RW Forum Six – Sub 2.50 Kier with Parkrunfan

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26/12/2012 at 14:01

I'm doing lots of thinking at the moment TR!

Currently hard to get the time between family Xmas commitments to properly digest what is being said. Hope to have a proper catch-up and post tomorrow.

I think my converstions are pretty standard / good. My endurance is a strength from my cycling back ground but my weakness if probably speed endurance - as identifed by PMJ on another thread recently (that applied to me when cycling as well). However I am concerned that my endurance might have taken a bit of a hit the past year with consistent running and cycling - but not exceeding 40mpw, apart from 50 - 60 since mid November. I also much prefer a long 20miler to 6x800m intervals, but recognise that the faster stuff does seem to get my fitness levels up quickly (such as the HM pb in spring refered to earlier).

KR asked a question about time management earlier which might help PRF if he is looking to re-wrte much of my training plan. I can realistically allow this amount of time every week, possibly more occassionally:

Moin 45min

Tue 90min

Wed 2.30

Thur 45min

Fri 90min

Sat 90min

Sunday - up to 6hrs.

The tuesdays on my schedule marked with SENCO are the days I am at Uni and due to the later start could fit in 2.30 instead of 90mins. The Thurs marked as parents eve or Governors are meetings after school which will mean that I cannot go out on Weds eve as well, so Weds would read 90min rather than 2.30.

On the (sort of) positive side - I found a way to keep off weight over Xmas - be ill. Stomach / headache / cold type virus. Meant I didn't eat or drink much at all, and was a bit grumpy all day. Starting to recover today but taking an extra rest day rather than forcing it. Hope to be back running early tomorrow morning along Folkestone / Hythe seafront at 7am. 



26/12/2012 at 16:21
Excellent post PRF. Correlation not being the same as causation makes drawing definitive conclusions very difficult. I tend to be suspicious of those saying X was the one thing that led me to a huge PB, when maybe a dozen or more things have changed since last time, including the runner! A strong observation I have made from experience several times is that I do much better in autumn than spring, despite generally having a much more consistent and focused build up for VLM or similar. Lessons I take from this is that the circus that is VLM can be draining if you are not careful and an accumulation of small things over the weekend can take a toll; pressure/ expectation can work against you; and whether or not you did one session or long run exactly as some fairly arbitrary schedule suggests just isn't that important, but it's the gestalt that matters. As an obvious example of the last point, some people dont know what a mile is (just as i have no feel for kms) so not many people in Switzerland will concern themselves with 20m as a long run benchmark. You will guess from this that I am much more flexible in planning than many here, so don't have a schedule to post. As I said before, I will aim for a cut down P&D, with around 40-50mpw, and a fair degree of cross training to keep my (43yr) old bones in shape.

I am still on the lingering part of the illness Keir describes, so am taking it relatively easy. Will aim for a 10m jog later.
26/12/2012 at 18:33

OS - I love the use of the word `gestalt' in your post.  `Zeitgeist' has had its shelf life this year, so it's good to see new Germanic (as opposed to Garmanic) vocabulary appearing.

26/12/2012 at 21:45

I’ve just had a bit of an epic readback and hopefully below will answer all question / points which I have missed:

Tenjiso – I expect to follow a programme roughly similar to P&D, but as I posted on the P&D VLM thread a little while ago – I see these ‘off the shelf programmes’ as a basic guide which should then be tweaked and adapted to suit the needs / strengths and weaknesses of each individual.

Speedy – I don’t have any experience of running a HRM combined with a hydration pack nor a bra, but perhaps the Garmin softstrap (the waterproof one) which lies flat might be a bit better.

PRF – I’m glad you approve the 33m Ultra. I fancy doing something different to break up the campaign, but also hope it might have later endurance benefits so long as I can keep it a controlled run.

A PMP+60sec run 4 weeks out on Saturday is fine, although it might mean that I have to abandon my plan to run a flat out 10 mile race 6 days later. Also the Wed I will change to PMP session.

