Rather belatedly, I’ve found myself signed up to the London Marathon. There are just 11 weeks until race day so to keep things simple I’ve decided to follow a three day a week training plan. The details are below. This is a great schedule for those who are committed but don’t want training to take over their whole lives. My aim? To get round in as close to 3’30 as possible, beating my previous marathon time of 3’44.

The plan is this: one speed session a week, one tempo run, and one long run. These are the three crucial runs you need to improve fitness. Anything more is a bonus. The long runs I’ll do at 8’30 mile pace, following this tip from a good friend and excellent running coach Erin Whitla: ‘during the long run try and do the last half hour at a pace where you are really working – this is a big part of building speed endurance: being able to run fast for a long time’. 

The speed sessions I’ll be doing on Tuesday evenings with Clapham Chasers – but don’t forget the fantastic Run Through Running Club also does a speed hill session on Wednesdays at Brixton. I’ll be running as fast as I can round and round that 400m track (imagining I’m Jessica Ennis-Hill about to win at London 2012, of course). Another piece of advice from Erin: save your speed session for a day when your legs are fresh and always have an easier day the day afterwards’.

The tempo run I’ll fit in where I can, running at 7’30-8’00 mile pace. On the days in between I’ll cross train with spin, swimming, daily yoga and on the advice of Coach Erin, regular squats (normal and one-legged), lunges and step ups to avoid injury. Based on previous experience I’d go as far as saying that the daily yoga and strength training is almost as important as the long runs.

A couple of final tips from Coach Erin: Always have one complete rest day a week for your body and mind to recover’ and ‘Keep doing lots of races, because racing is essentially what makes you race fit’. So far I’m signed up the Race Your Pace Half Marathon on 15th Feb and the 16 mile Whole Foods Breakfast Run on 23rd March.

I’ll be tweeting throughout at @emilyjg and all this is in aid of Sightsavers, a fantastic charity which prevents thousands of people worldwide from going blind. Every penny is gratefully received – even £5 can buy a pair of artificial eyes for someone who needs them. You can sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/emilyforsightsavers

Good luck to everyone else training this winter. The long hard slog will be so worth it at the finish line!

Oh and PS – anyone who saw my earlier blog about why signing up to 10k races will give you back your running mojo, er, it appears to have worked!!

Three day a week marathon training schedule

Week Tuesday
1 (w/c 20 Jan) 14x400m 5 miles 14 miles
2  (w/c 27 Jan) 5x1200m 5 miles 15 miles
3 (w/c 3 Feb) 7x800m 8 miles 17 miles
3 (w/c 10 Feb) 3x1600m 10 miles 13 miles
5 (w/c 17 Feb) 12x400m 3 miles 18 miles
6 (w/c 24 Feb) 8x800m 5 miles 15 miles
7 (w/c 3 March) 4x1600m 8 miles 20 miles
8 (w/c 10 March) 12x400m 5 miles 15 miles
9 (w/c 17 March) 6x1200m 5 miles 20 miles
10 (w/c 24 March) 7x800m 4 miles 15 miles
11 (w/c 31 March) 3x1600m 8 miles 10 miles
12 (w/c 7 April) 30 min easy w 5x60s 20 min easy w 3 or 4 pickups RACE DAY!