Goal – a spring marathon under three hours

This is the first post in a cycle of my workout posts. I will present my goals for the upcoming season and a draft of a macro-cycle plan preparing me for a start in a spring marathon – in my case it is probably going to be Orlen Warsaw Marathon at the end of April. In the following posts I will relate to specific phases of training and I will be summing-up the work done.

Year 2016 was generally successful for me in terms of running, or at least the first part of the year was worked honestly and hard, which resulted in new best times on five and ten kilometer runs and in marathon. The second part of the year began with a difficult time for me due to changes in my professional life and mental fatigue; actually I have not run a single hard long run, and few regular long runs that were supposed to be easy, turned out to be a real struggle. All of that made me stop the ongoing training cycle, decide not to run the autumn marathon and start deconditioning. Why I did this? Probably I could have tried to run autumn marathon in 3:20 or so, but as far I know my organism, it would be a real struggle and a risky tactics – I simply wouldn’t have been elongated properly, and such bad marathon preparation for a man weighing some 86kg makes marathon running a really bad experience. I have run marathon eight times and I happened to overestimate my preparations few times… A break in training also convinced me to start doing something I already wanted to do a long time ago, that is to start writing about running – which is what I am just doing now :). That is how I made a decision to do a good long training cycle with a precise and ambitious goal. In 2017 I want to break three hours in marathon… Today I lack not only elongation, but also I need to get faster on shorter distances. My best times in shorter races (19:34/5km, 41:24/10km and 1:32:53/HM) need an upgrade by respectively 1min/5km, 2,5min/10km and around 8min/HM. The thing that lets me think I can do it is a reserve in body weight – I still have few kilograms to lose (I think I can lose up to 4 kilograms from my current weight (86kg). That by itself should improve my results and flatten my running profile, especially that my best times I did weighing around 88 kilograms.

My first training cycle will be the one for the Orlen Warsaw Marathon in April 2017, and if I will not make it, I will move my main goal for autumn Warsaw Marathon.

Is my goal reachable… I think, that if I succeed in realizing the main training principles, then yes – it is reachable, far away but possible to grasp, after all, only such goals can really motivate. Yes, I am ready for this!

Now, let’s get to business:

Until the 9th of October 2016 I will get back to training and reach an average mileage of previous training cycle – that is around 50km/week

I suppose that Orlen Warsaw Marathon 2017 will be held on the 22nd of April 2017, so I have 28 weeks until that date. I plan to divide this time to four phases in the following way:

  1. Eight weeks of base training phase
  2. six weeks of initial quality training phase
  3. six weeks of transition quality training phase
  4. eight weeks of final quality training phase

Ad 1. In the first phase, my goals are:

  • Adaptation to high mileage
  • Injury prevention

To achieve those goals I will mainly do easy runs and general strength training. Mileage I will build slowly until I will reach 80km/week. In the first part of this phase I will introduce strides by the end of some easy runs, and in the second part of this phase I will start doing running strength exercises. By the end of this phase I will do a running test (5 or 10 kilometers, probably – a Parkrun race or some 10k race).

Besides the training itself there are two other things that are important for the final success: first – weight control – until the spring marathon I should lose around 4kg, and second, rest – I have to increase the amount of sleep to, at least 6,5 – 7 hours/day… Yes I know that it is still not enough, but I have work, family and hobby, so I usually go to sleep after midnight and I get up at six, and each year I have less and less time.

Ad 2. In the second phase I will focus on building running strength and tempo endurance. For this I will use strides, hill runs, multiple jumps exercise and Tempo runs according to Jack Daniels’s method. In the first part of this phase I will do tempo runs during Parkrun races. Additionally, I will start to elongate the Sunday long run until I reach 120min.

Ad 3. This is the most difficult phase for me, normally I introduce VO2max intervals, but this time, as my main goal is marathon, I will move away from a classic Daniels’s third phase and I will execute  VO2max Intervals and tempo runs in turns. Wednesdays, I will run them as series of shorter runs, and Saturdays, I will run them in one piece during Parkrun races (generally  VO2max intervals should be run in intervals of max 5min long, but even according to Jack Daniels, similar benefits can be achieved by a 3-5km race. I chose this method because classic interval session is particularly difficult for me to execute. I usually have problems in keeping a pace on 5min intervals – a pace that I can keep for 20 minutes during a race… It works for me, besides I really like to run Parkruns). Strength training will be hard, but only once a week, additionally I will do one long bike ride.

Ad 4. In the last phase one need to let go a little and feel the lightness of running. For this purpose I will reduce running strength exercises and exchange one session for a session of strides – it should upkeep strength and reduce fatigue in the same time. For the same purpose I will exchange a strength training for a stability workout, executed after easy runs. My special session will be a long Tempo run on Wednesdays and a long run on Sundays – executed as an easy long run or an increasing tempo run (E-M).

In the middle of the last phase I will run the Warsaw Half marathon, from the result of which I will calculate my tempo for the Orlen Warsaw Marathon start.

Those are my general assumptions, specific plans, distances and tempos, as well as additional exercises I will present in consecutive posts.

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