The Road to Paris - On a Plateau - Asics Target 26.2 Training



  • i read a few days ago an article of half times compared to full times.can't remember where........but the woman did so much better on the marathon times in average than men did off the same half times...and this followed through for a wide range of times........

    I really d#struggled for years to get a full time to reflect my half was only after doing ultras that my marathon time and all my other times came down..............just proves how different we all are

    My hubby prefers to just run slow and do about 10 runs of 18-22 miles in training......that would be way too many for me......but has a good marathon time

  • Off the top of my head there are 5 main ways you can improve from marathon to marathon:

    1)      Adjust quality (volume / type / frequency)

    2)      Increase easy volume (or you can combine 1 and 2 or course)

    3)      Decrease volume in the hope this addresses previous issues around recovery and / or because the change in quality and  / or injury history forces your hand to keep the runner healthy.

    4)      Do the same everything and trust that gradual improvement continues before old age and the spouse’s nagging kicks in.

    5)      Keep everything the same but improve all the non-running stuff (sleep / diet / weight / fuelling / lifestyle changes / alcohol / pace smarter).

    Shady_Ady has run 15 marathons in the past suggesting a significant running history and still doesn’t have a particularly good conversion from his shorter times.  His shorter times suggest 3:30 won’t happen (given his conversion) unless he gets quicker which is why Sam very sensibly starts off with a 3:36 ballpark looking to adjust if he gets the shorter distance results in which case 3:30 becomes a possibility. 

    So the obvious questions are:

    -          What does Sam see as Shady’s major weakness/ areas that needs to be addressed in this schedule to improve on his previous times.

    -          Which of 1 thru 4 above is the ‘strategy’ for improvement?  (We’ll take 5 as given!).

    -          How does this training plan address that area of improvement compared to his previous marathon attempts?

    -          What did Shady’s PB campaign look like in terms of 20 milers and overall mileage?  If Shady was stuck on 3:50 on one or two 20 milers and introduced 5 when he PB’d it would be madness to go back to one or two – but if the opposite happened it would make a lot more sense!

    In my opinion the above information would provide much needed context behind the overall direction of the plan which would help frame the discussions.

    With regards to the number of 20 milers.....I declare my hand in the ‘more is better camp’.  Having just 1 or 2 20+ milers seems like ticking a box more than anything (“erm we’re missing a fartlek, kenyan hills, a set of 400s and a long run, where shall we put them?”).  If one believes in their value why would one only do one?  Is it because after one run the benefits are now in the area of diminishing returns?  How will you measure diminishing returns if you only do 1 or 2?  How will you measure whether the desired fitness / psychological impact of one run has occured without doing another?  If 20 milers aren’t really necessary why do any at all?

    Of course, 20 milers can really unbalance a week.  We talk about injury prevention but a good way of introducing risk is doing more than 50% of your weekly volume in just one run – it creates an unbalanced schedule.  So, perhaps that’s the answer..... believe in decent mileage and 20 milers or you believe in neither!

  • SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)

    I would call 50-60 pretty high Minni. All my most recent marathons have been sub 3.30 (last 3 sub 3.23) and I have never run that sort of distance. Some people are fine on it, of course, but the majority, in my experience, get injured. In my view the best mileage is the least you can get away with whilst still making gains. The gains you get beyond around 40 miles a week are much smaller than those you get when going from, say, 30 to 40 mpw. 


    Hi Sam,

    I'm intrigued by your comment that I've highlighted above.

    My questions are:

    a) If you've never run 50-60 miles per week are you really in a position to judge one way or the other whether it is excessive for the task at hand?

    b) When you say that in your experience the majority get injured. what do you mean? The majority of runners with weekly mileages over 50 miles get injured? When and how often? More so than those doing less mileage?

    Lets be honest about it, 50-60 miles per week really isnt that much at all for marathon training - so to be labelling it as excessive as a sweeping statement deserves a bit more analysis.

    In my book, it is the cumulative easy miles which create the injury proofing not the injuries - connective tissues grow in strength and robustness through plenty easy mileage.

    'As little mileage as you can get away with' sounds a bit baffling - people here are taking on life long challenges and hoping to do the best they can. Surely that means giving it your best shot to feel proud in your achievement, not looking for the minimal effort approach?

