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What's the best type of speedwork for marathon training? (Read 730 times)


Marathon Maniac #957

    I'm on my 3rd week of marathon training, doing hills one day a week and speedwork one day a week. Mostly for speedwork I just play withdifferent intervals in my treadmill, or sometimes do several tempo miles @ 8:00-8:20 pace (MP is 8:45). On my treadmill, these are some of the intervals I like to do: (2 min @ 7:53/1 min @ 9:40) or (1 min @ 9:40)/1 min @ 7:13) or 5-minute-slow-to-fast segments. However, I've heard that these are not helpful in marathon training. So what type of speedwork would be best for me right now? What distances, what paces? Keeping in mind that I will probably do them on my treadmill.

    Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."

      Holly, You don't have to do any speedwork for marathon training. Just run more miles. Dark Horse, the marathon expert
      I'm a dark horse, running on a dark race course.
        Holly, As DH notes, mileage and base building is critical, obviously. But In my view, speed work is definitely a part of marathon training, assuming one is training for a time goal as you are. Tempo runs are a great way to build endurance and improve the lactate threshold. Typically these are done during the Endurance phase which occurs right after the Base Building phase (which requires no or very little speed work of any kind). Several miles of warm up at the beginning, followed by 40 minutes or so at tempo pace, ending with several miles of cool down is perfect. Most people define "tempo pace" as the pace you could hold for an hour - this usually falls somewhere between 10K and 15K pace for us mortal runners. Later in the training cycle, some longer Interval training is helpful to get the fast twitch muscles to "wake up" and to improve the ability to use oxygen (VO2 max.). A good marathon Interval routine is 4 to 6 repeats of 1000 meters or so with 90 seconds to 2 minutes between them. These should be done no more than once a week or so. Most plans build up from the shorter lengths to extend out to a mile or more in some instances. But 1000 meters is a great length for marathoners. This is probably not "speed work", but lastly there is nothing like longer MP runs and/or fast finish LR's sprinkled throughout the training plan. Getting the body used to running at MP, running hard(er), and running while tired are all terribly important in my view. Bill PS: a couple of editorial comments ... I think you are more than capable of a tempo pace where the slow end is at 8:00 min/mile. And also, if you only need 1 minute of recovery for your Intervals, run them harder to get to where you require between 90 seconds and 2 minutes to recover fully.

        "Some are the strong, silent type. You can't put your finger on exactly what it is they bring to the table until you run without them and then you realize that their steadiness fills a hole that leaks energy in their absence." - Kristin Armstrong

        hup


          Hi Holly - I think that there is a place for "speedwork" in marathon training. If you look at most any "mainstream" marathon training plan you'll find some sort of faster running .... checking these plans will also tell you that definitions for the "best" type of speedwork vary greatly. You might not want shorter intervals (200m, 400m) to be the bulk of your speed training, but that doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't include some snappy fast running in your plan. That said, the experience that I have (and what I have read over the years) tells me that 800s up to mile repeats are effective as fast interval work (the old, non walking, Galloway plan had mile repeats, up to 12 x, as a go to workout) Calculators, like the McMillan http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/mcmillanrunningcalculator.htm, can give you guidance on paces to shoot for for the various distances. Do you have a training plan that you are following for this race? I love the information and training plans included in the book, "Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Marathoning-Pete-Pfitzinger/dp/0736034315 The programs themselves are on the web if you search around, but reading the book will teach you a lot about the hows and whys of marathon training. It's easy to understand and very informative. (I'm following one of said plans for my marathon in March) Hope this helps some, Holly! hup
          hup


            Holly - I found a spot online where you can take a look at the Advanced Marathoning plans http://www.roadtoboston.com/djapps/trainingPlans/overview/ Best to read the book though, to learn the hows and whys. hup


            Marathon Maniac #957

              Bill – re: 4 to 6 repeats of 1000 meters or so with 90 seconds to 2 minutes between them. On a treadmill, do you think 5 minutes would be about 1000m? At what pace? Re: tempo paces less than 8:00? Not likely right now. My speed fitness has diminished hugely since summer. The 5-mile race I ran in November was 7:53 pace, and that was about all I had to give at the time. In training runs 8:00 is barely reachable right now. Hup – I just made up my own marathon plan based on 6-8 that I looked at, but I was more concerned with LR schedules, so I didn’t really pay attention to speedwork (my eyes sort of glazed over when I saw all those numbers and I don’t have a track nearby). Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.

              Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."

                Hi Holly! I second all that has been said here. Time on your feet, running strong while your legs are fatigued and getting the feel for marathon pace are key elements in my training. I have used a variety of schedules---Pfitz, Daniels, Yasso repeats etc. I now use a schedule/plan that my former college coach put together for me based on my dislike of track work and my love of hills and the outdoors. Yes, I am wacky that way...I know! She also knows my tendency to go out fast, so I have been really diligent about pacing and finishing fast and it has worked. I did find that when I did track intervals (400s, 800s even) my marathon time was no better. In fact, I tend to run stronger and faster with longer intervals---mile repeats, tempo runs of 8-10 miles and so forth. Even though you say "no way" to tempo runs, tempo doesn't have to be whippet fast. For me, a tempo run is one where I can sustain just under marathon pace for an increasing period of time as training goes on. I might start off with 4 miles at tempo (7:45 pace) and try to bump that out to 8 miles total in the later weeks of the cycle. I also try to run at least one marathon pace run a week (or several miles at MP within a long run of 12 or more). When I do that, I am aiming to make marathon pace "comfortable" and almost like a metronome....miles just clicking. I swear by them and work on them just as Bill describes. You'll surprise yourself. What you have been doing on the treadmill doesn't hurt, but probably serves more to give your muscles a bit of a kick...almost like striders. It's endurance and a quicker pace over the long haul that makes a difference. Everyone is an experiment of one, so a mixture of all of these posts can work for you. I think the basic framework of your plan makes sense and now you can focus on sharpening certain aspects of your race. You also have a strong base and no recent injuries....all good. Hope that's useful CNYrunner
                  Holly, Interval repeats are typically run at 5K pace, which I would suspect is about 7:30 min/mile pace or so for you? That works out to about 4 minutes 21 seconds for 1000 meters. By the way, most coaches like the repeats to be run for 3 to 5 minutes - it takes 3 minutes of harder running to reach VO2 max. range. The recovery time is important. If you don't get to full recovery, you won't be able to complete all the repeats. If you take too much recovery time, you're not getting the best VO2 max. workout. Bill PS: Tempo runs aren't about speed really, as much as endurance at a strong pace. They should not turn into "speed work". You've got that endurance down girl. Try 20 minutes at 7:45 some time. You'll see. PSS: I second what CNYRunner said. Short repeats are for shorter races. Longer repeats are for longer distances (though you'll want to work up to them).

                  "Some are the strong, silent type. You can't put your finger on exactly what it is they bring to the table until you run without them and then you realize that their steadiness fills a hole that leaks energy in their absence." - Kristin Armstrong


                  Marathon Maniac #957

                    Thanks so much for the input. It's comforting to know that I will work up to these paces. Last weekend I did a 13-mile LR with 7 @ MP (8:45) and it about killed me. I could barely concieve that I was able to churn out 26 of those just 3 months ago.

                    Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."

