Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Marathon Training Plan(s)

Sahara Marathon Training Plan

Originally, I'd created a plan that had John and I start training in October. This had a gradual build up of mileage with the plan to do a full length marathon a month before race day (on my Birthday in fact) as a preparation for the race.

You can download my original Sahara Marathon Training Plan and have a look. The idea was that we could print it off and stick it on the wall and tick off and record times for each session and share our successes with each other.

My coach suggested that doing a marathon before the actual date was madness as the risk of injury was too great but that as long as there was a full month before race day, it would probably be OK. My thoughts were along the lines of "well what if we'd been training for an ultra? We'd be doing longer than marathon length as part of our training, so what's the problem with doing a marathon length as part of the training for a marathon?"

Most of the marathon training advice I read online backs up the initial opinion of my coach and I've no yet had a good answer to my thoughts. I guess it comes from the idea that many many people run marathons each year, but considerably fewer run ultras and the science behind ultra-marathon training is lagging behind the marathon training science purely because there's less/no money in it.

Delays, Injury and the 11 week marathon training plan

In late October, I hurt my foot a little and had to take a week or two off and then again in November. Now it's December and we have 11 weeks before the race!

Sadly we're no longer looking at running the race at any kind of decent pace. Now we're training just to get through it :-( I'm actually not that upset because after speaking to a previous runner, they said that while they normally run a marathon in 3:30, they took 5hrs because of the sand! So running a rocket pace isn't a priority for this charity race (a quick reminder that this is for charity and they need your donation please).

So, I created a new, gentler plan and sent it off to my coach, Louise at Run to Become, to check through. It seems that I'm generally too hard on myself because she quickly came back with an even more gentle plan and some great ideas about how to run/pace and really emphasised the importance of the long run over every other kind of running we do on our training.

The Revised Plan

So here it is. The revised plan that will (WILL!) see me through to race day.

A sample 11 or 12 week Marathon Training plan that I'm using for my Sahara Marathon in Feb.

There are some important notes that came with the plan:

Recovery Runs

Recovery runs are short-distance runs at an easy pace to accelerate recovery for your next workout.

Cross Training (CT)

Cross training refers to easy walking, cycling or swimming. On Cross Training days you can choose to take a complete rest or do some light cross training.

Aerobic Runs

A moderate-effort run is a standard element of your marathon preparation. Aerobic runs are usually done at a pace that is 20 percent slower than the marathon race pace.

Long Runs

According to the following Marathon Training tips page, the main goal of the marathon long run is to build enough endurance for your marathon race. Depending on your level, these runs usually start at 10-12 miles in length and build up to 20-22 miles. The farther you run, the more time you need for your recovery.

Marathon Pace (MP) runs

These runs are partly done at your predicted marathon pace. So, for example: "18 mi long run / 10 mi MP" means that 10 of those 18 miles should be done at marathon pace.

Lactate-Threshold (LT) runs

Lactate-threshold runs are tempo runs of at least 20-25 minutes at this so-called lactate-threshold pace. Depending on your level, these runs are usually around 15K to half marathon pace. If an aerobic run of 10 miles calls for 5 miles LT, 

I'm not sure I get some of these different run types

I'm training to run the race barefoot style, part of which means a cadence of 180 steps per minute or greater. The difficulty with this is that the difference in pace between the different run types listed above is negligible. 

If I run at Marathon Pace, I'm running really slowly with short, high cadence steps trying to keep my heart rate in the "aerobic zone" (check out the following web page on heart rate zones). The problem is that running 20% slower doesn't involve 20% less effort. 

I still have to keep the cadence high and the steps short, but at that speed I really can walk just as fast, so how do I run an aerobic run at a 20% slower speed than my marathon pace?

The only really easy ones are the LT ones as that's about where I've always run. All my running over the last year has been with a heart rate in the 160-170 range and if I just run as I feel, I generally run at a heart rate of 163, but that's well inside the anaerobic band (past the lactate threshold), so again I'm struggling to run in the aerobic zone.

That said, I've been making a real effort to find and stay inside the aerobic zone and my coaching has definitely helped me on that front and I feel like I'm getting closer.

I guess I'll just have to train and see how I adapt. 

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