheduler.

In the first column, there’s a drop-down list of all the sessions…

And you simply select the one you did that day (it includes rest & x-train if you didn’t run).

In the next 3 columns, you manually enter the session parameters…

  1. The number of reps (which will be 1 if you did a continuous run),
  2. The duration of the efforts and,
  3. The duration of the recoveries between repeats.

So even for a 1 rep continuous run…

You will probably enter at least 5 minutes in the recovery field to cover the jogging at the start and end of the session.

The easy column can be used to log any running added to a structured repeats session (including warm up & cool down jogging)…

Or even an easy run, if you were doing two sessions that day.

The next column auto-populates the total duration for that day.

Then in the final numbers column, you manually record your mileage.

This is totalled each week, and will amber or red flag if you’re overtraining…

Prompting you to ease back.

You even get red flag warnings to change your shoes based on your mileage…

So you’re being well looked after!

Tracking Your Marathon Training

The final column asks you to rate your performance for each session using the drop-down menu.

The default is ‘completed ok’…

But you can select ‘too tough’ or ‘too easy’ when expectations weren’t met.

Then finally, you provide weekly feedback in the text field.

I suggest you use this to comment on any mitigating factors accounting for your performances.

Also, don’t be too modest to give yourself praise for toughing out hard sessions.

Reviewing this kind of feedback just before your marathon can be very inspiring!

Track any colour-coded trends over time in the performance column…

monitor your weekly feedback…

And note the actual times you recorded for practice races and predictor workouts.

Tweaking Your Marathon Training

The beauty of having a personalised plan is you’re most likely only going to have to tweak your training along the way.

Use the times you ran in practice races and predictor workouts to update your marathon goal…

Which in term adjusts the training zone pace ranges.

You may also need to adjust the goal time…

If you’re consistently performing better or worse than expected in your overall training…

Particularly the key sessions.

And be prepared to make more minor tweaks…

Such as replacing a key session with an easier workout…

Or even an extra rest day if you feel you need more recovery time.

To access the Smart Scheduler, check out the Marathon Mastery online training area and community at [/spp-transcript]


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