Autumn Marathon Training Plan

So I’ve got 21 weeks before my first marathon, looking for a reasonable 16 week training plan which would give me 5 weeks to build up my base distance.

Was running HMs at 1.32/33 at the end of last year but after a very poor start to 2019 I need to get my base miles and fitness back up. Ran 21 miles this week which is the most in one week in 2019 (I did say poor start).

What is your current average running mileage per week, for the last consistent period?

Take that, say it 28 miles per week, then round it up to 30. That’s your weekly mileage target.
First week, do that.
Second week, drop it back 30%.
Third week, back up to 30.
Fourth week, drop it by 50%.
Start at first week, but plus 5 miles.
Assess how running 35 felt, adjust the third week if required.

Repeat that four times.
Do one interval session at target race pace and/or above per week.
Mix them up to keep it interesting.
Stuff like pyramids (400/800/1.6/800/400), km repeats, mile repeats.
You can ditch these in the easier weeks for Kenyan Hill repeats; run up a 3-5% incline at an easyish pace, then back down at the same pace. Then repeat with no recovery. Do that 4-6 times, then recover at the bottom, before repeating.
Drive into the incline and focus on form and knee lifting and all that jazz.

Throw in one tempo session per week, but the slightly easier one; warm up for a mile, then run 3-5 miles building up to just above race pace by the end of that final mile. This gradual turning of the screw is quite hard to get right, but easier on the legs than smashing out three miles at race pace.
Cool down for a mile or so.
You can keep this in the second week, but dial it right back in Week 4.

You then have one, or two, long runs per week.
All other runs are just really easy filler runs.

Aim of this method is solely to increase running economy. So think about how you’re running and why. Use the time for visualisation and imagine how you want to run, then work on that.

That might not be suitable for you, but it’s what I’m doing until October.

What else are you training for this year? do you have a history of big mileage weeks? max youve ever done consistently uninjured?

Thanks @Poet sounds like a simple plan to work up and is based on my training capacity. I think I would start at 25 miles and work up from there. Would get to 40 miles by the 4th round which for me should put me in a good place.

I’ve got an Oly Tri the month before but I’m not seriously training for it. I’ve gone to consistent 30 mile weeks but it has felt like my capacity (yes, weak compared to some of the mileage junkies on here).

OK so some cross training in there and not running 6 days a week? the way i would work it out is along the lines of a long run ~ 50% of the weekly mileage, keep it very easy, then 1 run about 25%-35% with a large portion at MP and then filler runs for the other 15%-25%. Use a couple swims a week as easy recovery and add some bike, again more as easy leg spinners. Usual caveat build up weekly no more than ~10% , slightly easier week every 3 or 4 depending on age and your need for recovery.

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It’s those longer runs that knacker you up.
The 10% rule is pretty basic, most people running 30mpw can quite easily go up to 35mpw without any ill effects.

As multi sport athletes, I’m hoping the 30% drop back in the second week not only gives the running legs a chance to recover, but also allows for more time cycling and some harder efforts on the bike.

Fully agree with using swimming as recovery.
savaloy mentions it on the legacy site, in reply to JWs sub-75 minute attack on Cardiff HM.

Problem with what hammerer is suggesting (and I believe he is a qualified coach and I am not!) is when you get to 40mpw.
You really don’t want to be running anywhere near 20 miles as a long run AND another run of 13 miles.
I’ve capped my long runs at 16 miles, with the other distance coming from a double run day. They are evenly spaced out, with filler between, maybe some intervals and tempo, based on feel at the time.

I’d be inclined to say most miles should be done at the really easy pace, maybe 45% of miles coming from those jogs.

It’s all about economy and efficiency.
Getting used to running.
You don’t get that by taking two days off running to recover from a long/hard effort.

Also, getting up to 60mpw means that something has to give. For me, that’ll be cycling.
In its slot goes recovery swimming, then when I’d swim, I’m adding in foam roller work, stretching and all the stuff you should do, but don’t.
I think running 30mpw you can get away with it, but double that? Nah! You’re gonna need to take care of those legs (for me, the ITB and hammies)

The beauty of this method is the utter simplicity.
If you feel bad, just drop back to when you last felt fine with the mileage and repeat that cycle and try again.

My mileage, from when i started this last week and achieved 30+ miles, is below. In four week cycles;

30 21 30 15
35 24 35 18
40 28 40 20
45 31 45 22
50 35 50 25
55 38 55 27
60 42 60 30

You might find 5 miles jumps easy, so you can do more, or less.

