Where would this run fit in a marathon plan

VLM is my 2nd marathon and only 7 weeks away now!

I have decided to try for sub 3, but for me this will need a lot of work.

last few weeks have been 60 - 70 mile weeks with long runs 20 - 22 miles-pace 7:40 ish on the long runs

I mainly run trail or fell and on hilly routes- so find it difficult to run either an easy recovery run or the other extreme a fast fartlek or threshold as speeds suffer with the hills.

Looking at plans such as P&D I can tick off the long runs but find it difficult to allocate the other runs for example the last four days have been;

22 miles pace 7:42m/m 1300 foot climb--LSR

7 miles pace 8:20 m/m 1500 foot climb--???

9 miles pace 8.00 m/m 1300 foot climb-???

9 miles pace 7:14 m/m 400 foot climb-???

Apart from the LSR do these look like sensible sessions to achieve my goal?



  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    As VLM is flat and on Tarmac I'd get a bit more specific and get used to running flat routes on the road.

    I find hilly off road runs a lot easier on the legs.
  • I'd have concerns about that. Not an expert on converting hill running to flat running times.  I can only go off my own limited experience...  and I'm assuming you don't have heart rate readings for these. But observations as follows.

    I agree run 1 will do for your LSR, although it's probably at the very fastest end of what it should be.. and I'd like to see that some of your runs are slower.  Run 2, 3 and 4 look roughly like LT equivalents... and to be honest, they all look a bit similar in intensity.  Not enough variation.  Not enough miles that build simple slow steady endurance. But then again, not enough speed either.

    And I'm absolutely with Millsy on doing some flat tarmac running.  You must have already built great strength, and your physiological system will be well tuned in some areas.. but you might be lacking some elements.

    I think you simply HAVE to get in a couple of weekly runs on the flat tarmac, because for a 3hr time, you're legs are going to have to carry you at about 6:50 pace for 3 hours. Consistently. Now SURELY you have to be doing some of your weekly mileage at a faster pace than that.   I know that all 4 of those uphill-but-slower runs are just as knackering as much faster flat tempo runs, but it's simply not the same. You need to practice turning your legs over WAY quicker than you're doing.

    Your training will have done you a lot of good... but I think you've got to change quite radically in the next month if you're thinking of a 3hr flat tarmac marathon (but I await advice from people with greater expertise). 

    I would do the following:

    • get out that P&D programme and take some of the faster elements.
    • drive to some flat tarmac to do many of them.
    • Do some of the tough P&D LT runs  - like 11 miles with 7 of them at about 6:20 pace.  
    • Also one of P&D's fast long runs - like those 16 miles with 12@ your marathon pace (6:50)
    • Some VO2 runs
    • Adapt the P&D plan to accommodate the above but DON'T OVERDO IT !
    • You should be looking to get some genuinely slow flat miles in too - both long runs and short recovery (perhaps with those "strides" in to keep reminding your legs how to turn over fast.)  You need to get some genuinely slow runs in to practise your running form on the flat tarmac... and to ensure you've got the basic oxygen carrying systems in place for an endurance race.

    Very best of luck.  I'd be interested to hear what you think of the above, and interested in your progress.


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    I wouldn't worry. With all that strength behind you, if you have any element of speed, it'll be enough to take on the relative flats of London.

    Beware though. At London if you do not start within 15 yards of the overhead gantry, it won't matter what you want to run. You'll have so many 12 minute milers who have lied their way into the front 'pens' you'll waste 2 minutes per mile trying to get past them.

    I speak from experience.(3:01 after a 8:45 first mile).

    OK, I've done them in the 2:40's but even so..


  • Keep going. Add in some tarmac miles gradually over the remaining weeks to harden the lower legs a little. Wait till race day to see the result, or test yourself at a HM.

    For adding in a bit of tarmac miles I would do a few at MP just to get accustomed to the pace. 

    Plenty have run decent marathons off slow/steady running only. 60 - 70 miles off road is great mileage. No, it is not the most specific of training, but it will work for some.

  • I'm not sure I'd be doing 22 miles at just 50 secs slower than race pace on trails. That must take it out of you.

    Other than that though - you're in excellent form - good luck.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Did you get a GFA place? if so you should start in a section where people couldnt lie about their times so you should get a decent start.

    One of my mates managed a 2.59 from pen 4 last year although he probably was in sub 2.55 shape. Which was good news for me as i beat him by a minute.
  • Some very knowledgable posters give the appearance of being more relaxed than me. One very good runner thinks you have nothing to worry about. And maybe the detail I went into in my post makes it look negative.

