Marathon #2: Trying to get it right this time

Please forgive the long post...

Last October, I did my first marathon (Leicester). Having averaged 25k/week for 8 months, I followed a 12-week plan that took me up to 45k/week on average for 3 months. A month before the race I asked here about pacing, and was warned that I didn't have much of an endurance base. On the day, I set out at 3:15 pace, but faded badly from 30k and ended up scraping in just under 3:30. Not a total disaster, but not quite what I was hoping for either.

I've now signed up for the Yorkshire Marathon next October, and this time I'm asking for advice early enough to use it. With a current HM PB of 88:14, I think I should be capable of sub 3:10 if I train properly, so for now that's my target. But right now that's a long way off, and I do struggle with injuries if I increase training volume/intensity, so need to be a bit cautious.

At the moment I'm trying to get used to running 50k/week. By the end of March I hope to be settled into this pattern:

Monday 10k E (4:45-5:15mins/k)
Tuesday 5k E
Wednesday 15k E (club run, 5:15mins/k)
Thursday 5k E
Friday 7.5k E
Saturday 2.5k E + 5k T Parkrun (4:00-4:15mins/k)
Sunday Rest.

After that, I plan to gradually build up the distance on Monday to 20k, and either run with a faster group at the club run on Wednesday (M pace = 4:30mins/k) or swap the Thursday run for the club's track session.

I'm also cutting down on the cake and wine, and hope to weigh ~5kg less than last time, which I reckon is worth 5-10 minutes.

All going well, that will set me up for a sub-85 HM in May/June to show that it's all working. Then I'll go into marathon training in July already adapted to 60k+/week, so in much better shape than last time.

For the marathon training I don't know whether what I've got planned will be enough, which is basically to leave everything the same except the long run. If I run two blocks of four weeks with gradually increasing runs on Mondays, each block finishing with a 20-miler, a rest week, and a race, and then do a week finishing with another 20-miler before tapering for 3 weeks, would that be enough? By then I'd be doing something like 70k/week, split something like this:

Monday 24k-32k L (5:15mins/k)
Tuesday 5k E (4:45-5:15mins/k)
Wednesday 15k E (5:15mins/k) or 15k M (4:30mins/k)
Thursday 5k E or track session
Friday 7.5k E
Saturday 2.5k E + 5k T Parkrun (4:00mins/k)
Sunday Rest.

And if I have to choose between swapping Wednesday's 15k E @ 5:15mins/km for a 15k M @ 4:30mins/km, or swapping Thursday's 5k E for a track session, which should I choose?

As I say, apologies for the long post looking so far ahead. You were all right last time when you told me I should have done more, sooner, so any pointers gratefully received.


  • I did say to pace for 3.20. Pacing for too fast a time costs you a lot of time....

    I work in mins per mile so cba with your km but they all seem quite fast?

    Losing weight will help - but stamina was the problem last time but you're doing a lot of short runs?

    OK there's one long One per week but even so - the other one is 9 miles or so? Bit short.

    If you're struggling with injuries then why race a parkrun?
  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭


    Thanks for the comments.

    cougie wrote (see)
    I did say to pace for 3.20. Pacing for too fast a time costs you a lot of time.... 

    I don't think I had 3:20 on the day either. Not enough stamina.

    3:15 would have been HM x 2 + 19, so even if it turned out to be too fast I don't think it was absurdly ambitious.

    And the hope is I can fix things by improving my fitness and stamina rather than by setting off more slowly.

    cougie wrote (see)
    I work in mins per mile so cba with your km but they all seem quite fast?

    The paces are in line with what Daniels' Running Formula suggests. Based on recent race times my VDOT is 52, which gives paces of E/L 4:47-5:24mins/km, M 4:22mins/km, T 4:07mins/km.

    cougie wrote (see)
    Losing weight will help - but stamina was the problem last time but you're doing a lot of short runs?

    OK there's one long One per week but even so - the other one is 9 miles or so? Bit short.

    If you're struggling with injuries then why race a parkrun?

    I've never run more than 4 times a week before, so a lot of the runs are short as a way of getting used to running more often without getting injured.

