Marathon Biographies

Train by Time not Distance

Lisa Smith - Wallace

Brighton Marathon 4:19:29

Lisa lives and runs in Brighton and followed a plan set by Nick Anderson at The Run Lounge. It was a"Time on Feet" training plan. Training by time and not miles has become a preferred option of mine. Read her story below.

Long Run Every Two Weeks

Nick Dawson

Steyning Stinger

Brighton Marathon 4:23:32

Nick followed a plan by coach Jan Lavis whereby a long run was scheduled every two or three weeks. This plan fitted around Nick and the fact that she was completing two marathons in the space of 5 weeks. She started following this training schedule off the back of having completed the Beachy Head Marathon. She didn't just launch into an 18mile run in week two! Read her story below.

The “Sue Lyle Way”

Sue Lyle

VLM 3:52:44

The title of Sue's bio sums it all up really. Read her story below.

Having completed 4 previous marathons since 2010 I found myself injured after plodding the pavements during the week with no plan to follow, just increasing my weekly long runs as directed by Run Brighton who kept my motivation up somehow.

This year, I joined Run Brighton again and was also emailed a weekly "Time on Feet" training programme for an intermediate runner from Nick Anderson at The Run Lounge.

I was very sceptical at first as every other marathon I have done, I have always done a couple of 20 mile runs in the last few weeks of training and I knew that the longest run I would do with this plan would not allow me to do this distance. 3 hours was the maximum time they recommended.

However, I put my trust in it and for the first time, I actually followed a plan.

Most weeks over the 16 week plan looked like this:

Monday: generally an easy day of 30 min x training at conversational effort and some conditioning exercises. In the later weeks, this could also be a rest day as the Sunday runs got longer.

Tuesday: in the first half of the plan, this was a Threshold run (eg 30 min run with 10mins run easy, 10 mins steady and 10 mins at threshold) increasing in intensity as the weeks went by. Luckily the club decided to lead these sessions so I was doing it in a group or I would of struggled to do them. as the long runs got longer this changed to a recovery run and the threshold changed to Wed or Thur.

Wednesday. Recovery run of 30 mins or aerobic cross training. I usually went running but occasionally did a zumba class if the weather was too shocking!

Thursday: early weeks this was a relaxed 30 min run, changing to tough threshold later on.

Friday: REST

Sat: Early weeks this was Kenyan hill sessions and later weeks became recovery runs as the long runs got longer!

Sunday: LSR week one was 1 hour and each week gradually got longer to a maximum of 3 hours. we stuck to pace groups that were a minute or so slower than our intended marathon pace.

Every 4th week was a cut back week.

I got to the start line completely injury free and was very confident that I had done the very best I could do to prepare myself. I decided to run 10 min miles for 20 miles then see if I could speed up my pace in the last 6 if it was possible.

All went to plan and I completed in 04:19:29. A pb by 10 minutes.

I would definitely use this plan again. I think the threshold runs ( as much as I hated doing them at the time) and the Kenyan hill sessions really helped me to achieve my pb. The LSR felt comfortable and helped me become aware of my pace and breathing.

The long runs increased over the weeks as follows;

Week 1, 60 mins.

Week 2, 75 mins

Week 3, 90 mins

Week 4, 105 mins

week 5, 60 mins

week 6, 120 mins

week 7, 135 mins

week 8, 150 mins

week 9, 90 mins (30 mins easy, 30 mins steady and 30 mins 1/2 marathon pace)

week 10, Half marathon race or 2 hours long run with 60 mins at marathon pace,

week 11, 165 mins

week 12, 180 mins (last 60 mins at marathon pace)

week 13, 150 mins

week 14, 120 mins

week 15, 60 mins


Initially, I was training for Brighton 2014 which would have been my 3rd marathon. However, due to a little over excitement I found I’d also entered the Steyning Stinger which was 5 weeks beforehand, so I felt I needed a bit of advice on the how to get the best out of both of them. I wanted to aim for a better time than Brighton 2013 (4.39) but had no target for the Stinger, apart from getting under 6 hours.

Last year I found a plan online, based on building mileage each week, but after chatting a few times with Jan about restricting long longs to every 3 weeks and incorporating more speedwork, I asked her if she could give me some advice on a plan that would incorporate the Stinger and Brighton (and 5 days in France in Feb where I would mainly be drinking red wine and not running at all!).

The #JanPlan was to run 4 days a week. Weds night was club night, so there would be some kind of effort there, and two other runs in the week would either be tempo,fartlek or interval work. The time spent on the effort built up gradually over the 12 weeks I had before Brighton. At weekends my “long” run would be two weeks of a moderate distance at a steady pace, and the third weekend was a long run (see below for weekend runs) at 90 secs a mile slower but with every 4th miles being run at marathon pace. I really noticed a difference in my stamina and speed the more of the fast sessions I did. I found that I was also spending less time pounding the pavements during the week but reaping the benefits. It made me push myself harder on runs where I would not have dreamed of doing that in the past, as I knew they were short bursts, which were manageable. I think it really helped me to have the coaching aspect of using the plan, as I would update it after my runs and Jan would give me feedback, and tweak things where she saw fit. It also helps having someone to answer to!

