3 Runs Per Week Schedule



  • I am a Marathon virgin - and was looking for some advice from some of the veterans on this blog - and those doing the Firman plan.  I ran a couple of half marathons Oct / Nov last year and was in the range of 1.31-1.33.

     I am now 4 weeks into training  - and am trying to set a realistic goal for myself - and am torn between 3.15 or 3.30 - Not sure why it has to be a round number, but anyway....

    I am following (religously) the Firman 3 days a week plan - but have decided that I need to do one extra run a week at Marathon pace.  Thus this week has been:

    Sunday - 16 miles at 8.11; Monday - Rest; Tuesday - 9 x Yasso 800s at 3.15; Wednesday - Cross train - Boot camp; Thursday - 7 miles - 2 miles easy, 5 miles at 7.15; Today - 8 miles at 7.26 ; Tomorrow - Rest, Sunday - 18 miles at 8.11

    Ahead of last week - I had never run past 13 miles - the 16 miles was not fun (mentally tough 10-14 miles) but felt a million bucks at the end.

    My key question is - is 3.15 attainable for me (injury and doing the training permitting)?  Will the 3 days a week (plus my one extra) get me there - Or I am just going to set myself up for disappointment?  Would I be better targetting 3.30 or 3.25 and then looking to outperform this time?

    Any thoughts/ help much appreciated. 

  • Hi The Rat!  I'm maybe not the best person to give advice as my times are quite a bit slower than yours and I have only just started following the Furman schedule over the last couple of weeks.

     But for what it's worth, according to the Runners World calculators on this site your half marathon time would be equal to a marathon time of  3 hours 11 mins.  Obviously this is just a rough guide and also depends on whether your endurance or speed is your strong point.  I find the double your half marathon time and add 20 mins seems quite accurate.  Again this is only a guide.  If I had your speed I would probably aim for 3.15-3.20 but probably best to see what the other runners on this forum think.  Good luck and let us know how your training is going.

     Well, 17 miles for me tonight.  A wee bit faster than my last couple of long runs and I actually finished quite strong and felt good at the end.  So I feel like I am progressing slowly but surely!  How's everyone else getting on?

  • Just to add - I'm looking at the Run Less Run Faster book just now.  For the 3:15 schedule it says you should be able to run a half in 1.33.30 so if I were you I would go for it!  Well done with your training by the way. image
  • Just back from my LSR- 'sposed to be 29km at 10.2 kph, but bailed out at 21.5 km due to lightheadedness and spots before the eyes!!- just a lack of fuel- I had this problem  getting past 18km when traing for my last marathon- it takes a few long runs for my metabolism to realise that I need to switch to long run mode.............Oh, and the 1/2 bottle of wine and large whisky last night didn't help!

    A lot happier than last week, though, and this has been a relatively big week for me, mileage-wise, so onwards and upwards.

  • The Rat - What mileage have you been doing per week up to now over the last 3 months?  The Furman schedule is best entered into with at least 20 miles per week of good quality running - ie tempos, intervals and long runs (your max of 13 is ok so long as it wasn't a one off and outside the last month).

     imageHowever, don't fret - your time of 1:30ish is good particularly considering your training to achieve it must have been sub-optimal (normally your longest run would be the race distance plus 20% EXCEPT for the marathon) - so clearly you have natural talent and endurance which can only be a good thing for the marathon.

    What worries me most is your enthusiasm!!!!  Excessive training, considerably higher then normal workload with greater speed leads unfortunately to injury (unless you are very well biomechanically structured).

    I suggest you for now at least stick to the Furman schedule and ditch your additional weekly session.  Give yourself 4 weeks and if you don't develop any persistent or growing pain then add in the additional session and monitor carefully.  BUT you don't need the additional sessions if the 3 key sessions are performed as directed and the 2 cross training is tiring but not killing with 1 recovery (slow and easy 4-5 miles)

    I suggest you set an A, B and C objective (A dream time, B strong target, C good time)  For you I suggest a 3:10, 3:15 & 3:30.  Which are all very respectilble times and you might just be surprised if your training sticks to schedule and you don't get injured.

