RW Forum Six – Sub 2.50 Kier with Parkrunfan

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23/12/2012 at 14:24

Should be a good thread! 

23/12/2012 at 15:28

Only joshing, yourself and prf both have to decide how much running you are both prepared to build into your lives in the next few months and then see where that gets you both fitness wise, given whatever gets thrown at you life/injury/illness wise along the way, but agreed that a target of 2:50 will get you both out the door.

23/12/2012 at 15:37

As is tradition on these things, for those who are interested, here is some background.

Here is my competition entry:

I am a really busy person who has lots of kids and a really busy life and want lots of free Asics stuff! Vote for me. 

I’m a male in my late 30s and ran 2.54 at Abingdon in 2010. I have a place at VLM this year (I’m an excited VLM virgin). My target is to get under 2.50. Although I have a GFA place I will also be running for a charity as I enjoy making close family and friends feel uncomfortably guilty and giving me money. I’m considering a Guiness fancy dress WR, but struggling to find a light weight Rhino suit!

Over the past year I’ve had another child (well, not me personally, but I was partly responsible for her arrival) and rather than stress about marathon training on a lack of sleep, I’ve been working on my speed and cycling skills – resulting in a top 3 and a clutch of other reasonable duathlon results. However before I get persuaded to embrace the darkside and hit the pool, I’d like to have a couple more years of chasing marathon pbs.

For the past month or so I've been HADD base building between 50 – 60mpw and planning to run up to 80mpw for the campaign. I’m getting out for 1 ride of around 45m and would like to incorporate the odd bike session, just to keep those cycling legs for the summer months. My strength is my endurance, whilst my weakness is speedwork. I prefer the pain to be dialled down a notch for several hours rather than on max for a few minutes.

Before VLM I’ve a few build up races planned – including a night time 33m Ultra and would quite like a crack at a sub 80min HM in the spring. However the 2.49.xx is the A goal and everything else is flexible (dependant on mentor approval!).

Although In the past I’ve adapted P&D to fit my plans, my anal side really enjoys the planning constant rewriting involved marathon plan training. Where I feel a mentor could help me would be as a ‘critical friend’ who could guide and question some of my planned training sessions and help to identify areas for development (so long as it isn't intervals!). I would also like a thread all about me to fuel my already enormous ego. I promise this experience won’t change me and I’ll always sign autographs.

5k = 17.59 (Ashford 2012)
5m = 30.31 (Mid Kent 2012)
10k = 37.19 (Rye 2011)
10m = 63.32 (Folkestone 2011)
13.1 = 81.39 (Lydd 2012)
26.2 = 2.54.24 (Abingdon 2011)

23/12/2012 at 15:50

After many years of bike racing I got to the point that in order to progress I would need to drive all around the country to races each weekend. Rather than do this I spent a season time-trialling then stopped in 2005, changed profession and started a family. By 2009 the lure of outdoors was too great, so I started to go for a run in the mornings up the lane. By the summer I managed to run for 1hr so decided I could probably train to tick off the marathon off the ‘to do’ list at some point. I entered an autumn HM and ran 1.44 which I improved 1 month later to 1.35. Inspired I did a search on training and came across Hilly’s old RW Mike Gratton thread. Having read from start to finish I then posted on Matchstickmans Liz Yelling thread and was inspired to run competitively for a time. Although I missed the Spring marathon due to injury, I averaged 30mpw to achieve 3.09 at Abingdon 2010 (thanks to advice from MM amongst others on the sub 3.15 thread).

The next obvious target was sub 3 and I maintained some fitness through the winter. Over 19 weeks I loosely followed P&D and including taper I averaged 46mpw – peaking at 75m (thanks to Race Jase for looking over this plan). Most weeks were between 50 – 56miles. The 5 longest LSRs = 109miles and included a training 26.5m run. Although I had entered Halstead I got a cold in the final week, so cancelled and entered Orpington marathon the following weekend. It was quite lumpy and had a few junctions where you had to wait for traffic lights to stop the traffic so you could cross the road! I was pretty pleased with 2nd overall and 3.03.48 as I felt it was an equivalent run to a sub 3.

