Pete Pfitzinger's training plans

Has anyone followed Pete Pftinzinger's training plans, and if yes have they had any success in acheiving target time? thinking about following schedule for a Sept marathon.


  • I've seen a few of them, is there a link to the one you're specifying?
  • No, its out his book, I'm looking at the 55-70 miles per week one with a goal of a sub 3-15 marathon, my current PB is 3-23.

  • I have the Pfitzinger & Douglas book "Road Racing for Serious Runners" in my room, which I imagine has training plans that aren't totally different.

    I'm not an expert on training for marathons, but the priority looks to be based around raising lactic threshold - which is a key determinant for marathon running. The midweek medium-length run seems to top out around 14/15 miles, which is pretty good. The speed workouts tend to focus around improving VO2 max with intervals at 5 & 10k pace. While some 10k pace would certainly be beneficial, VO2 max isn't a big priority at marathon level so those sessions probably aren't as necessary.

    I would say it's a reasonable schedule. Good luck.

    *waits for Moraghan to disprove all he's just said* image

  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    I have it in front of me.  They are pretty solid plans and if you are going to go "off the shelf" it's about as good as it gets.

    Agree with The Duckinator - they have too much short rep vo2 max stuff. 

    I also think they probably do with a couple more 20+ long runs and overall there is a real lack of creativity with regards to the long runs and quality sessions (e.g. variable pacing etc).  You could also argue (although this depends on experience) that there is enough room to do a bit more high end aerobic running during the week (e.g steady state sections in medium long runs).

    Do yourself a favour though, whatever route you take don't decide on a time until you are well into your training.  To pick a time now is completely arse about face.

  • Thanks for the advice guys, I was basing my goal on my last half time 1 29.  One issue everyone gives me different advice on is what pace should long runs be, do you have any advice on that?

  • There's no one accepted pace to do run easily at (long runs should be roughly at easy pace too, mind). I'd personally say about 60-75 sec/mile slower than your current pace.

     Yes, current pace. Something to keep in mind is that you shouldn't be running your workouts at your aspirational pace, rather for now you should be running them at your CURRENT marathon pace. 

     Imagine it as climbing a set of stairs. Running the workouts at your current pace is like putting both feet on the step below the step you want to be on - your aspirational marathon time. You then have a better chance of climbing onto the step you want.

    Running them at aspirational pace all the time is like taking steps 2, even 3 at a time - you have a greater chance to fall. Towards the end of training (the last 5 or 6 weeks) you can run them at your aspirational pace to get accustomed to running at that pace.

    I hope that makes sense - I'm not to good with analogies. 

  • Thanks that makes lot of sense
  • The idea comes from this article (paragraph 3 on this page, specificly) in runningtimes. Those workouts are for 5k races, but the principles are mostly the same.
  • Pretty sure Pete Pfitzinger has a website, where his various training schedules are posted.
  • Probably does but i have absolutely no idea how to link to it!
  • Neither do I sorry.

    Try Google !

  • Elgin,



  • Thanks, I'm showing myself up as dumb blonde again image
  • Elgin

    Was the Pfitzinger site helpful ?

  • Yeah was helpful, but i'm looking at the schedule and am not sure how to fit in shorter races, can I for example use a half marathon instead of a long run, or should I also try to fit in a long run during the week.  Any advice would be most welcome!
  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    As a general rule swap out races for workouts based on the target physiology of the workout.  So, a 5k race instead of the VO2 max repeats, a 10k / 10m race instead of a tempo.

    Half marathons, in my opinion are best done instead of a slightly shorter long run.  E.g.  an 18 mile long run could be replaced by a 3m w-up || HM || 2m cool down.  Although obviously the race will be a lot more stressful.

    Not that I would suggest doing this all the time.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Do the P&D plans not schedule warm-up races as well?  Either way, i find the easiest way of fitting in races is to do them at the end of a 'cut-back' week.  At the business end of a marathon schedule I'd be doing 20M+ long runs 2 weeks out of 3.  On the down week I'd be maintaining the intensity of training sessions but reducing mileage from, say, 75 to 60-65 with a long run ~16 miles.  This would be a good time to schedule a HM, maybe 5-6 weeks out from the marathon.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Moraghan wrote (see)

    As a general rule swap out races for workouts based on the target physiology of the workout.  So, a 5k race instead of the VO2 max repeats, a 10k / 10m race instead of a tempo.

    Come to think of it, one of the advantages I found in training for an autumn rather than spring marathon is that there are more practical options for fitting shorter races into the schedule without buggering up the normal pattern.  During winter most road race options are on a Sunday, which generally means running a race instead of the long run, whereas in the summer there are mid-week options for 5k for example, where you can easily subsitute for a speed work out and get some race experience at the same time.

