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How many miles to the start line?

London Marathon
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Thursday, 15 November is nearly upon us.

An obscure date, surely, with no relevance to runners?

Well, no. As of Thursday, 15 November, it is 150 days to the London Marathon. Or 216,000 minutes. Or 3,600 hours. However you like to think of it.

(It's also two days before my birthday and I'd better be getting that hi-vis wicking top I want or somebody's getting a size 10 Mizuno pinged at them...)

As you can tell, this week I have mainly be doing stats. I have my cross-section of marathon training programmes and I have been crunching the numbers for you. Hopefully, there will be some spiffing graphs to go along with them, but no promises.

As you may remember from my previous stats, the average recommended length of a marathon training programme is 150 days. For those hoping to run London, that means Thursday. A few of the routines that fed in to this recommend 36 weeks of training. The routine I'm using at the moment is calculated for 22/23 weeks, and the more optimistic websites have 16-week guides (which would mean training starts at Christmas).

So, how are you doing? Are you setting yourself a good base for Thursday? Are you letting 'proper' training wait until Christmas? Are you already in 'proper' training?

For the AVERAGE runner (total mileage from all of the routines I have studied, for each week, divided by the number of routines, over 21 weeks and 3 days):

Let's say you use the first three days to have a couple of light jogs, limber up, get used to blisters, cold mornings, porridge, and crowbar'ing your achievements in to conversation with colleagues. Let's say you have a base of 5 miles, with 21 weeks dead on to go.

With 18 weeks to go you should have covered 66.9 miles.
With 16 weeks to go you should have covered 148 miles.
By the time of the marathon you should have covered 741 miles, total.
(Or from BBC Television Centre to Schlossbergstrasse, on the way in to the Austrian town of Viehofen.)

For the HARDCORE runners, who should have already run 281 miles (according to the average from a cross-section of routines labeled 'veteran', 'experienced', 'advanced' or 'don't even think about it, cake-boy') in the 10 weeks previous to Thursday, 15 November:

With 16 weeks to go, you should have covered 360 miles.
With nine weeks to go (the average recommended first tapering), 760 miles.
With five weeks to go (second tapering), 1020 miles.
And, by the time of your marathon, training will have taken you 1346 miles.
(Well done you, that's BBC TVC to the south side of Mareth, a small town in Tunisia.)

For THOSE NEW TO RUNNING (who 'just want to get round', according to one of the routines I've been using), let's assume you start from a base of hope and pie.

You should have covered 85 miles between mid-November and Christmas Day.
With nine weeks to go you should have covered 179 miles, and, come mid-April, you'll be 370 miles better prepared, total.
(Which would still take you from TVC to a right-hand bend on the A932 between Dundee and Forfar.)

But which are you? Are such distances realistic? Are they more or less what you expected?

Personally, with six days to go until that 150-day marker, I have a base of 41 miles (according to Derek Turner's schedule, I should have only run 35, and it should be noted that you can do yourself serious damaged by over-training). I am running at 117% of my recommended level.

Now, confusingly, I've come up with two averages for total distance to run:
All total mileages / number of routines = 807.4 miles.
All total mileages, week on week / number of routines = average mileage per week. All weeks added together = 741 miles (the figure above).
The median of the two is 774.2 miles (TVC to Aberystwyth, to Manchester, to Edinburgh, to Newcastle, and home for vaseline and crumpets).

Therefore, I reckon I have 733.2 miles to run in 22 weeks. Or 33.3 miles a week. Or (733.2 / 156 days) 4.7 miles every day from now until 13 April.

By the time Mr Turner's opening schedule finishes (18 weeks to go), I should have run 89 miles. At current effort levels that will be 104.3miles, with about 670 miles left to run.

Before we then all run 26.2 miles, the confusing way, from Greenwich to The Mall.

Anybody fancy joining in?

Other notes - I've tried a reader's recommended stretching tip - jog first, then stretch, then run. I did not like it. I feel funny not stretching. I've had a go at the Reading youth academy stretches (available through the BBC Sport Academy) - the dynamic ones - the effect was immediate and refreshing, having been a static stretcher for five years now. Give them a whirl, let me know how you get along.

Given last week's chat about osteopaths, I'll book myself an appointment (I should also be visiting my GP and a few other analysts of varying qualification and practice) and let you all know how I get on, and if they help my running.

Thanks again for the tips about heart monitors. Again, I'll source one and spend a week using it, with an honest write-up on here afterwards.