For Abingdon 2010 I averaged 55m inc taper over 19 weeks – again P&D based with some tweaks (mainly more LSRs and less MLRs) (thanks to TR for looking over this one). 7 LSRs over 21miles, ave 5 furthest = 116m. I ran a marathon 6 wks out at PMP+60sec which was comfortable and mentally boosting. I also pb’d at a HM with 83.58 3 weeks out and despite it being slower than I wanted, I knew I had gone out too hard and also had tired legs. Abingdon itself went well – first 5k @ sub 3 pace which I then stepped up to go through HM in 1.27 and although I lost a bit over the final 3 miles as the road slightly rises, I was pleased with sub 2.54.24.



23/12/2012 at 16:02

Since then I decided to get my leg over again (in both meanings - new baby in Feb and new bike in May) and focused on duathlons. I managed a season including a win and several top 3s. This also allowed me to focus on speed and despite averaging 20 - 30mpw I lowered my HM time to 81.40 in March and was only 2sec slower than my 10k pb the week later. But combining the running and cycling caused an injury (which turned out to be from cycling in flats without orthotics) and  missed VLM - where I was going to attempt sub 2.50.

After a couple of months off I focused on intensity - both running and cycling - and lowered my 5k pb to 17.59 and managed to get within 90sec of sub 1hr for 25m TT. Although I was hoping for a good season of autumn duathlons, all this effort was too much and I got stale and fed up. With this in mind, I decided to return to basics in november and have been following a HADD approach (thanks to Brian and others for advice). For the past 6 weeks I have run between 50 - 60mpw building from all runs @ 70% max HR - built up some @ 75% runs and am now am running mostly @ 75% with 1 - 2 runs @ 80%max. This approach has allowed me to get up to a relatively high weekly mileage quite quickly without the usual niggles (I hadn't run 60mpw since Sept 2010). Knocking out 11-14miles twice per week with a LSR between 16 - 18m has been relatively easy as well.

23/12/2012 at 16:15

Training. I've had a bit of a cold this week, so moved some sessions around and shortened others.This week has been:

5M rec @70% / 11M @75% / 5M rec @70% / REST (cold) / 11.5M inc 20min @80% / 8M easy 75% / 14.5M @75% inc 72min @80% - total 55Miles. Nothing speedy - just nice solid base building. 

23/12/2012 at 16:42
Congratulations Keir. Really interested to see how you progress. I still use what I learnt from Gobi and the whole experience made me a better runner. Good luck with the training and achieving your target.
23/12/2012 at 18:18

Some good background information there, Keir.

As far as the mentoring process is concerned, I see it as bringing an extra set of eyes to review the training as it progresses and hopefully add a few pertinent suggestions which may help the process along.

In one sense, the difference between 2:54 and 2:49 isnt much at all but then again we all know that an extra 12 secs per mile can become a huge mental burden if too much focus is placed on that rather than concentrating on getting the basic training components right. As long as focus is on the inputs rather than the outputs and that leads to standing on the start line at Greenwich confident that there is a good marathon campaign under the belt, then the performance on the day will be whatever it will be.

As for Hilly's relevant question of what can a mentor with a similar target bring to the party I think the most valuable resource I have is that I have managed to cock up marathons in just about every way imaginable (about 22-24 in total), so know quite a bit about what not to do.

As a bit of background, I am old enough for my sub 2:50 clockings (2:48 PB) to now be adults in their own rights, having been run in the 1990-93 period.

I then had a little 15 year break and started again in 2008, as many do, at 5 stone overweight. I race quite a lot so have completed about 320 races of various sorts on the comeback trail with 7 marathons progressing as follows:
3:24, DNF, 3:08, 3:04, 3:18, 2:57, 2:55 with the last two being VLM this year and Chester 10 weeks ago.

At 46 I'm quite pleased with how this is going so far and want to see if I can get to sub 2:45 in the next couple of years and then again as a V50. If not, then at least I will have got a lot of enjoyment out of trying.

So that we can concentrate on Keir's training on here I will be blogging my activities here, as I did for the two sub 3 attempts this year.

So best of luck, Keir. I'm sure the next 4-5 months are going to be a very enjoyable process.......