    I pass on this advice based on 5 years running for which I have continuously and steadily improved based on an interval, tempo and long run principle just like the Furman schedules.

    My targets are sub 2:45, sub 3:00 and sub 3:15 - which are targets that are achieveable based on form, worthy and good for age (so I can try again next year without the ballot to reach my potential!).  This is my 2nd marathon and I have alot prove - the last was in 1996, when I popped at 21 miles and finished in 3:35 - in those days I was more a footballer than runner and my compromised training was my undoing.

     Look forward to your response.....

  • Morning everyone...what a great feeling...rest day!!, after the 17 miler on the schedule I did yesterday. I am following this programme for the first time as I have had probs with knees and ankles with 6 runs per week programmes in the past. Despite the intensity of this programme and the fact that every run is very demanding, I am actually enjoying it????  I do find some of the speed work horribly quick however?? Whats everyone else think?

  • Yep - the speed work is quick.

     I have 2 coping strategies for this:

    1) What are the most important key sessions for a marathon?  Answer: Long run and tempos

    2) If you are aging like me then speed is the first thing to go in comparison to stamina - look at the age formulas for distance 5k to marathon in the Run Less RunFaster book.

    so do your best push yourself on the speed sessions and get as near to the target times, consistently over the session as possible.

     What else can you do?image

  • Thanks everyone for the responses.

    Lou7 - thanks, agree with what the books say, my worry is that by setting such a tough time target of 3.15 I may be setting myself up for disappointment

     Quickstepper - thanks as well, I trained on 3/4 runs a week for the 3 months into mid-November.  As you forecast my runs were focused much shorter, usually 12 miles max, mainly 10 miles.  Had to take dec off, mixture of tendon problem in my ankle (now sorted), and too many Christmas parties!!  Have been back into since 27th Dec pretty full on.   I know you are sooo right and I should stick to 3 runs a week schedule, and not try to sneak one in, as I am sure it will lead to aches and pains and ultimately injury.

     Am feeling great today - had an 18 miles at 8.11 scheduled and was dreading it - and when alarm went at 6 and I heard the rain I nearly postponed till tomorrow - as it was I went out and felt great, got to 18 miles on target and close to home there is a 2.5 mile circuit so I added this on - and finished 20.5 miles.  First time ever close to this distance - and I feel mentally a weight off my shoulders.

    Thanks to all for responses - forums like this are so helpful for me, as (a) I prefer to run and train on my own, and (b) my wife thinks I am mad or stupid - so it is good to test thoughts with others.  

  • Well done with your run today - you are well ahead of schedule!  I like Quickstepper's suggestion of an A, B, and C objective on targets.  You can always adjust your target nearer the time depending on how the training is going.  I've got my realistic (sub 4) target and dream (3.45) target for the marathon which I'm hoping to achieve over my next 2 marathons. 

    My non running friends/family also think I am mad or stupid, so these forums are great for sharing thoughts and ideas.

  • The Rat - My wife thinks I am mad too - your wife though does have a point - 6AM on a Sunday!!!!

     As for your run 20.5 miles! You certainly have the mental strength to succeed (6 am in the rain too).

    Ultimately, you know you body and are the only one that can listen to it but it sounds like you have a good idea what you are doing with the 3 month lead in etc  Power to you.

    I too train alone as I like to fit it round work and home life plus there are not too many guys in this area who could come out for a sub 2 hour 17 miler training run on a Sunday (6:56 average with 1800 ft ascent). You got me thinking yesterday maybe I need to train a bit harder on the long runs....

    I'm up at the lazy time of 6:20 tomorrow to get in 35 minutes of swimming - my knees feel a little achy from today's exercise.

    Lou7 - the loneliness of the long distance runner, only we know how good it makes us feel - glad my suggest struck a chord.

    Keep foruming.

