RW Forum Six – Sub 2.50 Kier with Parkrunfan

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24/12/2012 at 11:06

9M in the mud at 7am. Slow pace but it was really muddy and hilly. Good fun. 

Come on then guys. Time for some of you with sub 3 / sub 2.50 goals to share your history / current training / training plans. I've kicked things off over the past few posts, but it is all going to be a bit boring here if it is all about me and PRF (no offence meant PRF).

24/12/2012 at 11:08


Be interesting following this thread over the coming months. My schedule is going to look something like:

Mon - 5 recovery or swim
Tues - Club session (intervals/tempo/hill reps type stuff)
Wed - 12-15 medium long (wed or thurs depending on lectures/fatigue)
Thurs - 6-7 easy/steady
Fri - rest of 5 recovery
Sat - Mixture of park runs/recovery/tempo depending on timing of schedule
Sun - LSR (aiming for 8 20+ I'd say)

Will feel my way as I go, no mega high mileage what with long days of study day in day out but will probably peak at 75ish. Try and keep a steady 60-65 going with more faster stuff thrown in than before. Much more relaxed about resting when knackered and taking a day off rather than forcing things and following a schedule blindly like I have done before.

As long as I keep the club session, medium long run and long sunday run going the rest will follow. Going to aim to keep the long runs all sensibly paced to begin with and start adding in 10m MP tempo efforts midweek once I get to middle or end of feb (fortnightly maybe)

No idea what to expect, I've run 2.58 in Amsterdam but I've never got close to converting my half time which currently stands at 1.18.56 and was 1.20.06 going into London 2011. I'm definitely faster thesedays with my half time and a 36.17 on a slowish 10k route than when I last ran the marathon but will just see what happens over the coming months. Aiming at a sub 1.18 in Bath in March.



Edited: 24/12/2012 at 11:11
24/12/2012 at 11:10

PRF - x-post so hadn't read it when writing last post! Great detail. I like the look at those progressive runs at the end of a 22 miler. I may try to incorporate something similar.(probably a bit slower though!!!). Having said that, I've always liked mile reps in my marathon training so will probably keep them there for the time being.

looking forward to Keir's response!

24/12/2012 at 11:29


I started HADD training in the autumn. I was wanting to rebuild my base after a year of relatively low mileage where I focuses on faster stuff and on the bike. Having read a bit of Mark Allen's conversion to low intensity training, remembering Gobi training Martin H to run slow and my years of cycling steady through the winter I did some research and came across HADD. If you fancy a bit of background reading I have found this and this as really useful links.

Pace really doesn't entering into it - but as a guide when I started in November I was running 70% max HR (I calculated my Max HR from a max test, whilst also taking into account previous HRs from race perfromances at Marathon, HM, 10k and 5k) at around 9m/m - and felt so slow. This has now improved somewhat and 75% is around 8m/m whilst 80% is 7.35m/m.

To put that into context for Speedy and others - In the past I have always trainned and raced to pace. I have worn a HRM but only for interest. The HADD aproach has meant that I have now 'capped' my HR for different runs, so that I deliberately slow down if I try too hard! My Max HR (100%) is 190bpm. From the average of my best races I can see that I average 175bpm (92%) for 10k 173 (91%) 171 bpm for HM (90%) and 162 for marathon (85%). 

I will try to comment on others posts later. My wife if getting the baby to sleep and I am supposed to be washing up whilst the other 2 are watching cbeebies!

24/12/2012 at 11:47

KR - Regarding fitting it al in - I am a middle manager in a school - which is 40m away and takes 45min motorway commuting time from each direction. I am also retraining to become the schools Special Education Needs Co-ordinator - which means I spend 1 day per month at Uni on the 1st year of a degree. I have kids aged 6 (year 1) 4 (preschool) and 10months. It is a bit of a juggle, but then I speak to other people who seem to do much more with greater demands on their time. 

In the past I took saturday as a rest / family time day, although recently I have been able to negotiate 60-90mins running time on Sat. Sunday I have till midday - so the earlier I get up, the more training I can do. During the week I find early mornings - 5.30 - 6am starts are the best. I need to leave the house at 7am, but sometimes I can stretch that to leave a bit later and fit in a 90min run. I also have Weds eve free - I don't go home after school but run before my clubs stretching session. Again I can fit in up to 2 1/2hrs then, unless I have a parents or school governors meeting (oh yes, I am one of 2 staff governors) which is my 'evening off' used up for the week. 

