I ran 12.5 miles at 1:40. I swim and gym regularly, and go for a 6 mile jog 4 times a week. I've got all the free time in the world. What should i use?
I agree with @jsmith but all the plans tend to follow a few specific guidelines. Here are the ones I'm following:
- Build up to at least 20 miles 1-2 months before a marathon race.
- Run all long runs ( +16 miles) at an easy pace.
- Do one long run every week but run your longest long runs every other weekend at the most.
- Aside from running for distance for the longer runs; run to time.
- Running more than 3 hours during training is treading a fine line between fitness and injury so most people advise against it.
- Run 30-60 minutes 2-5 times every week.
- One day every week should be devoted to speed work like sprinting.
- 3-4 months before marathon race focus starts on speed (and 180 spm cadence).
- Taper 2-3 weeks before race by cutting down distance but keep pace and intensity the same (until the last 4-5 days?).
- Listen to your body dont push too hard by taking a day off and take advantage of itches to go further or faster.
If your not cheap like me then get with a coach or a local running club. Alot of people get into clubs and they sound like fun...
It sounds like you have a good aerobic base to start a marathon training plan now. You are running around 25 miles per week, which is right at the required base miles to start a running marathon program.
There are A LOT of options out there for marathon programs. But I'll give you my 2 cents as to which I have liked the best. For price and quality I don't know if you can beat marathon training academy's programs. They also have a nice podcast you can listen to with great running tips and racing advice.
McMillan running has recently partnered with Strava and allows you to build a program through them if you are a premium member (this is a very good option for existing premimum strava members). This also gives you the benefit of logging your miles through strava, which I really enjoy!
Ultimately there are quite a few good options out there. I would avoid any that never have you run at least 20 miles... The ones that avoid those long grueling sessions tend to be geared towards people who want to complete a marathon, but not run one fully (based on your base miles I feel like you are in the ladder category).
If this is your first marathon, keep in mind that your goals should be pretty realistic. No matter what program you pick your first marathon is more about running it completely, and getting the experience. If you enjoy it, you'll want to do it again, and you can adapt your training based on what you learned!
Good luck!! And as a side note, I'm not affiliated with either of the companies I suggested. I have just had good results with both!
Addition based on comment
I've only ever looked at a few free marathon training programs, but never used one. So I can't fully back one. That being said, just from viewing them they seem to be built on very similar principles, and likely will yield good results. You learn A LOT from your first program... A lot about yourself, and even the workouts that benefit you during different situations. I don't think it's a bad idea to go with a free one, and then possibly take notes and adjust based on your experience...
On a side note. I actually think to get the absolute best results you need a coach. They are able to see and point out things you can't. A good coach is honestly much more valuable than any training plan because they can adapt based on how your body is responding...