Finding the right marathon training plan is very simple if only you keep these tips in mind, assures Radhika Meganathan
Before the future goals, before the research into ideal diets and comfortable gear, before everything else, comes the training plan, because it’s the only thing that’s going to get you to the finishing line! The good news is, there are a lot of successful, customizable training plans available to even the greenest runner to follow without (too much) hassle. But which one is yours? Here are the factors to be considered while selecting the right training plan for you:
- Current fitness level: Be realistic and get a proper and honest analysis of your vital stats and your core speed, since following the wrong plan for your fitness level can lead to injury or worse. A lot of training programs are a mix of small runs, middle distance runs and long runs. Make sure you select plans and charts that are based on finish times and current fitness level, not your goal finish time. If you are an absolute beginner, opt for a novice 5K program that starts with walking and then incorporates running with 1-minute walks.
- Work/life schedule: Typically, marathon training plans last between 4-5 months, while half-marathon plans are around three months in length. As much as possible, clear your schedule to fit in this kind of training, failing which you may feel short-changed or under-prepared. If you absolutely cannot commit to this time plan at present, due to any reason, then it may be best to start your marathon training when you can afford to do that.
- Type of Race: Choosing a specific type of race will solidly ease you into the habit of running before you begin intense training. A good training plan with include, in a week, one strength training session, cross-training, and 1-3 rest days. If you are training for a specific marathon, get a calendar and work backwards from the start date. Mark all events/obligations that may interrupt your training. This will help you to plan ahead.
- Efficacy of the plan: Who created this plan? Do they have accredited qualifications? Look up for favourable reviews and stats on how many have used it; whatever plan you choose must have proven record that it works, so do your homework and carefully scrutinize each leg of the plan. If you are adapting popular plans from online, some inexpensive/free plans that you can follow are Hansons Method, Cool Running and Hal Higdon (Google them!).
- Adaptability of the plan: Is it scalable, upping the ante as you get better and better? Is it flexible, allowing you to rejoin seamlessly even if you miss a few sessions? If you have a hectic work schedule, then you need a marathon training plan that doesn’t require you to bow out even you miss one or two sessions. Life is unpredictable and chances are that you might miss out a class or two due to an emergency. See if the plan has a couple of mock or tune-up races during the training period itself, so that you get some real time experience.
Your first marathon will end up being a milestone in your life, so whatever plan you choose, you should make time to do your homework by researching online (and offline), and talking to other, more experienced runners. Doing so will give you an intuitive idea of what your comfort level is and help you determine the perfect training plan for you.