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Thanks for posting this Moraghan. Sound advice as always.
I'll admit to being one of those people who started running with the marathon as my aim, and over the years I've retained my fascination with the distance. However, I wish I'd approached it more cautiously. After starting out on a sub-4 I should have spent the next few years getting faster, not getting injured and slowing down which is what happened.
I know that a lot of people read these posts and think 'well I'm doing 3 days a week with a 20 miler at the end and I'm doing fine', but trust me - it'll wear you down eventually. 6 months ago I'd just run my 7th mara on 30 miles a week over 3-4 days, and came on here for advice on training for my next one. I took Moraghan's advice to increase my mileage throughout the week, not just on long runs. As it stands, 50 miles a week over 6 days now feels natural, and I've raced one PB after another since June (5k to half mara) - and aiming to break 3:45 for the marathon next week.
I always used to think that I couldn't maintain my marathon training all year round as it's be too exhausting, but looking back I was pushing my body for a few months at a time without giving myself the chance to build a decent fitness base. Once this mara's over I'm planning to maintain my weekly mileage at around 50, but concentrate on shorter distances over the next few months by reducing the long runs and adding some doubles a couple of days a week. In other words, adapt the content of the schedule rather than the quantity.
Twatt wrote (see)
I think that a good proportion of people on here may also take a slightly more laissez faire atitude to running. It is an outlet from our normal duties in life, and who's to say that a person who likes running marathons can't do it on say 30 miles per week if that's all they want to commit on a weekly basis.
This is true Twatt, but the danger is where people convince themselves that this is adequate training for racing the distance, i.e. pushing themselves. I know that a lot of people just like to complete the distance at whatever pace and do it quite comfortably, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that - but that's a very different kettle of bollocks.
Again there will be people who look at this and say 'nonsense, I ran X time on minimal training and did great' - yes, people do that. But in doing so they do risk getting injured or exhausted, and if they don't then it's probably a sign that they could be running faster!
Or that they are in fact Spiderman, which would be pretty cool.
Excellent thread Moraghan and great advice as usual. Sorry to impose but I have to ask a question about myself.
I started running in February 2009 at the age of 39 and like a lot of people kept increasing my race distance from a 10k (42:30) then a half marathon (1:37) and finally a marathon in October 2009. I only ran 3 times a week then (FIRST programme) and hit the wall badly and finish in 3:48 while on course for 3:30 at the 20 mile mark.
After this I changed my training and began a base building programme of slow running six times a week over the winter. I then used a P&D 55 mile schedule and by March I had ran a 1:32 half marathon and then two sub 3:30 marathons in May 28 days apart. Since then I have run another hillier half marathon in 1:32 and only last month ran a 10k in 38:21 despite not targetting the distance specifically.
From looking at my performances and the McMillan calculator it appears that I am much better the shorter the distance. A 38:21 10k suggests a marathon time of around 3 hours while I am only targeting sub 3:15 in Dublin which would still be a 12 minute PB.
One important point I haven’t mentioned is that before I took up running I had been rowing 5 x 5k a week on a Concept 2 rowing machine including intervals and tempo sessions lasting about 20 minutes. So do you think it possible that I have already ‘served my time’ at the lesser distances due to the rowing and developed a good aerobic base? Might I be someone who should continue to specifically train for the longer distance and my shorter distance times will also continue to improve? I would like to continue running races from 5k to marathon distance.
A typical training week for me in preparation for a marathon would be -
Tue – 11 to 15 miles majority at MP
Wed – 5 miles easy
Thur – 6 miles including either 800m or 1 mile intervals or a tempo session
Fri – Rest
Sat – 18 to 22 miles easy with some MP miles near the end
Sun – 6 miles easy including 10 x strides
Madame O - good points there, thanks.
Malc5 - it would be okay, but there are certainly more HM specific sessions (longer and wider range of paces) that you could be doing that would stand you in better stead.
Badbark - I'd say it's probably close to impossible to convert short distance times to marathons using that absolutely horrible FIRST schedule. Poor conversion is typical of that sort of schedule and is also typical of newcomers to the sport. It may also be simply due to the fact you are physiologically suited to the shorter distances but let's assume it isn't.
I'm tempted to say the non-running aerobic base will serve you well, but it doesn't actually seem to have done that good a job in terms of extending your speed through fatigue! So much of safe running progression is acclimatising the connective tissues and developing good neuromuscular function that can only be done through running. No doubt you can skip the body weight issues that hold so many runners back though.
I'd say with your suggested sensible schedule (lots of P & D there I see!) like you have you'll continue improve at all distances no matter which you concentrate on. Does your non-running base mean you can 'jump ahead' and reach your potential in the most effective manner as suggested on this thread - probably not.
So I guess your future long term goals would be the things to consider when deciding your short term approach.
