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Rookie marathon training questions (Read 1952 times)

    I recently signed up for a marathon in mid-Feb 2012, and have started taking a more serious look at my "training", and am realizing that I probably have no idea what I'm doing. I didn't actually follow any plans, I just started running based on the advice that I should run easy and run more and run farther. Please excuse my very basic and stupid questions:

     

    1) Is the easy pace a fixed pace? When I started a long run at an easy pace, should I try to maintain that pace all the way to the end of the long run, or do I continually adjust and slow down as I get more tired? My easy pace felt anything but easy past 13 miles, does that mean I need to start my run at an even slower pace in the beginning and maintain it? 

     

    2) I did two 26 miles training runs just to see if I am capable of running that distance, and learned that I have real trouble with the last 5 miles. I did not hit the wall, I think I may just lack the fitness level to do it without resting frequently and slowing way down. How does one train for those last miles? Or is nothing going to make a difference for me given the short time until the race that I should just accept and anticipate the same thing happening in the race?

     

    3) If it is not too much trouble, can someone take a look at my workouts and see what may be a more efficient plan for me for the next 2 months? I think my goal is fairly reasonable (I hope), right now I just want to finish within 4:30 and be able to maintain my pace in the last few miles. I may not be able to follow a very detailed day-to-day plan (I'm not very disciplined), but I can probably keep up with some more general guides/directions (for example, if I should continue to increase my mpw to a certain point, or how to spread miles over the week, the long run mileage vs the weekday runs...etc)

     

    4) Barring injury, is there any other downside to running longer long runs (ie > 20 miles which I have read is not necessary or not recommended). Is it just because of diminishing return (waste of time) or is it actually bad for you in some way?

     

    Thanks a bunch!

      Ideally easy pace is a pace you can maintain throughout.  In fact most well-trained runners will start out slower and gradually get faster as they get into the run--not on purpose, it's just what happens as you warm up and the muscles get loose.  Of course on a long run it can start to feel harder at the end but a run where you are fading that badly is probably too long a training run for you right now.

       

      I'm not surprised you struggled on a 26 mile training run.  Your summary graph looks like a steep ramp up and to the right and you've gone from basically zero miles in mid summer to 60 last week but your average weekly mileage for those 18 weeks is probably 25.  So I would expect you to be a.) tired and b.) not nearly well trained enough to be having a good experience at 26 miles.

       

      Training makes a huge difference but it is a long term project.

       

      My suggestion would be to stop doing 26 mile training runs, run more days per week but fewer miles per run, and stop adding miles for now.  Settle at a weekly mileage level you can handle and do that for a couple/few months and let it do it's work.

       

      The downside of very long runs is they wipe you out and diminish the quality of your training the other 6 days of the week.  There is only so much benefit you can get from a single workout no matter how hard you try--at a certain point you're not getting any training value and you're just bludgeoning yourself needlessly.

      Runners run.

        just bludgeoning yourself needlessly.

        Mikey has a way with words.

        “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

          Mikey so eloquently nailed it. You have a goal of a sub 4:30 marathon but according to your log, you already have done it.  In fact, you have done 2 marathons and a 20 miler in 3 weeks in training. This isn't really training it is straining. You have basically pounded your body with the effects of 3 long races over 3 weeks. Don't take this the wrong way, I am not meaning to scold you, it is just not the proper way to train. I would suggest just easy running for the next 2-3 weeks to recover fully.

           

          As Mikey said, it is more ideal to spread those miles out through out the week.  When you are recovered, 16 miles with some faster marathon paced miles in them is a good long run and is training!  It is nice to finish a comfortable paced long run at a faster pace like marathon pace/effort over last 10-20% of distance. This is a training technique. A mid week longer run with some marathon paced miles and striders is also a good training technique.  Stick with this a while.  Also, continue to do research on line.  You will do great and get better and faster but you need to stay healthy. Running marathons in training won't keep you healthy/injury free!

          Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!

            I can't improve on what Mikey and Tchuck said, but I can add my experience.  I once ran a 21 mile training run on a base of about six months of 30 miles per week.  The last 6 miles was mostly walking and misery.  When my base got up to 50 miles per week for six months or so, a 20 mile training run became more tedius than tough. 

