30 some weeks until my next Marathon: plan? (Read 1380 times)

Feeling the growl again

    Jeff already said a lot of good stuff so I'm going to try to add a few thoughts without being redundant.


    Jeff and I are quite different runners.  He has better natural speed, can run well off low-ish mileage, and is a great 5K runner.  Conversely, I was a no-talent hack until I got north of 70mpw (and stayed there), can't do jack without averaging that much and got faster up to ~105 mpw AVG for several months, and was A LOT better at 10K-marathon than 5K (forget anything shorter).


    That said, I totally agree to start by focusing on some shorter distances.  This is true no matter what your long-term goal is, IMHO.  The thing about marathon training is that it doesn't really add to your speed....it makes you stronger (to hold pace longer) and improves indurance.  I've seen several elite coaches recommending reversing the normal "base/stamina first, speed later" order for the marathon.  In other words, max out your speed first.  This will establish the limit of how fast you can do the marathon.  Then use marathon-specific training to extend that speed out over the distance.


    As an example of this, I tried my first 50-miler last fall.  I was severely under-trained and I knew it.  However, I was able to cover 30+ miles at ~6:50/mile pace before my under-trained muscles cramped up.  In other words, because I'd done a lot of work for shorter races I had a much higher potential to run a good ultra.  I just did not do my part of following through with ultra-specific work.  Now if I had approached it by just running a lot of slow miles for a year or two before that....without work for shorter races to build that kind of aerobic threshhold....I doubt I could have started out that quickly.


    I would not say you have to focus on the 5K.  I would change that to say focus on something shorter than the marathon.  There is not a terrible lot of difference between most training for anything 5K to HM.  If you don't like 5Ks, train for 10Ks or HMs.  You just can't race as many of the longer races.


    Regarding mileage, recognize that you have gains to be made at every level on the way up.  Shooting up to more than 2X of your current mileage very quickly will not necessarily get you the same place as building there over a long period of time, but it does drastically increase your chances of getting injured.  I made the jump from 40-50 mpw to 80-100 mpw almost overnight, but I can tell you it took ~2 years before I was running 100 as easily and with as few of issues as I had 50.  Give yourself time to adapt at 2-3 different mileage levels on the way up. You will get faster race times and your body will have time to get tougher.  Again Jeff and I differ and without knowing you I can't tell you which is better, his focus on somewhat lower mileage (if I read him correctly) and my see how much you can handle over time approach.  our advice would reflect our personal experiences, which are both true and accurate for us, but not necessarily you.


    As for age, it is true that your potential gets lower as you get older.  However, it is a gradual process.  You can train yourself closer to your potential (moving up) faster than your potential declines (moving down).  So even as you get older, if you train hard you could get 3-5 years of gains before age catches up and you can no longer add more or better training to counter-act its effects and continue to get faster.  So don't be in too much of a rush.  I reached what was probably very close to my potential in my mid/late 20s.....as I approach my mid-30s it's unlikely any amount of training would get me back to that point.  If you've currently got a lot of space between you and your potential, years of improvement are yours for the taking.

    "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


    I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


      Good advice from Jeff and spaniel.


      Stadjak, I'm about the same age as you, and understand your desire to get going now.  Our goals are very similar in terms of the BQ, 1000 miles, and sub 20 5k.  


      I've run off and on for many years...I tried a comeback of sorts last year culminating in a 1:40 hm and a foot injury which still slows me a bit. So for me, staying injury free is an even higher priority than any other goals.  


      To make sure I do this, I'm trying to think stepwise.   I have a number of intermediate goals...started with "run 3x per week", then "build slowly up to 30 mpw".  currently, my goal is to string together 12 consecutive weeks of 30+ miles, which hasn't happened in almost 20 yrs.   


