So, for this year I've been looking at some different 'off the shelf' marathon plans and have a shortlist of 5. Not sure which, if any to go for but here are the runners and riders:
Runners World Sub 3:30 Ultimate Plan
- Starts at 31 miles a week and peaks at 61
- 6 runs most weeks but 5 weeks at 5 runs
- 682 miles in 16 weeks
- Longest runs of 18, 18, 20, 20, 20, 20, 22
Pros & Cons: 7 runs of 18 miles or more would really give good endurance; no nonsense plan; starts at a low level; the 6 runs a week weeks would be a bit of a concern in terms of injury, no guidance on other exercises or pace; a lot of easy runs; peak mileage week is a bit daunting and is nearly double the start point.
Runners World Smartcoach
Starts at 31 miles a week and peaks at 54
4 runs a week
637 miles in 16 weeks
Longest runs of 18, 20, 20, 20, 20
Pros & Cons: 5 longer runs is decent enough; low mileage start; guidance on pace throughout plan; 4 runs a week gives plenty of rest but means an average run length of nearly 10 miles which could be difficult to fit in with 3 midweek runs in winter time.
Matt Fitzgerald Brain Training
Starts at 32 miles a week and peaks at 53
5 runs a week
619 miles in 16 weeks
Longest runs of 18, 20, 22
Pros & Cons: Similar to Smartcoach in terms of starting mileage and peak mileage; very detailed guidance on pace and cross training; only three long runs so limited injury risk but maybe insufficient endurance training content; emphasis on faster and/or marathon pace running rather than LSR.
Bob Glover's Basic Competitor Plan
Starts at 32 miles a week and peaks at 45
5 runs a week for 7 of the weeks, 6 runs for 7 weeks and one week with running every day
614 miles in 16 weeks
Longest runs of 18, 18, 20, 20, 20, 22
Pros & Cons: Ostensibly aimed at a category of runner below my current ability; only basic guidance on pace;the 7 runs a week week is a concern; decent quantity of longer runs; fairly limited demands in terms of mileage overall and average run length of under 7 miles so low injury risk; might not push me hard enough.
Bob Glover's Advanced Competitor Plan
Starts at 43 miles a week and peaks at 55
6 runs a week most weeks but with 3 cutback weeks where it drops to 5
736 miles in 16 weeks
Longest runs of 18, 20, 20, 20, 22, 23
Pros & Cons: Ostensibly aimed at my current category based on 10k pace; starts 10 miles above my (currently assumed) likely weekly mileage in December; very high mileage overall but weekly mileage doesn't increase greatly; 23 mile run in training seems a risk; good interspersing of cutback weeks.
I'm really not sure what to go for. I'm modifying Das Uber Plan to push my mileage over 30 miles a week for most non race weeks between now and 19/12 (when the marathon plan would kick in) but starting at 40 miles from week one feels like it has disaster written all over it. I like the idea of running faster like the Brain Training plan but worry that there's not enough longer runs (less than half some of the plans) in it. Running 6 days a week seems risky too - even if some of the runs in such plans are short and easy.
I don't know. Maybe I'll need to write my own but keep it flexible?