Moraghan – I like the sound of 3x15m easy / 15m HMP. However I would be concerned that the recovery time would affect sessions later in the week. What is the recovery time required in your experience and how often would you get your runners to do this session? Also, whilst the subject of conversions has come up, did you ever get any conclusion from your conversion thread?

PRF - The proposed 10m and 22m progressive runs look painful, but also much more enjoyable than mindless 1600 intervals. I have run 20m progressive starting at PMP + 45sec and reducing my 15sec every 4 miles (final 4m with PMP – 15sec), but 18m steady and the final 4 fast would be a new take. I’m up for both of these sessions.

Martin H, thanks for posting your training from last year. It is interesting to see how you achieved your 2.49 from a relatively low mileage, particularly without having that goal time in mind until late on.

Thanks for reposting your video from Orpington RJ. That was taken at the mile 24 point PRF and I certainly didn’t feel as good as I seem to look!

Interesting to see the general views against 200m / 400m and shorter intervals. I can see that these high intensity sessions bare little relevance to Marathon running, but always viewed them as the final topping to bring me to a peak.

Cheers to everyone for posting your history and training plans, especially to those of you with similar target plans. I’ve particularly enjoyed reading BRs history, PRFs blog and YDs training plan. When I have ironed out details of the plan with PRF I will get it online like YD has done.

26/12/2012 at 23:43

Enjoying the training chat on here, I think this is going to be a great thread to bounce ideas around over the next few months. As you said in one of your posts prf, this is why it’s endless fun!

TR, point taken, I will back off if I am making anyone uncomfortable with incessant questioning, certainly not looking to undermine anyone I am just a running geek who likes to ask questions. In terms of experience or knowledge I don’t come anywhere near to the likes of you, prf, BR or Keir for that matter.
I have my own ideas, they are nothing new or innovative and I certainly won’t preach anything on here that I won’t be practicing myself.

Top point about 20 milers as being some round number long run benchmark OS. Off to look up ‘gestalt’ now.

Putting the conversion point to one side, I think we all would agree with what makes up the bulk of a decent Marathon plan (long run, med long run, continuous up tempo run of one type or another and so on….) and I agree we are talking about the tinkering round the edges here, but talking about the tinkering is the best bit IMO.

I think that there are significant physiological benefits to running at or around the LT (I am not talking about VO2 work prf). There is also the benefit that running around LT will make MP feel much easier, though that can wait till closer to race day. As Keir points out with the excellent 3 x 15min easy/15minHMP session that Moraghan suggested, how hard is it to recover from? I find working at LT pretty draining if you string too many of them together over too many weeks, but you get fairly quick fitness results (from my own experience). So for that reason I will have a block working on it earlier in the campaign, say 4 or 5 weeks, with another LT session or two closer to the Marathon.  The benefits of the early LT sessions will hopefully be physiological, the benefits of the later sessions will be about peaking and some psychological benefits. Of course, you could just throw a few 5k and 10k races into the mix to get a similar benefit, but it's not always possible to get to races for everyone. Though I agree, finding the balance is important, and yes it has to be felt, nothing wrong with writing it down and trying to work it out, but you can’t always (often in my case) predict how you will react from one week to the next.

I hope the above goes someway to explain my thinking and suggestive questions posted earlier.

Oh, I hadn’t planned on running above 24 miles, but you have me thinking about it now……

27/12/2012 at 08:53

Another variation on the faster / slower / faster / slower session that Moraghan mentioned is one I did back in 2008 and I remember as my most satisfying session ever.

Having done a chunk of those 80%, 82%, 85% and 87% sessions I mentioned earlier, Hadd had me do alternating miles at 6:00 / 6:16.  At the time my best MP was 6:10, aiming for a bit quicker so essentially I was alternating a touch over and a touch under MP.

Whilst the 6m/m were achievable but required focus, it made the 6:16 pace feel very easy - I realised I was doing `recovery jogs' at sub 2:45 pace!!  Also, wearing a HRM, I was running 6m/m without getting up to the outer edge of marathon heart rate.

If I can get my fitness back, I shall certainly plan one of these again.

27/12/2012 at 10:13

Sounds like a great session that BR, one to try close to M day I would have thought. How many alternating miles did you do?