      My race goal for this year to improve substantially in the 5k.  I joined the "sub-20 5k" thread and think I have a decent shot at getting there (for the first time this century) probably on 35-40mpw.  Once I prove to myself I still have the commitment and ability to run injury free to these goals, I think I might shoot for the 90 min half.  if I get that, then its on to a BQ and if I'm still having fun and progressing, maybe a sub 3:00 marathon.  No ultras though.  


      See you in the sub 20s.

        In response to Stadjak's question about 5k plans/approaches, I really like Hudson's Run Faster. I think he does a great job of breaking training down in a practical way that is useful and easy to understand. Here's a goofy review of the book that I did.


        MTA: also, great stuff from spaniel above. 5k training and racing will look different for different people. Notice that I didn't really say much about what 5k training really is or how it's different from marathon training. I think the answer to that really depends on too many factors to say definitively.

        Interval Junkie --Nobby

          Just in case it gets lost in further discussion, I'd like to thank you, Jeff & Spaniel, for taking the time to verbosely address my post.  There is a lot to think about in your responses.  It's also nice to have the two perspectives.


          Hudson's book is on order.


          I think next week I'm going to attempt a round of Magill's 5K base-phase.  I've done my best to represent as an RA training plan.  Still trying to figure out how to make Friday my rest day.


          While I'll probably re-evaluate this when I'm 18weeks from the Philly Marathon I've already paid for, I'm going to keep with the 5K plans.  Maybe I'll just 'coast' the Philly and continue with 5Ks until prep for a Spring marathon.


          This being said, I think you guys are right: time to get fast.  I've never been a sprinter, but somewhere between 5K and HM I'm sure I can find a home.


          Sub-20, here I come!

          2016 Goals: Lose the 10lbs I gained for not having goals


            I found the Hudson book to be a LOT more approachable than Daniels.  I have read the Daniels book probably 6-7 times over the past 8 years... and I still find neat little gems that I had not previously noticed/understood... or forgot.  While I could say "wow, it is cool that I still learn from his stuff", it also says a bunch to me about the information organization and presentation that on my 7th reading I'm stumbling across stuff.  Hmmm.


            My favorite example: I once spent 24ish weeks going through his "A" Marathon training schedule.  In the 2nd edition, this is presented as Table 20.1 across several pages.  Fine fine.  And I learned about E and R and I and H and L etc etc.  And I went through the plan week by week.  And all was well.  Or "well".


            And then on the 24th and last week of the plan, I flipped to the last page of the table (on p262).  And there... as a "note" after the whole table, I found this on the 24th and last week of the plan:


            "...starting in Phase II....after 2 or 3 of the E runs, add six to eight x 20-30second strides".


            Oh.  I was supposed to have been doing strides 2-3 times a week starting at week 7.  As in, 17 weeks ago.


            This is information I would have preferred to see before now!


            Fast forward: you read books, you talk to people, you learn... and over time, you find the commonality behind all these things.  And so, yeah, I get the goodness of strides and when I should maybe do them (although I am notorious about not doing them).  Side note - beware of being a slave to a boilerplate plan in a book anyway.


            Ok then.


              Good stuff, srlopez.


              On that point of re-reading: I think the same applies to Hudson. Some of the stuff at the beginning is better understood once you read the later chapters. 

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


                It's funny that Jeff and SRLopez liked Hudson more than Daniels because I don't think I got through most of that one.  I liked the idea of doing an assessment before starting a training program but that's as far as I got.  I couldn't get into the actual plans part of that book.


                Stadjak, the only other thing I would add is that a sub-20 5K is also hard.  I say this as someone who had that as her goal 2 or 3 years ago and failed miserably but BQ'ed in her first marathon (albeit by old lady standards).  As an over-acheiving goal setter myself, I'm not trying to discourage you in the least but just pointing out that you're still setting a pretty loft goal for yourself.  Good luck, though!

                “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the fight in the dog. – Dwight D. Eisenhower


                My blog is JT Running DC.  It's awesome.