    I remain firmly of the view that you've done masses of hard work, and that you deserve a great marathon time... and I'm quite sure you could go out tomorrow and crack out a blooming good marathon.

    But to run sub-3 hours based on the information you've given?   I think it's verging on the fanciful to think you could do that based solely on your current programme. 3:10 is much much more likely to be the limit. 

    But you're nearly there. I think you should invest in making those urgent changes, pretty much as I suggested.  You've realisitcally only got 4, maybe 5 weeks.

    Get in the Marathon-Pace runs. Get in the flat LT runs... NOT so much because you need LT training (you've got that)... but because you need to get some decent miles in when your legs are moving, on the flat, at a pace faster than target MP.   Pretty much the same  with the couple of VO2 runs that P&D would have you do....   Get some speed in your legs.  Oh.... and make sure you have some truly aerobic low heart rate runs too.

    After all the hilly training, you'll obviously find running on the flat 'a piece of cake'... but if you want to run to the optimum, you need to use your powers efficiently.  And that takes a bit of practice.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    what are you basing sub 3 hours on? Obviously your training paces are there, though i could hit those in training and I wont be getting sub 3.

    Do you have a recent race time to back up your ability??

  • Thanks everyone for the advice, especially NN for your time - and AR have seen what a good runner you are from mixed training. 

    I have not been near a internet connection so unable to answer earlier. 

    Just got in from another sameish run- this one 8 miles 1200+ gain and 8:00 pace, that's 55 in last 5 days with 14 planned tomorrow. 

    My marathon last year was the whitepeak - trail marathon fairly hilly but not too bad, very steep decent over last few miles- very painful- managed 3:12 so got a GFA and  that was off similar training but less volume and to be honest more speed work on Tarmac. 

    My basis for sub 3 aim (delusional it may be) is my volume of training, I have run a few intervals on flattish ground and got faster plus found it easier than last year- hit 4:5x pace for a section although only for 30 seconds image. - but mainly how I feel on and after a 20+ mile run at 7:4x pace.

    picking up on the starting position point how far back from the line is the furthest away GFA pen?

    2 other marathons planned this year Whitepeak again and Snowdonia - my training seems better matched to them but no chance of sub 3 on either 

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I think it depends on what you put down as your predicted time. But you should be fine as you won't get any of the chancers who just pick a 3hr time out of the air when entering the ballot and then set off at 10 min miles.
  • I can not remember having to input a predicted time-just got the GFA time verified, guess there is a limited number of GFA anyway and if just behind elite but in front of everyone else should not be too bad??

    Going to heed the above advice and do this weeks main run which is normally my LSR on tarmac and at a quicker pace, Which of the following would be the best session to do (try).

    15 mile with the final 12 at MP (6:50 m/m)  OR

    HM time trail with aim to average  6:30 m/m ish


  • For me, as an indicator of fitness I'd use the HM but in an organised event, and not as a solo time trial (I don't think I would get a decent time without the addition of safety pins and a number!). But ......

    The 15 with 12 @MP would be a better training session, and one that is not too likely to negatively impact on the following weeks training. Given the time constraints, I'd say you are best off with running consistently over the remaining weeks, and introducing some road and MP miles such as the session you outlined. 13M @ HM on my own would be a killer for me. I think 7M @ HM pace is the furthest I did outside a race

  • Yes. Thanks AR that makes sense mp run it is then

  • Ok so I expected to have decided if I was going to be aiming for sub 3:00 after todays run, Either it would go to plan and I would go for it or I would drop behind the splits needed and work towards another GFA instead.

    I managed the splits BUT it felt bloody difficult!!

    15.3 miles AV pace 6:54 middle 12 miles= (first 6 elevation gain 600 foot, similar loss on final 6) 6:56, 6:43, 7:08, 6:58, 6:57, 6:49 -- 6:44, 6:55, 6:32, 6:32, 6:39, 6:40

    Now I am pleased I did the run and met the target I gave myself but hoped it would feel a bit easier than it did-especially the down hill sections was looking forward to making up quite a bit of pace on them but was only 10 secs or so faster than av pace.

    More unsure than ever now what to do- In a nutshell did 60% of marathon miles today at just sub 3:00 pace- fairly hilly route and after a lot of 60+ mileage weeks so would another few weeks of training then a good taper give me the extra 40% at the same pace???


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    If you can do that session then I think you are in with a good chance. If you have a good day at London then sub 3 is definitely on the cards. You might as well go for it on the day.
  • I agree with Millsy. You've thought about it, you've worked boody hard, and you clearly have the potential. Have you got a pre-London half marathon race booked? They are almost always in the schedules, and at about 5 or 6 weeks out are a perfect guide for the Big Day. No, not a trail version. That's not the point.