    Best of luck, Ady, - I'm pretty sure you have a sub 3:30 in you and will be very interested to see how the low mileage approach pans out.


  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Malcs - I think the fitter you are the better you cope with the heat.  Do you think the cramps could have been cause with trying to run a bit too fast in the conditions?  I've suffered from cramp in the past, although never in a marathon, and I'm sure it was due to trying to sustain a pace that was too fast for me on the day/at that time.  10ks used to be the worst!

  • Never had cramps in any race but have only done two marathons both were in hot conditions and the latter half of the race I am sure the heat blew me out or maybe a lack of long runs was the issue. I have tended to only do about three runs around and over 20miles per training schedule. Think that strength training is the way forward with more gym work, core stuff to improve along with another one or two long runs in the mix. Interesting comments on here and hence why we all enjoy running I guess, its a complex science with no black and white answers and I am sure that Sam and Steve S dont have or would claim to have, all the definitive answers to our questions. Steve S certainly has the experience and results to speak with freedom from his experience and opinion and Sam too of course. Just back from a lovely interval session in driving rain and wind, cant beat it winter running.image


  • I've known dozens of runners of all abilities over the last twelve years and am struggling to think of one who got slower over the marathon by adding in more miles (caveat - if added sensibly).  In other words, on soft surfaces where possible, at an easy pace as parkrunfan says and wearing lightweight shoes (I note from Sam Murphy's website that he offers coaching in barefoot / running techniques).

    On the other hand I have known plenty who have tried to get away with the least amount of training possible and come a bad cropper.

    Having said that, it's not all about 20 milers.  I ran my best marathon off a longest run of 18.6 miles.  However, most weeks in the build-up contained two runs of 15-18 miles with a strong aerobic 10 in the middle and a long slow 2-2 1/2 hours on a Sunday.  However that was to address my area of specific weakness of aerobic endurance, rather than endurance per se having done many LSRs (my conversion from HM to marathon was 74.xx to 2:49 at the time).  As Moraghan has analysed, Ady's weakness is in his conversion from shorter distances to marathon distances.

    I too am intrigued by the approach being taken here when many experienced runners seem to be advocating a higher mileage approach.  It will be very interesting to see how it unfolds.

  • Sam is a she by the way Barnsley Runner.image

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Minni - I don't think I did go too fast for the conditions. It wasn't that hot, just hot compared to what I'd been training in. I guess that's a problem with winter training, everything is done in the cold but your race is invariably much warmer.

    Also, on my last two I'd dropped my start pace because of worries over niggles carried into the race. In VLM this year I was running slower than in some of my training runs.

    Could well be a conditioning thing. The idea of getting a good base sounds sensible to me. I've never done that before. I'm one of those over 50% of mileage for the long run types with my smaller runs being easy or fast - not much in between.

    Great to see such interesting discussion. Sorry to swamp your thread Ady, though I know you enjoy talking about this stuff.

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    malcs - you'd learn a lot from the guys (and more from the girls image) on the sub 3:30 thread.   Shady has popped in there too so I'm sure he wouldn't mind.   By the way I ran 3:28 off a 1:36 half last year, with about 4 20s.  This year I ran a 3:20 off 1:32 with 7 20s.




  • Conversion rate.........1.42 half in Sept at GNR and there should have been another minute or so off that if I had made the right pen but too far where can I end up Minni next year with a good training base of 1400 miles this year injury free??? Thats the question.

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    That is indeed the question!  Consistency is key. 

  • Blimey, there's a narky lot on this thread. Can we have a bit more positivity for Ady please?

    Parkrun fan, I'm speaking as a coach. I don't need to have run the distance myself to speak with an informed opinion! Or would you expect Alex Stanton, Paula R's coach to be able to knock out a 2.30 marathon in order to be entitled to advise her on how to train.

    And in terms of injury, I'm talking about recreational runners -which let's face it most of us are - believing that the way to improve is to ramp up their mileage.


  • DSanta2 wrote (see)

    Brolish - I'm not sure what plan to follow at the moment. When I was young I ran hard on Tuesday and Thursday and usually 10 miles on a Wednesday but over two runs. I'm not sure my old body would cope now! Great time - just what Malcs needs to hear!

