Extending plan duration - switch plans or repeat? | 80/20 Endurance

Extending plan duration – switch plans or repeat?

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    Hi, I started on a Marathon Lvl 0 plan in Mid-December, so I am in week 12 now. I have stuck to the plan to a T and my 5km time has improved by almost 10 minutes. I went a bit rogue the first time I had a 2hr run on the plan and ended up running a half marathon since I was already at 16km and wanted to see if I could.

    Obviously my journey has only just begun, those 21km took me 2 hours and 45mins. There are only six weeks left in the plan and I don’t plan on actually running a full marathon in April. I envision something more like September? I don’t want to run it as a once-off and it’ll be on my own anyway, I doubt there will be any events this year here in Germany.
    I used to do ultra endurance cycling before I had two kids (4yrs and 7mo) – I decided to become a runner because a) I have always admired runners and secretly wanted to be one and b) I just don’t have enough time right now for cycling long distances like I used to. So running is becoming my lifestyle and so far I am loving it. I had a tough pregnancy and had to build my fitness back up from all the way on the ground, so being able to run a half marathon six months postpartum was a huge deal for me.

    So the question I have – if I want to stay with a structured plan, what do I do? Switch plans to Level 1 and start from week 1? Repeat the Level 0 plan and gradually extend the long runs? Something else altogether? I know I could piece it all together myself, but the plan structure seems to be working really well for me and I quite simply want someone to tell me what to do and when so I don’t have to plan it 😇
    I started on the premium strength plan as well.

    Thanks again for the brilliant plan, I never thought I would become a runner after all.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Hi Franziska,

    Congratulations on becoming a runner! I’m glad your 80/20 plan is working so well for you. In a normal scenario, I advise runners to take it easy for at least two weeks after a marathon before starting a fresh training cycle. In your case, because you’re not actually running a marathon and you’re following a beginner-level plan, I don’t think this is necessary.

    As a newer runner, you would almost certainly see additional progress if you simply repeated the Level 0 plan. Yes, it’s the same plan, but you’ll no longer be the same runner. Assuming you tolerate the Level 0 training well the whole way through, you would likely see somewhat greater progress if you moved up to Level 1. It’s just a matter of whether you are comfortably doing one additional run per week, given your busy lifestyle.

    I’m happy to answer follow-up questions if you have any.

    Coach Matt


    Too late – Matt was
    way faster!

    Hi Franziska or better “Guten Abend”!

    I’m pretty sure David and/or Matt will know way better, but I would propose to target an actual event in September and make whatever plan you choose (whether it would be Level 0 again or maybe Level 1) end on the actual race date. For the time between your current plan and the start of the new plan, I would propose to do the maintenance plan that can be found on the 80/20 site. I don’t think it would be wise to right away start over with a level 0 or 1 plan….

    Just my 2 cents anyways.



    Coach Matt,

    Thank you, I really appreciate you answering questions from even the beginners! 🙂
    So if I start either plan over – Level 0 again or trade up to Level 1 – should I finish this one up to the tapering week, cut that out (since I won’t be doing a “Race Day” at the end of it) and start over with Week 1? Or do the plan all the way to the end? If I do end up deciding that I should just give it a go and run a marathon by myself – two weeks of only easy runs afterwards, then start another cycle?

    Also, do you think I should still do the Marathon Simulator run if I DON’T plan on running a marathon right away? It’s just a couple weeks away and to be fair I would like to know whether I *can* run 32km. At my current speed it will take me about 4 hours which is incidentally what the plan indicates as an estimate.

    , Thank you, I will have a look at the maintenance plan – I didn’t even know it exists, but makes total sense, since most of the time I won’t be training towards an event with a set date anyway. Apparently it’s free right now, might as well get it and see how I get on with it! 🙂

    Matt Fitzgerald

    As Winoria’s somewhat different recommendation suggests, there is more than one good way to do this. But I do see advantages in taking this all the way. The simulator run is a good workout regardless of whether you’re going to race a marathon and will give you valuable pacing experience. I would also do the taper week because it will hill you recovery and regenerate for the next marathon cycle. If you do run a full marathon, rest a few days and then gently ease back into running over the balance of two weeks before starting the next cycles.


    That’s all the encouragement I needed. I shall go forth and run! Thanks Coach.


    I finished my training plan. It was by no means fast – 5 hours and 43 minutes – but I did run a marathon! 🙃 I ran alone as you do these days and had to wear a mask part of the way because I passed through Frankfurt. It felt amazing to finish.

    I am going to take a few days off now and look forward to starting over for my first „official“ marathon in October. I think I will actually go for the Level 1 plan and switch it to power, too. Excited!


    congrats 🙂

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Woohoo! Thanks for sharing your success with us. Enjoy the power plan, and keep us posted on your future progress.

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