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half marathon training program. Is this legit. Only 3 days a week? (Read 2469 times)

    CliveF, what Pfitz program did you follow in your recent marathons?  (55/70/85?)

    Well, I have but one "recent" marathon (Oct 2010).  I followed the 18/55 program for it.  I noticed just after the Mile 20 water station that I'd stopped sweating; a quad cramp struck about 2.5mi later, which I battled to the end.  Maybe that was a training deficiency, or maybe I just didn't have my hydration/electrolytes covered as well as I should have.

     

    [Sorry if I posted that already -- I'm having a déjà vu moment.]

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

    zonykel


      "Smart marathon training" by Jeff Horowitz advocates running 3 times a week (total of 35 miles per week, but I think that varies a bit). The rest of the training is weight lifting/ strength training. He doesn't say you'll PR with this program, but the goal is to stay healthy. "The marathon method" by Tom Holland advocates 4 days of running and 2 days of strength training (looks like the need for gym equipment is less than Horowitz's plan above). Mileage is higher, but I think the more advanced program peaks at 50 miles per week. I think the book cover and the content state you can PR with this program. There is a little bit of Galloway's program in this book.
      ChaplainCPM


        FWIW, I took the idea of the FIRST plan (3 days per week) and used that approach for my wife and I this summer. She went from couch to her first 5k and I ran my first half. Now, neither of us set the world on fire with our times, but we completed, are still running, and are injury free.

         

        Given my current schedule and demands, 3 days per week is about all I can run. I'm up to about 30 miles per week. I'm not trying to be competitive, I just enjoy running. If you want to have a continuing streak of PRs, my approach isn't for you.

         

        Grace & peace,

        Chris

        grinch031


          Is this a program to actually be competitive or just complete a half? It only have 3 days per week.  interesting approach and it says that sub 3 hour marathoners have used this exact same training.  any comments.

           

          http://www2.furman.edu/sites/first/Documents/Half%20Marathon%20Training%20Program%20-%20metric.pdf

           

          What do you consider competitive?  I think this type of approach is legit for most runners, but won't be enough once you hit your natural plateau.  One thing you need to consider is natural talent and fitness going into it.  I met a guy who is in the military and generally fit, but never ran more than 5 miles.  He ran a half marathon with no training and finished at 1:35.  Someone like this could probably shed alot of minutes off with this kind of program, but might still hit a plateau at like 1:20.  Another person might wing it in 2 hours, and then bring down their time to a 1:45 after a plan like this.  Just depends on the person, and the intensity of their runs will make a difference as well.  If you run easy 3 days a week you won't improve as much as if you push yourself 3 days a week.

           

          Due to my schedule and family obligations, most of my runs are on a treadmill at 9pm at night, so I've looked extensively for ways to train efficiently without having to endure 50-60 miles a week on a treadmill.  I've run 2 fulls and 4 halfs and set a PR on 5 out of 6 of them, but I know that I've hit my pleateau where I just need to run alot more to keep getting better.

          Lynn67


            I agree with other comments indicating that training programs are mostly individual and I have not done a great deal of research on the most popular or recommended strategies.  However, I can only offer my humble opinion that training three days a week would most likely be totally inadequate (unless it involves a minimum of 5 hours per day of running, hiking and intense cross training).  Perhaps some do not require a strenuous regiment to best prepare for race day, but that depends also upon expectations for completing a particular event and if the goal is to be competitive or a participant.  If the goal is competitive, then every additional training opportunity should be pursued on a daily basis.

              I had success with FIRST too.  Although FIRST was the first real training program I followed, so I think anything more structured than base miles was going to give me an improvement.  I took 13 minutes off my half, and 15 minutes off my full. 

               

              I follow the mindset of running more to be a better runner, and I ran 6 days a week, not 3.  Because I was doing 6, I couldn't put in the length of time they recommend for the cross-training, although I still did it.

               

              At the end of the day (I hate that saying), I walked away convinced that the cross-training (exercise bike), squats/lunges and core work helped me immensely, with speed increases in my running significantly easier than when I didn't have that additional strength.