A couple of comments so far on what you have outlined.

1. A few years ago I would have winced at the thought of a 33 mile ultra in the build up. However, I would not have any such concerns any more. As an example, in the build up to Chester a certain challenge involved running 70 miles over 2 days 6 weeks out from the marathon.

Far from being detrimental, recovery was swift and led to comeback PBs at 5K (17:25) 6 days later and over a mile (5:00.2) the following week along with a boost in strength for the remainder of the campaign.

However, the key thing here was keeping the pace of the 70 miles of running under control. Too much stress in terms of pace would undoubtedly have led to a less positive marathon outcome so to use the ultra as a positive boost I would advise keeping a lid on the pace.

2. I note you ran a marathon at MP +60 6 weeks before Abingdon. If you manage to maintain mileage closer to 80mpw during this campaign I would suggest, maybe counter intuitively,  that you try to move this session a little closer to marathon day, eg 3-4 weeks out.

Looking forward to seeing the rough campaign outline.....

Edited: 23/12/2012 at 18:23
23/12/2012 at 19:10

Crongratulations Keir.

Another thread to follow, I struggle with one!!

23/12/2012 at 19:35

Thanks for the answer Keir and very logical too  You have made some excellent progress and I see some good names of people you have drawn from their experience - PRF is another good person and I'm sure you will benefit from having him to knock ideas off!  I look forward to seeing the training and this thread develop!

23/12/2012 at 19:43

Congrats Keir - great to have PRF on board. I shall enjoy following your progress every day!

23/12/2012 at 19:52

Keir - you mention Hadd and a couple of those runs this week look like sessions derived from the late great coach.  Your conversions look reasonably consistent for a guy so it will be interesting to see which areas you plan to focus on for this campaign.

23/12/2012 at 20:42

Thanks everyone for posting / well wishes. Good to see so many sub 3.15ers who I have previous spoken to and sub 3ers who I have spied upon!

I have just sent PRF a copy of my training plan for this year, as well as the histry of my training for all my previous marathons. A bit of an epic spreadsheet, but if anyone else would like a copy, send me a PM with your email address. It will give you something to read whilst the kids open their stockings. 

Alternatively, after PRF has rewritten my plan  I'll post all training planned on here, a few weeks at a time.

But as a taster - here is what I have planned for the rest of the year:

15M over the fields, Downs and through the mud wth a mate / rest / 10M 75% to the inlaws / 5M recovery 70% / 12M inc 70min @80% / 8M inc 10x100m strides / 18M hilly LSR 75% / 5M recovery + 2x20min turbo efforts (not looking forward to the turbo, so if someone drags me out on the bike before hand, I won't do these).

24/12/2012 at 00:14

Hi again Keir, don't know how you squeeze in all the family life & mileage. How do you fit it all in and when do you go out running? Also, would it be possible to let us know what paces your 80%, 75%, 70% etc equate to? Do you base your paces on predicted mara pace or heart rate? Sorry - loads of questions! Thanks.

24/12/2012 at 08:06

KR - a structured Hadd programme would see the athlete (in Phase 1 aerobic base building) undertaking two `work' sessions per week with anywhere between 45 and 60 mins of work within a medium long run.  At the earliest stages, one might be in the HR zone of 77-80% MHR and the other 80-83%.  The work time may typically be split into sections - e.g. 3 x 20 mins progressing to 2 x 30 mins then 1 x 60 mins.  Once the athlete has done a few weeks of these, and can complete the session with little or no drop off in pace, then (s)he is ready to work at higher HRs, so the sessions would move to 80-83% and 83-86%.

The final weeks may include shorter sessions which get up to 90+% MHR as sharpeners.

Therefore the idea is to base the sessions on effort level, rather than goal pace.  It's a case of starting from where you are, not where you want to be in three months' time.

24/12/2012 at 09:20
A great thread that I will follow with interest. I am looking at a similar target for VLM. My PBs are a tiny but sharper than yours Keir, but like me they are a bit older. I have had an injury impaired period for the last 2 years or so during which I have done loads of steady plodding and lots of strengthening work. My hope is the wheels don't fall off when I try full on training again in 2013. I have always been in the low mileage camp, and will follow (extremely loosely) a cut-off P&D type plan.

