Personalised Marathon Training Plans for Running Faster Times [2]

personalised marathon training plans

Personalised Marathon Training Plans

Discover how personalised marathon training plans are the way to go if you want to run faster times:

  • identify your training preferences,
  • tackle your weaknesses, and
  • make the most of your strengths.

And to help you further…

Dave is offering a strictly limited number of FREE Personal Strategy Session slots to help you break through your biggest time barrier.

Simply enter FREE in the coupon code field, click the Apply button and then complete your booking.

Book your 30-minute, one-on-one video call now with Dave before your place is taken!


Mark: We were chatting a little while ago, and Dave said that people act or run like animals.

I was thinking, “Well, that’s a bit harsh”, but he has one of his famous metaphors.

He wants to know if you’re an ostrich, a camel, or a pack dog. I think you’d better elucidate on that a bit so people understand what you’re getting at.

Dave: Yeah, I think so. I think if we stop the podcast episode right now, people would not get too much value out of that. It would set a few hares running.

Mark: Another animal.

Dave: Yeah, another animal. Let’s not even go there with the tortoise and the hare story!

Mark: All right then. Okay.

Marathon Endurance Training

Dave: The camel is absolutely superbly designed as an animal for endurance running in some of the toughest conditions because, obviously, camels inhabit deserts.

I think this is a powerful metaphor for the mileage junkies out there.

If you are a runner that:

  • thrives off of longer, slower sessions, so a long run of over two hours doesn’t fill you with horror;
  • and you feel very comfortable with spending time on your feet, running on the trails without getting too bored…

This sets you up to be classified as a camel because, as I say:

  • these are animals that are able to run for long periods, albeit at a fairly gentle pace;
  • with¬†incredible fuel conservation because of the hump they’ve got on their back;
  • and conservation of water.

Again, you find people that are very good at distance running have that ability. I was very lucky in that I seemed to almost never need to carry carton loads of water when I was running.

Marathon Speed-Endurance Training

Mark: Okay. The other one was the ostrich.

Dave: The ostrich. Don’t get me wrong. I know this is a show about marathon running, so I’m not trying to contrast one of the great marathon runners with Usain Bolt!

What we’re talking about here isn’t endurance against raw speed.

We’re talking about endurance, i.e. the camel, against speed endurance because an ostrich is also very adept at covering longish distances…

But the difference here, and why I’ve chosen the ostrich, is it is much more of a speed-endurance beast.

It’s got springy legs, and it’s just got an action that is more conducive to coping with faster, longer running, or the so-called tempo-type running, and also faster interval running.

You are obviously going to be well-adapted to marathon running if you are a camel. That almost goes without saying because the marathon is an endurance event.

But I actually come from a middle distance background, and I would classify myself very much as the ostrich.

Mark: Well, you are a Bird…

Dave: I was just waiting for that! It was just inevitable!

I didn’t like the really long runs. I preferred some of the faster-longer sessions and the faster repeats because it was more of a throwback to my 1500 metre days.

So I liked the shorter, sharper, “get the session done and get back home” kind of workouts.

What should be very reassuring for you is even if you don’t feel that you’re a camel in your approach to endurance running, you can still run a damn fast marathon if your physiology is more conducive to an ostrich style of performance.

Marathon Mixed-Pace Training

Mark: Excellent. We’ve had the ostrich, and we’ve had the camel. Now we’ve got the pack dog.

Dave: I’m being slight facetious here because I was looking for something that was somewhere in the middle, so this isn’t a rigorous, scientific treatment.

A pack dog is effectively an animal that’s got a bit of both because pack dogs are very flexible, they’re quite scavenging, opportunistic animals.

What I’m saying here is you may find that you feel quite comfortable with a bit of endurance, but you can easily enjoy the variety of some faster-longer running or some intervals.

So although I’ve put the pack dog in there as a kind of balance, I would encourage you to look and see whether it’s the camel or the ostrich you feel a slightly greater¬†inclination towards.

Mark: There you go. Are you a camel, are you an ostrich, or are you a pack dog?

Dave: And if you’re a pack dog, please decide which way you want to go, left or right. Left to camel or right to ostrich.

Marathon Coaching Sessions

Dave: I passionately believe in the importance of personalising your plan. So much so that I’m offering a limited number of FREE¬†30-minute, one-on-one personal strategy sessions with me where we get on a video call to plot out your fastest path to marathon success!