In actual fact I have a lot of respect for RS78. Fitting training in when you have limited time is challenging but routine is key. When your days change and lack structure, as happens with varying deadlines and parties involved in student life, it is really hard to keep the consistency required for endurance training. 

Cheerful Dave    pirate
24/12/2012 at 11:48
parkrunfan wrote (see)

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). 

That was certainly hard graft, 8 weeks of training in 6 weeks.  No wonder he pb'd!

parkrunfan wrote (see)

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

Well there are many ways to skin the marathon cat, and as long as the basic endurance runs are there then I think much of the rest is incidental as long as there's quality there and it's not just long plods for the sake of maximising mileage.  Midweek tempo 10 miler or long intervals?  My midweek running is at lunchtime, so 10 miles isn't possible and the intervals win.  As you say, intervals shouldn't be the focus though - I don't get hung up on the pace of them as long as they're at a hard effort. 

24/12/2012 at 12:48
parkrunfan wrote (see)
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......


For many the argument for some interval sessions is principally a physiological argument.  I.e. if you believe that a higher LT would improve marathon performance and that some intervals at slightly above LT are a way of increasing LT, then what is the best type of session for raising LT?  Well many would argue that (for example) getting a specific session with 5m (e.g. 2 * 2.5m) at this pace gives you more time at that intensity than a couple of miles at the end of a long run.

More than one type of specificity really - some specificity in terms of physiological improvement and some marathon race specificity. 

I do think there is room for a third 'type' of session whereby you can maximise that work at a specific intensity, but make it a longish more race specific session and introduce elements of overall fatigue whilst doing quality.  Not rocket science but something like 3m warm up and then 3 * (15:00 HMP / 15:00 easy) gives you an almost two hour run with 45 minutes at HMP.  For lower mileage types this may sometimes end up being both a quality session and a medium long run.

In reality much of this is dictated by your background (frequency and length of recent long runs for e.g.) and the rate at which you recover....  Long runs with quality can catch you out a few days later, whereas the shorter stuff gives you more immediate and obvious feedback.  e.g. often 2 days after faster mile reps you feel it, 2 days after a successful quality long run you are still feeling on top of the world and more likely to do another workout and then it all catches up with you at once (individual results may vary!).

I'm not a fan of long sessions of 200s / 400s in marathon training but for some people with already good short-distance to marathon conversion shorter intervals may have benefits on perceived effort in more relevant workouts - but in that case they are best mixed with a more appropriate run, e.g. 4 * 200m | 6m @ MP | 4 * 200m.


24/12/2012 at 12:49

Meant to say this should be a really interesting thread.

24/12/2012 at 13:02

Previous road marathons:-

2001 - Manchester - 3:14 (off 45 mpw)
2002 - Sheffield - 2:54 (off 80mpw)
2002 - Nottingham - 2:50 (off 80mpw)
2003 - London - 2:49 (off 80-90mpw)
2003 - Nottingham - 2:51 (off 80-90mpw)

At this point I was banging my head against a brick wall.  I was running high 33s for 10k, 74.xx for HM yet could barely break 2:50 for the marathon.  I was introduced to the work of Hadd and received guidance from him  resulting in:-

2004 - London - 2:42
2004 - Abingdon - 2:42


2005 - London - 2:50
2007 - London - 2:51
2007 - Dublin - 2:59

Got myself back into marathon shape and changed my outlook from `I should be running xx pace' to `I am going to treat the marathon like any other race and try and run smart and beat as many people as I can on the day'.

2008 - Paris 2:45
2009 - North Dorset - 2:48
2009 - Wolverhampton - 2:54 (training run)
2009 - Abingdon - 2:49 (wished I gone easier on the training run)
2011 - London - 2:45
2012 - Hull - 2:42

I don't really have a plan as such but my favourite sessions are the long marathon pace to marathon pace plus 30 secs runs.  Sometimes I like to do these in a race, although the prohibitive cost of many events these days makes it less than worth the while.

If I had my time over again I would have built in more rest / recovery periods as I get pretty much full on for long periods of time.

24/12/2012 at 13:21

Keir - is that the statutory SENCO qualification?  My job involves advising school SENCOs / teachers on strategies to support children with ASD.