I'm now looking to vary my cross-training. I walk an average four or five miles a day, and regularly use a gym-bike (irregularly I rock-climb, too), but I want to test things that you recommend. Is yoga or pilates any good? Do spin-classes help with your running pace and fitness? What about boxercise?

Anything you think I should try (and you'd like my asinine punditry on), I'll give a go. Hopefully, a photo-sharing area will be up soon and you can see my ugly self attempting backward-barking dog just because you said I should.

One last note: hard runs / gentle (recovery) runs - which way round do you do them? I tried gentle running on Sunday, with a pace run on Monday and it worked fine. A pace run on Wednesday, followed by a recovery jog on Thursday was horrible. Am I weird? What are your strategies?

Thanks, as ever, for all the advice, and have a good run!

Latest comments

Read members' comments or add your own

posted Nov 10, 2007

Nice to see you doing so well.
Read somewhere today that to help increase stamina a bit of hill running will go a long way. Now i know there aren't to many hills around London maybe a trip to Wales could be worth a bash?
Is step Aerobics still in fashion? ale

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posted Nov 10, 2007

i am knackered just thinking about all those miles to go.

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comment by WPep (U9767632)

posted Nov 11, 2007

You keep asking for challenges so here you are;
Not sure how appropriate it is to marathon training, but sounds like fun! If you/the bbc fancy paying my air fare i'll do it too.
I normally do a lighter run either side of my hard runs, but whatever works for you.

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posted Nov 12, 2007

Oh you gotta do this -

never mind doing it in order. That's mental.

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posted Nov 13, 2007

Great chat all round.

BobbyNads - thanks for those websites on last week's thread, my partner (very into alternative therapy) has a list for me to try as well, will let you know how I get on.

Droitrob - Fear not, there are some useful hills here in Londonshire, too, Putney Hill, Horsenden Hill, Gunnersbury Park has a great sprint slope. I'll definitely try some hill-training and let you know.

Scottrf - that's tops! That's just the sort of thing I'm trying to do. Unfortunately, it's invitational only. I could work out the equivalent steps in my house and do that, perhaps...

gnomeclencher - I know, I showed the map to our mutual rock-climbing friend and he said it didn't count unless in order (I hope it's more entertaining for the readership if there are photos of me pointlessly going up and down the Strand three times). I may do the four stations and utilities, as well.

Just to keep you all up to speed, I'm now on a routine to run 3 miles every day, more of that on Friday.

For now, have a top jog!

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comment by WPep (U9767632)

posted Nov 14, 2007

Thought it was but surely they will let you if you tell them you will write a column?!

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posted Nov 15, 2007

Hi all - I'm hoping for a bit of advice on osteopaths, spin classes, and heart monitors this Friday, so you know.

Scottrf - I doubt it.

I'm presuming 'invitational' means those who are expected to be competitive.

Me being half an hour behind everyone else and jotting down pointers on napkins wouldn't impress the organisers.

Years ago I tried using my BBC pass to get in to a nightclub in Vauxhall. I've been shy about waving it around ever since...

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comment by WPep (U9767632)

posted Nov 16, 2007

Haha ok, but the reason I saw it was because a columnist in runnersworld wrote a story about it so you never know! I'm not sure he expected to be competetive by the sounds of it and not sure there are many competitive step runners. If it was too much of a race it would get very jammed!

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posted Nov 16, 2007


The first thing to do with a heart rate monitor is establish your resting heart rate. Wait until the morning after a rest day (not the morning of the rest day - the one after that), and then attach the monitor while you are still in bed; so make sure the monitor is close at hand when you go to bed. Then lay there for 5 or 10 minutes and relax - use gentle breathing. Then stop the monitor and it will give you an average heart rate. That is your resting heart rate.

Your maximum heart rate is more difficult and painful to establish. Essentially you do a stress test. There are a number of suggested methods, but they're all quite similar. An example is: run 400 metres at 90% - 95% effort and then immediately run a second 400 metres as hard as you can. At some point during the second 400m, you will reach your maximum heart rate (or near enough). You could also go and have a professional test in a fitness laboratory, but I don't know how much they cost. This might be interesting in the spirit of adventure. Also, you live in London and work for the BBC so no doubt you're paid in weight of gold coin - I'm sure you could pony up the cash. biggrin

Once you've done this, you will have the two figures you need to work out your heart rate training zones.

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