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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Alternatives to the Standard Model of Training

The standard model, again, for training: do a wide variety of workouts all the time, increase your mileage and the length of you long runs, then specialize with race pace efforts, finally taper.

Using the 3:00 Marathon as a standard for reference, every plan has 2 long runs per week (one usually much longer than the other) and 2 hard runs per week. Standard week:

T 12 miles with mile repeats
Th 16 miles
Sa 12 miles, at least half at a fast tempo
S 20 miles

1) If you add a 6 mile run on M & W, you get how Jack Foster ran a 2:11 at age 40. This is standard.
2) If you add 12 on M, W, F, you get the high-mileage system, such as Lydiard
3) If you do 6 twice (AM, PM) on M, W, F, you get a different high mileage system.
4) If you cross-train M, W, F you get the low-mileage systems.

Jack Daniels' Marathon plan combines the two long runs and two fast runs into just two runs, something that makes sense for the marathon.

The various 3 days per week plans you can find are better suited to 4 hour marathons than to 3 (in my opinion; at 50, Foster ran a 2:20 on three days per week, but also with one day of biking 4-5 hours at a hard pace).

Here, then, is my (hopefully) last 3:00 Marathon plan, done on 4 days per week, preferably with three 30 minute cross-training days. Explanations of individual workouts are given below.

The Logician's 3:00 Marathon Plan

M1 15@8 min./mile
T1 15@8
Sa1 Time trial [10 miles in 62-64; 1/2 mar. in 84-86; 25K in 1:41-1:43; 30K in 2:03-2:05; 20 miles in 2:13-2:15; Marathon race in 2:59:59]
S1 15@8
T2 7x1 in 6- 1in 8.75 going to 7x1 in 6:51- 1 in 8
Th2 15@8
Sa2 26.25 @ 7.5
S2 15@8
T3 8@8, 4x1 in 6:42 - 1 in 7
Th3 15 @8
Sa3 15.75@8, 10.5@6:51
S3 15@8

The essence of marathon running is that you want to be able to: run the marathon distance at marathon pace without hitting 100% effort until you hit the finish line. Obviously. Here's how the workouts get one there.

Sa2: Running marathon distance at a hard steady pace. I've a history of going out hard and dying, or slowing very gradually throughout the race. This corrects that.

Sa3: One needs to be able to run at marathon pace at the end of a marathon, when it's hardest. This has one do a hard marathon pace run at the end of a marathon distance run.

Sa1: One of the challenges of marathon running is knowing what shape one's in; a 5K runner can just race a 5K to know what shape they're in, but a marathon is a different animal. By running a race-simulating time trial (or race, if one of the correct length is available), increasing the distance every 3 weeks, one can get a good idea of where one is in training. Number crunchers like myself can plot out trends from the results of these to predict a marathon finish time.

T2: It's useful to be able to hit marathon pace at will from a standard training pace. This gets one able to do that, starting with hard intervals in early runs and proceeding ever closer to marathon pace.

T3: This is a fine-tuning version of the previous workout. One runs just over and just under race pace, getting a feel for how these variations feel (and it's harder than just running straight race pace).

Sa3, S3, M1 and M2 combine to be a glycogen depleting protocol, with three days off afterward to do carbo-loading for the next race. It's a good idea to practice this, instead of doing it just once for the big race.

The distances and times add up to be about what I'd suggested in previous posts in this series for breaking 3: about 65-70 miles per week, about 75 minutes per day on average (including all the days off).

Where this varies from the standard model is that one begins with running high mileage, rather than building into it, instead building speed week by week. If you're planning on a sub-3, you can run a marathon distance run right now; it might not be pretty, but you could finish the distance.


Okay. Next posts will be about my actual training, for a change, since I am back running a bit.

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