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30 some weeks until my next Marathon: plan? (Read 1379 times)


Interval Junkie --Nobby

    My next marathon is some 30 weeks out.  I'd like some ideas on the best way to prepare for a great PR.

    The first marathon ended in 3:32.  My ultimate 2-year goal is to BQ (3:10 this year, 3:15 next year).  Dropping 22mins off my 1st marathon might not be realistic -- though I'd love to engage a plan to attempt it.

     

    My current plan is to build base miles with lots of easy runs and a few tempo and fartleks thrown in, with an LSD on Sundays.  I'll run 6 days per week, building in some doubles when I get up in mileage.  I'm shooting for 85, but will likely try to hit 100mpw before any real "training" starts. (47mpw currently)  Is this sensible?

     

    In the mean-time I'm looking for a plan.  Most of the plans seem to start around 30mpw and top at 50 or 60mpw.  I'm not sure how to integrate my base with the plans.  I'm also at a loss for how to evaluate plans and their compatibility with my training preferences.  For example, weights really aren't my thing - but I'll do a bit of that if that's what it takes.  Suggestions?

     

    Any recommendations on how to proceed?

    2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon 

    Current Status 08/28: Slowly working back up from a pelvic stress fracture.  4mil distance PR w00t!

      Stadjak, I recommend against this approach. I think you can achieve your marathon goal by holding steady at 50 to 60 miles per week and working on becoming a complete runner, and I bet you can do it in less than 2 years. This would leave you in a much better position: a 3:10 runner at 60 mpw has much more room for improvement than a 3:10 runner at 100mpw.

       

      I would actually recommend not running a marathon this fall and working on your 5k for a while, try to get it down in the 18s. At your pace and experience level, it is very hard to become a complete runner while training for the marathon, much easier to do when training for the 5k.

       

      While I could be wrong about this, and probably there are exceptions, I would say that for the purposes of training no one should be running an average of 80mpw until they have at least 5 or 6 years of experience running and have built progressively to that volume. A reasonable progression that assumes no major setbacks in my opinion would look something like the following, working on the marathon for one season, 5k for the next season.

       

      2012: avg 50mpw - 3:20, 5k 19:00

      2013: avg 60mpw - 3:10, 5k 18:30

      2014: avg 75mpw - 3:00, 5k 17:30ish

      2015: avg 85 mpw - 2:45 or faster 5k sub 17

       

      Now, if you just want to go out and run all the time because you love it, that's a different story.

        Do you have any running background other than whats in your log?

         

        I ask because it looks like you have only been over 100 miles in a month 4 times in your life: Dec, Jan, Feb and March.  All of those were around 150 miles except February where you hit 250.  The fact you ran 3:32 off that, if that's the only running you've ever done, is pretty amazing.

         

        You don't run 47mpw currently.  You have run 47 miles in a week a handful of times in your life.  Big difference.

         

        I'd recommend something a little closer to what Jeff is suggesting.  And I also don't think it will take 2 years.  You could possibly run 3:10 this fall if you spend all summer running 50-60 miles a week and becoming a complete runner, learning how to really race at the shorter distances etc.  String together 5 months of 200-250 miles and you'll know by September or so if a 3:10 next fall is a pipe dream, or way too conservative, or somewhere in the middle.

        Runners run.

        xor


          What do y'all mean by a 'complete runner'? 

           

          (sincere question, and I will read/process answers only, not debate.  Because marathoning seems to be The Thing lately, I suspect some newbies may feel like this makes them complete. Which I know is not at all what you are saying. Nor what I believe)

           

            Good question.  I was sort of just following what Jeff said but for me becoming a complete runner would mean learning how to really race at the shorter distances and training with a purpose at a variety of paces, as opposed to just piling up mileage.

            Runners run.

              What do y'all mean by a 'complete runner'? 

               

              (sincere question, and I will read/process answers only, not debate.  Because marathoning seems to be The Thing lately, I suspect some newbies may feel like this makes them complete. Which I know is not at all what you are saying. Nor what I believe)

               

              Good question. What I mean by complete is certainly not something existential. It is different from a fulfilled runner, and I didn't mean it as a put down of other ways of approaching the sport.

               

              A complete runner, to me, basically has the skills to train for a variety of races from the mile to the marathon (and beyond).

               

              I can analogize it to a complete climber. A complete climber would know how to boulder, climb traditional and sport routes, ice climb, aid climb, and mountaineer. Different climbers will have different strengths and different loves, but a complete climber would also see how, for example, skill at bouldering would come in handy even in a grisly ascent of a wintry peak.