             

            My training for last month's PR marathon (3:49) was roughly as follows:

             

            Every other week run about 55 miles.  One long run about 16 miles, about two intermediate runs of about 12 miles, a tempo run sometimes combined with an intermediate run, and the rest easy runs about 4 to 5 miles.  I typically run six days per week. 

             

            The other weeks about 45 miles.  Same except for no long run.  I'd like to run more miles, but my body won't let me. 

             

            I did one 18 mile and one 19 mile long run.  Nothing longer.  I really think that the 10 to 13 mile runs did more for me than the 16 mile and longer runs.  I tried following various plans, but got tired of the structure. 

              Thank you all for the feedback. I think I got to this point because I read somewhere that "long runs are important and do not cheat on the long runs", and I must have misunderstood the purpose behind that advise or have taken it out of context or something. I will cut back on my long run and spread my miles over the week. I don't like beating myself up in the long run either, so I'm actually glad to hear that I was doing it wrong and I don't have to do more of it! 

                I would love to tag onto this thread. I am also looking to start training for my first marathon but am having quite a bit of trouble finding a good plan. I have used Jack Daniel's plans in the past, but don't think I have the mental stamina right now to follow through with all of his speedwork. I am a stay at home mom of three little ones, and my husband travels frequently, so I get a mix of running outdoors when he is in town, and on my treadmill when he is out of town. Consequently, my mileage varies right now from thirty miles per week to fourty depending. I just hate running indoors! I only get about five runs in per week, and I doubt that will change much. Most plans that I have looked at are either soooo easy I don't want to start that slow, or require to much speedwork and I'm not sure what to cut out. Long runs for me right now vary from eight to nine miles or up to twelve miles. Any tips for a good intermediate marathon training plan out there?

                  Any tips for a good intermediate marathon training plan out there?

                   

                  5 days a week, 35-50 miles:

                   

                  M off

                  T: 6-8, strides

                  W: 10-12, steady pace, or something like 3 x 10 minutes up tempo, or run to the barn if you feel good

                  Th: off

                  Fr: 6-8, strides

                  Sa: 6

                  Su: 10-14, do some pace variation in here--slower and faster. 

                   

                  Miles: 38-48.

                   

                  Sometime before the marathon find time to do a couple of 16 mile runs and an 18 mile run. Those weeks, you might touch 50. Every day except W and Su, just take it easy and enjoy your runs. W and Su, enjoy the runs, but do a little digging, and have a little fun with faster running.

                   

                  Also, race at the 5k and 10 mile or HM distances fairly regularly--at least once a month.

                    Just to pick up on the concept of "easy".  

                     

                    Easy pace should always feel easy. It's a mistake to have a particular figure in mind, because it'll vary according to context.

                     

                    Easy runs should feel easy throughout, if a run is long enough it's not an easy run - even if the pace is slow.

                     

                    For marathon training most of your running should be easy - easy pace, easy runs.

                     

                    The stuff that isn't easy should include a long run. You might go out at quite a slow pace - but the distance will make it feel hard towards the end.  If you get to the point where it's really taking everything you've got to continue then you should stop. Maximum effort is for races. Sometimes (not every run) push the pace a bit in the second half of the run.

                     

                    Try a tempo run maybe once a week. That is: do a gentle warm up for ~15 mins then run for maybe 20mins at a pace that is quite challenging, but something that you can manage without killing yourself (probably around your HM race pace if you know what that is). Gentle cool down for 15mins.

                     

                    In addition (or instead of tempo) do some longish intervals at a somewhat faster pace (5k race pace). Something like 5x1000m with a decent recovery.

                     

                    In all of this you need to listen to your body and gain experience of how things feel for you. Don't be afraid to rest if you feel you need it, and every so often given yourself an easier week.

                     

                    If you're increasing mileage and intensity don't try to ramp both up at once. Up the mileage first by adding in easy miles, then think about the higher intensity stuff.