24/12/2012 at 13:34

I'll be lurking as and when I can whilst I return to my up to 70mpw P&D roots.  Best of luck, Keir.  Hope I finish within 10 minutes of you on April 21st

24/12/2012 at 13:57
We three Keir's of orient are... wrote (see)

Come on then guys. Time for some of you with sub 3 / sub 2.50 goals to share your history / current training / training plans.

So VLM 2012 2:50:28 and I will shoot at a sub 2:50 in autumn 2013 (although this will be Newcastle Town Moor which isn't the fastest of courses but is the BMAF champs race) and definitely 2014 for VLM.

History is fairly easy: I like to think of myslef as a fastish runner from my youth sub 34 10k, sub 56 10 mile), then a long spell in semi-retirement as work and family got busy (4 kids 20/18/15/13 so now the youngest is not so young) and then a return. I am not super fast but pace has never really been an issue so sub-6 minute miling  up to 20 miles means a sub 2:40 should have happened when I was younger but I never trained properly so crash and burn was the order of the day at 26.2.

For VLM 2012 the plan P&D so I started after Cabbage Patch 59:26 for 10 miles in Octber 2011 I built up the base so by Christmas I was running a long run of 20 miles. A few weeks easy over Christmas and then into a plan loosely based on P&D but really it was based round doing a number of X-C races, Wokingham half marathon and Finchley 20.

2:50 is 6:30 per mile so MP+10 is 7:09 and MP+20 is 7:48 and those are the key figures for long runs (not long slow runs, just long runs) so 10 miles out at 7:48 pace, turn and 10 miles back at 7:09. I did a whole load of long runs and did 5x21 and 2*20 and backed these up with piles of MLR which are in the 13 to 18 mile range.

No real runs with a whole lot of MP in them but a lot of MP miles as I raced throughout, did a lot of track reps (800, 1000, 1200, 1600 and 2000m reps made up to about 6,000 to 6,400m hard in any session) and I did Finchley 20 at even pace a bit faster than MP (so 20 miles in 2:08:11).

3 week taper and race. Best tip is to get a good pace maker in the race so you need to recruit MartinH.


Edited: 24/12/2012 at 13:57
Cheerful Dave    pirate
24/12/2012 at 14:08
Barnsley Runner wrote (see)

Got myself back into marathon shape and changed my outlook from `I should be running xx pace' to `I am going to treat the marathon like any other race and try and run smart and beat as many people as I can on the day'.

I had a similar change in approach - after yet another spring marathon blowout I decided it wasn't worth making it the sole focus of winter & spring training and treated it as just another race.  Result the following year was an 8 minute pb and a negative split (although I didn't realise at the time as I wasn't checking split times). 

I'm definitely someone who psychs themselves out of a decent run - lots of my best races have happened when I wasn't expecting to run particularly well, so I was more relaxed about the whole thing.  Others thrive on the pressure to perform though, it goes both ways.

24/12/2012 at 14:19

I'll be there but wont be chasing a 2:50. My campaign will be the usual running built into a couple of commutes and a long run, and it will get me to wherever it gets me.

I like the change of emphasis from should be running xx pace, but I couldnt care who beats me and 26.2 is long way to be racing folks for me, I simply run to a pace that I think I can hold (whatever length the race is). I like the ideas of being a lot more relaxed about it all though. Working out how much you are prepared to put in/sacrifice etc and then commiting to it and seeing where it gets you by race day, is a much better strategy than spening months stressing about paces and targets. Resolve to do your best on the day whatever it throws up and you save yourself a few months of wasted mental energy (or matches). 

I also do like BRs approach of only racing 10M or shorter too, I didnt do any build up races this year and have only entered 2x10k and am eyeing up a 10M, so BR has obviously been peeping at my schedule ! we have very similar ideas nowadays BR, (NFRS indeed eh ! ) - except you wont see me at a parkrun !

Edited: 24/12/2012 at 14:19
24/12/2012 at 14:51

Right chaps, for those that don’t know me or anything about my running this is the cut down version from my pitch. I will post up my training plan a bit later, busy day today…..

Target: sub 2:55 maybe even sub 2:50 we shall see……

My power of 10 profile -

As you can see from my PO10 profile I haven’t run a Marathon yet, but I have been involved in club running for a bit over two and a half years now. So I am coming at this as a Marathon novice.
Sporty as a kid, hit my 20s got drunk, smoked and eventually got fat. As a new year’s resolution in 2010 I decided to lose some weight, so started dieting, running with folks at work over lunchtime and bike rides on a weekend. In April 2010 I was persuaded to run a local league race for my work running club. Enjoyed it a month later I did another then another and thought to myself “if I’m going do this properly I need learn how to train properly” so I ended up posting on Runners World and joined my local running club. In August 2010 I ran my first proper race, the Ray Harrison Memorial 10k in Billingham, I ran it in 43:11 and I was hooked. Check out my PO10 to see how I have come on since then.