  • Hi everyone

    Haven't posted for a couple of weeks but have been logging on to read how everyones training is going .I think i am a bit of a tortoise compared to most people on this thread.Done my 17 miler saturday morning in 2hrs 28mins (8.43 m/m) which was a bit quicker than planned but i was running with a mate who is a tad bit quicker than me.Only problem was a blister right in the middle of my left foot,never had one there before only thing i can think of is that my trainers are losing some of their cushioning.They have only done 350 miles but that does include the Snowdonia marathon so perhaps it is time to get my new ones out of the box.

    Hope everyones training is going well.I see that this weekend it is a 20 miler ! seems quite early in the training for a 20.Dont know weather to go for it at a slower pace or to bottle it and do less miles.Just wondered what the benefits are of doing big miles early on are (week 4 ) .        

  • Yup RR- I'm struggling with the early high mileage too- pulled up on saturday's LSR at 21.5km, rather than scheduled 29km, - totally out of fuel- spots before the eyes- I know, based on previous experience, that in 2 weeks time, I'll be better for it, and this is the reason that I, like someone else (sorry- forgot who) do my LSR on a treadmill- I'd be nervous of this happening when I was miles from home, 'cos once it does, I ain't going any further!

    I'll do more outside long runs when I'm confident at the distances.

    Spinning  class as cross training this am- boy that's hard work!

  • Tricialitt- sorry to hear about your saturday run, i know that some weeks it just doesnt happen but it makes you feel even better on the weeks when everything does come together.Are you going to do 20 miles this weekend coming? and on a treadmill,total respect, i can't even do 3 miles on a treadmill withhout feeling weird. Do you do energy gels? when i am feeling a bit yuk during a run i pop a gel and it seems to work,whether it is all in the mind i am not to sure.

    P.S Did i see you on the Loch ness forum?  

  • Reydon Rover - What shape are your socks in - this could be the cheap answer as 350 miles isn't too much for a shoe - unless you are a heavy lander!

     Keep your early 20 miler slow (60 sec off Marathon pace is what isr ecommended.  Definitely take gels, with water but do it before you feel yuk!

    Tricliatt - Rather than a tread could you plan a 4 mile loop - it has to be more interesting?

  • I agree - a long run on a treadmill would be torture for me!  (Even more torture than a long run already is!).  But I suppose we are all different!

    I was just thinking 20 miles already is very soon too - can we keep this up til April?  Still 13 weeks to go.

    Reydon Rover - don't worry about your pace - you are considerably faster than me.  I'm hoping to pick the pace up after I have completed my first 20 miler.  Will be good to hear everyone's first 20 mile report. - Good luck everyone.  I have booked myself in for a massage the next day.  Decided to treat myself after each 20 miler.

  • Liz Yelling wrote (see)
    Just a word of warning to those doing London and are already doing 20 mile runs! Back off, a little, you now have 13 weeks, you should only just be starting to build on your long runs, and running for 2 hours max right now and building on time and pace. (If I was running I would only just be starting to progress my runs from 1 hour 40 mins at this point). You want to arrive fit and fresh not exhausted on the start line! Plan your long runs up to the race day and make sure you are not running over 20 miles or more every weekend between now and race day! Just my point of view! Unless you are an ultra running of course!

    I've just read this on the Lucozade Sport 3:15 thread - Sue I think.  From Liz Yelling too!  I know they are following different schedules but it makes you think.

  • Lou7 - I responded to her post querying this but she hasn't yet responded. Last year I got up to 20 quick as I think it then takes a huge amount of pressure of you in terms of trying to fit five in. I queried that running them all back to back in the latter stages is quite risky and an illness or injury could cause you to miss 3 of the 5 long runs. I also don't like to do them back to back as they take up a lot of the weekend which is unfair on my family and I think I would be exhausted.

    From this week on on will try to do one every two or every three weeks. The first one is tough but they pretty rapidly get easier. As we are all running only three times a week, we should have enough time to recover from them, maybe if you're running 5 or 6 times a week, its too early as you are still getting used to running for so many days. I think Furman starts the 20's now doesn't it? I did ask her whether she thought I might be missing out on some benefit of running them back to back in the later stages - it will be interesting to see what she says.

