Do I really need a HM or marathon tra... - Marathon Running ...

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Do I really need a HM or marathon training plan?


I'm tentatively planning a few half and full matathons this year and so went plan hunting a while back. I signed up to Strava Premium to get access to the training plans feature (but am not too impressed as you can't even personalise them or tell the system which days you prefer to run on!). I also looked at a few other free plans but nothing seems to suit me because they all make some strange assumptions like you are not very fit at all to start with or that you need to run some 08:30 min/km 5k recovery runs (I can almost walk faster than that).

So, I'm pretty much coming to the realisation that I will just keep running what suits me and I fancy, purely for fun with no fixed HM and marathon target time I am training for. I think that simply because I am so much more fitter than last year that I can pretty much crack my PB times whilst enjoying the season's running events (i.e. not be close to death at the end). I'm running a minimum of 1 HM per week at the moment, so the distance is becoming normalised in a sense, the same way 10k used to feel.

Maybe a formal training plan might be for me when I reach a point where pure and simple increased general fitness is not giving easy wins and New PBs. So maybe next year I might need a plan to nibble away at any PB times.

Does this chime with anybody else's experience? I'm thinking Miss Wobble and her "Don't over analyse it!" approach!

15 Replies

It's useful to have a plan to make sure you're running enough and appropriately for what you need to achieve. It doesn't matter whether it's a plan drawn up yourself, or by someone else - it just stops you from looking back and realising that you've only been doing a couple of runs per week, for example. That said, I have recently become a fan of only running a couple of times a week 😊 But the point is you need to make sure you're doing enough to get you through - for example if you're doing a hilly trail marathon you should plan to run hilly trails regularly, and increase your distance gradually over time until you get to about 32 km, etc.

As for you yourself, you have got a good routine and are running longish distances, so you don't really need a plan. As you say, if you wanted to target a particular finishing time it would be good to factor in speed workouts - I used a MyAsics plan for my first Brighton Marathon, and it was helpful with all the ghastly tempo runs it made me do, to get me round in a reasonable time, although I didn't quite hit my target 😂 I do agree, though, that some of the paces proposed in formal plans are ridiculous!!

So, short answer - some people need plans, others not so much!

LordiMarathon in reply to roseabi

My unwritten plan is pretty much to continue doing a 5k 10k and a long run (usually a HM). I will just increase to a max 32-35k about 2-3 weeks before a marathon. I have to say I'm not a fan of tempo runs either, so I kind of start hating any plan that stipulates a bit of speed pain and pukeyness! I do like to run faster but only when I want to, and not because it's week 4 run 2 fartlek 10k day!

I will enter the events soon to save some cash and that usually gives focus to training/ getting out of the door etc.

Thanks for the feedback. You are the guru around here ;-)

roseabiAdministrator in reply to Lordi


I went by my own plan for my first marathon, and I included a "fast 3k" every week, where I would simply run to the public loo on Hove Lawns and back, as fast as I could. Longest 3k I ever ran 😊


It sounds like the plan I am doing for Paris marathon at the moment, I couldn't find any plans to suit me ether. I normally do my long runs on a Friday.

I have tried to do hm's each week but life gets in the way but I don't seem to much of a problem going out and doing one when I can.

Irish-JohnHalf Marathon

I have a plan but using it more as a "around about that week if I'm sorta around that milage I'm progressing to my personal satisfaction and should be capable of reaching FM capability".

In other words, like the C25K - something that gives me appropriate perspective rather than "set in stone" diktat :)

WhatsappHalf Marathon

Sounds like you do have a plan. Not one of the'off-the-shelf' plans which are meant to fit as broad an audience as possible, but your own plan taylor made for you - you just havent written it down.

I set out my own plans based on what I have just run and what when my next event is and what I want to acheive from it. A plan is only a starting point anyway, and I have yet to complete one without adapting mid-plan for one reason or another.

LordiMarathon in reply to Whatsapp

Yep. Maybe it's in my head kindda. Trouble is that the "product" plans the industry pushes are like everything else, sold as a must have or must do, when in reality they are either useful to an individual or not so useful?

roseabiAdministrator in reply to Lordi

I like to look at them for ideas, like reading recipe books 😊 When I do end up following one I usually shift things around a fair bit.

WhatsappHalf Marathon in reply to roseabi

I agree roseabi they are a good starting point.

TbaeMetric Marathon

Hey Gary,

Your post made me laugh.😂😂

You are doing the marathon distance every week minimum🙈

and throwing a 5krace in the middle of an HM for good measure.

Brillant the way you think about normalising an HM like a 10K.

Why not.In my case I could use the analogy 10K as a 5k perhaps.

Go Gary and enjoy it all.

Now I am off to read the true wisdom replies on here with much interest.


C3POVirtual HM

I did my first HMs on my own plan. Three times a week, with my long run getting progressively longer. It worked well for me.

SlowLorisHalf Marathon

Since joining a club all I do is try and keep up. Their short runs are my long. Their slow pace is my threshold. So, despite best intentions, I don't really follow a plan. I have two long runs a week and one session of intervals or hills. I'm not the slowest but nearly all are more comfortable on longer distances than me. On the plus side I always have lots of company and don't have to plan anything. If I have a plan it's really just a set of goals. Start by getting up to 10 miles. Consolidate until I can do it comfortably. Half a go at an HM.


I always plan to plan, but life just seems to get in the way. Well, I tell myself that, but I think perhaps it's my inability to stick to plans that gets in the way. I didn't even make it to week 2 of c25k 😞


I need a plan... but it ends up becoming a tweaked one... as the weather and life have other plans...!

misswobble is a great role model.... she has inspired me and continues to do so... and is the most incredible source of down to earth realism, where running and everything associated with it is concerned. ! If I manage to do my HM with any modicum of style... it will be down to the basic plan from roseabi and misswobble.


You’ll do it 💪👍🏃‍♀️

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