August 30, 2022

How To PB Your Next Marathon

Want to PB your next marathon? Here is everything you need to know; from training to fueling to pacing and everything in between.

Related Articles

6 Common Heart Rate Training Mistakes

A Simple Guide To Lactate Testing

Do This! Performance Directives For Endurance Athletes

Coached were the official coaches the last time the Singapore Marathon happened en-mass in 2019.

I’m happy to announce that as the Singapore Marathon returns in 2022, we are again the official coaches of the event and will support all runners in preparation for the race.

We have several initiatives planned, the first being this blog series – How To PB Your Next Marathon.

Between now and race day, we’ll share an article every two weeks covering topics that will help you prepare for and ace your race.

While we’ve titled it How To PB Your Next Marathon, most of the advice shared in this series applies to all distances – 5k to marathon.

Let’s get started …

How To Structure Your Training

Structure is not a sexy topic, but it’s a darn right necessity if you want to remain injury-free and run at your best.

The sooner you realise this and apply some structure to your training, the better.

The Timeline

A discussion about structure wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t first address the time required to prepare for your race.

Having sufficient time to prepare is critical because it means that your training can be progressive, gradually building in difficulty as your body adapts and fitness improves. Progression limits your risk of injury and allows you to bring your fitness to a peak on a specific day.

Here are the timelines required to perform in various distances.

Marathon: 16 – 20 weeks
Half Marathon: 12 – 16 weeks
10k: 8 – 12 weeks
5k: 8 weeks


Cut Race Times, Not Corners.

Racing at your potential and enjoying training is easy when you’re following the right programme.

The Three Levers

There are three levers that an athlete or coach can pull to change a training outcome. Their use will depend on each athlete’s unique characteristics and schedule.


Frequency refers to the number of training sessions you complete each week.

We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect, and running is no different. The more your run – with the caveat that you must recover sufficiently to absorb the work – the better you will do.

Here are some recommended frequency guidelines for various distances.

Marathon: 4+ runs
Half Marathon: 4+ runs
10k: 3+ runs
5k: 2+ runs

I’d also recommend you include one to two weekly strength training sessions for injury prevention and strength development.


Volume refers to the duration or distance you run in a session, week, or training cycle.

A high volume is best achieved through a high frequency, not from long single runs, and I recommend running based on duration rather than by distance – especially for the long runs.

Here are some recommended long run volume guidelines for various distances. Begin your preparation with the lowest volume and gradually progress as each week passes. Your longest run should happen three to four weeks before your race, and your volume should taper down from there.

Marathon: 01:30 – 3:00 hours
Half Marathon: 01:00 – 02:15 hours
10k: 00:45 – 01:45 hours
5k: 00:20 – 01:00 hours


Intensity refers to how hard you run in each session. To bring yourself to peak fitness, you must train your aerobic and anaerobic systems by running at various intensities throughout your preparation.

Enter training zones.

Training zones objectify intensity and provide more guidance on how hard to run in each session.

We use five training zones at Coached.

Zone 1: Easy
Zone 2: Steady
Zone 3: Moderately Hard
Zone 4: Hard
Zone 5: Very Hard

The names of each zone represent their subjective feeling. Easy should feel easy, and hard should feel hard.

Unfortunately, my experience has shown that many runners – particularly beginner and intermediate runners – have a disconnect between how hard they feel they’re working and how hard they’re actually working.

More often than not, this leads to running at a pace that is too fast to properly train your aerobic system but too slow to train your anaerobic system. This moderate pace is a performance black hole that you must avoid.

Training zones are tagged to markers of metabolic activity. Determining zones for heart rate and pace will make your training more precise and give you a specific guideline for how easy or hard to run in each session.

Use heart rate to guide low-intensity training and pace for high-intensity interval training.

How do you determine training zones?

While your device will likely suggest formula-generated training zones, the best way to establish your zones is through testing. You can keep this simple and complete a FTPa field test or visit a lab for a lactate test, the gold standard for determining zones.

Aim to complete around 80% of your training in Zones 1 and 2, with the remaining time in Zones 3, 4 and 5.

A sample week may look like this:

Monday: Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Run
Wednesday: Recovery Run
Thursday: Tempo Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Rest

Training Doesn’t Exist In A Vacuum

Now that you understand how to structure your training, you must realise training doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You spend less than three hours training each day, leaving twenty-one or more hours to ruin your progress.

Poor sleep, a shitty diet, and additional haphazard cross-training can all have disastrous effects on the best-laid plans. Pay attention; these details matter too.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll dive into more detail on these subjects.

We’d love to work with you if you need help preparing for your next race.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial of our online coaching. We’ll set up a training plan for you and arrange a 15-minute Zoom Call to meet and discuss your goals and the plan.

Related Articles

6 Common Heart Rate Training Mistakes

A Simple Guide To Lactate Testing

Do This! Performance Directives For Endurance Athletes

Ben Pulham

Ben Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personalised training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.