Yet another lurker coming out of the closet and another of Moraghans "bad runners".
After a couple of years of running and about 15 10ks and Halfs and 1 marathon under my belt and not really making the gains I wanted to I've decided to finally buck up, get my finger out and start to train properly.
I sat down and looked at this years traing log while nursing my aching calves and just laughed.
What the hell was I thinking, theres just no way on gods earth I was going to break that elusive 1:45 half or 45min 10k on a paultry 25 - 30 miles a week. Oh I did try to increase the mileage, and managed if for about 2 weeks. Why was this you ask ? Well I was going too bloody fast and wiping myself out. So made it to 40 1 week and then droped back to 10-15 for another 2 and then the cycle of increasing mileage started all over again and me wondering "Hey whats going on ? I feel alright doing the work but after a couple of weeks Im knackered " The answer would be in that nearly all my runs where quality and very little was easy running.
So after the fits of laughter stopped I slapped myself an started from scratch with only easy mileage and its going pretty well.
Ive read lots of the fantastic advise from Moraghan and the other contribuors on these forums and just like to say thank you for imparting your pearls of wisdom, its made my running a lot more enjoyable and threads like these are like gold mines for us "bad runners"
Just got a little question about core work, How much should you be doing and when would you fit it into your schedule ? Im currently running 5 days a week, Friday + Saturday off, LSR on Sunday, will hopefully be making Saturday into another short easy run also. Currently on 30 mpw and heading up to 50 gradually.
Again many thanks Moraghan and others for your help
Moraghan wrote (see) Badbark - I'd say it's probably close to impossible to convert short distance times to marathons using that absolutely horrible FIRST schedule. Poor conversion is typical of that sort of schedule and is also typical of newcomers to the sport. It may also be simply due to the fact you are physiologically suited to the shorter distances but let's assume it isn't. I'm tempted to say the non-running aerobic base will serve you well, but it doesn't actually seem to have done that good a job in terms of extending your speed through fatigue! So much of safe running progression is acclimatising the connective tissues and developing good neuromuscular function that can only be done through running. No doubt you can skip the body weight issues that hold so many runners back though. I'd say with your suggested sensible schedule (lots of P & D there I see!) like you have you'll continue improve at all distances no matter which you concentrate on. Does your non-running base mean you can 'jump ahead' and reach your potential in the most effective manner as suggested on this thread - probably not. So I guess your future long term goals would be the things to consider when deciding your short term approach.
Thanks for the advice Moraghan you’ve given me food for thought.
My long term goals would be to break 3 hours for the marathon, 1:20 for the half and 36 minutes for the 10k so that I would be ranked with the UKA Power of 10. In the short term I want to achieve GFA qualfying times for London 2012 and New York 2013 marathons. If I break 3:15 in Dublin it will get me into London and maybe I will concentrate more on half marathons next year as a 1:30 half qualifies for New York.
Many thanks for posting this thread, really interesting stuff. If you haven't tired of giving out bespoke advice I'd be very grateful for your thoughts on my position.
I'm currently 48, going on 49. I ran quite alot at school but to no great standard. Gave up in my 20s and then took it up again in my late 30s, but just running 5 miles a couple of times a week for general fitness. Five years ago or so I ran a 10k and ran just over 40 minutes and thought that I might step up my training a bit with a view to getting under 40 minutes. A couple of years followed when I probably overdid it and keot getting injured and then I had a year when I managed six months or so of regular training and managed to to get my 10k time to 37 mins 12 secs. Having the usual running mentality my thinking was that having made that improvement off a certain level of training if I were to step up the training further I must get faster still. Since then I've had 2 or 3 years of what I like to think is decent training but further improvement has been glacially slow. Earlier this year I dipped under 37 mins by a few seconds but I keep thinking that for all the running I'm doing I ought to be showing more improvement (although reading this thread you may well tell me that "all" the running I'm doing is not enough!). I have a best 5k time of about 17.30 (set last year) and a best 10 mile time of about 63mins although I've only ever done two of these. I've never raced a half marathon or a marathon and have no plans to do so any time soon.
My weekly training generally looks something like this:
Tue: intervals (generally on a treadmill); 10x3mins or 4x8mins or 8x4 mins - something like that, about 30-35 mins fast running, just varied to prevent boredom. Done at current 10k goal pace (36mins) with 1 or 2 mins recovery at an easy jog
Wed: 40 mins easy run (7.30 min miles) or maybe a similar time on the cross trainer if my legs are feeling sore
Thur: steady run of about an hour (7 min mile pace)
Fri: 40 mins cross trainer or exercise bike
Sat: 5k park run; or hills (9x300m) or 20-30 min tempo run at 6.10 pace
Sun: 80-90min run at 7 min mile pace
I also go to the gym 3 times a week and do general conditioning with the emphasis on leg strengthening stuff.