I read loads of stuff into how to improve 10k-HM times. A lot of it was really complicated, with no pullback options.
What I say above, seems really simple to replicate week in-week out.
And, from previous experience, it’s consistency that gets you to the next level.

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That was a very loose generic guide. You definitely need to be doing 20miles, maybe even 22 at times, not every week but in the peak phase. Also 10 miles midweek (25%) with 6 at MP shouldn’t be too tough. Then maybe a shorter long run and longer harder MP run another week. It really does depend on the athlete and their needs and goals. I will say most people’s long runs are way too fast. Alex Yee in peak for 10k last year was up at 95miles. His weekly average pace was 8min/miles. And he did 10k interval sessions at race pace in that. So unless you can run 27.51 for 10k 8min miles is not an easy run for most

Reading back, maybe my comment wasn’t clear;

You really don’t want to be running anywhere near 20 miles as a long run AND another run of 13 miles.

Those 20 mile runs are a killer. As are the 22 ones! If your race time is 3hrs, you don’t need to run for any duration greater than that, do you?

That’s good to read about Alex Yee.
Most of the stuff I read was about people’s “filler” runs and long runs being WAY WAY too fast, too.
I was reading about US track athletes averaging 8:00/mile during 70-85mpw with speedwork, so what Yee was doing is very similar.

I’m aiming for 8:20/mile for my long runs, but it’s been pretty hard running that slow.

I don’t think you are reading at all :joy:

Back when I started running marathons well. (7 years ago now) I did not follow a plan, but I did run a high number of mid distance runs (4 a week * 13 miles, this was basically my commute so fitted in well. I then cycled the other way). During that training phase, I only did 2 long runs of 18 miles+ and based on that it was the first time I broke 3 hours

I am not suggesting you follow that craziness, but my point is that I think there is excellent aerobic gain (or whatever the correct term is) between 1:30 and 2:00 hours. If you can push a bit further then great, but don’t worry if you cant.

I still use this as the basis for all my marathons and I ain’t doing to bad for an old fella.

So 2 * 13 miles to save the legs I think is better than 1 * 20 and 1 * 10 at this stage. A few weeks near the end, push out one of those runs to 20 miles.

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At this stage but he is talking about a progressive 16 week plan with a 5 week build into that. No one is suggesting 20miles long runs and 10miles at MP this week. Whilst some people can get away without doing the longer runs there is still a place for them. It is not one size fits all or everyone would copy the same off the shelf plan and run sub 3. If you are not used to running more than 90minutes, Im not sure how you could expect to run at MP for 3 hours.

Balancing long runs for efficiency (first turn point) with gradually increasing MP runs is key…everything else complements this. Developing form (race specific), active recovery, nutrition and hydration should be a priority.

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So really slow long runs to keep HR nice and low.

Target MP for me is just under 8mm to get under 3.30 which I think I could manage up to 10 miles now. Jack Daniels calculator puts my marathon pace closer to 7.21mm which would be 3.12.xx however I think that’s way too aggressive for my first at this distance.

abstract here may be useful…

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A bit of Fisher and Pearson, nice link.

Is it saying, run more, but slower, to get quicker?
But you have to do some short intervals and tempo runs, too?

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Summary total volume is most important, do easy runs to increase total volume (presumable to do so without getting injured/overtraining).

Tempo runs are good, short intervals are (less) good, long intervals are (much less) good.

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Yup. That’s what I guessed.

The short interval stuff is my favourite (after 8-10km jogs with the dog)
They’re super interesting, hard and leave you feeling destroyed for about an hour or two afterwards.

I used to dread the 8-10 mile “race” pace runs.
They were a chore. Just boring and laborious.
And you wouldn’t feel wrecked immediately after, but later on in the day/the night/the next day it’d whack you around the head.

I’m glad that paper backs up my new run plan!!!

…ever hear of a guy named Maffetone?

I assume it’s explained in the body of the report, but what constitutes ‘short’, what constitutes ‘long’ and the old favourite, exactly what pace/distance is a tempo run?
And from a tri specific angle, can easy bike/swim be swapped for easy run and still get the same benefit (from high total time) or is their a bio-mechanical benefit to slow running?

That’s not what the paper describes as “long intervals”. By that they mean 1-2k intervals at a fraction under max effort.

The table at the bottom of page 3 is quite interesting in terms of seeing total distance spent doing each type of training. Tempo is above both short and long intervals combined. Easy running, as you would expect, forms c65% of total volume.

It’s also interesting that despite the results suggesting that longer intervals are less effective, the coaching philosophy seems to have gone the other way. After 3 years of study, short intervals had a higher average total. After 7 years, long intervals had comfortably overtaken them.