Question about next phase for marathon schedule

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  MothAudio 10 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #6334

    MothAudio
    Member

    With the start of my marathon schedule approaching June 18th I have a question about what phase I should focus on next. I've looked at a couple of marathon schedules but haven't decided which I'll use. I'm leaning toward the one published in Running Times last Fall as it appears to address my short-comings best; front-loading the speed workouts [after a base phase] vs at the end [pre-taper].

    Profile: 50 yo male, 17 marathons completed, last one raced in 3:30:21 in the Spring '06, set mileage P.R. [2026] last year and on target to hit 2500 this year, my ultimate goal this Fall is 3:20. The schedule I used in my last two BQ races was the 18 / 70 & 12 / 55 Pfitz schedules. After last year's 3:30 I discovered my speed as a limiting factor in the marathon training phase. This was unique for me as I also ran better in the Fall vs the Spring. Perhaps this is age-related or due to running more miles in '06. My goal is to improve my speed so that marathon workouts are not limited by my [lack of] speed, but instead becoming fatigued by the duration of the workouts. After my DNF @ Columbus [injury-related] I decided to forgo a marathon schedule focusing my attention this Spring on the 5k-10k distance. February-April I included a weekly Vo2max [3-5:00] workout and for the past 6 weeks have been doing shorter “rep pace” stuff – 200-400's with a sprinkling of longer intervals and tempo runs twice a week. My track times have steadily improved but, so far, my race times have not. Surprisingly what I discovered in my tune up races is that I'm unable to hold a strong pace [a previous strenght]. I need more LT workouts [in hindsight something I should have done earlier in the season].

    My question is should I try to “fix” this deficiency [more tempo running] for the next 5-6 weeks or should I wait till after my base building phase as in a traditional schedule, while perhaps doing a 2nd “speed workout”? Or should I procede with the Running Times schedule, and complete the 5 week base phase before I tackle the 6 week speed phase next? Then after the “speed” phase focus on marathon specfic workouts [tempo, marathon pace runs] for the remaining 5 weeks before my taper? Thanks in advance. My goal race is October 21st.

  • #23084

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I see nobody else is willing to bite so I throw out a response in hopefully stirring up some discussion.

    Personally, I'm a fan of doing tempo workouts throughout the training schedule. During base phase, I probably throw in 1-2 tempo runs on average every 2 weeks. When adding in more structured workouts, I try to keep at least one tempo run or one LT type workout on the track every week in the schedule.

    On that note, I'd say throw in a tempo run when you're feeling especially good during base phase. Then, during the 6 week speed phase, see how tempo runs would work into the schedule. I wouldn't worry too much about getting them in if they absolutely don't fit but I'd try to get at least a few in. Then, after the speed phase, focus on those workouts for the final 5 weeks.

    In my opinion, it's hard to do too much tempo/LT running. I tend to find that I get myself into more trouble by doing too much of the real fast stuff and not enough tempo running (as I did last year, at some point I'll learn that lesson for good).

  • #23085

    Chris
    Member

    I believe it has been written many times that speed is almost never a limiting factor in the marathon.  If run properly in the marathon you run 0% of the race at or near Vo2 max where speed can be a factor (save the last couple hundred yards maybe). 

    In my experience longer Lactate Threshold workouts are a HUGE asset to a distance runner.  I'm talking the workouts in the 5 mile to half marathon distance.  I feel that those type of workout alone can make you a better runner.  I know they filled a void in my training. 

  • #23086

    cameron
    Member

    back in 2001, i had a 10 minute PR after following (as much as i could) the following program…

    http://www.runningtimes.com/rt/articles/?id=4835

    the big key for me was long marathon pace efforts in a controlled setting (track).  take a read of the article if time permits.  it may have some elements worth duplicating.

  • #23087

    MothAudio
    Member

    Thanks gentlemen, I appreciate the replies. I want to clarify that I'm familiar with the benefits of tempo running. I began incorporating them into my training in the early 90's. Before that I used F.C.R.'s for LT workouts as I tended to push most of my runs back then. During my successful BQ campaign in '05-'06 I followed the Pfitz schedule and did fewer tempo runs and more medium-long runs, along with increasing my overall mileage.   

    The problem I had last year is that my speed didn't improve over the Summer and instead I lost speed. This is very much out of character for me and because of this I relaxed my marathon goal. I realize you don't run a marathon @ Vo2Max effort but in my case my goal pace was closer to LT than marathon pace effort. Unsure to what degree my age played on my loss of speed last year or the impact it'll have on my upcoming campaign I chose to focus on 10k training this Spring, culminating with my goal [10k] this Sunday. I feel that training has helped and while my track workouts have improved my race results have not [compared to last year] up to this point.