Maybe my current level is all I can expect at my age, not being blessed with any particular talent but if there is something I can do to get to the next level before old age catches up with me I'd be very grateful to hear it.
Thanks in advance.
PS: Apologies for reposting this which I previously posted on the other thread. I'm not sure which one Moraghan is still monitoring
Would love to do some park runs none near enough for me to go to would take me a good 90 minutes minimum to get there. Nonetheless i do a 5km most months in Hyde Park have a few mile races coming up over the winter once a month except for Decemberso looking forward to that
I'd definitely get off the treadmill - you're missing most of the benefits of doing quality work by doing it on one of those contraptions.
I'm a fan of making your hard days hard and your easy days easy.
Therefore I'd schedule two quality days and make the rest of the runs at an easy pace - which for you would be 7:30 p / mile or slower. At the moment only one of your runs qualifies as being truly easy imo.
By backing off on the non-quality days you might be able to turn one of your cross training days into an extra run - the more the better as long as you are recovering sufficiently to nail the quality work.
I think the majority of your tempo running should be slower at around marathon / hm pace, but be longer in duration. The short tempos are much overused in my opinion. An initial goal of 45 minutes at MP with a decent warm-up would be a good start and then you can start to make things more interesting / challenging.
Park runs / hills / 10k pace work all have their place - just not done on a treadmill.
Going forward I'd schedule 1 longer quality workout at continuous paces per week (MP / HMP / bit of tempo mixed in maybe) and 1 shorter rep quality workout based around current 10k pace / 8k pace / 5k pace. You'd probably want to change things up every 4 weeks or so to keep the body on its toes.
Hope that's helpful despite being fairly vague.
Many thanks for your reply Moraghan.
In terms of marathon/half marathon pace, I'd be guessing a bit having never raced those distances. My guess would be that marathon pace would be about 7 min/mile and half marathon pace 6.30 min/mile. Does that sound about right to you based on my 10k time?
next2nuthin - According to McMillan a 37:12 10k equates to 6:40 pace for a marathon and about 6:20 for a half. Although I find the McMillan longer distance predictions to be a little on the sharp side.
N2N - I'm 47 and I would love to be stuck at 37min for 10k!! Well done on your achievements
Badbark - thanks for that. The marathon pace certainly seems a little sharp judging what other runners at my club do for the marathon who run around the same time as me for 10k. The half marathon pace seems a bit more realistic.
Joe - cheers. I'm generally happy with my level but can't quite understand why, three years (and probably 6,000 miles of training) after running around 37 mins for 10k, I'm not really any further forward. I'm just wondering if I have the motivation for another winter of dark, cold early morning training!
N2N - 37min for 10k would suggest that if you were to train for a marathon, sub-3 (6:53/m) could be an achievable goal. However, since you've not been doing marathon training, I would say that something around 7:00/m would be a good 'theoretical MP' to use for the sort of sessions Moraghan is recommending. I see you're already doing a one hour steady run on a Thursday; I'd be tempted to make this into a 'semi-long run' up to 90 mins, with an easy warm-up and cool-down tagged on, and at the same time increase the length of your long run to 2 hours, but all at an easy pace (8:00 - 8:30/m).
The vast majority of the year it's largely irrelevant what you personally could run for the half marathon or marathon - they are just intensity levels / paces. So, go ahead and use Macmillan predictions if you wish and add 10 seconds on to the HM and MP predictions to create a range. They are close enough.
However, don't use your PB to calculate this use a recent race time. You are trying to train according to current fitness and not an elusive fitness of the past.
Moraghan - Great thread.
Why do you describe the FIRST schedule as absolutely horrible?I've followed the FIRST schedule since Jan 08 and run 5 marathons (3 london and 2 Edinburgh in times ranging from 3:05 to 3:14). I also ran a half in 1:23.
On the '3 runs a week successful?' thread, there are 2 runners who ran 2:59 and 2:47 following FIRST.
If followed to the letter, the schedules are extremely tough and have made me a stronger runner with fewer injuries. I shall be using FIRST for VLM 2011.
I guess we're going to come at this from different directions! Absolute times are no indication of a good marathon program.
You ran a 1:23 HM and have 5 marathon times between 3:05 to 3:14 so you're between 10 and 19 minutes off what you could potentially be off your half marathon time. That's what the FIRST program does - guarantees a reasonably poor conversion.
In fact you seem to have done better than most despite the training program you're following. You could be well under sub-3 this time next year with a proper program if you were willing to do the extra running involved.
Particularly as the FIRST program isn't going to prepare you for much of a half marathon either.
More detailed thoughts on the FIRST program here:
Still reading all this with interest.