               

              Maybe you can become a a great mountaineer just by tackling mountains. But the more common approach is to work on the elements of mountaineering separately...the climbers I know boulder and ice climb and do sport routes and trad routes and ski and hike so that then they can put it all together when it counts. (Plus, they enjoy all this other stuff, too.) I'm sure other activities could be similarly broken apart, but this was the one that came to mind for me.

               

              You gotta break the task apart and develop skills specifically, so that then later you can put them together. The marathon is the same way. A complete runner can see all the separate components of running the marathon because she has put them together individually. Someone who has only raced and trained for the marathon may be missing elements of training that the complete runner would identify because of his broader experience.

               

              Maybe that helps? 

              xor


                Yes, that helps (me) a lot.  Thanks.

                 

                As for this:

                 

                >> It is different from a fulfilled runner, and I didn't mean it as a put down of other ways of approaching the sport.

                 

                Cool.  (I didn't take it that way and hopefully others won't either)

                 

                  Yeah, I know you didn't, but thanks for allowing me the chance to explain!

                    Jeff .. can you help with what are the key elements of training that are different from training for a 5k vs. training for a marathon? Does it mean running more track intervals / tempo runs i.e. upto 30-40% of your weekly mileage?

                     

                    Also, whats the benefit of racing 5ks to become a good marathoner? I know anecdotal evidence has it that several great runners progressed from running short and middle distances to the marathon (Geb and Tergat to name a few) so i assume that this means build your speed over short distances before you build your endurance over longer distances? Is that the rationale or is there something else i am missing?

                    I dont sweat. I ooze liquid awesome.

                    Julia1971


                      A couple of recommendations on the training plan part...

                       

                      I would recommend buying a copy of Daniels’ Running Formula.  It’s a great resource for understanding running fundamental principles.  It’s pretty technical – most of it flew over my head the first time - but, it’s worth reading and re-reading until it starts to sink through.  It has an off-season training plan for base building (I think it’s geared more toward high school and college runners), a very good 5K training schedule (that I use when I’m not marathon training) and a marathon plan (which I couldn’t make sense of but maybe you’ll have better luck).

                       

                      When you’re ready to training for a marathon, scope out some of the popular plans. I’ve used Pfitz Advanced Marathoning for 2.5 of my marathons (I started with a training group for my first and then ditched them mid-way). He has everything planned out day-by-day and I like not having to think about structuring a plan.  I think what I did when I dropped the group was modify the 70/18 plan and substituted a recovery day as an off day but I'm not completely sure.  But, that might be something for you to consider.  It won't get you to 85 mpw, but it might be a good place to start for your next marathon.

                      Run the mile you are in.

                        Jeff .. can you help with what are the key elements of training that are different from training for a 5k vs. training for a marathon? Does it mean running more track intervals / tempo runs i.e. upto 30-40% of your weekly mileage?

                         

                        Also, whats the benefit of racing 5ks to become a good marathoner? I know anecdotal evidence has it that several great runners progressed from running short and middle distances to the marathon (Geb and Tergat to name a few) so i assume that this means build your speed over short distances before you build your endurance over longer distances? Is that the rationale or is there something else i am missing?

                         

                        A wise man once said: The slave gets away with a lot when you send him off on a long errand. It is better to send him on a short one and see how he does.

                          A wise man once said: The slave gets away with a lot when you send him off on a long errand. It is better to send him on a short one and see how he does.

                           

                          This falls in the "super-cryptic" category per my definition. Can you simplify it for me?

                           

                          MTA: Jeff, just so you know, i am keenly taking up the guidance you provided on the lactate test thread. I am trying to hit a few weeks of consistent mileage and then start racing a few short distance runs. I just want to understand what the short races do for improving your long distance racing times.

                           

                          Training is gonna get a lot more challenging in 6 weeks time. We are expecting our first kid. Smile

                          I dont sweat. I ooze liquid awesome.

                            I will elaborate when I have time... for now, ponder the cryptic. Or hopefully someone else can chime in.

                              This falls in the "super-cryptic" category per my definition. Can you simplify it for me?

                               

                              MTA: Jeff, just so you know, i am keenly taking up the guidance you provided on the lactate test thread. I am trying to hit a few weeks of consistent mileage and then start racing a few short distance runs. I just want to understand what the short races do for improving your long distance racing times.

                               

                              Training is gonna get a lot more challenging in 6 weeks time. We are expecting our first kid. Smile

                               

                              So, I'm the "wise man" Jeffers was citing.

