JSET is an unconventional marathon training plan

(and it works)
Running a fast marathon, half marathon, 5k or 10k is simpler than most training plans make it seem. While there is good training value to be found in sessions run at a pre-prescribed pace I suggest that there is equal training value, and more fun, to be found in running however you enjoy. That might be run-commuting, pacing a friend, long runs or anything else. As long as the total training load is high enough,then you can train for any endurence running event in pretty much whatever style you like. A JSET marathon training plan does not prescribe sessions, instead it gives you a personalised training load target each week. Every mile you run moves you towards this training load target, with faster running counting more for more training load.
As an example of how JSET works, imagine an runner aiming for a 3 hour marathon. While many people aim for a sub3 time each year (and all to often don't make it) I believe this result is achievable for almost any runner. One way of getting into sub3 shape is to train as described in the table below. Other than Saturday, all of the running is done at 5:00min/km.
Mon-Fri Sat Sun
7.5km before work & 10km at lunchtime 5km in 19min 17.5km (anytime of day)
The science says that by averaging this every week, you'll be in 3h shape. Of course, this is just one example of how a runner might train, there's an infinite number of other ways to structure this training load. The point is that training shouldn't be complicated - it's just running. So, if you want train in a more traditional way, that’s fine. JSET is a great tool nonetheless. It’ll tell you exactly what training load your body has experienced each week, how you are respondng to that training and how much training you need to achieve your goal.
In order to get a better understanding of how JSET is different to other training programs and online coaches, a short analogy may be useful.

Imagine your marathon goal as the summit of a mountain. Standing at the bottom of the mountain you can see many routes up, each with various obstacles. (Reaching the summit is akin to being fit enough to achieve your race goal.)

One option is to scale the steepest face, which is like doing your training as fast as possible. This will feel dramatic and fun, but going up a cliff is tough and you risk falling off somewhere i.e. getting injured. There are many training programs that take this approach to running.

On the other hand many training programs take a different approach. For example another option is to take the long, flatter path up the mountain, which is like doing your training "slow and steady". You’re more likely to be able to reach the top, but this may not be a style everyone enjoys.

There are, of course, a number of other routes, each of varying difficultly and risk. Generally running coaches will tell you which route to take. However, I believe that the “best” way to reach the summit is to stand at the bottom and decide which route you want to take. Imagine JSET like a mountain guide, I will advise on the different route options, and trek up the mountain with you, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide which route to take.

This is how JSET differs from other training programs. The majority of coaches will prescribe your route up the mountain. I, however, provide you with a map showing all the different routes up, let you decide how you want to get there and then go on the journey with you.

How does a JSET marathon training plan actually work?

Here's a quick overview of the process, from today until race day.

Common questions about JSET

A JSET marathon training program is quite different to most other running programs, so have a read below to find out the answers to some of the common questions about JSET running.

How accurate is JSET?

The original equation that JSET is based on claimed to be able to predict marathon performance to within 4min, only by knowing average weekly distance and average pace over the eight weeks before a race. However, this used data from a relatively small group of runners. In reality I've found the original equation has a consistent offset. For me it's -14min (I can always run 14min faster than the original equation predicts). For another JSET runner it's +10min (He's always 10min slower than the original equation predicts). Once you know your offset then you can use JSET to predict with exceptionally high accuracy. Most the time your offset can be calculated by looking at your training data over the last few years.

Does JSET account for cross training and hill running?

Cross training will probably help you run a faster marathon. But there is not enough data to know exactly how much faster a cycling / swimming / yoga session will make you. For this reason JSET only accounts for running training. The same goes for running on hills. Hills probably help but we don't know exactly how helpful they are.

How often should I train?

That depends on your goal. If you're aiming for a 3h30min marathon you might only need to run 4 times per week, but if you're aiming for 2h30min you'll need to run every day. The training ring makes it easy to know how much you should be running. Once you've met your training load target each week, put your feet up. Until then, go out for a run.

I've got a busy life. Will this work for me?

Absolutely! There are numerous ways to fit running into a busy life. If it's possible, you might want to consider a run-commute. Many people go for a few miles at lunchtime. These are just two examples of easy ways to rack up the miles without using too much time from your non-running life.

What race times does it work for?

The equation was originally designed for people completing a marathon between 2h45min and 3h30min, but I have found it works just as well down to to 2h28min. If you're looking to run slower than 3h30min, the equation becomes slightly less accurate (because lifestyle factors play a bigger role in your training) but the principle still works.

What race distances does JSET work for?

Although JSET was first designed for marathon training it now works for any distance from 5k-marathon.

How is JSET different to other training programs?

JSET is far more flexible than most training programs. Rather than prescribing a distance and pace needed for each run, JSET uses aggregate data for the whole week to determine your training requirements.

What is this cost of JSET?

There are two forms of JSET training; JSET-full and JSET-solo. JSET full costs €18/week for plans shorter than 20 weeks, and €16/week for plans longer than 20 weeks. JSET solo costs €4.50/week.

How long should I train for?

Training for longer gives you a higher chance of achieving your race goal, so it's up to you how long you train for. Remember that as you get faster you will need more training in order to improve.