I am running the Manchester Marathon (the week after London), build up races entered so far are the Ribble Valley 10K this Sunday, Brass Monkey Half in Jan and Dewsbury 10k in Feb. Nothing else booked but I will probably have a sharpener in taper.

Training plan and thinking behind my approach to follow.

24/12/2012 at 15:01

Yeap. The NASCO course BR. 

Interesting reading. Good to see some lively debate starting up. 

Thanks for that quick analysis PRF. Am I right in thinking you are looking at the period 12 weeks out until 4 weeks out (an 8 week timeframe)?

In that case - my plan for 2013 for the same period (in reverse order) is:

LSRs: 21 (inc 14M PMP), 18M, 18M (inc HM raced), 15M (olympic duathlon also raced that wkend), 33M, 19M (inc 10M PMP), 18M, 15M (inc 10k raced). However the week before and after the ones here have 21M with at least 1 being progressive. I admit the LSRs are a bit light, but do include some racing miles which adds fatigue and also include the ultra.

Also included in this time are 10x 14-15M MLRs - I like your progressive idea which could be included within these?

The theory behind the intervals is when I ran my HM pb earlier this year, the session which seemed to make that happen was 6 weeks of this. Although specific for 10k I thought these intervals would benefit my LT for the marathon. What do you think?

Speedy - the 200m intervals are for the cherry on top of the icing (I think / thought!)

24/12/2012 at 15:55

When I started to put together a plan I was looking into Canova’s approach. The first version of the plan was put together with the help of a chap from the sub 3 thread. In fairness it was quite ambitious, since then I have amended the plan quite a bit and it has deviated quite a bit from what Canova has his athletes doing. However, the core principle is the same, or is at least my interpretation of it. The principle being; firstly work on aerobic conditioning (threshold) then move into an aerobic extension period (endurance – long run above 20 miles increase MLR as well) and then into a specific Marathon phase (MP in long runs, long runs at a bit slower than MP)

As far as I see it, the idea is simple, I am looking to increase the volume as I go along, the quality sessions get longer and slower with more specific Marathon sessions appearing, finishing with a few long runs with big chunks at MP. Hopefully, the aerobic conditioning phase will see me make some decent fitness gains, the specific period is about converting those gains upwards.  

A link to my plan  –

(Google changed the dates to American!!!)

I haven’t listed each and every run, just the quality runs, MLR and LSR. The rest of the week will be made up of as many easy miles as I can fit in without getting injured.
The earlier LSRs will be on hilly routes and some off road to build strength. Later on the long runs will be on flat routes as my Marathon is flat and I want to prepare my legs for the relentless pounding of a long flat road race.
On the plan where the session is non-specific, say 4 x 1m, or 4m tempo, just assume I will run a pace appropriate to the session. So 10k tempo will be run at or just a tad slower than HMP, 4m tempo at threshold, 4 x 1m @ 10k pace and so on.
MP is down as 6:29/m i.e 2:50 Marathon pace, but early on I will run to effort, I also wear a HR monitor so can keep an eye on that. I will though be stricter and will run to pace closer to M day.
I fully expect the plan to change plenty over the next few weeks, be interested to get some feedback.

Sorry for the me, me, me posts, I will have a proper read back and will get onto the debates.

24/12/2012 at 16:07

Cheerful Dave - Very observant. I did, of course, mean 12 weeks out to 4 weeks out.

Theres certainly plenty quality posting already from people who have been there and done it so we should all pick up the odd idea as this develops over the next few weeks..

Keir - I was actually looking at the weeks that you labelled 12 down to 5. There are certainly plenty runs in the 14-20 mile range to back up the 20+ efforts but again I would put up for discussion the balance between the two.

This isnt to say that we are talking rights and wrongs in any of this, we are more tinkering around at the edges.

On a very basic level, training for a marathon is about running plenty miles and running some of them a bit quicker. Everything else is mere detail.

But then when we start adding detail, we can home in on this 8 week period as being the powerhouse/engine of the marathon prep. Everything before is just about getting strong enough to tackle the 8 weeks with enthusiasm and the 4 weeks after is getting ready for race day.

