For 18 weeks, you follow a structured training plan with detailed sessions. Each session gives you the right intensity. The training plans are based on the heart rate intensity zone developed by the Norwegian "Olympiatoppen" and are inspired by the best runners and trainers in Norway. I have run over 50 marathons, with a best time of 2.30.02 and won several full and half distance Ironman. But the most important experience is the feedback from those I have trained over the years. With the use of a heart rate monitor and a focus on the right intensity, you will train based on your daily fitness. Don't stress about the speed of the sessions in the beginning. Speed will come to you! The interval sessions are varied and inspiring, and you run with the right intensity. In addition, this long run is crucial for you to be able to stand the marathon distance. The long runs can be a combination of running and walking, to strengthen your muscular endurance, while minimizing the risk of injury.
Olympiatoppen's heart rate intensity zone in % of maximum heart rate:
Zone1 - 60 - 72%
Zone2 - 72 - 82%
Zone3 - 82 - 87%
Zone4 - 87 - 92%
Zone5 - 92 - 97%

A simple, but not accurate, way of estimating the maximum heart rate is to subtract age from 220. (220 - 40 years = 180). This method is far from suitable for everyone and you should therefore take a maximum heart rate test to find your correct maximum heart rate. A maximum heart rate test is very hard and you should be warming up very well (minimum 20 min.), preferably with 4 - 5 strides for 50-60 meters. Find a hill of at least 2 minutes that is not too steep (4-5%). Run up the hill once for 2 minutes to "get to know the hill" and prepare for the next push where you go all in!  If you think you can make an even greater effort and achieve an even higher maximum heart rate, run a third stroke. It is important that you are completely healthy on the day you take the maximum heart rate test, and that you prepare as if you were going to run a competition.
The marathon programs suggest that the long runs and recovery- runs are in Zone 1, or low Zone 2. For many, it will be difficult to run with such a low heart rate at the start of the training period. I therefore encourage you to walk in (steep) hills to keep your heart rate low. Interval runs should mainly be in Zone 3, where you enter Zone 4 at the end of some of the interval runs. Avoid running too much in Zone 4 where the muscles accumulate lactate. It requires a longer recovery time and increases the risk of injury. Your most important task to succeed in reaching the marathon goal will be to increase your muscular endurance and be able to run long distances.

Heart rate is an important indicator of daily fitness. It is affected by sleep, stress, dehydration etc. In addition, there are external influences such as wind, temperature, surface etc. It is therefore important to use heart rate and listen to the body to control the intensity of the training. It will give you good help to run with the right intensity for the best possible benefit from each session.

In addition to heart rate zones, the training program will give you the speed per km you should run in the various zones. The speed is an estimate and will depend on the shape of the day, trail, temperature, surface etc. I therefore recommend listening to your body and letting your heart rate control the intensity. Then the speed will come as your aerobic capacity increases.

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