                    PJH


                      Holly - for what it's worth, this is what's guiding my training right now ... 1. I'm focusing on building base/slow miles. 100% of these have been at easy pace. For me, that's ~10 mpm based on Daniel's VDot system. My MP is 8:35 ... or at least was, since I lost some of my 'speed' too. However, my recent 10-miler was a surprise where I held 8:28 for the 10 miles. My base was about 40-45 mpw on 5 days running, and I hadn't done any speedwork at all. In my training last summer, easy miles at 10 mpm accounted for about 85-90% of my total miles. Helped build endurance and kept stress on my body at a minimum. 2. I will be doing VO2Max/interval training on Tuesdays each week beginning in January. We will start out with 4 mins x 3 repeats with full 4 min recovery in between. I understand that it takes about 1-2 mins to actually reach VO2Max so you're only pushing this for 2-3 mins or so during any interval. We will progress to 4 mins x 4 repeats, 4 mins x 5 repeats, 5 mins x 3 repeats, 5 mins x 4 repeats and 5 mins x 5 repeats. The max we do is 5 x5. The intervals are always preceded by a 3-mile or so warm-up at ez pace and 3-mile cooldown, for a total 8-9 mile workout. My Daniel's VO2Max pace currently is about 7:22 mpm. 3. I will also be doing tempo training on Thursdays (Wed are an "easy" day ...usually do 7-9 miles progressing to MLR of 12 or so). Tempo runs start out at 20 mins and progress to 25, 30, 35 and 40. The maximum we do is 40 mins. My Daniel's pace right now is about 8:00 mpm. We will often keep the same time for 2 weeks before increasing. It depends on the lenght of your training program. Our "formal" program is only about 12 weeks after base-building and before taper. 4. We do some MP running, but usually in conjunction with LRs. Our program has me doing 2-3 long runs of 18-20 miles. The first 18-miler would include 12 MP miles; the second 20-miler, 14 MP miles. I also did a 6 mile MP (10K) run the Thursday before my marathon. I'll probably do a few more MP miles this time round. 5. We also alternate weekend LRs and manage these by time. We've build slowly to 2 -2.5 hours. Now we do one week 2 hours, the next 2.5 hrs, the next 2 hrs, the next 2.5 hrs, and so on. We don't go over 2.5 hrs with the exception of maybe the 18-20 milers that we do. When we race on a weekend, we will always forego one of the speed sessions during the week. 6. Days running - started with 4, currently doing 5, will progress to 6 this month. Started with 30-40 mpw, currently doing about 50 mpw, hope to build to 60 by mid Feb and hold for 4-6 weeks before taper starts. Have one HM planned for early March at present. Marathon in Apr 21. One other point - based on race results, my training paces (VDOT) could change. Last year, I moved up one VDOT based on the results of a 10 mile and 1/2 marathon races. Translates to about 10 sec decrease in all paces. Hope this helps and gives you some ideas. It's not a standard program, just one my coach uses with our group. Call it a modified Daniel's program if you will. The approach worked for me last time. I'm hoping it works again. PJ
                        Hang in there Holly. Even though the marathon pace run felt really tough, it won't be that way in a few weeks---really, comfortably hard isn't an oxymoron here. You want to peak to best form by the time of the marathon---not now, but April. It's not going to feel easy at the beginning of the marathon cycle and that's okay. Look at what I posted for yesterday's workout. I was actually supposed to do 5 x 6 (I did 5 x 4) minutes at 7:15-7:25 pace with a 2 minute cruise pace rest in between each speed -up. This is what Bill was describing. In my case, coach remembers my tendency to slow WAY down in between hard sets and that's not great for marathon training. It was tough yesterday, but I was able to stay in range in the speed ups and the 2 minute rests gave me enough time to catch my breath without losing a rhythm. I think you are just finding out how fast you can run and your marathon times will come down even more. Happy trails CNY
                          nothing to add except...Great Thread! Especially for me while training for first marathon. Holly for what it's worth, I've found wa5yom's weekly schedule (posted in your 40/40 thread) to be very helpful...not for intervals specifically, but as an overall schedule. While his schedule is designed for him, he does include general pacing info that everyone can use.
                          Quit being so damn serious! When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. "Ya just gotta let it go." OM


