"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More Marathon Musing

I have a bit of backtracking to do. I was looking at Minnesota track records and the best mile by a man 45-49 is 4:29.5 by Ron Daws. The Ron Daws 25K is coming up this weekend. I've said some things about Ron Daws from personal experience (we didn't like each other - I was a hotheaded youth about the time of that fast mile of his), but it had been decades since I'd read his book "Run Your Best." It seemed the time to track down a copy and give it a reread.

It's much better than I remember. Some have said it's just watered-down Lydiard training, and in a way it is, but he has some interesting points to make along the way and he made the Lydiard system more practical and easy to understand; it's always hard to refute Lydiard, because he uses terms differently than everyone else and you have to think like him to understand what he says.

Tht said, there's never going to be a reissue of that book. Only a few people are going to care what he had to say about training.

The Beck System

I got asked, after my last post about training, if there was any simple plan for marathoning that I actually like. Well, with the caveats that first-time marathoners need only worry about doing long runs (if you can do 20 comfortably in training, you can do 26.2 uncomfortably) and that runners planning on running 3:30 or slower should work on increasing mileage for aerobic support until they average 75 minutes per day, there is one method that I find interesting for those looking to run 3:00 or better. It was created by Kevin Beck and I first saw it in the July/August 1999 Running Times. It's never become popular for some unknown reason. The only place I've found it online is at http://at.srichinmoyraces.org/training/mtraining_1_en

It seems to have all the essentials in about the proper amounts. There are four three-week cycles and in each cycle, there's one long run of 22-26 miles at moderate effort, two interval workouts (4-6x 1 mile @ 5K pace; 8x800m @ 5K minus 3-5 seconds) and two marathon pace runs. One of the marathon pace runs is 10-15K, the other increases in each cycle from 20K to 25K to 30K to the marathon race. The number of miles per week averages about 65, with an average of about 12 miles per week at marathon pace or faster; this is about what I recommend for 3:00 marathoners.

There is one major problem with the plan. For me - and I expect for many if not most runners - 20K or more at marathon pace is approaching racing and a 20K race takes about two weeks of recovery, 30K as much as three weeks. If I were to attempt this, I'd probably be looking for long races in which to attempt the long marathon pace runs and end up running them too fast, or I'd try to do them on my own and fall way short of my goals and come up with excuses (weather's always a good one).

I haven't heard of anyone who's ever tried it, much less succeeded with it, but for a plan one can write in a few sentences, it's as good as I've seen.


Ben said...

Steve, have you ever checked out advanced marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger, amazing book with detailed training plans. It took 10 minutes off my marathon pr and that was after two years of decent training.

SteveQ said...

Ben, I own a copy of that and just about every other training manual ever written. Pfitzinger did for Daniels what Daws did for Lydiard - turned philosophy into scheduling. I covered his book here about 2 years ago.

Karen said...

I'm no advanced marathoner, but I thought that book was great! It made more sense to me than most of the other training books geared for someone my speed (like a 3:45 mar.).

Thanks for the insight. I'll look into the other plan for my next race.

Carilyn said...

Great post, Steve! I think all of your posts on "real" training are super informative. A lot of info out there without much substantive commentary, so it's great to have someone give their views on the different programs.

Matt said...


I never met Daws so I don't know what type of person he was but I do know his books inspired me to go beyond my previous, self-imposed limitations. I used his training plans in the past and still incorporate much--especially hill training--in my training.

Thanks for the post!

Colin said...

I agree the Daws book was a good one (based on my recollection of reading them via inter library loan a couple of years ago).

I also like the Beck plan, although I haven't ever followed it. By the way, I think a better link to it online is at http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=4835 (which includes the article itself as well as the training plan).

I may be unusual, but for me the most daunting part of his schedule isn't the 20-30K at marathon pace, it's the 4-6 mile repeats at 5K pace plus the 8x800 at 3-5s faster than 5K pace.

Helen said...

I like the sound of the Beck plan. I'll have to look into it. TCM...