A 16 Week Marathon Training Plan (For the over 50 - good for age ability - sub 4hour runner)

Average Weekly Training Hours 06:07
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 06:07
Training Load By Week

This marathon training plan is aimed at the older, experienced runner. It comprises of 16 weeks and 100 hours of training geared towards a sub 4 hour marathon. The idea of this plan is to promote robustness and reduce the likelihood of injury. This the plan includes a strength and core training cycle. The theory is that when the athlete reaches 50+ his/her muscles are breaking down everyday. Pure endurance training further breaks down muscles but, unlike younger athletes, older athletes do not repair and therefore respond less well to endurance training. Strength training decreases the rate at which older athletes muscles breakdown. The strength cycle in this plan works on the functional movements and stabilisation of running. Short and long reps are used to increase top speed. This combination of training is allowing for more scope to raise lactate threshold one (the most important factor of fitness for any marathon runner) and maximise the response to training for experienced runners aged 50+.

Sample Day 1
0:45:00
Strength W1

Warm Up – 21 minutes:
• 10x lunge walks (both legs counts as 1).
• 4 minutes (or ½ mile) gentle jog.
• 5x (1 minute (lay on back) fast bicycles then 10x plank to front support (start with a plank, hold body straight and push up to hands, arms straight, then return to plank).
• 6 minutes on foam roller

1. Leg kicks – 5 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular endurance of gluteals and hamstrings.
Lay flat on front supporting chin on back of hands. Point toes and straighten legs and raise off ground. Simulate a front crawl leg kick.


A right and left kick counts as one kick,
3x (30 kicks) with 1 minute rest

2. Press ups – 6 minutes:
Emphasis on pectorals, triceps and core stability.

Keeping a straight, rigid body from head to toe support the upper body with hands flat on floor below shoulders, arms straight. Lower down for 5 seconds (one thousand, two thousand…) controlling the movement until your chest touches the floor, then accelerate back up to straight arms.


Repeat 3x (10reps with 1 minute rest)

3. Reverse kicks – 5 minutes
Emphasis on core, quadriceps
Lay flat on back with hands by side and feet pointed. Suck belly button towards spine and crunch abdominals whilst simultaneously raising straight legs off ground. Dish position – small of back and bottom on floor, head and feet 6-12 inches off floor. Move legs in front crawl kick movement.


A right and left kick counts as one kick,

3x (30 kicks) with 1 minute rest

Cool Down – 8 minutes on the foam roller

Sample Day 2
1:20:00
Run - Treadmill/Threshold W1

WU: 1 mile or 10 minutes really easy jog then, 5x (inch worms, inch worms with cobra and downward dog, frog walks, frog walks with twists, back lunge and twists, two step lunge).

Main 57 minutes: 3x (13 minutes threshold, 6 minutes easy)

CD: 5 minutes on foam roller

Sample Day 2
0:30:00
Flexibility W1

Warm up using the foam roller:
Begin in front support position with roller under quadriceps and do 10 slow rolls from the knee to the pelvis, then turn to face upwards and repeat on the hamstrings 10 times. In the same position move the roller down to the calf’s and do 10 slow rolls from the ankle to the back of the knee. Finally support yourself on your side so the roller is under the side of your bum. Roll 10 times then change sides. Lastly, repeat all the exercises slightly quicker.

Main: hold each stretch for 60 seconds

1st Hamstring stretch - Your hamstring muscle runs along the back of your upper leg. To stretch your hamstring muscles:
• Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or a door frame.
• Raise your left leg and rest your left heel against the wall. Keep your left knee slightly bent.
• Gently straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh.
• Hold for ~90 seconds then switch legs and repeat.
• As your flexibility increases, maximize the stretch by gradually scooting yourself closer to the wall or door frame.


2nd Calf stretch - Your calf muscle runs along the back of your lower leg. To stretch your calf muscles:
• Adopt front support position with bum slightly higher and cross your legs so only the right foot is on the floor
• Slowly push yu right heal into the floor to feel the stretch.
• Hold your back straight. Don't rotate your feet inward or outward.
• Hold for about 90 seconds.
• Switch legs and repeat.
• To lower the stretch into the Achilles, slightly bend your right knee (or the knee of the leg you are stretching) as you push your heal down.

4th Hip flexor stretch - Your hip flexors, which allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist, are located on your upper thighs, just below your hipbones. To stretch your hip flexors:
• Kneel on your right knee, cushioning your kneecap with a folded towel.
• Place your left foot in front of you, bending your knee and placing your left hand on your left leg for stability.
• Place your right hand on your right hip to avoid bending at the waist. Keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight.
• Lean forward, shifting more body weight onto your front leg. You'll feel a stretch in your right thigh.
• Hold for about 90 seconds.
• Switch legs and repeat.


5th Quadriceps Stretch – repeat stretch 4 above but this time bring the foot of the rear leg off the ground, towards the bum.
• Try to reach with the hand of the same side and pull the foot closer.
• Make sure the hips are extender – pushed forward , for this stretch to be effective.
• Hold for 90 seconds the switch sides

Sample Day 3
0:45:00
Machine Circuit W1

Do this whole session twice.  Raise weight if completing 15 reps.  Maintain the weight if not.

