New Marathon Training Plan

Heart Pulse Circuit Sport Movement
Published 16th October 2019
Category General Posts

Now that Gayle and I have signed up for the Rotterdam Marathon in April 2020, it’s time to get our fitness back and start training for the awesome event.

I know that a standard marathon training plan is around 16 weeks, but we have both lost a bit of fitness over the past twelve months and we decided to start our training much earlier to do some base building.

Polar Vantage V Sports Watch
My Polar Vantage V Watch

We both have Polar Vantage V sports watches and we thought that we would use the Polar Flow Running Program to help us achieve our goals. This isn’t an advert for Polar and I am in now way getting paid to write this!

The Polar Flow uses Heart Rate (HR) Zones during your exercises and builds a running program around this. At the moment, the system has us doing a 12 week bass building plan before we get into the nitty gritty of full on marathon training. The base training has four week cycles and at the end of each cycle, the program automatically adapts to how you’re progressing. That’s pretty awesome, because if life events get in the way and you are not putting in the training, it will recognises this and make changes in the next cycle. As the watch measures a whole load of metrics while you run, these are fed back into the running program and other automatic changes are made based on these. Basically the system knows when you are getting fitter!

We started the program last week and we can tell that our fitness is most definitely not where we want it be at the moment. This is evident in our HR being really high when we are running at a really low pace.

Looking back on past runs and our HR’s, we were always running in the anaerobic HR Zones, these are Zones 4 and 5 or 80 to 100% of maximum HR. (See the table at the end of this post). No wonder I’ve been knackered when running half marathons!!!

So, going back to basics, our medium and long runs will take place in Zone 3, this is 70% to 80% of maximum HR or the aerobic HR zones. We need to train our cardiovascular systems, muscles, etc to be able to sustain a run in this zone. We will do some anaerobic exercise (Zones 4 and 5) and this will come in the form of interval runs, hill training, etc.

So, what have we noticed so far. After the first week we have noticed that our running paces have dropped dramatically! I mean, it feels like we are walking. Staying in HR Zone 3 is really tricky, it doesn’t take much to push up you HR, however after a while you kind of get used to altering your effort to stay in the Zone.

At first I was really worried that our paces had dropped so much, but I reminded myself that we are in the base building phase at the moment, so there is plenty of time before the race and even the core marathon training to get our fitness on track. I have read lots of articles and forums around the topic of HR training and most people have said it normally takes around 4 weeks to see a real benefit. Both Gayle and I have just got to trust the process and see how it goes over the coming month.

I have noticed that I’m no where near as tired after a training session, even the day after! This makes it easier to get out there and do further sessions.

Recent HR Based Interval Run

I know that HR training isn’t for everyone and that there are a load of factors that can affect your HR, such as temperature, tiredness, current state of health, plus many more. But I think that there is something to be said in using your Heart Rate as a basis for training. Will it work for me and Gayle? Who knows. The only thing we can do is try it and see. If things don’t improve in the next couple of months, we can adjust our training plan to suite.

HR Zones

HR Zone% of Max HRDescription
590 – 100Maximum Effort for breathing and muscles.
480 – 90Increased ability to sustain high speed endurance.
370 – 80Enhances general training pace, makes moderate intensity efforts easier and improves efficiency.
260 – 70Improves general base fitness, improves recovery and boosts metabolism.
150 – 60Helps to warm up and cool down and assists recovery.


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