27/12/2012 at 10:22

That under over session must be good to make PMP feel managable and also to dial in the pace, but I guess you wouldn't want more than 12 - 14m of it before it starts to take its toll. Even the PMP +6sec isn't easy.

Met a mate at 7am and covered 12m along the seafront at a pleasant 8m/m, but I threw in a 5k HR effort - 5.55m/m for 1.5m just to open up the pipes. 

27/12/2012 at 10:35

The faster/slower runs are my favourites. 

In the Spring I did this:

5m easy/ 5m steady/ 5m MP/ 2m HMP/ 3m easy   the HMP bit was tough but I managed to hit the paces and the 3m easy at the end gave a good recovery.

27/12/2012 at 12:30

YD - I did 10 miles worth of them.

Another variation which our old club coach had us do was 400s alternating MP / 10k pace.  Personally I found that too hard.

In other news the thread mentor got chicked on a MP effort this morning.  There I was sitting on a bench having completed my 5m effort wondering how long it would take PRF to appear around the corner, when Hilly hove into view.  We found him eventually.

27/12/2012 at 13:21
We three Keir's of orient are... wrote (see)

Tenjiso – I expect to follow a programme roughly similar to P&D, but as I posted on the P&D VLM thread a little while ago – I see these ‘off the shelf programmes’ as a basic guide which should then be tweaked and adapted to suit the needs / strengths and weaknesses of each individual.

Thanks Keir.

I certainly don't disagree with adapting schedules for individual needs.  The trouble is, I'm probably guilty of "tweaking" a bit too much without fully understanding the ramifications.  This was a reason why I thought a mentor seemed like a good idea (don't feel guilty guys ).

I'll learn by following the adjustments you and the other participants make as training progresses.  You're all too fast for me, but the principles remain the same (I think).

I'm still in two minds about going over 20 miles in this campaign.  I'd like to do 22m about 5 weeks out from my marathon - if I'm up to it   I think it would help me psycholigically, if not physically.

BR - I get chick'ed, geriatric'ed and kid'ed.  I was going to add dog'ed - but it could be misconstrued.

27/12/2012 at 13:32
Tenj - I was always guilty of tweaking out the things I didn't want to do, which of course were the very things I needed to do!
27/12/2012 at 13:55

Lol Tenjiso

BR – did he get lost or was he just being lazy?

Minni – I bet the 2m@HMP were tough! Another to add to my ever growing sessions to-try list.

Nice to open up the pipes from time to time Keir

8m brisk fartlek run for me at lunch  (I am at work but am not doing much working today). It’s been an inconsistent 10 days or so without much running, I have been managing a niggle, thankfully I didn’t feel a thing from it today.

27/12/2012 at 13:58

PRF - does that mean I can run the same marathon time as your latest marathon now

27/12/2012 at 15:25

I had a perfectly good run today my own good time .

I dont think Po10 records casual runs up and down the Trans Pennine Trail so if you want to claim a chicking, Hilly, you'll have to repeat the process on New Year's day. Then again, if you're on track for a sub 3 you have every chance of claiming a few victories between now and April.

YD - I didnt get lost, so by the process of elimination........


Right then, schedule planning!

Keir - You're right in talking about a schedule as nothing more than a rough guide.

I was fortunate enough in my early days to train regularly with some very fast guys, sub 2:15 runners, and the planning process was always simple and followed the same process:

1. Decide what the key sessions are that you want to get into the crucial 8 week period and how many of each.

2. Sketch out the 8 weeks slotting the sessions into a reasonably logical pattern but without any great concern about the order of the sessions or what particular days they were on.

3. Have a good look at what you've produced and absorb the general gist of it.

4. Take hold of said rough plan, scrunch it into a ball and lob it in the bin.

The reason for this approach is that no individual session on any particular day is a 'make or break' session, it is only the totality of the workload that is going to produce the eventual marathon performance.

Over time you can dispense with the paper, pen and bin bits and just go straight to a rough mental plan of what you want to do.

