Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Training plan for Seville Marathon 2013

I've been cobbling together various ideas from different sources: books, old training plans and personal experience. Here is a top down plan for the 8 weeks between San Silvestre and the Seville Marathon on the 24th February.

Top level
- I have 8 weeks to convert from being focussed on running a 10K race in around 37 minutes (3:40 pace) to running a Marathon in around 3 hours (4:10 pace).
- The weakness that showed up in the last Marathon (not for the first time) was a lack of muscular endurance in the (fast twitch) fibres that were recruited towards the end of the race. In retrospect, I think my biggest error was to do my long run on a Sunday after a day off on Saturday (for family reasons) and at too fast a pace.
- A strength has been an ability to tolerate reasonably high volumes of training without injury. I put this down to following a weights programme and having a fairly good running technique (with minimal footwear).

Several ideas I want to incorporate (inspired by Brad Hudson's book, the Hanson Method and Jack Daniel's Running Formula):
- Replace weights sessions with uphill sprints.
- Include "strides" or 200m - 400m intervals at high speed. I find this helps hone my running technique and makes it more efficient.
- Converge running fast at shorter distances (neuromuscular training) and running long distances at slower than Marathon pace (aerobic support training) to running longer distance at race pace (specific endurance). For example, series that become gradually longer and slower; tempo runs that become Marathon pace runs.
- Use the long runs for two different training purposes. Firstly, to increase glycogen stores, capillaries, fat burning etc. by running long and slow after a week of glycogen depleting exercise and possibly on an empty stomach. Secondly, to train the muscle fibres that get recruited at the end of a Marathon by training hard the evening before or by increasing the pace during the long run. I think that I can alternate between these two types of long run, perhaps limiting the second type more to the specific phase.
- Variety. There is a natural tendency to repeat workouts that you know you can do but there is a certain point beyond which the body will stop adapting to that particular stimulus: you reach a plateau. As well as new workouts I think it is effective to have variety in a single workout by playing around with different speeds (in fact, this is where the word fartlek comes from fart = speed, lek = play in Swedish).
- Include periodic tests such as 7 kilometres at Half Marathon heart rate (172 bpm), to see how I'm improving and what my limiters are (aerobic, neuromuscular, etc.).
- Be careful not to peak too early. Try cutting down the taper to only two weeks (after all, I'm only training 8 weeks all told!).

Quality, week by week (Long run on last day of the week)
31/12 Week #1 San Silvestre International 10K. Fartlek. Threshold run. Easy long run.
6/1 Week #2 Fartlek. Threshold test. Hard long run.
13/1 Week #3 Fartlek. Threshold run. Easy long depletion run.
20/1 Week #4 Getafe Half Marathon. Fartlek. Threshold run.
27/1 Week #5 Threshold run. Marathon pace run. Easy long depletion run.
3/2 Week #6 Peak week. Fartlek. Threshold test. Marathon pace run. Hard long run.
10/2 Week #7 Taper. Fartlek. Marathon pace run. Easy long depletion run.
17/2 Week #8 Taper and Seville Marathon. Marathon pace run.

The idea is that the training follows this progression, but the point is to be flexible and to change things along the way depending on how my body responds to the stimuli:

(Here I am assuming that my Marathon pace is around 4:00, my Half Marathon pace is around 3:45, my 10K pace around 3:40 and my 1,500m pace around 3:10)

Long runs
Week #1 25 km easy (4:40-5:00 pace)
Week #2 3 km easy + 22 km @ 4:20 + 3 km easy
Week #3 30 km easy (4:40-5:00 pace) on empty stomach
Week #4 -
Week #5 35 km easy (4:40-5:00 pace) on empty stomach with gel @ 30 km
Week #6 3 km easy + 24 km @ 4:10 + 5 km easy
Week #7 21 km easy (4:40-5:00 pace) on empty stomach
Week #8 -

Threshold runs
Week #1 2 x 15' @ 3:45 w/ 3' active recovery
Week #2 Test: warm up + 7 km (20 laps of track at work) @ 172 bpm
Week #3 3 x 15' @ 3:45 w/ 3' active recovery
Week #4 2 x 20' @ 3:45 w/ 3' active recovery
Week #5 15' @ 4:00, 15' @ 3:45, 15' @ 3:40 w/ no recovery
Week #6 Test: warm up + 7 km (20 laps of track at work) @ 172 bpm
Week #7 -
Week #8 -

Week #1 8 x 1 km @ 3:40 w/ 1' rest + 4 x 200m @ 3:10
Week #2 4 x 2 km @ 3:40 w/ 1' active recovery + 1 km @ 3:30 + 4 x 200m @ 3:10
Week #3 2 x Ladder 6'-5'-4'-3'-2'-1' @ 3:40 - 3:10 w/ 1' active recovery
Week #4 70' of 2' @ 3:45 + 3' easy
Week #5 -
Week #6 2 x Ladder 1'-2'-3'-2'-1'-2'-3' @ 3:40 - 3:10 w/ duration active recovery
Week #7 2 x Ladder 1'-2'-3'-2'-1'-2'-3' @ 3:40 - 3:10 w/ duration active recovery
Week #8 -

Marathon pace runs
Week #1 -
Week #2 -
Week #3 -
Week #4 -
Week #5 40' @ 4:00
Week #6 50' @ 4:00
Week #7 2 x 30' @ 4:00 w/ 1 km easy active recovery
Week #8 3 km easy + 30' @ 3:50 + 3 km easy

A typical week will be:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Easy run + Hill sprints
Wednesday - Fartlek
Thursday - Easy run / Rest
Friday - Threshold run
Saturday - Easy run / Marathon pace run
Sunday - Long run


  1. Quite interesting Rob, when i was preparing NY Marathon i wondered all about these trainings. Hope to see you this monday on San SIlvestre Internacional. You may find me easily with my japanese headband as usual, i'm sure we can hold both a 3'40min/km rhythm this monday.
    See you!!!

    1. Hi!

      I'll look out for you. I'll be wearing a quite distinctive costume but I don't want to spoil the surprise on the blog... yet!

      Not sure if I am going to be on very good form for Monday (see my latest post) but I'll try to keep up with you!

      What will you do about New York? My qualifying time (1:19:37) from last year won't be valid this year because (a) the standard is higher and (b) I was 39 years old when I ran that. The problem is that the only Half Marathon between now and the 31st of January is Getafe which is on the 27th and we have to have decided between money back or guaranteed entry by the 25th! So, do I ask for my money back and run the risk of not being able to run faster than 1:23:00 in Getafe??? What will you do?

  2. Hi Rob bout me for New York Marathon i think i'll get my money back and about going to NYC 2013 i'm not so sure. I'll be aged 40 yr old in 2015 but i'll try to beat 1h19mins in the half marathon before as a new challenge. I think i won't get it in Getafe Half 2013(i'm going there too) but i want to get closer and closer. No hurry so far.
    Maybe i prefer to let the time go by and whenever it's possible going to NY i'll do it but don't want an obsession for 2013.

    Anyway as you're already aged 40 you should not have any problem to beat 1h23 as you already set a fantastic 1h19 time in 2012!

    Hope see you tomorrow and you get a good recovery from the cold!!