               

              I'm taking pieces of Lydiard and FIRST with me for my next marathon, mostly FIRST.  I think FIRST is better suited to those that are injury prone.

                First post here, but thought I'd lend my experience. I've run two marathons now. Akron Marathon in September 2010 and Pittsburgh in May 2011.  Before Akron, my longest race was a 15K, I decided to skip the intermediate step of the half marathon and go for the full, suffice it to say, I was and still am a fairly inexperienced racer.

                 

                I followed a free Higdon plan and, ignoring the advice of a number of folks, I set a time goal for my debut of 3:30. I bonked as a result of countless rookie mistakes, going out too fast and not having a routine race nutrition plan being the main culprits. I finished in 3:51 and was annoyed with myself for having told people my goal, having bonked, and for not fully respecting the distance.

                 

                Anyway, as vindication I wanted to get the 3:30 mark in Pittsburgh. I like running, but general fitness is a priority, so I wasn't too interested in running 6 days a week. I came across the Run Less, Run Faster book which details the FIRST plan. I followed it as closely as possible, cross training faithfully and running each workout, but I did cut out some speed work as I dealt with some Achilles issues. I ran Pittsburgh in 3:28. Now a fair chunk of that time can be attributed to being a smarter runner, but regardless, the plan helped me achieve the goal.

                 

                Most recently, I ran my first road Half, after having followed the FIRST program designed for the distance and ran a 1:32:11. I was hoping to break the 1:30 mark, but gusty weather and conservative pacing in the early stages meant I would came up a little short. Regardless, I don't feel that the program failed me and as long as I continue to improve my times, I'll stick with it.

                 

                I do agree there will come a time when the only way to significantly improve my time will be to add more mileage. For where I'm at, and as early into my running "career" as I am, this plan works.

                Scout7


                CPT Curmudgeon

                  I like running, but general fitness is a priority, so I wasn't too interested in running 6 days a week. I came across the Run Less, Run Faster book which details the FIRST plan.

                   

                  I don't see how running 6 days a week somehow detracts from general fitness.

                   

                  I would state that racing and training for a race don't always jive with a general fitness approach, and would definitely argue against "Run Less, Run Faster" as a useful way to build general fitness, or as a general approach to long-term running.

                    I would state that racing and training for a race don't always jive with a general fitness approach, and would definitely argue against "Run Less, Run Faster" as a useful way to build general fitness, or as a general approach to long-term running.

                     

                    I get what you're saying, I was more trying to make the point, that I am not quite ready to run 6 days a week if it means giving up other fitness practices. It'd be great if I could run that much and still hit the gym as well, but alas, I've got other things that require my time and attention. Or I'm just not that dedicated.

                     

                    I completely agree that Run Less, Run Faster is not a very useful way to build general fitness, though it does allow you to maintain while also training for a marathon.

                      I get what you're saying, I was more trying to make the point, that I am not quite ready to run 6 days a week if it means giving up other fitness practices. It'd be great if I could run that much and still hit the gym as well, but alas, I've got other things that require my time and attention. Or I'm just not that dedicated.

                       

                      I completely agree that Run Less, Run Faster is not a very useful way to build general fitness, though it does allow you to maintain while also training for a marathon.

                      I totally hear what you are saying.  I'm one of those (I guess) "fanatic" people who try to run twice a day; I usually go about a half an hour in the morning (it was 7F yesterday...) and I'm already thinking about what I'm going to do this evening--it's so freakin' annoying to have to put layers and layers so often so I think I'm going to hit treadmill...  But that's not for everyone.  I don't drink alcohol (well, maybe a sip of wine here and there...) so I get annoyed by people who try to force you to drink (we have a lot in Japan).  So I won't force anybody to run more and more and more...  I don't drink beer and watch football.  I understand some people don't run twice a day, seven days a week.  