I think I've read before your low opinion of treadmill training and so I wasn't surprised when you picked me up on that when you kindly cast your eye over my training in the earlier post. I'd be interested to know why you hold that view as it seems to me that it gives a controlled environment for running exactly the pace you want to hit. This is particularly so for tempo runs where it's easy to run too fast or two slow or to have the pace vary between the two when concentration wavers. Also at this time of year it's warm and light in the gym (given I do most of my training first thing in the morning) and also there is a cushioning on the treadmill compared with pounding away on the roads.
Obviously there is the issue of running on a moving belt rather than on a stationary road and there's no wind resistance but that can be compensated for by setting the treadmill on a slight incline.
So I can see that it's not quite the same as running outside but I'm interested that you are so dismissive of treadmill running. Are others of a similar view that treadmill training is largely a waste of training time?
PhilPub wrote (see)
*lol* I've never seen a marathon training schedule compared to Rick Astley before. That's tickled me that has.
iFish wrote (see)
If followed to the letter, the schedules are extremely tough and have made me a stronger runner with fewer injuries.
My question would be for both of those statements, "Compared to what?" It is very difficult to isolate the cause of a particular effect in an experiment of one with so many variables.
A Swedish study did a comparison of fartlek and interval training and discovered the ultimate output was that the fartlekkers were faster on average. Given that the intervallers got faster more quickly during the training periods, the ultimate output was realised to be because more of the fartlekkers turned up to races and time trials during the experiment. The intervallers were spending time with the physio. FIRST is pretty heavy on interval training...
N2N, the treadmill does push you along. Stick a power-meter in the socket for the treadmill and the wattage shown is an approximation of the reduction in power that you need to cover the same distance at the same pace. Putting it on an incline does add a level of difficulty, but changes your running position to one that you may not be replicating on the road. The cushioning and bounce is good for injury recovery with its extra level of protection, but doesn't therefore give you the same level of strengthening of bone and connective tissue as is found with road running. Wind is gusty, so the variation in effort level is different to that found by simply raising the incline. And further to the cushioning, the ground is even which doesn't allow for increasing ankle and knee strength in lateral motions which running on uneven ground gives you (even roads are a little uneven, but I try to run off-road as well).
So not good for replicating the big outdoors, or preparing you for it. And yet I would advocate it for recovery, and if you really can't hack the weather, better at least to be on a treadmill. Greta Weitz appeared to love the treadmill!
You can race any distance based on 3 days a week training input.
But then again, you can race any distance based on zero days a week training input.
It depends on whether you are trying to find a way to minimise the effort you put in or trying to explore what your potential might be!
Re treadmills - you only have to have a quick look around the parks in Spring once the weather improves. Those that have done the majority of their winter running on treadmills stand out like sore thumbs with their tigger style bouncing techniques. Makes for good entertainment though.
Ratzer, thanks for that.
I wouldn't myself want to do all or even most of my running on a treadmill and I recognise the benefits of running on uneven ground etc but for interval work or tempo running it seems to me it can have its place. In my view it can have some advantages over running outside (in terms of mainataining the pace you've set for yourself) even though it does at the same time have some disadvantages as you've mentioned.
Parkrunfan - I've never noticed that but will look out for it now you've mentioned it. I'll also have someone check me out for excessive upward movement!
The massive irony of treadmills is that you can run at a steady pace but in gyms you have no idea whatsoever what that pace actually is, because you have no idea of the machine's accuracy. Bearing that in mind, you have no idea if you're exercising at the appropriate pace - even if it keeps its speed constant.
Even assuming that is spot on each and every time (and assuming if you use the same treadmill that treadmill's pace doesn't degrade over time) there are stacks of reasons not to use them - most of which are covered above.
In addition the treadmill doesn't teach you how to pace because you're mental effort is directed towards keeping going than using your own feedback to maintain pace.
The bottom line is you broadly do quality work to improve your aerobic efficiency and your biomechanical efficiency and the treadmill only addresses the former. Success in most sports is governed to a certain degree by the principles of specificity. So go ahead and train on a treadmill for your quality work if you are planning on racing on them. Otherwise go outside unless the alternative is not to run.
Great thread, some real high level advice on here. One quyick question aimed at anyone...
My second long run should be 66%? I do 17 miles on a Sunday and on Wednesday I run a combined total of 13 (a 4 miler am and 9 miler pm). Is this allowed or should I look to just go longer in the evening?
I currently do my intervals on a treadmill but after Sunday's race, when I start a new phase in my training, I'm switching to the track. I'm a creature of habit and if I tried to make all my changes at once it'd be overwhelming and I'd never have stuck to them as far as I have - but I said this would be the year I started doing this shit properly, and do it properly I will.
Apart from anything else, I'm worried about falling off.