Mileage: His toughest marathon schedule goes from 56-87 miles per week (again, I think that's a big jump, but it's typical of all schedules). He states (page 56) that there should be some two-a-days once over 70 miles per week, but he includes only one in the entire schedule. Again, on p. 145, he states 70 mpw is maximum before running twice per day. On page 209, he notes that Paula Radcliffe set the world record (2:15) on 150 mpw. "The marathon record will never again be broken by someone who trains much less than this amount." Steve Jones' 2:07:12 on 90 miles per week is listed only one page earlier, following Derek Clayton's 2:08:33 on 170 miles per week. For someone who's studied the marathon closely, he's missed this important fact.
Sunday long run: He includes a number of types of long runs, including basic easy runs of up to 24 miles. What he's known for are "progression runs," where one increases pace toward the end of the run, to simulate the stress one has at the end of a marathon race; what he neglects is that from his own description of the "VO2max slow component," running at a steady pace would do the same thing. He includes one hard long run (20 miles) 3 weeks out from the marathon and a 1/2 marathon race 5 weeks out [on p. 154, he advocates a build-up of races from 5K and 10K before this]. He has one "specific endurance long run" of 2 hours, with 15 minutes at marathon pace; most of the marathon pace running is done in other types of workouts.
Monday hill sprints: This is one of the distinguishing features of the Hudson plan. One does a few all-out sprints up a steep incline. His reasoning is that one needs to maintain one's neuromuscular fitness - it's the same reason the other plans have 100 meter strides and/or bounding and skipping drills a la Lydiard (and which Hudson includes in his warm-up routine). He likes to have it the day before a hard workout as a check for tiredness (p. 171). Though I also like using hills and sprints, I fault his rationale on p.77, where he states that by increasing sprint speed 4% from 7.5 to 7.8 m/s, a 3:00:00 marathoner would improve to 2:52:48. He's overlooking specificity - that marathoner will merely improve his or her finishing kick by about a second (conversely, improving one's marathon time does absolutely nothing for one's sprint times). The reason for doing this workout is that it recruits muscle fibers not otherwise used and aids in range of motion, which tends to decrease with nothing but long slow miles.
Tuesday specific endurance intervals: As he says on p.111, everything is different for the marathon, so these workouts do not fit well with his own description. He has fartlek both early and late in the schedule (9 miles w/ 8x1 min, 8x2 min or 4x5 min at 10K pace; 11-12 miles w/ 8x2 min at 1/2 mar. pace). He has one hill workout of 5x3 min. uphill at 5K pace. He has a variety of track interval workouts at 5k and 10K pace, but there is no progression, nor specificity, though he does state that they don't need to be "totally systematic." (p 105) He also includes ladder intervals, which incorporate varied distances and paces and which I've always disliked, as they do nothing well. These workouts a far cry from what he suggests earlier (p112); there he lists workouts that are long and vary pace from slightly faster than race pace to slightly slower - like the "in-and-out miles" of Dellinger - and which make much more sense.Friday threshold and marathon pace runs: These are the bread and butter of many marathoners, but seem somewhat downplayed in this schedule. Early, he has progression runs with 3-4 miles hard, perhaps in lieu of the missing races mentioned above. His later workouts have repeats of 10-15 minutes at 1/2 marathon pace, which progress to 10K pace toward the end of the schedule. He doesn't state categorically the reason for these workouts, but they are obviously the same as "threshold" runs in the other schedules I've discussed. Though he has some workouts with a few minutes of marathon-paced running even in the first weeks of the 20 week schedule, there are only 4 listed as "marathon pace running." In week 9, there's 14 miles, with 8 at MP; in week 18, there's 14 miles with 10 at MP, in week 19, there's 12 to 13 with 2x4 at MP and in week 20, there's 5 with 2 at MP. I think that this gets to the specific marathon pace training too late and then hits it too hard too many weeks in a row. The last one, during the taper, I understand as a final confidence-booster, but I think it's too close to the race. It should be noted that in his Level 2 Marathon Plan (less mileage), he has a "Spec. Test" workout of a half-marathon run at marathon pace, with a two mile warm-up and cool-down and this is earlier than week 18. The easier plan makes more sense to me.
But does it work?
Like every plan I've gone through in this series, if one can do the workouts, one will probably have success in racing. Many runners, upon switching from one expert's schedule to another's, will improve simply from exercising somewhat differently, by incorporating one type of stress previously overlooked. Hudson's plan, by having a great variety of workouts, is likely to have something one has not tried. Hudson goes out of his way to tell his readers not to blindly follow the plans as listed, though that is what nearly everyone will do.
I tried this Marathon Level 3 schedule and had problems by the third week, but that says more about me than the schedule. In the third week, there are three progression runs; being a speedster by nature, I tend to start fast and then slow throughout a run, so speeding up at the end is much more difficult than it might be for others and to do it I'd have to intentionally start the runs extremely slowly, ruining the training effect of the mileage. Beside the progression runs, this week has a fartlek run with 8x40 sec. @ 10K-3K pace, which was too easy for me and ended up being closer to 1500 meter pace. The hill sprints are not meant to be a hard workout, but while a marathoner might lope up the hill, I have good sprint speed (for an old guy) and these sprints were HARD, causing me to have muscle aches the next day as if I'd been lifting heavy weights and that impacted the next day's run. Most runners, I'm sure, would have far fewer problems.
Here ends the long series! There's only a few basic methods of training and I've shown how many of these schedules resemble each other and how they differ and what weaknesses they may have. If you've followed along from the start, you now know more about training schedules than any coach you might hire would. And it probably hasn't meant much.
All that's left is to explain my own method for marathon training which... I've never tried! I've never even suggested it to others. It's just an idea that's floated around in my head for 20 years and which I feel like writing down (After a break. I've written way too much lately.)