                          King of PhotoShop

                            I posted offline with one of the members here my concern about all this "VO2 max" stuff thrown in here without sufficient explanation as to "why" you would do it, what is it, and how does it help you. Of all the different activities you could possibly do to prepare for a marathon, build a base, run intervals, run tempos etc., the most important and BY FAR, is mileage base. You want to run a fast marathon? Get yourself up to 65 mpw and hold it there til you know your body can stand it. Only then should you be thinking about adding in the other activities. I liked Breger's (first) post and CNY's post as being the best advice here. Once you have your mileage up to as much as you can do without getting hurt, add in CNY's ideas, solid tempo runs, runs at MP and HMP for a few miles. These miles, well under VO2 max, are the greatest contributors to marathon success, as I see you are already doing hills (good). Here is the issue around VO2 max, which sends me around the bend every time I hear it in the context of marathon training. What is it? It's the limit on the amount of oxygen your muscles can use no matter how hard you breathe. It is also known as your maximal aerobic capacity. Through training, you can raise your VO2 max by as much as 10 to 20%, and you will get that benefit primarily from aerobic work, while you build endurance endurance for the marathon. On that one point, Dark Horse makes a useful comment. What many runners don't understand is that if you run hard enough to be working at your VO2 max, you are also producing a lot of energy anaerobically. Typically, VO2 max speed would be your pace at an all-out two mile race. Your VO2 max is therefore NOT the maximum pace you can run before being anaerobic. The maximum pace you can run without generating lactic acid is your anaerobic threshold, and this is what CNY is trying to encourage you to do, a very good idea, and well below VO2 max pace. Also, you cannot do sustained work in training at VO2 max because the cardiovascular system can't deliver enough oxygen to the working muscles, AND because the muscles are limited in their ability to extract oxygen from the blood. So even if the muscles could use more oxygen, they can't get all they need even at aerobic levels. Before we go on, try to think of being very thirsty and need a drink of water. Someone gives you a glass of ice water with a very thin straw. You suck as hard as you can on the straw and you just can't get that water in fast enough. We've all done that when we're thirsty. That would be a useful analogy. Maybe someone can think of a different one. The best way to improve VO2 max is not to run at VO2 max, but at levels below that speed. That is why most good marathon training programs include tempo runs, hill runs, MP runs, long runs at a slightly increased speed. VO2 max work is just not as useful, because by force, you can't do much work there. Much of my distrust of this speed has to do with the fact that too many people believe that if VO2 max for them is 6:30 per mile, they will do 800's at 3:10 and think they had a good workout. After people reply to this thread to tell me about their Pfitz plans and how he has them doing all this stuff, I will reply again, but for now, here is what Daniels has to say on the subject of working faster than VO2 max: “…the problem with working harder than the slowest pace that elicits V02 max, when the purpose of the session is to work at max, is that aerobically you can’t work any harder, which means you’re doing the extra work at the expense of anaerobic metabolism, and lactate accumulation begins to limit you as the workout progresses. Further, working at the harder-than-necessary intensity doesn’t improve the aerobic mechanisms any more than working at the minimum max intensity does. The result is that the workout becomes more stressful and the benefits no greater—in fact they could be less beneficial…nothing’s more frustrating than to work really hard in a training session and not get the desired, and deserved benefits.” Now if at some time you want to run a faster fiveK or tenK, then you could do fast repeats with FULL recovery in order not to go into oxygen debt, and gain from form and leg turnover improvement. Breger makes this point about shorter workouts for shorter distances, but omits to say why. Both Breger and CNY point out that based on past performance, you are very capable of running some tempo work or HM pace work and incorporating that into your training. I have said this to you in the past as well. But you do not need to run at VO2 max at this time. You do not know what your VO2 max pace should be, and my advice is to leave it alone for now. There is plenty of more useful, high-quality work you could be doing now. Spareribs


                            Marathon Maniac #957

                              Whew! This is good stuff, so good in fact that I have just sat here and read it over slowly twice, and saved it to a file on my computer. Thank you so much! Spareribs, you are the bomb... Smile After I get this marathon nonsense over with in the spring, and assuming (hoping) that I make it through uninjured, I'll come and chat with you about working on my shorter distances next summer.

                              Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."


                              just a simple cat

                                You are getting good stuff from the Ribster, Holly S. All I could get was SBUH! Big grin

                                 

                                Running is stupid

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