    I could run to and from the club run when I get into marathon training which would get my second longest run from 15k to 20k. If I did that, I don't think I'd want to run it at anything like M pace though, which I thought might be a good idea.

    I've kept the Parkrun just so I've got some faster running in there (and because I enjoy it, to be completely honest). And it's at T pace, rather than flat out: it's a run, not a race. image

  • It does sound like it's endurance, rather than speed, which you need to focus on. You obviously have the speed, but a marathon is somehow much more than twice a half-marathon. FWIW, my PB for HM is 1 second slower than your 88:14, but my marathon PB is 3:13:15, and my marathon training is much more focussed on mileage than speed. Right now I'm on about 40-50 mpw, with 90% of them being tempo or easy runs (targeting next marathon at end of April)

    I think 3:10 is slightly ambitious (but not out of the question) based on 88:14. But if your speed improves to sub-85 then 3:10 is possibly realistic. It all depends on stamina over the longer distance. You have the speed, you now need to be comfortable running to around 20 miles or so to avoid "tailing off" again towards the end of the marathon. I would concentrate on long runs and building up the endurance so that you can convert your HM speed into the marathon time you're looking for.

  • Oh, and weighing 5kg less will also be invaluable, far less work for your body to deal with, should be worth a few minutes easily.

  • As others have said you need to build endurance, you have the speed. I would drop the Tuesday run and increase the distance on Monday instead. Likewise you could easily drop the Thursday and add this to the Friday mileage.

    You don't need to run everyday to increase mileage. I can get in between 30-40 miles a week with 4 days a week running, so like I said no need to run everyday.

    Also running lots of 5k's won't really help you.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the comments. I think the recovery runs are useful, and let me get a higher total distance in than if I took more rest days, so I'm keen to keep the. But I'll forget about speedwork for now, and just focus on volume and getting the longer runs longer.

  • I think everyone has already said the useful things about endurance, mileage etc. but I just wanted to agree with it. I was able to convert a half time similar to yours to a 3:06 marathon, and a 1:25 half to a very comfortable sub 3... but I was regularly running as many miles per week as you run km. If you are able to achieve the half times on relatively low mileage, you'd clearly be able to be a lot faster than me if you built up to doing more running. I quite like recovery runs but as you build your miles up they can be 4 or 5 miles rather than just 5k.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    Thanks. Yes, I'll try to add distance wherever I can. It'll take a while, but I might try to build up to something like this:

    Monday 20k L (5:15mins/k)
    Tuesday 10k E (4:45-5:15mins/k)
    Wednesday 15k L
    Thursday 8k E
    Friday 20k-32k L
    Saturday 3k E + 5k M Parkrun (4:30mins/k)
    Sunday Rest.

    I like the idea of putting the LSR on Friday, and then doing the Parkrun at M pace on tired legs.

    Compared to what I'm doing now, this looks a long way off though.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    Right, I'm going to give this a good go.

    I'm slowing down my long runs a little to 5:20-5:30mins/k, so that I can build up my total distance a bit more aggressively, aiming to get settled at 80k/week (this week I'll run 60-65k, next week 70k+). No sign of lower leg niggles developing into injuries so far; in fact, the niggles seem to be clearing up.

    I'll stick with all easy running for now, except for tempo Parkruns and three half marathons that I've got coming up in the next few months. Other speedwork can wait; that's not where I'm weak right now.

    In the five weeks since I started trying to lose weight, I've shed ~2.5kg, so I'm on track with that.

    I am still nervous about making the jump from 3:30 straight to 3:10, though, so am wondering whether I could squeeze in the Liverpool marathon at the end of May, targeting 3:20 to bridge the gap.

    It's only just over 12 weeks away, but I've effectively been base-building for the last 6 weeks, averaging 45k/week of almost all easy running. That compares to 20k/week for the same period before my first marathon, so I'm in a better place than I was then, and I'm sure that from here on in I can do a lot more than the

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    So here's what I've taken from above:

    rodeoflip: Get comfortable running 20 miles (32k).
    cougie: Need a second longer run of more than 9 miles (so 16k+).
    1SteveMac, literatin: 5k recovery runs won't do much, either drop them or push them up to 8k.

