1st run of the training cycle. 8 miles, Sandusky.

1st run of an 18 week training cycle. 8 miles, Sandusky in the rain.  NYE ’18


Quick introduction to my training plan:

As I go through the weeks I’ll be sharing more about this – with input from my coach, but basically my plan is for 18 weeks.  I’ve picked the version of it that peaks at a 55 mile week.  Structurally my week will include 3 important runs; a medium long, a long slow run (LSR) and then something else (threshold, VO2 max and/or strides).  In each blog post I’ll share these (I’ve just started so this one is a statement of intent), plus the coaching tips I’ve been given and then a bit of philosophical warbling (anything might happen there) 😉

Key Runs for this week: 

  • Medium Long: 8 miles (easy pace)
  • Long: 12 miles (easy pace)
  • Other: Lactate Threshold Pace (LTP): 14 minutes LTP, 4 minutes recovery, 12 minutes LTP. (Target LTP pace = 7:48)

TOTAL Weekly Mileage Target: 33

Coach’s Briefing Notes:

Overall this is an introduction, starting to build endurance and form some good running habits. The sessions should be padded out with recovery runs of 4-5 miles. Doing these the day after the long run or threshold session is beneficial, as they will help flush out the lactic acidic from the muscles.

My Weekly Inner Philosophical Debate: THOUGHTS ON TRAINING PLANS

So, here is where it all starts. This will be my third marathon, but the fourth training plan I’ve started. It got me thinking about how I – and I think runners in general, alter their approach to training as they experience more. Here’s the little tale of my training evolution:

Marathon 1: Dublin 2007. Completed in 4:28. 

Plan?  What plan?  This was 12 years ago. My watch was a Seiko with hands that told me the time and the date (the latter unreliably). I didn’t have a time goal, I was going to run a marathon FFS – IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU PEOPLE? I’d read about these so called plans, but ultimately, my plan was to run more and run further than usual, increasing by about 2 miles a week until about 2 weeks before the race I was up to 22.

I ran a marathon.

Look at my non technical top that wicks NOTHING!

Look at my non technical top that wicks NOTHING!

Marathon 2: Columbus 2017. Completed in 3:58.

So, 10 years on from the first go, I was equipped with a Garmin 235, I’d been a member of a running club for 18 months and was friends with a superb coach called Terry. Terry is awesome. He practices what he preaches and swears by working solidly towards clear-cut goals. I told him I wanted a sub 4 and he gave me a plan for such. On first sight of my plan, I laughed, swore and basically quite blatantly planned how I was going to explain how I had not done the runs. Weirdly though, 2 weeks in and this plan had become my life. I LOVED IT! I trusted Terry and the plan made everything simple. I just did what it said, exactly to the letter, for 18 weeks.

I ran a marathon in under 4 hours.

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Marathon 3: Flying Pig 2018. Target Boston Qualify (then 3:55) – Deferred due to injury.

Here, looking back, I was in clear “difficult 2nd album” phase. I was cocky. I’d got faster. I could run everything faster if I wanted and I did. I didn’t really recover from the big runs, my recoveries were at least or as fast as the long runs, which I ran too fast as well.

I got injured.

And so:

Marathon 4: Flying Pig 2019: To run on 5th May.  Target BQ (Boston Qualify, now 3:50)

Here I am approaching my plan like a grown up. I am way more understanding of why Terry says to do what he says to do and like the first time, I’m going to do as I’m told. I get that the recoveries are to make the important training runs count. I get that recovery means that. I get that speed on the long runs are more about time on feet and fuel conversion than a tasty pace and to save that for the race.

So, net, I am a plan convert 100%, whilst it comes with no guarantee, (indeed a wise man once said, the marathon is a fickle mistress and truly, anything can happen), it does give you the best possible chance of hitting a goal. It makes things simpler. It makes things fun and interesting. It makes things safer and healthier.


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