1. Yes, the 14-15 MLRs would be ideal for the progressive 10 milers. I always have 4 miles warm up anyway so it usually makes for a 14 mile session.

2. In week 4 (that is 4 weeks out from VLM day) you have scheduled:

Weds: 14 MLR
Sat: 21 miles with 14@PMP

Because this is 4 weeks out it is the ideal time to get an aerobic 26 miler in, something which has worked for both of us in the past and highly recommended by Charlie Spedding. The benefits seem to peak 2-3 weeks after and then gradually drift away so although running 26 miles so close to a marathon may seem risky, experience suggests otherwise. Of course, it needs to be gentle.

So, would it be feasible to turn the Weds run into the PMP session or a progressive 10 miler and then convert the Saturday run into an aerobic 26 miler?

It is only a suggestion because as mentioned above, BR ran a strong marathon off a longest run of 18.6 miles.

3. The intervals question is interesting because you could have a very successful marathon campaign without undertaking any interval sessions at all as long as you are regularly working the upper aerobic system. I didnt run any interval sessions at all in the lead up to Chester but still got my best HM for years bagged in the build up at 1:18:41. I did, however, race a lot and did plenty progressive stuff.

They seem like a default 'Go To' type session that gets included because, well, plans have interval sessions dont they? But is it better to kill two birds with one stone and build the hard efforts into longer runs/races and dispense with interval sessions altogether during this crucial 8 week period?


Now theres a question that will divide opinions..........


Edited: 24/12/2012 at 16:10
24/12/2012 at 16:15
Great stuff already Keir. Good to see some familiar names chipping in on here

As some know I'm somewhat stuck on a 2.59 plateau with a frankly poor conversion from a 1.20.20 half. I get online coaching from Moraghan (good to see you posting again btw!) and am carrying on with that though not running a marathon til oct 2013

Very interested to see your marathon career laid out there BR and your change in philosophy away from a target race pace to a more "let's run against the field and see what comes out" approach. The complete opposite of the traditional "run your own race" maxim

My first mara was 3.04 and my most recent 2.59. I sometimes feel the biggest factor against me is my willingness to really put my balls out there on the big day....Like CD I'm sure I sometimes talk myself out of a better performance

Will be fascinating to see what prf can squeeze out if you Keir!

I too do very few build up races - find they take too much out if me.

Those proper fast finish long runs look frankly terrifying prf. How many of those type of sessions would you propose for a campaign??

I work fairly long hours and have a number if other outside bits going on too - like most of us. Agree heartily with you Keir that the routines and a fairly prescribed - if busy - schedule are vital to keep things on track
24/12/2012 at 16:33

I'd like to pick up on a couple of observations from TR and PRF here re. racing.

Traditional `old school' running seemed to have runners racing a HM 3-4 weeks out `so they knew what time to go for in the marathon'.  Now as many of us have very variable conversion rates, this seems flawed.  For example, in this household, even after a year of specific Hadd-type aerobic threshold activity, my best conversion was 73:40 to 2:42, so double plus over 14 mins.  Whereas my other half managed an 84:14 / 2:56 conversion, so double plus less than 8 mins.  We both trained smart and executed those marathons to the best of our abilties.  It just so happens that my LT is better than hers, but her aerobic endurance is better than mine.

Therefore if we remove the `so I know what MP to run' from the rationale, the only other remaining reasons for racing a HM are to get as fast a time as possible or because it is a club / county / vets' championship event.  Then it becomes a question of balances between what you will get out of racing the HM as opposed to the missed training time tapering then recovering from the race (up to 2 weeks in my experience).

A 10 mile race takes about half the recovery time, I have found.  If 20 miles is the halfway point in the marathon, 10 miles is the halfway point in a HM in terms of damage you can do.  In retrospect you can race a fantastic HM off a block of training, or a decent marathon.  If you try and do both, you're running the risk of compromising the latter.

However, if the HM is a controlled effort, then it has its uses.  I have used them in the past as MP runs, and found it far easier to run comfortably in a race at sub maximal effort than to run up and down the trans-pennine trail with the same effect.  But as I alluded to earlier, that does become more expensive these days.

As to substituting sessions for races, I know PRF has done this very successfully in the summer, when you have a greater variety on offer.  If Keir has limited weekend time I think he'd get more bang for his buck focussing on volume in winter.

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