    The risk factors are from calf cramps (typically), wearing different shoes to normal trail types, and repetitive hammering in the same footfall pattern. The other risk I almost always blew was doing too much on the Saturday. Taking the family, and having a family day out: result  being tired legs before the off.

    At registration you can often blag your way into them giving you a higher pen number if training has been great. I wouldn't expect more than Pen 3 though.
    Sometimes it's your day, sometimes it's not. I have had a couple of great rivals in the quest for a sub 3, one came close 10 times then quit (pb3:01), the other is still trying (pb3:03). I got lucky and turned a 3:06 pb into 2:59.
    Whatever you do, keep the handbrake on in the first 6 miles. You probably run trails by perceived effort, but the roads need a religious observance of the clock. For 6:52 target miles if you dip into 6:45s you are asking for trouble.
    I found a pre-marathon long run classic was to do a flat 7 mile loop x3 times, aiming to keep the pace constant, say mara pace plus 30 seconds. You get the feel of the easy bit, testing bit, and gruelling bit without killing yourself completely. Save that for once you've tapered.
    Good luck

  • great advice Blisters - thanks-Thant 21 mile at 7:20 will be a tester I am sure but will give it a go, I don't have a HM before VLM - have only ever ran 1 marathon and 1 HM to date- was lucky enough to get GFA time in the marathon but I am wrong side of 40 so the GFA time for that was more forgiving than for the younger guys.

    If I am to go for a sub 3:00 I think I better try 1 or 2 sessions a week away from the fells and trails. 

    In the next 4 weeks before I start to taper I will try to keep trail/fell runs to 4 per week which will include my LSR-so that will give me 2 sessions per week for speed work-BUT i am a bit lost with that, what would be the best sessions to do and at what pace??


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I would make sure one of your sessions is run at Marathon pace just so your brain and legs get used to it. Only needs to be 5 or 6 miles but it really helps to get dialled in to 6.50
  • Thanks Millsy could I do say 10 miles --2 easy 6@ 6:50 then 2 at what ever feels ok and count it as a speed session.

    I do have a mental problem ......

    I mean I do have a problem of running my last few miles of any fast run easier than the rest as I fell I may get use to easing off at the end??

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    That is just something you will have to work on. The more you work at it the better you will get.
  • Tried a Marathon pace tester on FLAT tarmac,

    6:30 av pace for 8 miles with the middle 6 at 6:20.

    Felt ok was strange running so far without a hill, plan was to keep to about 6:45 pace but without looking at the garmin every few yards I find it difficult to judge pace and as only 8 miles kept on the slightly quicker side of that.

    23 miles tomorrow trail and hills again but a good chunk of tarmac as well, this has been a hard week 15 at 6:53, intervals 4@6:15 av 9 at 7:14 a total of 50 miles before tomorrow so if all goes well will be first week over 70 miles -BUT what pace should I aim for tomorrow after such a week-any MP miles at all??

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    What I would try and do is take the hills easy and then try and do some MP miles on any of the flat Tarmac. Would try not to do more than 6 though with the rest of your week.
  • Thanks again Millsy-apreciate the advice

  • What I did find on the 8 mile flat run was how uncomfortable my road trainers are.

    They are NB 1600- very light and comfortable to wear but running in them makes my rather dry and lumpy feet (hideous as my wife describes them) very sore- lots of hard skin and callus' from fell running in wet condition I think.

    The cushioning of my leadville and the softer ground of my regular routes doesn't normally give me any soreness 

  • Hi all

    A real mix of emotions this week for me.

    74 Miles week which is my highest to date including;

    Tues 8 miles @ 6:30 m/m which felt very controlled and a big boost for my confidence for a sub 3:00

    Wed 13 miles lots of hills 8:10 pace hard but enjoyable

    Today 23 miles @ 7:42 pace felt Sh!t all the way every miles was an effort-kept waiting for the "gliding sensation" never came- how can you glide with lead legs! to make it worse mild ITB pain for last 10 miles- infact on way home stopped car and did a further 2 miles just to see how bad the ITB felt after 10 minutes rest and a stretch- it did not hurt but did the 2 miles slowly.

    I will now have a battle with myself to rest and slow for a few days just incase ITB is starting to be a problem OR get back into it with some pace and distance to help my fragile confidence, don't know why the 23 felt so back today- felt like stopping after a few miles but kept going and completed it just about in required pace so will take some positive from that BUT without any MP miles

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