    Primarily though for me it serves me well. Working and having 3 kids, life is not always ideal and gambling that in March there won't be any weekend that you won't have some issue or other commitment that stops me from running is risky. I also remember last year so may posts with people being injured in the second half and feeling that they needed to play catch up in the time they should be tapering and doing 20 mile runs.

    It depends what your goals are but it worked  for me last year and I'm doing 20 tomorrow.

  • Thanks, Astride - what you say makes perfect sense and I am now actually quite looking forward to my 20 miler on Sunday.  The pace seems quite easy for this first one too, so bring it on!

    I need some reassurance after another messed up interval session this morning.  I just can't get the hang of them if I try them outside.  Doing ok on the treadmill & 1or 2% incline but out on the roads it just doesn't come together.  Maybe it were different if I had access to a proper track but as it stands, I don't and have to make do with the local park which isn't 100% flat and involves dodging dogs and their walkers. Just looking for excuses image

    Doing ok on the tempo & long runs which, somehow I've managed to complete a few seconds per mile faster than I had to because I felt really good and strong throughout all of them.  I probably have to face facts and realise that I am never gonna be a fast runner.

  • Astride - I fully agree with your thoughts, and the 3 a week plan gets a few in early now, (first one this weekend)  so you are in good shape for later (when injuries and or families may make it more difficult).  As this is my first marathon, and my speed is good on HMs, I cannot see anyway of getting my endurance up without pounding out 5 or 6 x 20 miles over the next 10 weeks - the plan gives me one very long 20 mile, then an shorter 16 / 18 the next weekend so lots of time to recover.  Liz is an elite athlete and I have a feeling with her base fitness and endurance she needs a different plan from us normal punters.

    Sch - I too struggle with the intervals - 5 x 1K at 3.45 this morning, and I was struggling badly after one, though managed to get through, albeit with much longer recovery inbetween.  I too have struggled to find a track, or a flat path etc - I have settled on a quiet bit of pavement that is 800-900M long so I can judge my distances easy, and when I run at 6.30am it is always deserted so it works really well for me.  Other thing I am learning is when I try and sprint the intervals I really struggle, as I cannot sprint that far - however when I get into my head that I can glide I find I hold the pace much better and am more efficient.

  • Thanks, Rat.  Interesting theory about gliding vs. sprinting -- I will deffo give that a go.  Coz I tend to sprint off like a bat out of hell just to run out of steam after 200m.  Oh, I wish we could just do 800m intervals - those I seem to manage quite well, even outside.  I did a lot of Yassos for my Berlin marathon last year.  Mind you, they were nowhere near as fast as the stuff those Furman guys make us do.
  • Quickstepper- My socks are in quite good nick as they are fairly new and good makes(thorlos and hilly twin skin).But as a matter of interest when would you recommend to change your socks?I probably am a heavy lander so perhaps my shoes have had it, they were ok untill i got up to around 13/14 miles and this has happened for the last 2 weeks.   
  • Thanks Astride and everyone for your posts re this.  It's really got me thinking but to hell with it, I'm doing 20 miles this weekend as I'm quite enjoying the Furman schedule.  I got injured last year (torn calf) late February and by the time I had recovered enough to run again had lost alot of fitness and managed only one 20 miler before the marathon with a 1 min walk break every 5 miles.  My calf was still a bit dodgy on the day but I had a charity place and didn't want to let them down.  I just wonder if I had done a couple of 20 milers earlier if that would've helped.  As you say by mid-late schedule I was running out of time.  It will be interesting to see what Liz replies to your post.  It's still 5 x 20 milers, just spread out a bit more, which I feel will also suit me better.  I just panicked a bit when I read it!  Also Liz is saying she would only be at about 1 hour 40 mins just now - that would be about 11 or 12 miles for me! 

    I'm the same as you guys with the intervals, struggling with the pace and short recoveries a bit but I'm still trying hard!  Got my tempo run tonight - I quite enjoy them and seem to hit the target times more easily.  Oh I hope I haven't gone and jinked my run now!

