Stuart Mitchell

My personal website.

Running a Marathon with Coach GPT

Running a Marathon with Coach GPT

Over the past 12 weeks, I have been training to run a marathon. This would be the first marathon I had completed since I ran one alone during the COVID pandemic. The marathon itself was on a trail, with over 700m of elevation gain over the course, and included around 11km of beach running.

To prepare for the marathon, I decided to utilize chatGPT via the API, using the turbo 3.5 model, to help me create weekly training plans. The output was excellent and just as effective as past plans I had used through tools like Strava. Check out an example from Week 2 below:

Table of Week 2

Monday45 minutes of easy running. This will help you recover from your long run on Sunday and get your body ready for the rest of the week.
TuesdayIntervals. Do 6-8 intervals of 1 minute at a hard effort, followed by 1 minute of easy jogging. You can do this workout on a track or on a flat road.
WednesdayCross-training day. Do a workout that’s different from running, such as swimming, cycling, or yoga. You can also do some strength training if you’d like.
ThursdayHill repeats. Find a hill that takes 1-2 minutes to run up and down. Do 5-7 repeats of running up the hill at a hard effort, then jogging down for recovery.
FridayRest day. Take a break from training and let your body recover.

I had told the AI to not to give me anything on the weekend as I was going away. I also love the little extra info it would add in for example at the end of the breakdown for each week:

Remember to listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed. If you feel fatigued or sore, take an extra rest day or modify your workouts. Good luck with your training!

If you needed more details on a day trining you could just ask and the AI would go into more detail on how to run the session for example when I asked for more details on a fartlek session:

  1. Warm-up: Before you start your Fartlek workout, it’s important to warm up properly. Spend 5-10 minutes jogging at an easy pace to get your muscles warm and ready for exercise.
  1. Choose a route: Pick a running route that’s roughly 8km long and includes a variety of terrain, such as hills, flat sections, and maybe some off-road sections if possible. This will give you plenty of opportunities to change your pace during your Fartlek workout.
  1. Plan your intervals: Fartlek is a type of interval training where you alternate between periods of faster running and slower recovery periods. Plan out your intervals before you start your workout. A good starting point for a Fartlek workout is to alternate between 1-2 minutes of faster running (at around 80-90% of your maximum effort) and 1-2 minutes of slower recovery running (at a pace that feels comfortable and allows you to catch your breath).
  1. Start your Fartlek workout: Begin your workout by running at an easy pace for a few minutes to get into the rhythm of your stride. Then, start your first interval by increasing your pace to your faster running speed for the designated period of time. After your faster interval, slow down to your recovery pace for the same amount of time. Continue alternating between faster and slower intervals for the entire 8km distance.
  1. Cool down: Once you’ve completed your Fartlek workout, spend 5-10 minutes jogging at an easy pace to cool down and allow your body to gradually return to its resting state.

Remember, the key to a successful Fartlek workout is to push yourself during the faster intervals, but also to listen to your body and adjust your pace as needed. Have fun, and good luck with your training!

After 12 weeks of using chatGPT to generate my training plans, I can say that it went really well. While I wasn’t able to complete 100% of the training, I did manage to complete around 65% of it, which is a significant improvement over my previous training attempts. In retrospect, one thing I could have done differently was to update my AI coach on my progress, as I never got the chance to do so during these 12 weeks. In the future, I will try to do that to see if it does make any difference.

Overall, I was able to successfully complete a tough trail marathon - which, for me, was quite a challenge - in just under six and a half hours. Although the impact of not completing all of my planned training was evident during the second half of the marathon, as I could only manage it in four hours, it wasn’t enough to keep me down. Surprisingly, the day following the marathon, I felt pretty good and wasn’t too destroyed. Based on this positive experience, I’m looking to enter more challenging runs in the future, such as a cool 23km mountain run which I’m particularly excited about.