    DS2- Have you considered P&D? I don't think my young(ish) imagebody could cope with two hardcore sessions separated with a 10 miler...imageimage

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭
    I saw Minni kissing Santa Claus wrote (see)

    malcs - you'd learn a lot from the guys (and more from the girls image) on the sub 3:30 thread.   Shady has popped in there too so I'm sure he wouldn't mind.   By the way I ran 3:28 off a 1:36 half last year, with about 4 20s.  This year I ran a 3:20 off 1:32 with 7 20s.

    That's great stuff Minni. Very reassuring for people like Ady and myself. I will definitely call in on the 3:30 thread. As you know I ended up on the 3:15 thread which was great but those guys are in a different league from me image

    Sam - don't worry we're all completely behind the shadester! I have no doubt he's going to break the 3:30 barrier and finally beat that giant condom!image

    Go Ady! image

  • Malcs.......the dwarf and giant telephone box......they're a completely different story. Will need a sub 3hr training plan to beat those speedsters!
  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Well that's next year sorted then image

    Biking tonight is it?

  • Ady- great thread you've go toging. Thanks for the Garmin connect- nice to see where you run too. I think you have got a great programme, and envy the coaching you are getting from Sam.

    Sam- the advice you have given already is great- really appreciate that you share it with everyone else, and so even the unlucky ones can still benefit.

    I have done both my marathons with less mileage, and whilst i think I was better for having another year in the legs, I get palpitations looking at some of the schedules out there (including P&D)

    Brolish wrote (see)

    Malcs- I've just run 3:26:49 off a 1:34 half so it must be possible!image

    Malcs- as I said before, I ran 3:23  this year off a 1:35 HM in 2011and 1:37 (fast finish long run 2 weeks before)- you can do it. What did you think of the programme?

  • SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)

    Blimey, there's a narky lot on this thread. Can we have a bit more positivity for Ady please?

    Parkrun fan, I'm speaking as a coach. I don't need to have run the distance myself to speak with an informed opinion! Or would you expect Alex Stanton, Paula R's coach to be able to knock out a 2.30 marathon in order to be entitled to advise her on how to train.

    And in terms of injury, I'm talking about recreational runners -which let's face it most of us are - believing that the way to improve is to ramp up their mileage.


    Sam - With all due respect, there are a lot of people reading these threads and hoping to pick up a snippet of advice or two.

    The idea is to discuss elements of training and the reasoning behind what is being advised. Then individuals can make up their own minds about the way they want to structure their training.

    Being described as 'narky' for asking reasonable questions about advice that is a little puzzling wasnt what I expected. image


  • I totally agree that everyone on the threads whats to 'give it thier best shot' to achieve potential. I merely question that doing more miles is the way to do that.

    When I saw 'the least you can get away with' it's because when i do my talks at things like Meet the Experts London Marathon weekend, at least HALF the audience are already carrying injuries, every year, in early Feb from doing too much mileage for their lifestyle/capability. 

    Have a good evening all - running or not. I'm off to see Skyfall image

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Thanks Clive - the programme you followed definitely looks like something I could cope with. I'm still thinking about the best approach but currently my toughts are to do some base building over the next month or so then move onto your plan.  

    If I could get anywhere near to 3:23 I'd be well happy!

  • MalcsMalcs ✭✭✭

    Enjoy the film Sam - I thought it was brilliant until that bit at the end where....image

  • So if runners are going into programmes susceptible to injury, why do the Asics schedules have them doing speedwork from week one without a period of slower-running base to build injury-proofing?  In my experience the counter-intuitive way to train is to injury-proof by doing MORE miles, not fewer.  The more you run, the stronger you get.  It's speed that injures, not distance.

    I'm sure Ady will enjoy the debates and discussions on his thread, and the encouragement he will get from them.  Keep up the good workimage.

  • Didn't thinkanyone was being narky.just asking for clarification and reasons as to why.......image

    I din't realise that Ady had been having injury problems.....

  • Evening  all.......

    ........before I start replying to people on here and joining in actively on this forum, I just wanted to thank everybody over the past two days for their inputs, thoughts, concerns and general banter.

    You can't beat a good debate and the good thing about running, is that everybody has their own opinions and views on the best ways of improving. I think I might have inadvertently started most of this off by posting my original plan. Maybe naively I didn't realise that only a few weeks at a time should be shared, as like Sam has said numerous times already, it's a continually changing plan, based around my experience and performances over each training session.