    And here's how it's gone so far:

    The last post was early in a three-and-a-half week block where I averaged 70k+/week. That included two runs/week of at least 20k: a 28k E, a 24k E, 5 x 20k E and a HM race (21k). I ran the HM with minimal taper and took my PB from 88:14 to 87:18.

    I then had four weeks of lower distance, due to illness at first, then resting for/recovering from the Yorkshire HM, where I ran 90:10 (it's hilly, so that's okay). That month has been the one blip in my training.

    The last three weeks I've averaged 80k/week, with a regular 20 miler. In a breakdown of discipline I've also added a track session, even though I said I wouldn't, but I seem to be getting away with it. The pattern has been something like this:

    Monday 20k MSR
    Tuesday 12k w/6-7k I (Track)
    Wednesday 8k Recovery
    Thursday 32k LSR
    Friday Rest
    Saturday (1.5k E + 5k Parkrun T + 1.5k E)
    Sunday Rest

    I've been free from sore tendons for the longest in about two years, so seem to be coping with the training load okay. I feel pretty knackered, but I think that's fair enough at the end of a three week training block.

    I'm also another kg closer to my target weight.

    I'll be doing the North Lincs HM ten days from now, looking to take another minute plus off my PB all going well.

    Then two weeks after that I'll do the Liverpool Marathon, as much as a pacing exercise as a race. I'll see how I recover from the HM before deciding what pace to run at.

    After that, I'll try to maintain something like the above through the summer, ready for another HM PB attempt in September, and then my target marathon in York in October.

    Thanks again for the advice. I think the plan I've got from this thread is better than the plan I would have had without it.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    I'm in danger of discussing this with myself here, but with threads like this I prefer it if you can see how things turned out, so I'll keep going. image

    North Lincs went well: I got my sub-85.

    The Liverpool Marathon was promising too. I ran 3:19:11, so a 10 minute+ PB, and with much more even pacing: 1:38:32/1:40:39 splits in Liverpool compared to 1:38:06/1:51:48 in Leicester.

    I still need a bit more endurance, but 3:10 in York in October doesn't look out of the question to me, if I can stick to the plan above.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    Just to wrap things up: I didn't quite manage the 60k+/week training with extra long runs, didn't quite manage the 5kg weight loss, and so didn't quite get the time. But my training volume is up to 50k/week (over 16 weeks), my weight is down about 4kg, I got the HM PB in September (1:24:37), and I ran 3:13:04 and finished feeling much stronger than previously. I'll keep working on it, and I'll get there in the end.

  • That's excellent work - you should be happy with a 6 minute pb. Taking chunks off is always hard. Well done so far !
  • Well done! Always good to get an update on the final result. Still think you'll keep improving loads by continuing to build mileage though...

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭

    Thanks. I agree, still plenty of gains to be made from more and better training.

  • tmholttmholt ✭✭✭
    Six months later, a few more lessons learned and questions raised.

    After the York marathon in October, I had a pretty rubbish four months, with race times getting slower, training fading away, and then a sprained ankle around New Year that meant I hardly ran at all in January. I got going again after that, had a better six week training block (mostly ~50k/week, but with a couple of 20 milers towards the end), and ran the Manchester marathon off a one-week taper, without high hopes, mostly as a training exercise having refocused on the autumn.

    Something strange happened: I set off too fast, then settled into PB pace, still felt good, and pushed on well over the last 10k for a 5-minute PB in 3:08 with negative splits. I'm not sure how.

    I guess it matters more that I've been running for another six months than it matters how I've been running for those six months. For me at least, endurance seems to be something that takes time to build up, and I need to be persistent and patient as much as I need to obsess over the details.

    But I'll keep obsessing over the details too. Can't wait to go again in October, with better training behind me, looking to take a step towards a sub-3 a year from now...
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    Agree that endurance takes time to build up, it's not just you! And well done on the marathon time, that's awesome - especially as it sounds like it all went so well for you. Best of luck with the next one!
Sign In or Register to comment.