                     

                    It's good to race pretty often to get the feeling of full effort running. Of course you can't do full effort marathons so often as they take a while to recover from, but 5k, 10k and HM races are good. It's also a good way to get of feeling of what pace you can sustain for various distance. Beginners tend to run too fast at the beginning of races, the longer the race the more this is so.

                     

                    No doubt someone will be along in a minute to disagree Smile

                      Yup all that pr100 says is bullshit, race every day to try and beat the previous day's pace.  Slow running only teaches you to run slow.  Take off at the start line at a dead sprint yelling I am winning.

                       

                      JIC Big grin

                        You have gotten some great advice so far (except for Happy, she must be crazy Smile)  but let me touch on one subject that has not come up yet. 

                         

                        Nutrition.

                         

                        Looking at your previous long runs it looks like the plan of choice is gatorade and candy bars.  That would give you the basics of calories and fluids but I would offer that this would not be the best plan for fueling.  I would recommend looking into products that use complex sugars such as maltodextrin instead of simple sugars like high fructose corn syrup.  Also adding in at least some protein in your supplements would probably help on the long runs also.  I will refrain from mentioning my name brand of choice for nutrition but there are some good choices out there.

                        Belmead Trail Fest 50 mile Sep 27-

                        Tuna 200 Relay Oct 10-11 -

                          I would love to tag onto this thread. I am also looking to start training for my first marathon but am having quite a bit of trouble finding a good plan. I have used Jack Daniel's plans in the past, but don't think I have the mental stamina right now to follow through with all of his speedwork. I am a stay at home mom of three little ones, and my husband travels frequently, so I get a mix of running outdoors when he is in town, and on my treadmill when he is out of town. Consequently, my mileage varies right now from thirty miles per week to fourty depending. I just hate running indoors! I only get about five runs in per week, and I doubt that will change much. Most plans that I have looked at are either soooo easy I don't want to start that slow, or require to much speedwork and I'm not sure what to cut out. Long runs for me right now vary from eight to nine miles or up to twelve miles. Any tips for a good intermediate marathon training plan out there?

                           I have the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan under my training plans if you want to take a look. 

                          It starts at 33 miles/week and I think it may be along the lines of what you are looking for.

                          I am not sure 3 20 milers are really needed, and I think it might be a little heavy on "quality".

                          I'm in week 1, so I'll see how it goes.


                          HobbyJogger & HobbyRacer

                            ..  I would recommend looking into products that use complex sugars such as maltodextrin instead of simple sugars like high fructose corn syrup.  Also adding in at least some protein in your supplements would probably help on the long runs also. ...

                             

                            How long do you think someone needs to be running before they need to start taking protein during the run?

                            It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

                               I have the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan under my training plans if you want to take a look. 

                              It starts at 33 miles/week and I think it may be along the lines of what you are looking for.

                              I am not sure 3 20 milers are really needed, and I think it might be a little heavy on "quality".

                              I'm in week 1, so I'll see how it goes.

                               

                              This has been a great plan for me.  I've been doing the 18/55 since August for the CIM on December 4th.  So far I've really loved this training and I can definitely feel a big improvement in my running.  The tempo runs I'm doing now are much easier than those first couple at the beginning of the program.  The 3 20 milers went great for me and very happy that the plan called for 3.  In fact, I ended up going 21 last weekend instead of the 20.  I felt great and decided to run that last mile at my goal MP.

                               

                              One piece of advice I'd give...definitely start incorporating core strength exercises and some type of leg strengthening into your routine.  During this marathon training, I've been doing 30 minutes of core work 3x a week, and leg strengthening 2x a week.  Last year when I was training for my first marathon, I was pretty much done the rest of the day after one of my long runs.  This year, I've felt great and went about my day like I didn't even do a long run.  I truly believe it's because of the core and leg work I've done to get my body ready to handle the long mileage and much more intense training plan this time around.

                                How long do you think someone needs to be running before they need to start taking protein during the run?

                                 

                                Against my better judgement I will answer.

                                 

                                2 hours.

                                Belmead Trail Fest 50 mile Sep 27-

                                Tuna 200 Relay Oct 10-11 -

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