If you’re looking to run a sub-4-hour
marathon – or just do a personal best you’re going to need to be a bit more
scientific about your training – and your GPS running watch can help.
The good news is that wearable technology can now
take a lot of the guesswork out of what was a tricky process.
Run faster: Check out our running hub for tips and tricks
only will your GPS watch make sure you’re running the
right distances and give you real time updates on how fast, and how hard, you’re
running, but it can also tell you exactly how to structure your training to
get to the start line in shape to run the race of your life.
a sub-4-hour marathon is your target time, here’s how to use your
running watch to build a plan that’ll help you reach your goal.
your race pace
get down to brass tacks, in order to run a sub-4-hour marathon, you’re
going to have to put together 26.2 consecutive miles run at 9:09 min/mile pace.
That’s four sub-1-hour 10km runs and a bit more. We’ve
done the sums for you in the case but you can use Polar Flow, Garmin Connect and Adidas miCoach to do this for you.
a target race with a time goal in any of these web tools and it’ll
give you feedback on how fast you need to run. It’s a good idea to
choose from the outset whether you plan to run the actual race in kilometres or
miles and stick to that in training.
Try heart rate training
Once you know your race pace you’ll need to build a plan that combines shorter distances faster than race pace, middle effort runs at 75% of your race pace, long runs at around 65-75% and your recovery runs at 60% of your race pace. And the perfect way to do this is to start with heart rate training. At this point it’s worth jumping over to our heart rate training guide.
With products like the Garmin Forerunner 630 you can also choose to run against a virtual pacer in training, this is a great way to get a sense of how the actual race pace is going to feel come the big day.
running watches come with default heart rate zone settings. You can alter these
to make your tracking more accurate but first you need to find out what your zones are.
your zones are fine tuned you can ensure you’re running sessions
at the right intensity and put together the right combination of low, medium
and high intensity runs.
mix of training is vital to build the endurance and speed to get round in under
your fitness first
smart thing to do before you set off on any marathon training programme is to
assess your current fitness levels. The Polar Fitness Test, for example, is
a pre-programmed test you can do using just your watch and a heart rate
monitor. It provides you with a benchmark that you can use to see how your
fitness fares against the average. It’s a great barometer for how hard you’re going to have to
train to get ready for race day.
can use this information to help you decide how best to approach your training
for an off-the-shelf training plan
long should I train for? How many times a week? What’s the furthest I
should run in training? These are all common questions for anyone putting
together a marathon plan. Thankfully, Adidas miCoach and Garmin Connect all
offer ready made marathon schedules that answer a lot of these questions.
Read this: Garmin Connect essential guide
Garmin you can choose between from a set of sixteen-week training plans that
work on heart rate or pace, and also three different levels, depending on how
many times you want to run per week. Sadly these don’t give you the
option of gunning for a target time.
Adidas miCoach gives you the option of a pre-packaged 20-week, six session per week,
sub-4-hour plan which you can then customise choosing to work from your start
date or progress towards a set race date. You can then tell miCoach how many
times a week you want to run (4 ,5 or 6), when you’d prefer to do your
longest runs and which days you’d like off.
You can then use our guide from turning an off-the-shelf training schedule into a personalised biometric plan using our guide.
your own training plan
Flow offers far more customisation but with this service you will need to already
know what makes a solid training schedule. This is great if you already have a
coach setting a regime or are following a training plan like the Hanson plan but want to a tool that gives you an easy to follow schedule.
your running watch doesn’t come with any online planning tools, like the TomTom Spark and TomTom MySports, you can still you can still use the heart rate and
pace to create your own benchmarks a build a plan.
the heart rate zone information you gathered earlier, you’re looking for a
combination of lower intensity, longer endurance base training runs, with high
you’ve built your own
offline plan and you want to bring it into the digital world, Google Calendar
is a good option for scheduling, annotating and sharing your training. While it
lacks the automation and the insights of Polar Flow or Garmin Connect, plot
your workouts ahead of time and add the key stats after your runs and you’ll have plenty of
data to track your progress.
in the zone
your GPS running watch you’re likely to find options for audio of
vibrating alerts. Setting these to give you a nudge when your BPM or pace rises
or falls outside of the training zone for that session will ensure that you
stick the plan and achieve the right training effect from each of your runs.
Download a great playlist
Senior editor James made a playlist that helped him get around the Amsterdam marathon. Why not give it a try, and let us know how you’re training is going.