                               

                              I definitely shy away from giving advice, especially on the marathon. I have only run two.

                               

                              But, look, you cited examples of those elite runners as if they are some kind of exception to the rule.  But let me ask you, man, can you tell me ONE successful runner who went from the marathon to the 5k.  Found one? Okay. Another?

                               

                              When you start with a marathon you are very likely to start sloppy.  Or you don't start as sharply.  At least that has been my experience. 

                               

                              You can gloss over things when you are going for a 5 mile tempo. You can't as much when you are trying to nail a pace for 200m or 400m repeats.

                               

                              Get a nice focused funnel, then CAREFULLY extend it out.  That seems like the way to go.

                               

                              Plus, it's fun to race all kinds of distances.   

                               

                              And, so, yeah, to my mind the slave gets away with a lot when you send him off on a long errand. It is better to send him on a short one and see how he does.

                               

                              I was actually thinking of a podcast of Jeff's in which he discusses Hegel's concept of master and slave as it relates to running.

                              "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus

                                This falls in the "super-cryptic" category per my definition. Can you simplify it for me?

                                 

                                MTA: Jeff, just so you know, i am keenly taking up the guidance you provided on the lactate test thread. I am trying to hit a few weeks of consistent mileage and then start racing a few short distance runs. I just want to understand what the short races do for improving your long distance racing times.

                                 

                                Training is gonna get a lot more challenging in 6 weeks time. We are expecting our first kid. Smile

                                 

                                Okay, I sorta feel bad for totally hijacking stadjak's thread, but I will try to give a fuller response. I actually feel a little bit out of my depth here and maybe the primary reason that I suggest working on shorter distances first is simply that this is the most common path that the best runners take; it's a tried and true path to success. There are people who have bucked this idea and have run really well: see schneidr and Dopplebock on RA, for example, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

                                 

                                But here are a couple training "rationales" that at least make sense to me, even if they are pretty speculative:

                                 

                                1) Running fast requires developing a long and powerful stride. Running is a simple function of stride rate time stride length. There's only two ways to get faster: increase your stride rate or increase your stride length. Racing well over the shorter events requires developing a longer and more powerful stride and being able to control that stride, run it efficiently. This is probably the primary thing that new runners lack: the ability to put power into their stride, and concentrated work at the 5k distance (or even the mile) early in your running career will develop this stride and allow you to take advantage of it when you become aerobically stronger. 

                                 

                                2) Mikey mentioned this earlier, and I agree: the 5k teaches you how to race. Spending a season on the 5k will allow you to run 5-10 races. Some of these will go badly. Some will go well. It is hard to learn how to race by beginning at the marathon level simply because you can't race a marathon back to back. You can't practice riding the thin line because it takes so much out of you and the consequences of falling off are really painful. In the 5k, you learn how to be aggressive and controlled.

                                 

                                3) Training for and racing the 5k teaches you how to incorporate quality work. The best marathon training is a grind. You are tired all the time, and you pile miles on miles. The primary thing that makes you better is adaptation to volume. The best 5k training requires learning how to rest so that you can perform your workouts and practice running smooth at race pace. It's easier to learn your body, to feel fresh. Also, to race well at 5k, you need to balance training and recovery. 

                                 

                                4) Finally, racing at the 5k distance teaches you how fast you can really be. Let's face it, running is a head game as much as it is a physical game. As long as running X minute miles is intimidating, it's going to be hard to have the confidence to run that pace in a marathon. Racing at shorter distances gets you comfortable running 5 minute and 6 minute and 7 minute mile pace, even if initially in short bouts. You begin to understand how to control these rhythms and bring them into your range. 

                                 

                                I am a huge believer in mileage, in running easy. These are still, all things considered, the most important variable for distance running success. However, it's also true that you can't get fast without running fast in training. Running fast is a skill that can be practiced; you can get better at it. Volume is a huge determinative of distance running success, but so is balanced training.

                                 

                                Take runners like Shalane Flanagan or even a pure marathoner like Ryan Hall, you can see the track running in their background. You see it in the intensity of their focus, the dynamism of their stride, their responsiveness to surges, the timing of their moves. You can also see it in their training: they know when to run fast, when to back off, when to hammer. These are skills they learned as young runners on the roads, in XC, and in track, and they apply as well to the marathon. You don't have to be an elite runner for this to apply to you as well. Everyone can make improvements by taking the shorter distances seriously.

                                 

                                Not to mention, along the way: you might find that you enjoy the 5k more than the marathon. Or, you might even be better at it. Stranger things have happened.

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