Dave: What I would suggest is that you work on your strengths at the business end of your schedule.

Then take the opportunity to identify and work on weaknesses in the early stages of your marathon training or even off season.

In a moment, I’m going to say why I’ve come up with that, but firstly, let’s go through the weakness side of the spectrum.

Firstly, it’s absolutely paramount to identify any physical weaknesses that you’ve got.

If you can, I would even go as far as to seek out a physical therapist and have your biomechanics looked at.

A campaign for a marathon is a big investment, and you don’t want to be running with something that could be easily corrected with the right flexibility work or strength work or even some regular massages.

Mark: Okay. Would you really then look for a physical therapist who specialises in sports-related problems?

Dave: I would indeed. This marathon running, as we’ve said quite a few times on this show, is a very specific endeavour, and it needs specific attention to sort out what’s holding you back.

You don’t want training traumas by working on things that you’re weaker in later in the schedule because it will extend your recovery too much.

Later in the schedule is the time to be really dialling in on the type of running that gives you the best contribution to your marathon performance.

Say, for example, you were really struggling with faster intervals

Then you would make sure you’d either:

  • worked on that weakness very conscientiously early on, so that you’re able to handle them;
  • or you emphasise more of the camel-type sessions later on in your schedule, and just accept that you’d been missing out slightly on the faster pace.

That’s the way to look at it because here’s the thing…

When you’re approaching a big race like the marathon, you don’t want to have lingering niggles or injuries.

Well, obviously, you don’t want to have lingering injuries!

But you don’t even want to have lingering fatigue because it’s going to affect your recovery time.

And that’s going to affect how you can translate the fitness gains for that long campaign into an effective marathon performance.

Marathon Training Injuries

Mark: Just to make things clear. If you’ve got any type of injuries, should you train?

Dave: You shouldn’t.

I’ll qualify that a little bit because the term “injury” is a subjective term.

Something like sore muscles is bread and butter. That’s sort of part and parcel.

I’d be worried for you if you didn’t have some soreness after a faster repeat session because it would probably mean you weren’t really working in the zone!

There’s a difference between rightly taking a day’s rest, or doing a very easy run, or doing a swim just to allow that stiffness or soreness to ease off and something that lingers beyond a day to a week or so, and then you know that it’s more serious.

It could be a slight tear… Who knows what it is? This is where the physical therapist comes in.

I’ve got something called a traffic light system, which is your early warning system for injuries, in a¬†future episode.

Mark: Excellent.

Marathon Performance Training 

Dave: The other point about not working on weaknesses so much as you get later in the schedule is you want confidence-boosting peak performances at that time.

That is the time when we’re really at the business end, and the last thing you want is to be struggling and feeling down on yourself because you can hardly get through a session.

So that’s another good reason to have mastered some of the things that were¬†holding you back early on so that it’s no longer such a trauma for you doing that kind of workout.

Or, as I say, you’re now in much more familiar territory.

Mark: What’s the penultimate point, or even the last one?

Dave: Apply the strengths and weaknesses approach to the marathon itself.

Some of your weaknesses might be psychological.

I know I keep banging on about this, but a good thing to overcome in the marathon itself is that weakness that you have to run hard all the time.

Of course, there’s no more relevant time to address this than at the start of the marathon when, as we keep saying, you must be conservative and hold back.

And not burn off too much glycogen too early in the race.

If you find hills and inclines challenging, look at the course carefully beforehand.

Prepare yourself for an upcoming incline by maybe taking the previous mile a little bit steadier than you would’ve done.

So you’ve got something in the bank to get you through that more problematic patch in the race.

Then you can regroup for later stages.

Mark: That’s almost like you’re thinking the next stage ahead.

Dave: That’s right. Footballers take it a game at a time, but you take it a mile at a time!

You don’t even just do that. You take it a mile at a time, knowing what that mile is going to involve by being a good researcher and looking at the course.

No marathon, even the so-called flat, fast marathons, are just uniform, treadmill-like tracks that you just perform uniformly on.

Every one is going to have its different quirks. I experienced this in Florence…

When I came back, if I hadn’t done my research, I’d have been shocked at how winding and cobble-strewn the terrain was. You had to factor that in because it slows you down and breaks your stride.

So are you now ready to create your own personalised marathon training plans? Please leave a comment below. [/spp-transcript]

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