I have been looking at my training for the next few months (still need to get into the detail). I have decided to base my mara training on the First program which calls for three runs a week only and cross training to prepare for the marathon. Traditional marathon programs seems to call for about 5 days of running minimum which is not for me, I want to start and finish the marathon as my primary goal not break any records.
I also know that I am an injury magnet and 4 runs a week tends to be my limit. I'm in love with my bikes again and want to ride them. I want to do some offroad running in there too, miles of tarmac will utterly bore me (exactly why am I doing a road marathon again ????????????). Basically its based on the First program but not slavishly following it.
The program gives pace zones based on my best 10K time which is about 8:20 mm. So intervals are around 7:35 - 7:40 mm (ouch but doable for short distances), tempo runs are 8:30 - 8:50 and long runs are 9:20 - 10 mm. I had settled on doing my long runs around 9:20 - 9:30 pace anyway as it feels like I could keep it going for a long time.
The plan consists of 1 Long run, 1 interval session and 1 tempo run a week. It is the tempo run that most worries me as it calls for anything up to 8 miles at that pace. I may find its these runs that get slowed down, I seem to cope with intervals ok but long fast (for me) runs wear me out. It also has a stepback week every 5 weeks, I'm going to change that to 4 weeks initally to fit in with the XC races. I have used a 4 weekly step back in the past and it has worked for me.
I want to fit in riding to work, general bike bimbling about and some mountain biking as well around that but it will all depend on how the runs go and it may just be lots of easy paced riding (no bad thing).
I was chatting to some marathon veterans over Christmas about my training, they didn't seem alarmed that I wanted to subsitute some runs for cycling as they know they will be proper rides however they told me that the long runs were what mattered above all, if I replaced some of the speedwork with steady paced runs it probably wouldn't make that much difference.
Short, fast races are probably best avoided apparently, in fact it was suggested I don't race much at all but I'll get bored so my race program is:
The three remaining XC races (one a month, step back week)
The GNW Half in Feb(first real target)
The Hawkshead Trail in April (for fun)
I may do the Blackburn Winter Warmer 10K as it was hilly and a good course but I'll see how training goes. I may need to find a longer race to aim for between the GNW half and the mara, I like intermediate targets.
What a ramble, will flesh out the details in the next week or so.