    Ryan, thanks for the suggestion. I've been consumed with my speed workouts but I'll try to include a weekly tempo workout into my  schedule. Cameron, just as I'm familiar wth LT workouts I'm no stranger to longer MP workouts. Back in '95 after a 1×10 mile workout where I averaged 7:07, I so pumped… and 6 weeks later averaged 7:20 for the marathon. During my return to marathon racing in '05 I've found it increasingly more difficult to perform these workouts. Not sure if the increase in mileage has left me too fatigued or what but I'll make a much greater effort to complete these workouts in my upcoming strenght phase. Something else I did similar to the author, I would increase the pace at the end of my long runs to faster than race pace. I did this for 3 of my 8 LRs. I would run anywhere for one mile to the last four miles faster to much faster than MGP. I did this to primarally give me confidence late in the race that I could not only maintain my pace but pick up the pace. I can't say that I picked up the pace @ mile 20 of the marathon but I was able to maintain my pace. Doing these types of workouts have results in some surprisingly fast splits over the final 10k. I'm also a believer in doing a few quality long runs in addition to those at a more leisurely effort. Thanks, I bookmarked the article.

    MikE

  • #23088

    Chris
    Member

    As goofy as it may sound to many I, like Cameron like doing the long tempos on the track.  It's nice to hit every single 400 at the exact pace you want.  That said I've never done more than a 7 mile tempo on the track.  A 13 miler might be tough to swallow.  52 laps…yuck. 

  • #23089

    Double
    Member

    You are a prime candidate for the program Cameron recommended.  It is a very focused approach that can deliver results.  It is not for the light of heart.  Extremely difficult, but you do get to live life a bit differently for awhile.

  • #23090

    Peter
    Member

    I'm a firm believer in the Hanson's program, which I've followed for both of my marathons and will do again this year (starting this week). It is a 6 day running plan, all singles, with 3 something of subtance workouts, 2 easy days and 1 moderate day per week. The week looks like this:

    Sun:  8-10 moderate/easy
    Mon:  6-8 moderate
    Tues: speed: 3-4 miles of intervals @ 5k pace for 1st 8 weeks (I do 6-8 x 800m w/ 400m jog recovery)
    ……strength: 6-7 miles of Tempo paced runs for next 8 weeks (3×2 miles @ 1/2MP w/ 400m jog recovery)
    Wed: off or 4-6 miles easy
    Thurs: MP runs of 6-11 miles
    Fri : 6-8 moderate/easy
    Sat: long run 12-18 miles, w/ last 1/4  of run approaching MP
    –Hansons has the long run on Sunday, but I prefer Saturdays b/c I like to go to church on Sunday mornings. I've also incorporated running one of the Wednesdays every two weeks.

    Mileage ranges from 50-75 mpw. If I ran a race, then I moved MP run to Tues and subbed the speed/strength workout w/ the race. The long run tops out @ 16, but I ran 18-19 last time around, and will again do that. Speed before strength helps me, b/c until I start this, I'm doing zero speedwork, and only 5-10% of my mileage approaches MP. Then the strength workouts help train me to run fast when I'm tired, and the long runs are manifested with the miles run on the days before and after. Plus I often run half my long run miles @ MP. This plan also fits my work/life schedule the best, and that is important to me and probably why I haven't looked at any other training plan.

    Good luck Mike!

  • #23091

    MarkRunner
    Member

    John Kellogg had an article about Master's training.  I saved it to my hard drive years ago and I can't find it on the net anymore.  I think that he has some good ideas.

    Mark

  • #23092

    sueruns
    Member

    I don't follow anyone's program anymore.  I tend to work on the “weakest link”.  I have found that my early tempo pace “will” eventually turn into Marathon Pace over the course of training.  So like Ryan suggested, always keeping that LT run in from day 1 is kind of like getting in an MP run week after week until the final months.(obviously when they are over 10 miles you can't do them every week)   I'm also doing what is unheard of from any program in that I “still” do repeats which like Chris mentioned is used 0% in a marathon.  However, I believe that repeats keep you honest in believing what is “tough”.   Going back and running at 10k pace after 4 weeks of 400-800s will seem “easy”…….so guess what you get to do.  Run your tempo runs faster.  well, running tempo runs faster isn't that bad and it makes your MP seem like a Sunday morning jog……so what do you do?  you run MP faster.  My weakest link is obviously running a marathon in a “comfort zone”, which I think an older person with a few races under the belt “might” have the tendency to do.   When it was first suggested to me that I was doing this, I was angry and hurt.  Now,  I agree somewhat…

    oops.  I should add that by keeping in a LT/Tempo/MP run plus a speed session every week, my weekly mileage went down about 10%.  I believe I read an article that after age 40 it “should” anyway, so I'm not that concerned…unless it means to expect a 10% slowing of times  :'(

  • #23093

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Sue, some very good thoughts. A couple of comments.

    First, I don't think those repeats are unheard of, though they seem to be getting more rare all the time. However, the repeats do offer benefits even for the marathoner. While you may not even approach that pace on race day, repeats do tend to be a very productive way to improve your form, which benefits your running economy at all paces. Also, as you mentioned, it may be purely psychological but they do make the slower workouts and your marathon race pace seem easier, which can be very helpful.

    As for your decrease in volume you mention, is this only an occurrence during your “race prep” phases? If so, I'd say that's a good thing. Once you've established your base and you're focusing on building your speed in those final 2-3 months, it's perfectly fine to back off the volume a bit. All you need is enough to maintain the fitness you built during base phase. Personally, I regularly cut my volume by anywhere from 10% to 30% when the workouts start.