    (I even surprised myself by managing a long run the day after setting a 10k pb, without my legs feeling like total shite.)

  • chickstachicksta ✭✭✭
    Hi Elgin,  used the P&D 55-70 mile schedule for the first time to train for VLM2010 and got a 16 min PB (3:38), so yes, I think they do work.  You will probably curse them about 6 weeks in for making you do yet another medium-long midweek run (these are generally 15 milers) but I think the additional longish runs are crucial in your marathon preparation.  I was able to run 26.2 miles comfortably, 2 dead even splits of 1:49 each and felt good throughout.  Apart from doing my vastus medialis in at mile 17 when I stopped abruptly to hug a friend it was a very comfortable run.   Hey, I'd never thought I'd say that about a marathon.  I'm known to die a slow and painful death from about mile 18 normally image 

    Listen to Moraghan, he's a legend when it comes to great advice.

    PhilPub:  I did struggle to find suitable Saturday races.  In fact, I didn't do a single one and just fitted in another 6-8 miler at an easy pace instead.  There are of course always parkruns but I guess 5k isn't really the optimal distance for a marathon training sharpener.

    With respect to pacing:  I paid zero attention to pace on my Garmin and trained purely by heart rate.  P&D give percentage brackets of HR for the different runs and I stuck to them religiously.  I. e. training was by effort, and not pace.  Of course I checked the pace afterwards and put it in my training log - it comes with the OCD image
    At the beginning of the programme, pace made very depressing reading but I stuck with it and saw it improve dramatically over the final 6 weeks.
  • Hi Chickadee, thanks for that, I've never managed a even paced marathon yet, that is my goal.  Planning to start the schedule next week its really just a natural progression on what i'm doing at moment.  Congrats on you PB!
  • Looks like a Pfizinger debate has started again on RW !
  • I did P&D 55-70 for my one and only marathon last fall. I was aiming for sub 2:55 and ended up just under 2:52. So I guess it "worked" though I have no way of saying if I had done another plan whether I'd have achieved my goal as well. I liked the medium long run midweek and think that's pretty key. I'd also tend to agree about the VO2 max stuff being a bit much. There's one workout that calls for 5k-pace intervals that's 2 days after the longest long run (22 miles I think) and I ended up straining my calf which meant I couldn't run for about 5 worrisome days, so I'd be careful about that one.
  • I did the P&D 12 week, 70 mile per week schedule aiming for sub 3.15, ran a very comfortable 3.09 and could have gone even quickly. Gets a big thumbs up from me.
  • All very encouraging going to give 18 week schedule a go starting Monday.

  • LS21LS21 ✭✭✭

    Another one who 'broadly' followed the 18 week 55-70 mpw schedule. I say broadly followed, cos I always had Tuesday as a rest day (for family reasons) and P+D have a quality session in there. So I ended up jiggling it round a bit, but mostly did the sessions. It helped me to run a 15 minute PB - 3'12 to 2'57, so thumbs-up here too.

    If I was doing it again I'd make sure I did all the Mara paced stuff they advocate. Too many of my Long Runs were time on feet jobs. Yes you need these to build an aerobic base, but I didn't step it up enough later in the programme where I should have. You need to get used to running at 7'20 pace (for 3'15 say), and to get into the 'hurt zone' a little bit on LSRs. Not EVERY LSR by any means, but certainly more frequently than I did. I also did a lot more 20 mile+ runs than they advocate - 10 were 20 miles or over actually. I personally think some of the LSRs are a bit light, so I did extra miles (but then I felt I had a weakness in my endurance, so I tried to address it).

    That's why I say broadly followed - work out if you have any weaker areas and try and address those as part of a solid programme - but don't be afraid to tweak it a bit to suit you.

    Good luck image

  • Thanks LS21,

     was going to tweak it to suit especially what days of the week to suit each session as i too am tied by family committments but am lucky enough to be able to do my long runs during the week occasionally. Great to hear from people whoe have followed the scedule and improved .

  • chickstachicksta ✭✭✭
    I second what LS 21 said.   The schedules can definitely do with more 20+ mile runs.  I amended mine slightly and ended up doing 1x20, 1x21, 3x22 and 1x24.  
  • can you buy this online or is just a boook?
  • I followed the 18 week 55-70mpw plan for my second marathon, run last Sunday. Knocked 20mins off last year's time and ran 3:01:32, having started the plan hoping for sub-3:10.

    Pete Pfitzinger's plan worked for me and I'll be following it again.
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