Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Objective:New York Marathon 2012

So it's back to work in all senses of the word. There are only 9 weeks between now and the New York Marathon on the 3rd of November, so it's time to start gearing my training towards that. However I decide to run the race, I want to run it within myself so I need to train pretty much as I have done for the last few Marathons I've done.

It seems like my trainer Jonathan is still on holiday so I'm having to make things up a little bit. In fact, I don't think I will stick so fanatically to whatever training plan he comes up with this time - the more flexibility, the less stress I suffer - but it is important to respect as much as possible the volume, intensity and rest days. Jonathan uses a system similar to TRIMPs (TRaining IMPulses) called ECOs (Erm, I've COmpletely forgotten what this stands for) which allows us to compare volume and intensity across swimming (which I won't be doing much of), running and biking.

To put things in perspective, running a Marathon at the speed I run it scores between 400 and 500 ECOs, so it would be a good idea for the total number of ECOs for most weeks to be safely above that number. Another guideline is not to increase ECOs too sharply from one week to the next or, indeed, to reduce too dramatically because this can cause you to peak too early. The general idea is to build up to a couple of peaks of increasing height before the final taper. There are a number of key sessions which have to be included every week starting with the famous "long, steady run" but not forgetting some speed work which I believe is necessary not only if you want to run a Marathon reasonably fast but also for training the muscle fibres that get recruited towards the end of a Marathon when you have worn out all the usual suspects. Lastly, the intensity should be mostly low, aerobic work, with a relatively small proportion (10%-20%) of high intensity, high speed workouts. The philosophy behind "polarized training" is to avoid the middle ground which is where most people end up training by default: doing easy workouts too hard because they are boring and time consuming and therefore being too tired to do the high quality sessions as hard as they should be.

That's not to say that it is such a simple matter to come up with a good training programme but let's just say that it is enough to help me fill in the gaps. Last week I was in Asturias and only managed to clock up 225 ECOs. This week I'm aiming for about 400 so that I can build up from there.


  1. Hi Rob,

    TRIMPS. This is something i discovered in your blog initially and then found out more elsewehere. Long time I was obsessed how to measure different sports with one mighty tool...I started planing my weeks with TRIMPS, drawing curves and so on...But in the end, it took me so much time for filling all the sheets, and with the time you get familiar with all types of training so now i am back to garmin connect calender and quality instead quantity observations...from hours in training and calories burnt i somehow come to same conclusions with much less work. i hope that garmin calculates calories the right way though :=)

    1. Hi Nebojsa

      I think that the calorie algorithm is exactly good for this purpose; for deciding how much to eat (or not) I don't think it is very accurate. I've found that it tends to agree with the TRIMPS reasonably well: for example, cycling gets half as many points as running at the same intensity and this is what you see in calories. I don't know how well it copes with swimming though (this gets 3/4 as many points as running if I remember right).