                  Thank you for this thread. I've enjoyed reading all the contributions. It excites me to think about some purposeful training and racing in the future ... and hopefully forgetting about the marathon for a cycle or two. I miss out on other races because they have to be considered in the context of the marathon training cycle, which is far from my best distance. Now, if only someone could get me as excited about dieting...

                    Now, if only someone could get me as excited about dieting...



                    You're welcome. 

                    "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

                    Jack Kerouac

                    Feeling the growl again



                      You're welcome. 



                      Well, I WAS eating lunch...


                      Yup, you just helped with MY dieting...

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


                      I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills



                        You're welcome. 


                        Uh, I said dieting, not puking.

                          Jehu, you can make that photo go away now. Thx!

                            I'm resurrecting this thread. I took the suggestion (earlier in this thread) to spend some time focusing on the 5K and I'm glad to say I've seen some nice improvement.


                            A little background, in late 2010 I went from not running much at all to running two Marathons in as many seasons. Blew up in the first one and because I bombed, I decided to get right back at it. I fought my way through Achilles Tendonitis on the second one to a 3:28 finish.


                            After the May 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon I ran a 5K in 19:31. A handful of other races (HM, Trail HM, 4 Mi, etc.) and it was Spring 2012, where another Achilles flare up sidelined me from my intended Cleveland Marathon. At some point, I stumbled across this thread and decided a summer 5K focus was a good idea. After all, I'm still very much learning this sport/my limits/what GI distress is - kidding, sort of.


                            I run a race to set the baseline in May - PR in 19:08, to be expected as I had more miles under my belt than the previous 5K I ran. At this point my hope is to run a race in July in the mid 18's.


                            Following Brad Hudson's Run Faster plan, I stuck with it pretty close through May into June. In June I ran the second of my three race plan, PR in 18:41(6:01). Very excited to see improvement, and break 19.


                            Another good few weeks of training, and my wife and I go on a road trip vacation. While I ran nearly everyday of our vacation, it was unfocused and not nearly the mileage my plan would have had me doing - I was OK with this. I knew it would likely impinge on me realizing my goal, but would certainly allow my legs a bit of rest. It did both, I'm sure. It definitely dampened my enthusiasm towards the final 5K in late July.


                            (As a side, we hiked part of the AT and after one particularly steep ascending section, my lower legs were killing me. The pain stuck around long enough and strong enough for me to fear a stress fracture - it wasn't and did go away eventually, but meant even after returning from vacation, I took it very easy.)


                            Knowing my "sharpening period" was practically non-existent, I waited until the last minute to sign up for a local 5K in late July, I resolved to at least see how I would fair. Not knowing would be more frustrating than running a poor time.


                            That morning was overcast and not as hot as a July race could be, but definitely humid. I have no idea what to expect. The gun goes off, a couple younger guys go out at a great pace to latch onto (I'm running by feel and the course is unmarked). They battle back and forth multiple time for the first two-ish miles. I watch, hoping they'll both wear each other out. A few minutes later, I get past the first one and another minute after that, the second one. This puts me in a lonely third place, but I think to push at this point to give myself some cushion and spend what I've got left.


                            I come around the penultimate turn where my wife is cheering me on/leading me to believe someone is right on my heels, fearing this, I turn it on and round the final turn to see 18:14 on the clock. Pushing as hard as I can at this point, I cross in 18:21 clock time (18:19.75 officially).


                            Another PR and I'm ecstatic, with the humidity and recent inconsistency, I didn't think I would go sub 18:30.


                            I think that the biggest key to my improvement was getting out the door very consistently over the first two months of the training period. And while that consistency fell apart at my vacation, the base was there. The racing helped me wrap my head around running at faster paces - it was a nice break from a marathon grind and I learned a lot about running in general. I'm excited to move on to a different focus for the fall, but I will certainly revisit this training next year.


                            Great advice guys, very helpful. Sorry for the length.