Author Topic: Joe Henderson's column from the May/June issue of Marathon and Beyond  (Read 3201 times)

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Offline rehammes

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I will ask again if anyone else reads this? 
 
Anyway, his most recent column summarizes a speech he gave at Dick Beardsley's Marathon running camp regarding how to best predict what you are capable of running in a marathon.  He mentions the Yasso 800m, Galloway's "Magic Mile", the 10k test, and the 1/2 marathon +5%.  But, the predictor he uses today and offers as a standard for the runners he coaches is to simply take the pace of your longest training run and extend that to 26.2 miles.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is, I think it's discouraging.  He is delivering this speech at a camp that people have paid for to make themselves better marathoners.  This predictor contains no sage wisdom.  To me, it suggests that covering the distance is the ultimate goal to be acheived through training.  You could simply run any distance for 5-6 days during the week with a long run on the weekend and prove his theory correct.  It seems there would be little benefit to a varied workout program during the week, ie no need for speed, hills, fartlek, etc.  I always thought the point of a marathon training program was to put you in a position to use 18- 24- 28 weeks of training to do something special on 'race day.'  Regardless of how fast my fastest track or interval workout was during training, I always knew that I would be capable of more on race day because of adrenaline, taper, race prep etc.  I know we have discussed this before, but this seems like great advice for those who want to know how long it will take to cross the marathon of their life's 'to-do list.'

Offline Ed

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It sure doesn't seem like he is saying much.  But maybe he is saying that there is no good predictor - too many variables.
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Offline Ryan

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I haven't seen the article but, without some clarifications, this does seem quite disappointing.
  • What distance to him qualifies as a long run? The fastest 18 miler would likely be significantly faster than the fastest 25 miler. Some people even consider 15 miles a long run. Is it my fastest 15 miler?
  • Is one to purposely go out and blast a long run to see what they are capable of or just do normal training and use the fastest of these normal long runs as your baseline? If I blasted a 20 miler on a course similar to the marathon in middle of training, it would probably be close to marathon pace but I'm not sure how productive it would be as a training run.
  • What kind of training heading into that? If I take a cutback week then pop off a 20 miler, it would be much faster than if I kill myself through the week then try to hammer.
Even with the clarifications, I've always found that I've been in shape to run faster than my fastest long run of 20 or more miles. To me, this seems like quite a conservative approach. Of course, maybe that's part of the idea.

In the end, I still say the best predictor is to know thyself. Yasso 800s work for Yasso because he knew himself and created a workout to work for himself. They don't work for most others because these people don't know themselves and don't modify it to work for themselves. It won't work out of the box for most people. Likewise with any other predictor. A predictor based on another race performance is probably the most reliable but even that has to take into account personal strengths and weaknesses. Experienced runners know how to judge their fitness and predict their potential quite accurately because they know themselves. Inexperienced runners need to learn this but contrived tests will not help them in the short term and may get in the way of learning the skills that will benefit them in the long term.

Offline rehammes

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http://www.marathonandbeyond.com/camp/brochure.pdf
 
Well said, Ryan.  Participants at this camp are paying up to $1100 to train with and receive advice from some great running minds.  I would expect better than 'shoot for the pace of your longest training run.'  I don't know with any degree of certainty, but I don't think the people who attend this event simply wish to cover the distance. I could tell them how to do that for a lot less than $1100! 

Offline Andrew A.

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$1100 per head?  Nice work if you can get it! 
To be honest, this camp seems more suited to the 50 States/lifestyle marathoner than it is to anyone looking for genuine performance gains so it would likely be best to take lightly anything that might come out of it.  I have plenty of respect for Beardsley and Henderson (after years of cringing over his column in RW), just realize that they would be tailoring their message to their audience.
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Offline Ryan

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Wow, $1150 a shot. Or, if you're a cheapskate, pitch a tent and split the fee with another for $750 a shot. Honestly, I have to agree with Andrew. The brochure does not seem to be tailored to the runner whose primary focus is performance. It seems to be focused on the at least fairly affluent types who also like to travel to marathons, maybe 50 staters or the like but also just those who like to build 2, 3, or more vacations a year around marathon schedules, who may have some performance focus but for whom performance is not the primary focus. I'm sure the messages given at the camp are also tailored to fit that mindset.

Offline sueruns

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well said, Ryan.
 
I think some of this can get people "in the ballpark"...so the "predictors"  do have some use.   There are just too many variables per individual, and per individual on any given day.   I'm sure I'm not the only person that holds a PR at a distance untapered or undertrained, but you just woke up and said "I'm going to run something amazing today" for a race that's supposed to be a training run.  Makes a person wonder how much is really mental versus physical.   So if you believe and follow a program to run a 3:10 marathon did it work, because you actually "did" run a 3:10....or did you brain just limit you to the notion that the best you could do was 3:10.

Offline Ryan

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Sue, I think the predictors do have some use but I see too many people rely too heavily on them instead of learning how to better predict their performances through all the clues that many of us just naturally do, which take many of our individual variables into account.

Interesting thought on the mental side of things and I think there is something to that. I think it works both ways. Sometimes, we convince ourselves we are as good as we think we are and we race to our full potential. Other times, we convince ourselves that we are not as good as we really are and we race down to what we think we're capable of. The one issue I have is, especially with Yasso 800s, people often convince themselves they are capable of more than they really are capable of and get themselves in over their heads. Then, when they struggle through the second half to a 20 minute positive split, they get frustrated. Well, using a workout run at 5K race pace to predict marathon potential works if you're equally well trained for both short and long. However, most people are inadequately trained for a marathon so doing such a workout is going to dramatically overpredict their marathon potential.

Offline Wilson

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He mentions the Yasso 800m, Galloway's "Magic Mile", the 10k test, and the 1/2 marathon +5%.  But, the predictor he uses today and offers as a standard for the runners he coaches is to simply take the pace of your longest training run and extend that to 26.2 miles.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is, I think it's discouraging.  He is delivering this speech at a camp that people have paid for to make themselves better marathoners. 
 
It's mostly a bunch of snake oil to pad their pockets. 50 staters and Marathon Maniacs (I think their goal is a marathon a week) aside, I think you're all getting it right.
 
Not just one workout or race should be used as a predictor, but a combination of performances and workouts assessed over a month/six weeks or so leading up to the marathon. I have always felt Yassos are a bunch of bunk, because it can be easy to run anaerobically and have higher than expected prediction. Just like Ryan says.
 
And a half marathon often doesn't cut it either, but better than a series of shorter repetitions. I have never attempted more than 14 or 15 miles at MP in a single workout. One that I have liked as a confidence booster is 20 or 21 miles with the second half at MP. It's a stellar workout, good confidence booster, but not so much that you end up leaving your best running on the training runs.