  • #23094

    sueruns
    Member

    Sue, some very good thoughts. A couple of comments.

    First, I don't think those repeats are unheard of, though they seem to be getting more rare all the time. However, the repeats do offer benefits even for the marathoner. While you may not even approach that pace on race day, repeats do tend to be a very productive way to improve your form, which benefits your running economy at all paces. Also, as you mentioned, it may be purely psychological but they do make the slower workouts and your marathon race pace seem easier, which can be very helpful.

    As for your decrease in volume you mention, is this only an occurrence during your “race prep” phases? If so, I'd say that's a good thing. Once you've established your base and you're focusing on building your speed in those final 2-3 months, it's perfectly fine to back off the volume a bit. All you need is enough to maintain the fitness you built during base phase. Personally, I regularly cut my volume by anywhere from 10% to 30% when the workouts start.

    Ryan-
    that's good to hear.  Yes, my peak mileage this year in these last months dropped.  I did hit some actual high miles way, way back base mileage.  This year, I really felt I needed more recovery in the final stretch.  I decided I've hit “old”  :'(, or maybe it was decided for me.

  • #23095

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Yes, my peak mileage this year in these last months dropped.  I did hit some actual high miles way, way back base mileage.  This year, I really felt I needed more recovery in the final stretch.

    Actually, I think that's perfect. Peak out on volume when volume is the focus, which is during base phase. When the focus shifts toward quality, the volume comes down a bit. Make sure you're getting the recovery you need when you're working those intense workouts hard. If that's a sign of getting old, I must be prematurely old because that's what I've been doing for some time and I don't believe my age gives me justification for saying I'm getting old.

  • #23096

    r-at-work
    Member

    This year, I really felt I needed more recovery in the final stretch.  I decided I've hit “old”  :'(, or maybe it was decided for me.

    gee… and I thought I was old… 53… what I have found apart from the running is that the rest of my life plays an increasing part in how I feel, train & run… when work is without stress, the family is working together and I get good nutrition and lots of rest I seem to recover easily… but the converse is true and this winter/spring I had too much going on in the rest of my life and it showed in my running (not how I wanted to do Boston but there was no turning back)… right now, I'm hoping that the current dilema in my life eases a bit as I start building miles again… but that's my problem…

    Sue-
    before you decide or let anyone else decide that you are “old”… take a look at everything else… okay, so you may not be in your 20s, but you still should have a lot of 'kick' left…
    -Rita

  • #23097

    MothAudio
    Member

    I'm also doing what is unheard of from any program in that I “still” do repeats which like Chris mentioned is used 0% in a marathon.  However, I believe that repeats keep you honest in believing what is “tough”.   Going back and running at 10k pace after 4 weeks of 400-800s will seem “easy”…….so guess what you get to do.  Run your tempo runs faster.  well, running tempo runs faster isn't that bad and it makes your MP seem like a Sunday morning jog……so what do you do?  you run MP faster. 

    Thanks Sue, this is essentially the heart of my training philosophy from the early 80's. In trying to “improve” on that formula it seems I've lost sight of that these last few years. So over the Winter I decided to basically return to this schedule for the 1st half of the year. And while the two schedules appear far different in volume and structure the philosophy is very similar.

  • #23098

    MothAudio
    Member

    Even though I've increased miles these last three years [1869 – '05 / 2026 – '06 P.B. / 2500 projected – '07] I'm not convinced that is the source of my problem. Lack of racing at the shorter distances and too much marathon training hurt me. This Spring I've done more 10k workouts but not been rewarded with any positive race results [yet]. I was going to extend my “speed phase” into my marathon schedule but based on race results my weakness at the moment is tempo conditioning, not lack of speed. So I've decided to include a weekly tempo workout into my 6 week base-building phase beginning June 11th. I'll continue to run shorter races as well: 10k tomarrow, another or 5k in a few weeks and a 5k July 4th. My tentitive schedule looks like this.

    June 11 – July 15: Base+tempo [6 weeks]

    July 16 – August 26: Speed [6 weeks]

    August 27 – September 30: Marathon specific – tempo/MP/hills [5 weeks]

    October 1 – October 20: Taper [2 weeks]

    October 21: Goal race

    This is an outline of the Running Times schedule from last Fall. As for specifics on the types of workouts I do in each phase I'll base that on feedback from races and my current fitness. I'll definately race more often than last year and focus on races in the 5k-10k range. I'll do a longer tune up race [half] in September, about a one out from the marathon. As far as mileage goals I do not think I'll have a specific goal in mind. My focus will be more on hitting specific paces in my workouts and races [based on my 3:20 goal]. I'll keep the framework of Pfitz schedule where I'll incorporate a mid-week medium long run [13-15 miles]. I'll also tweak the LR schedule and try to pop a few quality LRs where I'm finishing up at MP [something I found success with 15 years ago]. Feel free to chime in with any comments or suggestions.

    MikE

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