WU: 1000m on rower

1) 15x lat pull downs at 15repmax
2) 15x suspended leg raises
3) 15x shoulder press at 15rep max
4) 15x hip extensions at 15rep max
5) repeat other leg
6) 15x pec fly at 15 rep max
7) 15x trap retractions at 15 rep max
8) 15x leg press at 15 rep max
9) 15x dead lift at 15repmax
10) 15x barbell squats at 15repmax

Sample Day 5
0:45:00
Plyometric W1

WARM UP (15 minutes):
Loosen off 5 minutes
1) slow reverse arm swings: standing upright, lift arms forwards, past your ears and back down in a large backward circle. Do 20 (10 slow then 10 faster)
2) Trunk rotations: Stand feet wider than shoulders and raise arms horizontal in front. Looking at hands twist arms to left then right, gradually increase the twist through. Do 20 reps both ways.
3) Hip rotations: raise knee so upper leg is horizontal and 90 degree at knee the keeping hips square, turn knee out to side and replace back down. Repeat on both sides 10 times.
4) Hops: small hops on right leg, then left leg. Do 5 hops on each.
5) Pencil jumps: arms in streamline position above head. Engage core. Take small jumps along keeping body rigid. Do 10 forward, 10 backward, 10 right, 10 left.


Develop ankle flexion (ballet dancing drills) 5 minutes
1) Calf raises: Keep butt tight and good alignment with upper body, standing straight with feet in neutral position. Push up onto toes (with intention and speed) then slowly replace heels to floor. Do for 30 seconds.
2) First position calf raises: From the starting position above, keep heals together, rotate your hips outwards as far as you can without putting pressure the knees – the first position is a ballet position: standing tall, heals together, toes turned out. Push up onto toes (as above lift up and lower down slowly). Do for 30 seconds
3) Wide calf raises: From first position, slide your feet apart to about twice shoulder width. Repeat the calf raises. Do 30 seconds
4) Toe offs: Starting in first position – toes out, heals together, standing tall – with intention, push up off the big toe of one foot to raise the knee and lift the foot off the ground – work one leg only – the energy should come from the toes, not the legs. Do 30 on one side then change.
5) Plea jumps: From the first position – standing tall, heals together, toes turned out. Squat down as far as you can whilst keeping good upper body form and the heels on the ground. This is your start position (Plea). Now jump up, without using the arms, and land back in the start position. Focus on rolling off the toes to lift off and land back in the plea. Do 30 times


Raise heart rate 
1) Burpies: start in press up position, jump both feet to hands, and jump up into a pencil, land feet together and return hands to either side of feet, thrust back out to press up position. Do 30 for seconds.
2) Ankle bounces and bicycles: balancing on the balls f your feet take 10 small bounces to the feet only just leave the ground. Reduce contact time by rebounding off the ground quickly. After 10, lay on back, head shoulders off the floor and small off back on the floor, knees bent, do a cycling motion with feet for 30 seconds. Do 10 ankle bounces and 30 second bicycles, 3 times. FAST!

Main (do this set 3 times with 90 seconds rest between each exercise repetitions)


1. 10x Tuck jumps: Start standing. Jump up with an explosive action and tuck knees tight to chest. Land again, on the balls of your feet and spring up immediately for your next tuck – The idea with these is to keep ground contact time to a minimum, so really spring up quickly.


2. 10x Bunny hops: Keep feet shoulder width apart. Swing arms back slightly to help you jump as far forward as you can. Swinging the arms will help lengthen your jump distance. Land on the balls of your feet and immediately take off again. – The idea is to jump as far forward as possible and keep ground contact to a minimum.


3. 10x (both sides) Bounding: progress from a slow jog to an extended running style. Make each stride as long as you can. Maximise the air time so you are really BOUNDING along. Minimise ground contact time by pushing off ASAP. Count the right leg landing 10 times only.

Sample Day 7
1:30:00
Endurance run W1

WU 15 minutes: gradually build up an easy paced jog for 5 minutes, then stop and do the following for 45s each without a rest between-

1) bear walks
2) mountain climbers
3) squat thrusts
4) burpies
5)take 2 minutes easy jog then repeat

Main: run at EASYpace for 70 minutes continuous

CD: easy down to a walk for the last 5 minutes.  Try to stride out your steps

Sample Day 9
0:55:00
Strength W2

Warm Up – 21 minutes:
• 10x lunge walks (both legs counts as 1).
• 4 minutes (or ½ mile) gentle jog.
• 5x (1 minute (lay on back) fast bicycles then 10x plank to front support (start with a plank, hold body straight and push up to hands, arms straight, then return to plank).
• 6 minutes on foam roller

1. Leg kicks – 7.5 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular endurance of gluteals and hamstrings.
Lay flat on front supporting chin on back of hands. Point toes and straighten legs and raise off ground. Simulate a front crawl leg kick.

A right and left kick counts as one kick,
5x (30 kicks) with 1 minute rest

2. Press ups – 6 minutes:
Emphasis on pectorals, triceps and core stability.

Keeping a straight, rigid body from head to toe support the upper body with hands flat on floor below shoulders, arms straight. Lower down for 5 seconds (one thousand, two thousand…) controlling the movement until your chest touches the floor, then accelerate back up to straight arms.

Repeat 3x (15reps with 1 minute rest)

3. Reverse kicks – 7.5 minutes
Emphasis on core, quadriceps
Lay flat on back with hands by side and feet pointed. Suck belly button towards spine and crunch abdominals whilst simultaneously raising straight legs off ground. Dish position – small of back and bottom on floor, head and feet 6-12 inches off floor. Move legs in front crawl kick movement.

A right and left kick counts as one kick,
5x (30 kicks) with 1 minute rest

Cool Down – 8 minutes on the foam roller

Peter Wilby
|
PeteWilbyTriathlOn

I am a triathlon and open water swimming coach based by the sea in Teignmouth, Devon. I provide a coaching service for triathletes and open water swimmers of all abilities.  I aim to provide a service for everyone.

When I train triathletes I use critical swim speed (CSS) for swimming, which requires a pace clock or watch.  I use power, heart rate, and feel (RPE) for cycling. And I use pace, time and distance as well as RPE for running.