                       

                      What does annoy me, however, is when people want to achieve something by, well, pardon me for saying it this way but, cutting corners.  And those who did okay by "cutting corners", without fully understanding the dynamics of the event, recommending it to others.  You have achieved what you had set out to do by "doing less".  Great, congratulations.  However, most likely, what had happened is that you had built-up your foundation by preparing for Akron the year before; and now by following "do less, run faster" program, you actually used it (foundation) up.  You did well and you seem to be continuing to do well.  Some people may go a year or two or even more doing it that way; but it'll catch up.  And, correct me if I'm wrong, that's what Scout was trying to get at.  

                       

                      The problem, to me, with a program such as FIRST, is lack of "fundamental fitness".  It's a typical "exercise physiologist driven" program.  Several decades ago, they looked at most training program, what had worked brilliantly by people like Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and all, and they said; well, why do they have so many days of jogging?  Jogging at easy pace won't even stimulate metabolism enough to gain any physiological development--it's junk mile!!  Cut it out of the program!!  That's basically the basis of programs like FIRST.  Now, to be fair, FIRST, my understand, is actually originally developed for triathletes who would do other activities than just running; they would swim and cycle...A LOT!!  So they would do those activities in between.  My understanding it; that FIRST program actually suggest you do quite rigorous "cross training" between those key running workouts.  THAT actually makes sense.  If you don't, basically all you do is "break-down" workouts; no time for rebuilding.  Complete rest days are not regeneration; it's stiffening days.  The best way to "recover" is when you're moving your system around, increasing your body temperature, circulation, oxygen supply, etc.  Even water goes rotten if you keep it still.  

                       

                      Another analogy of a program like FIRST is "normal" grown tomato.  As you probably know, most tomatoes you buy at a grocery store had been picked while they're still green.  They become red while being shipped and stored at the store.  Or better yet, most chickens are grown in a dark condition, with the light fixed to, oh, I don't know the exact number, something like a condition of 6-hours a day or something so that they would grow 4 times faster!!  You know how those things work.  It works; they grow faster, or seemingly, or produce eggs more often, etc.  But do they taste like "natural" grown chicken or egg?  It takes 20-years or thereabout for a human body to grow and develop.  You cannot expect to shove so much in a short period of time and expect the SAME results.  You may appear to get it; but it's not natural.  You're literally squeezing those performances out of you.  And that's fine too--it seems that you don't care as much about running as some of us.  But to say that a program like FIRST "works well" for the rest of us is very irresponsible and misleading.  It is just like saying "McDonald is GOOD ENOUGH".  Sure, you can live on it.  But is it really good for you?

                        PS: And, by the way, again I think this is what Scout is also talking about, I really feel like you're misunderstanding the real meaning of "general fitness".  Looking like Greek God on the beach in the summer, which you actually may, is not really "generally fit".  I'm sure there are a lot more people with lots of muscles sticking out all over the place, impressing girls on the beach, dying of clogging heart arteries than runners dying at the finish of the road race.  If "generally fit" means being able to lift 200 pounds on the bench press to you, that's your choice of definition--though not correct.  But to say you're trying to be "generally fit" by pumping weight (I'm assuming this is what you mean by "going to the gym") than running is very much misleading. 

                          i suggest that most who have posted here actually read the book about FIRST.  it is a quick and easy read and it addresses some of the concerns here and will clear up the misconceptions that are posted here. it is available in many libraries for free, you can download it for $3 or pick up a hard copy for less than $20.

                           

                          i followed the program two years ago and saw great improvement in my running times not just in my goal marathon.  i have several friends who have done it and had great success as well.

                           

                          there is no one size fits all training plan and everyone should experiment with what works for them and i think the FIRST program is something everyone should try.