Week 1 – 10 miles steady pace

Week 2 – 18 miles 11 min miles (mile 4,8,12 and 16 at 9.30mm)

Week 3 – 10 miles steady

Week 4 – 20 miles 11 min miles (mile 16-20 at marathon pace 9.45)

Week 5 – Brighton Half PB 1.59! (last year 2.04)

Week 6 – 8 miles steady pace

Week 7 – Steyning Stinger marathon – 5.29 – really pleased with this!

Week 8 – 8 Steady miles

Week 9 – Spitfire 20 – 3.21

Week 10 – 12 miles marathon pace 9.45

Week 11 – 8 miles marathon pace

Week 12 – Brighton Marathon!! 4.23! 16 minutes off last year! Had an amazing race!

So the figures speak for themselves. Towards the end of the plan I had some gaps where I listened to my body if I was a bit tired, and gave myself time off if I thought I needed it. I may have substituted a steady run for an effort once or twice, but all in all it was a massive success and I will definitely do this again. I was injury free, apart from a sore ankles, but I blame the camber we ran on in the Stinger!

Long Run every Two Weeks

Jon Lavis

VLM - 4:49:08

How not to train for a marathon and get a PB

Having run 1 or 2 marathons each year for the last ten years I have learned to fit my training round my life rather than my life round my training.

This year a new puppy who was not allowed to run much and many family commitments meant my training was less than ideal.

I did the Barnes Green 1/2 marathon and the great south run (10 miles) last autumn but no other runs longer than 6 miles.

In January I did the winter tanners 30 mile off road run. It took about 7 hours.

I did Brighton and Hastings 1/2s in the spring. These were the only runs I did on road in my training.

I did one 17 mile run about 3 weeks before the marathon.

I did no formal training but did do park run every week as speed work.

Most days I pottered round between 3-6 miles on muddy hilly footpaths.

Between January and March I lost 5 kg by drastically reducing my intake on 2 days a week. I still ran on these days.

Come Marathon Day I felt fit and determined but underprepared. It was warmer than I would have liked but I finished in 3.52.44. This was 8 seconds faster than my previous pb set 9 years previously.

I think the reasons it went well were:

I had run on trails which take more effort than road so on race day it seemed easy

I was lighter than I had been

I did park run every week

I was not exhausted from over training

This plan or lack of it would not suit most people, but if you don't manage to do all the miles you intend,don't despair you may just get a PB.

Conventional Training Schedule

Linda Russell

VLM 4:37:09

Linda followed a conventional marathon training schedule involving a long run most weekends and peaking with a 20mile run. Read her story below.


I had previously completed 4 marathons before being fortunate enough to gain a place at the 2014 London Marathon. I was absolutely determined to improve upon my time this year having finished Brighton Marathon the last two years with exactly the same time.

I continued to follow a typically conventional training plan much as I had in previous years but this year I ensured that it was more structured rather than just ‘bashing’ out miles of endless running as I had done in the past. As I embarked upon my marathon training in January, I started my LSR off at around 8 miles and took care to ensure I only ever increased this distance by between 1-2 miles each week even if I felt that I was able to run further. These LSR runs varied week to week of both on and off road as did the intensity of the runs sometimes with hills and at other times completely flat and included Brighton and Hastings Half Marathons both of which I found very useful in replicating race day conditions and helping me to gauge my pace. I also incorporated other forms of exercise into my programme to cross train. A typical week would be something like this:


1 hour circuit training combining upper and lower body exercises.




BHR Club Night. I found the monthly track sessions at Lewes to be particularly useful for speed work.


1 hour of either a step or aerobics class






Long slow run starting off at 8 miles and gradually increasing the distance up to 20 miles.

I remained injury free up until about two weeks before London when unfortunately I began to suffer with a recurring injury with my IT Band and outer hamstring. Sports massages and stretching exercises helped and thankfully the injury didn’t develop further.

Race day arrived and I ran the entire 26.2 miles without stopping once completing the marathon in 4.37.09 a PB of 20 minutes.

Imagine my surprise when being the recipient earlier in 2013 of a Blue Smurf Virgin London Marathon magazine my name was drawn out at the VLM Club Ballot. I knew pretty much straight away that this was going to be something special, probably my one and only go at THE MARATHON. VLM2014 was to be my 13th Marathon, my PB was at my first, so having become a bit of a plodder I decided it was time to up my game and try a different approach to my marathon training.

Being fortunate enough to be married to a very experienced marathon runner and Coach I asked Jan to create me an individual 16 week training plan, known affectionally as a JanPlan. What followed was a complete change in what I had previously been used to, out were the ever increasing long plodding runs and in came the speed work, interval sessions etc. throughout the following weeks I ran faster for shorter periods, four or five times a week. I readily admit I was at times concerned that I wasn't putting in the miles but what I realised was those miles I was doing were quality miles. Less miles meant less chance of injury, I was training for a road marathon, so I kept off the trails (although I did allow myself the indulgence of the Stinger Half!) it was all about training for need. Regular parkruns were used as an indicator of my increasing speed.

As the weeks progressed I ran increasingly long every other weekend alternating with short and fast. My pace increased from 11min/mile to under 10. My target Marathon Pace was 9:45 and from being totally disbelieving of being able to do this by taper time I was right on the money! My longest run was 18 miles 15 of which I did at marathon pace.

On race day conditions were warm, I settled into the 9:45 pace almost immediately, checking my watch trying not to go off to fast. I kept the pace going pretty well and I came in with a PB of 04:49:08 a new PB by 10 minutes.