First Marathon...

I came late in life to running (I am a Covid lockdown runner!) and so it was that I was 62 years old when I decided to put a little under 12 months work into training for and then running my first full Marathon late in 2024. I am not completelywithout competition experience having run a 10K and a Half Marathon under racing conditions.

I am aware that I am embarking on a journey that will take considerable thought and a great deal of hard work. And, Gentle Reader, I will present it all live on these pages, writing it up as I go, as I carefully and rigorously prepare for the Sydney Marathon in September 2024. Perhaps this will be useful for you, or perhaps even just a little entertaining? If so please let me know...

12 month plan...

I have divided the upcoming year into roughly four preparation stages that come close enough to a full 12 months of preparation:

  1. Base Training (3 months): A solid training period that aims to establish a really good, strong, base from which to run the upcoming two long races of 2024.
  2. Half Marathon Prep (3 months): In this period I will improve on the preparation I did for my last Half Marathon race with careful use of speed work and longer long runs. And this time following a formal plan from a runner I respect.
  3. Rest (1 month): One full week of zero running and then another 3 weeks of coming back to a normal (pre Half Marathon race) training load.
  4. Marathon Prep (4 months): 16 weeks of formal preparation for my first full Marathon! Once again using a purchased plan.

I would really have preferred a longer 'rest' period between the Half Marathon race and the Marathon preparation but these are the two big races I want in 2024 so I will just have to carefully fit both races in! And then after the Marathon who knows what my goal will be for 2025 when I will have turned 64...

Base Training...

12 weeks of solid base training formed a really good basis for all of my work in 2024. This plan went from November 2023 through to January 2024, so over the long, hot and humid Australian summer. The plan was:

Base Training November - January 2023-2024
Day... Program... Comments...
Monday Long Run + Strength Training This run was 12-16kms at an easy pace. Running with a metronome, aiming for 180spm cadence.
Tuesday Swim (Recovery Day) 3.0kms for this session, almost exclusively working the upper body and resting the legs. Lots of paddles, band and pull buoy work.
Wednesday 10km Easy run Again run with a metronome, working an 180spm cadence.
Thursday Speed work (10kms) + Strength Training Alternating Hill Repeats with Mona Fartlek.
Friday Swim (Recovery Day) 3.0kms for this session, almost exclusively working the upper body and resting the legs. Lots of paddles, band and pull buoy work.
Saturday ParkRun + Strength Training Running ParkRun at a tempo pace: hard but not too hard!
Sunday Rest Day No running, no swimming, no weights + a sleep in!
Total weekly distance started at 40kms and increased to just over 50kms...

Some notes...

Some notes on the schedule that I have given above:

I had a sub-goal in this time period as well which was to run my 100th ParkRun. I really wanted that cool 100 run shirt!! That goal was accomplished on a steamy day at Lawson (Blue Mountains) ParkRun: mission accomplished!!

So: a highly successful base training period that has laid a truly solid foundation for my half and full marathon preparation!

Half Marathon Preparation...

Next I planned 12 weeks of training for my second ever half marathon, the Runaway Sydney Half Marathon, running through the beautiful Sydney CBD early in Autumn: Sunday May 5th 2024. This was in part intended as a preparation race for the full Marathon but I also had a goal: to complete the half marathon in under 2 hours.

In a pretty major change for my running I signed up with an online running community that is run and facilitated by my Physio and elite runner Mark Green. The plan I give below does not give all of the details of his plan for the half marathon, as it is a commercial plan, but it gives an idea of the general direction of the plan:

Half Marathon Training February - April 2024
Day... Program... Comments...
Monday Rest Day No running, no swimming, no weights.
Tuesday Aerobic Run with rolling hills An aerobic run with about 200-250 metres elevation.
Wednesday Aerobic run+ and Strength and Stability Training A longer run with several accelerations at the end.
Thursday Speed work This will usually be either a Fartlek run or Hill Repeats.
Friday Swim + Strength and Stability Training 3kms for this session, almost exclusively working the upper body. Lots of paddles and pull buoy work.
Saturday ParkRun Running ParkRun either once or twice around at a tempo pace and/or aerobic pace
Sunday Long Run As per the plan this will be from 16-22kms.
Total weekly distance run started at 50kms and eventually increased to 70kms...

Some notes...

Some explanatory and additional notes on the schedule that I have given above:

And I completed this race on a cool and raining Autumn day in the beautiful Sydney CBD. Exasperatingly a little out of the time that I was after, completely the race in 2:00:50, but still a glorious run where I felt quite strong. Excellent preparation for the Marathon race to come! Following this race I have allowed some time for rest and a few weeks of gentle running...

I had some substantial mental health battles during my preparation for this race and my final result in this race was made even more sweet with this background of unwellness. My battles with depression and anxiety continue but I have strategies, friends and a health plan to help me forward. Running certainly helps but it is never a complete answer and for those of you out there who are also battling with their mental health: I am thinking of you, I am with you...

Marathon Preparation...

Now for 16 weeks preparation for my first Marathon! Right now I am really, really excited with the thought of being completely ready for this race, the 2024 Sydney Marathon. Plenty of really hard work ahead...

Marathon Training June - September 2024
Day... Program... Comments...
Monday Rest Day No running, no swimming, no weights.
Tuesday Aerobic Run with rolling hills Aiming for 200-250 metres elevation and usually 10-14kms.
Wednesday Aerobic run+ and Strength and Stability Training An easy paced run with several accelerations at the end.
Thursday Speed work + Strength and Stabilty Training This will usually be either a Fartlek run or Hill Repeats.
Friday Swim + Strength and Stability Training 3kms for this session, almost exclusively working the upper body. Lots of paddles and pull buoy work.
Saturday ParkRun Aerobic session of about 14-15kms with accelerations.
Sunday Long Run As per the plan this will be from 18-34kms.
Total weekly distance run will start at 60kms and increase to just under 90kms...

Some notes...

Some explanatory and additional notes on the schedule that I have given above:

Results and what now?

And in conclusion...

This document will be in production for 12 months, writing it up as I go: as a 63 year old man prepares for, and runs, his first ever Marathon. I hope such an approach will be useful to you, it is certainly has been a very useful tool for me to organise my own thoughts and work out the optimal training. If this approach has been at all helpful to you please let me know...