                           

                          i am following first again now with a goal marathon in february and it is going very well so far, we will see in feb if it all comes together.  Dont be fooled that the 3 runs a week plan will be easy but it will be more time effecient.  it is very interesting to me that if i miss my cross training for a week for whatever reason, instead of being fresh... my runs suffer in a big way.  you gotta go hard on the cross training for this plan to work.  Here is how i do it.  i do 3 cross training days but monday isnt too bad, rowing is tough and i go all out but i only go for a mile/6 minutes

                           

                          mon - 1 mile rowing 1 hour yoga morning
                          tues - yoga morning track/interval run evening
                          wed - 25 mile bike morning, easy 5 mile recovery jog evening
                          thurs - tempo run morning
                          fri - usually day off

                          sat - long run

                          sun - bodyboarding

                          JimR


                            How is FIRST more time efficient?  You are training for either 5 or 6 days a week, depending on which plan you are following.  Most marathon plans have similar schedules time wise.

                              i suggest that most who have posted here actually read the book about FIRST.  it is a quick and easy read and it addresses some of the concerns here and will clear up the misconceptions that are posted here. it is available in many libraries for free, you can download it for $3 or pick up a hard copy for less than $20.

                               

                              i followed the program two years ago and saw great improvement in my running times not just in my goal marathon.  i have several friends who have done it and had great success as well.

                               

                              there is no one size fits all training plan and everyone should experiment with what works for them and i think the FIRST program is something everyone should try.

                               

                              i am following first again now with a goal marathon in february and it is going very well so far, we will see in feb if it all comes together.  Dont be fooled that the 3 runs a week plan will be easy but it will be more time effecient.  it is very interesting to me that if i miss my cross training for a week for whatever reason, instead of being fresh... my runs suffer in a big way.  you gotta go hard on the cross training for this plan to work.  Here is how i do it.  i do 3 cross training days but monday isnt too bad, rowing is tough and i go all out but i only go for a mile/6 minutes

                               

                              mon - 1 mile rowing 1 hour yoga morning
                              tues - yoga morning track/interval run evening
                              wed - 25 mile bike morning, easy 5 mile recovery jog evening
                              thurs - tempo run morning
                              fri - usually day off

                              sat - long run

                              sun - bodyboarding

                               

                               

                              I read the book in about 2008 or so. For many people, with a relatively minimal running background, there's little doubt in my mind that if you follow the program your running will improve.  But I don't think it's sustainable over years -- and I think years of consistent running are key to one reaching their true potential.  

                               

                              The FIRST running workouts are very hard. When I saw the paces for my fitness level, I immediately questioned if I could hit those paces. The idea of doing mile repeats on a regular basis faster than my 5K pace seems very daunting to me -- I know how much I hurt at the mile mark in a 5K  After reading the book, I decided to try it.  At the time I was injury prone with calf issues. Within 2 weeks I reinjured my calves while doing one of the interval workouts on the 5K plan.

                               

                              Despite the injury, here's the thing for me though. I actually like to run every day, but I don't  like every one of my runs to be as hard/difficult as those prescribed with FIRST.  I like just getting out there and running at a comfortable pace and enjoying this world. With FIRST, there's no easy days.   I can see that FIRST would take much of the fun out of running for me.  

                               

                              If I only have time for one activity/day for exercise, it will be running.  I also happen to believe that running is the best way to improve my running. Not biking, not rowing, not swimming... Now, if my only goal was to  improve over-all general fitness, and keeping my running sharp, I might actually try the first program again.  But, the main criteria here would be is that I would have to be very crunched for time leaving FIRST as an alternative. 

                                Don't be fooled that the 3 runs a week plan will be easy 

                                As a matter of fact, this would be THE LAST thing I would be concerned about.  However, this would be probably the BIGGEST thing I'd be worried about--the whole program is too hard (as Tom had stated) without much let-up at all. 

                                 

                                ...I think the FIRST program is something everyone should try.

                                If I were coaching some beginning runner, FIRST would be the LAST program I would recommend.  Again, you get a kick out of it and you get good performances out to if; good for you.  But, as an experienced coach, with experience of working with several national level athletes as well as many beginning level runners over 30+ years and "some" knowledge of exercise physiology and practical knowledge, FIRST is definitely NOT a kind of training program I would recommend. 

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