Nice to see so many old faces here.
24/12/2012 at 10:40

This heart rate stuff confuses my poor little brain. I do have a heart rate strap, but I find it so uncomfortable to wear that it has been consigned to the back of a drawer! They may be fine for fellas, but for us girlies the positioning is a little awkward. Added to that, I tend to wear a cheapo camelback style bag for my long runs and the front strap of that is in the same place. Bra strap + HRM strap  + hydration pack strap = major chaffage!

24/12/2012 at 10:52

Keir has been kind enough to send me his plan for VLM - there was so much colour in it that it caused me to have flashbacks to saturday mornings of old spent watching the exploits of Noel Edmonds, Keith Chegwin and Posh Paws!


The first observation was that it was evident straight away why Abingdon went so well by looking at the 8 weeks of training carried out from 10 weeks out to 4 weeks out (ie the hard graft period of training).

This period contained within it:

Progressive runs of - 14, 13, 16 and 16 miles

LSRs of - 21, 24, 20, 20, 23, 20 and 26

Interval sessions - 6x800, 4x1600, 6x1200 and 6x800

Total Mileage - 542 miles (avge 68)


Moving on to the current plan for the same 8 weeks:

Progressive runs - None actually mentioned although I'm sure they're in there somewhere!

LSRs - 20, 33, 21 miles

Interval Sessions - 24x200, 5x600, 16x400, 6x1000, 5x600, 24x200,

(followed by firther interval sessions of 5x1200, 3x1600 and 3x1600 in the final 4 weeks)

Total Mileage - 491 miles (avge 61 miles)


Now all these sessions have a benefit of course but in terms of pecking order of getting most bang for your buck for marathon specific benefits I far prefer the look of the former to the latter.

This is where my litany of marathon cock up may come in handy . Many moons ago, while under the guidance the late Frank Horwill, my marathon build up was a cycle of 8x600, 4x1600, 3x3200 repeated throughout the program. They certainly developed what they were designed to deliver, ie speed, but they became too much of a focus and overbalanced the campaign too much towards speed.

The end result was reaching 20 miles in 1:59:59 but then suffering an agonising death march through the last 10K in 49 minutes.

Intervals of the like of 4x1600 (say 6 sessions over 8 weeks) are absolutely ideal for bringing yourself to a peak for race distances of 5K - 10 miles but for marathon training they slip down the pecking order somewhat.


As an example of how I now structure things, instead of a week that was planned as, say:

Tues: 4 x 1600
Sun: 22 mile LSR

I would prefer;

Tues: 10 mile progressive run in 61-63 minutes. This would start relaxed at maybe 6:45 pace, gently accelerating throughout PMP at around the 3 mile mark, through HMP at about 7 miles and then culminating in a last mile a little under 10K pace, maybe a 5:50 or so.

Sun: 22 miles consisting of 18 miles very gently (maybe 8:00/mile) followed by a progressive final 4 miles looking something like 7;30, 6;40, 6:10, 5:50.


The marathon specific benefits, both physically and mentally, of accelerating the pace to below 6:00/mile for the 22nd mile of a run, regardless of the pace of the earlier part of the run, are far greater than you could ever get from a 4x1600 on fresh legs in my opinion.

So, there is the first discussion point for everyone to get stuck into - the balance between different session types in a marathon campaign......


24/12/2012 at 10:57

24 x 200m? What on earth for? How would that session benefit your marathon? That's the kind of session a miler would do isn't it? No wonder you hate intervals Keir!

24/12/2012 at 11:04

BR - thanks for clearing up the 'Hadd' thing for me. Have seen a lot on the forums about it from what I've read I can see some real benefit in it. It's very easy to fall in the trap of running too much, early on, at marathon goal pace especially for those of us that have been faster in the past and returning to serious training.

OS - good luck with the campaign. Be great to be going at a similar target to Keir. This looks like being an exciting thread to follow!

KR - good questions! Looking forward to the answers!

Keir B- I'll PM you my email address and look forward to getting your training plan over. Be good to see the revised one as well.

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