    It's certainly interesting to read the differences that everyone has in their training plans. I'm really excited about the one Sam has prepared for me and with total commitment I can't see any reason why I shouldn't reach my goal. If I don't, I only have myself to blame!

    Time to get writing...........................

  • seren nos yn canu wrote (see)

    I din't realise that Ady had been having injury problems.....

    Errrrrrrr............neither did I? 

    I've been injury free for 18months with no current problems at all! 

  • StickyMistletoe/ DSanta2......The main difference between the training plan I've been given for Paris, is definitely the variety and different speeds in which I have to run. When I ran my PB in Boston, this was my normal weekly schedule. As you can see, there was virtually no variety at all.

    Monday: Recovery run of 3.5miles @ approx. 8.30 min/mile. (1 mile run home in evening)

    Tuesday: 4 miles at @approx. 7:30-7:45 min/mile (1 mile run home in evening)

    Wednesday: 1 mile w/up, then 4x800m @6.50-7.00 min/mile, 1 mile w/down (1 mile run home in evening)

    Thursday: 4 miles @ approx. 7:30-7:45 min/mile (1 mile run home in evening)

    Friday: Rest

    Saturday: Long run (starting at 12 miles and reaching 23 miles, with 3 runs over 20 miles). Speed was between 1:50 for half marathon training run and 3 hours for 20mile training run.

    Each week I would spend 2x 30 mins on my cycle machine and also do 2x 45 min pilates.

    I would do this week in-week out. Every 2nd Thursday I'd do a race at my work, which would only be 3.5miles. Sometimes I'd swap Monday's recovery with a short sessions of hill sprints.

    This is why I'm very excited with my current training plan!

  • SKR/ SC/ Seren Nos - Thanks all for your good wishes. Very much appreciated.

    Malcs.......when I first saw my training plan (the revised version, not the original one I posted) I was very content with what Sam had planned. As you can see from my previous training when I ran my PB, this training plan is far more varied, and I'm extremely happy with all the speed work and intervals that have been planned.

    The number of 20 milers doesn't really concern me that much.......I'm just coming off running 3 marathons and 1 ultra in the last 5 months, so I'm very confident my base level is well-prepared coming into this.

    For some of the marathons I've ran in the past, work or social commitments have gotten in my way (luckily most of my friends chose this year to get married, so next year I have an empty schedule!). This meant definitely not doing as many long runs as I needed others have mentioned on here, sometimes I would only be able to fit in 1 or 2 runs between 16-18 miles. I completed the marathons, but struggled in the later stages, and this is when I also had cramps like you. I think it had more to do with my lack of training than liquid or energy intake before or during the race.

    The only problem I see with my training, is I'm yet to find any decent sized hills in the vicinity around me. If this continues to be an issue, then I'll just catch the train to Richmond and run in Richmond Park, my old stomping ground......there's a couple of tasty ones there. image

  • re hills.......come to visit me in south wales..........we have a hill or two.........i find it hard to find somewhere to run and even pace as there isn't much flats....even harder to find routes on the bike that are flatish image

  • Mr Puffy.......thanks for the wishes. I've never trained before for a marathon and done a midweek long run. Personally I think I'd find this too tiring and it would start to affect my speed training. I would never say I wouldn't give it a try though!

    During my ultra training this year, I did start running home from work once a week (11miles). Unfortunately I had to carry all my work clothes in my rucksack, which wasn't the lightest. I think this created a hunched-over style of running and by the end, my back ached a lot. I must have looked like a shuffling 90 year old! 

  • if I could swap you a little bit of my flat for a little bit of your hills, then I think we would both have the perfect combination!

    When I lived in China, I was surrounded by mountains so had an excellent selection to choose from.......the only problem was, they were all a little too steep.

    No one else ran in the city where I lived; they only walked, and on the mountain trail I used, there were hundreds of people that also used it. Instead of walking forwards though, they would all walk backwards, which meant as soon as they saw me, their gaze became transfixed and they would speed up to keep ahead of me. It's never good for morale when you have five 70 year olds walking so quickly backwards, that you can't overtake them running forwards! 

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