Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What should I include in my marathon training plan

For several weeks now, I have been trying to put together my fall marathon plan. But, let's be honest it hasn't been easy. I have set for myself the goal of running a sub 2:40 marathon at Twin Cities this fall and I want to put together the right plan to achieve it.

That being said, I have been using my running log from the last 3 years for analysis. One would think that after running 5 marathons in the last 2.5 years, I would be close to having a formula that would work.

And maybe I do, but I don't like what my formula is telling me. Also my analysis from my running log is telling me something that I suspected and possibly should have known.

In the last 2.5 years, I have run a 2:38, 2:39, 2 x 2:42s, and 2:43, but not in that order.

In reading through my running logs here's what I discovered.

After running a sub 2:40 time:

  • My body was more beat up/sore
  • I was more likely to get an injury
  • I was more likely to get sick
  • My recovery time was longer
  • And here's the kicker – I ran less mileage

When I ran a time over 2:40

  • My recovery period was shorter – days vs. weeks
  • I didn't have any injuries to speak of
  • I didn't get sick afterwards
  • The constant theme in my logs was that I was tired
  • And, I ran a lot of mileage – as much as 400 miles in a month.


Thus, you can see dilemma. Running a lot of miles tends to better prepare me to handle the stress of the marathon, but it doesn't necessarily allow me to produce the best results. On the other hand, keeping my mileage down allows me to go harder on race day, but leaves me hobbling along for the next week, very injury prone, and a good chance of getting sick. But with the satisfaction that on race day I was fast.

Pretty much the moral to the story is that I was probably too tired from the miles so I was not recovering enough. And therefore on race day, I am unable to dig out the deep effort required for a marathon.

There is just one more day before I start my training for Twin Cities, so maybe I will just plan out the first month only and see how it goes.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Mark Hadley said...

Hi Bill,

Have you ever thought of a 9 day microcycle instead of a 7 day one. It could help you do both of the things you liked about your past programs - hold a higher mileage but also stay recovered and not break down.

Basically it would be a stress day followed by 2 easy days. With every 3rd stress day being a long run (maybe the other two are a tempo run and speed workout). With 2 easy days between stress workouts you can hold a little higher mileage on them while still feeling recovered.

The Brooks-Hanson uses this type of pattern and many of Canova's marathoners do as well.

Just a thought anyways.


Cool Down Runner said...

I must admit that I have been stuck in the 7 day rut for a very long time. Maybe it is time to shift to a 9 day cycle.

Thanks for the suggestion.