    P.S.  The Rat - I read your 5 x 1k at 3.45 this morning to mean that you were running at 3.45am!!!! Doh!  I get it now!

  • I attempted the 5 * 1k at 3.45 today only managed 1 of them and had to slow down for the remainder, the intervals are tough. But if they were easy i would be looking at a faster marathon time wouldn't I. I am supposed to do 20 this weekend but struggled to do 16 last Sunday, and I couldn't do it at the pace I was supposed to, so I will try and cover the 16 again (without having to walk) and if I can do that up it to 18, and then perhaps 20.
  • Just read Liz and Astride's replies on the 3.15 thread.  All very interesting!  I suppose at the end of the day we are all different.  I'm sticking with the Furman for now!
  • Furman suggests my 1k reps should be at 3:33 pace - I'm not sure I could do one at this speed but possibly something to aim for towards the end of the 16 weeks. I did mine at the weekend in 3:48, which is actually my 5k race pace, and I was pleased with that. The Rat gives some good advice. I think the aim is consistency across all 5 reps. Try starting at a nice comfortable tempo pace then gradually start to crank it up a bit after a few hundred metres.

    Not Greased - sounds like a very sensible plan for me. If you long runs and interval runs you are trying to keep pace with, how are you assessing your pace? From a recent race or from your planned marathon time. I struggle to get the interval times - anywhere near in fact - but I usually do the LSR's quite comfortably.

    Lou7 - I'm not sure Liz fully answered my question but its really hard to know where she's soming from. I also understand that it's hard for her to give advice to people without knowing their running background too. It possibly is a gamble to run 20 this early on and to be honest you do start to get sick of them by the 4th or 5th one but I'd imagine you would whenever you do them. It's great when the last one is done though.

  • I did a 5k treddie run to get my time and did it in 20 minutes, I felt I had some left in the tank so have used this as my base for assessing the pace. I just think that I have neglected the long runs really since September and I am trying to jump up a bit too much. I know from doing an IronMan that I can put my body through a lot, but possibly I need to just ease into it a bit more.
  • I love how we all trust a schedule in a book based on 20 years of science rather than a single professional runner - being famous doesn't make you all knowing!!!!!!!!image

  • Reydon Rover - Were you wearing your twin skins - these can actually create blisters if they crease or roll up and extended long runs do find out weaknesses....- I'd stick to your thorlos for the long runs.

     As for when I change my socks? without fail after a run!!!!!image

     As for the intervals - I get the feeling none of us are running on a track which considerable aids the pace so we should cut ourselves some slack.  Astride is right, consistently paced intervals that you have to work (cruise) hard on will give good returns and improve running economy and psychologically make the long pace seem slower.  I'm missing the longer interval paces by a couple of seconds - I pu it down to slope variation, asphalt not track and age!

  • Fish52Fish52 ✭✭✭
    Well I hope that 3 runs per week is successful. I'm risking another FLM pb on Furman, having had to ditch more regular marathon build ups due to a couple of pathetic knees.

    Astride - nice to see you on this thread - I can't keep up with the 3:15 thread these days - hope that doesn't happen on 26th April too! Incidentally, my knees are both fine thanks and holding up well. limiting running to 3 days certainly helps. I also do a couple of days 45-60 mins turbo trainer and 2 days 25 min exercise circuit.

    Agree with the comments about the track repeats - I find it almost impossible to hit the target times based on my 5k and half marathon times on the Furman charts. The tempo runs and Long run times are spot on so far, which is encouraging.
  • Thanks everyone for comments and advice.  It's good to feel that I'm not alone in struggling with those intervals.  I actually  managed to be consistently bad over my 5x1k which I take as a good sign.  On previous attempts I got the first one just about right and then got slower & slower.  Now I manage the same off-pace over all repetitions, so getting there.  Who knows, a few weeks down the line these should become easier.

    Had a good, fast spinning session today and am now looking forward to my tempo run tomorrow.  Looks like it's gonna rain - ugh.  I may chicken out and do it on the treddie but then I always get bored after about 1 mile, so we'll see. 

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