I notice that you say you read my Chester blog, Keir. In which case you could be excused for thinking that the Chester build up schedule was put together by an idiot (yes, I know it was but thats not the point ) with a pile of random looking sessions put together in a haphazard fashion.

And, although that is how it appears, there was always an eye to getting the key sessions in and when you look at the overall build up it is difficult to point to anything that was obviously missing despite its randomness.

So the next post will be a suggestion of what your 8 weeks should contain, Keir.

You can then use as much flexibility as you like to schedule the sessions.....

27/12/2012 at 15:52

Blimey, its competitive up north!

Look forward to reading the plan PRF

27/12/2012 at 15:53
parkrunfan wrote (see)

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 a big questionI have is this: you are looking to go sub 2:45 in the next few years when your all time PB is 2:48. Keir (and I am sure that is the right spelling even though this thread is called sub 2:50 Kier) is looking to go sub 2:50 when his all time PB is 2:54 and my aim is the same as yours: sub 2:45 in the next couple of years (VLM 2014 or VLM 2015) so I can start VLM 2016 from the champs start as a 50 year old and my recent marathon PB is 2:50:28 this year at VLM.

So, how do you set a realistic target? Setting the target is obvious, first sub 3 and then 5 minute increments and skip them if they look too easy. I did 2:57 so 2:50 was obvious and not 2:55.

There is a lot of talk of converison from half to full so can you tell from a half ttiem what the full holds? The three of us have done a half this year and BFR has 78:41, myself  79:34 and Keir 81:40 which don't lien up with marathon perfromances at all.

27/12/2012 at 16:16

So, 8 weeks is 56 days.

I would suggest that the 56 days could contain:

1. 6 x Progressive 10 milers

I mentioned these before with an outline time of 61-63 minutes, consisting of a continual gentle acceleration through from 6:45/mile to maybe 5:50/mile for the final mile.

However, the first two efforts should be scoping sessions where you build the session from the end backwards, eg

a) The first attempt may be a pushed along, but comfortable, first seven miles with all the focus on finishing with a last 3 miles in maybe 6;15, 6:05, 5:50.

b) The second attempt would be similar but with the focus on finishing with a last 5 miles of maybe 6:25, 6:20, 6:15, 6:05, 5:50

The final 4 sessions would then involve the full 10 miles being progressed along from around 6:45 for mile 1.

NB The paces are not 'paces to be hit' but just to give a rough idea of the effort levels involved. Remembering that this isnt a punishment regime, no session should leave you dreading the thought of the next time. When run correctly, you should be buzzing at the end and really be looking forward to doing it again.

2. 3 x Fast Finishing 22 milers

As previously described, this is where you would set out for a very relaxed 18 miles at around 8 mins/mile and then look to ramp it up over the last 4  miles with a finish looking something like 7:30, 6:40, 6:10, 5:50.

It is perfectly suitable to use a 20 mile race for one of these sessions if you have access to one.

3, 5 x 18-22 mile LSRs

You are looking for these to flow rather than feel like an effort but no need to artificially slow them down provided that the legs are happy and there is no noticable breathlessness. You'd probably reduce this by one because of the planned ultra.

4. 6-8  x 13-16 mile MLRs

Again, these should be at a similar effort to the LSRs but they are also ideal to use as low glycogen runs. You can simulate reaching 22 miles without getting anywhere near 22 miles by deliberately starting the runs on low glycogen by not eating carbs for something like 8-12 hours before (not as difficult as it sounds).

You are then encouraging the fat burning adaptation required without the associated muscle damage associated with running hard for 20+ miles to achieve the same level of glycogen depletion.

5. 8 x 5K runs at approx 10K pace (parkruns or similar)

A regular weekly effort at around 5:45-5:50/mile which feels comfortably hard. One or two of these can be converted to full out efforts if it feels appropriate on any given day but most should be within a comfort zone.


And that would give 28-30 'effort days', around which you would fill in the other 26-28 days with easy as you like general running. Some days it may turn out as 10 miles @ 8 min/mile, another day might be 10K @ 9:30/mile but the key thing is that there should be no mental effort involved and nothing should be strained at any point.

You may also add further easy runs as 'doubles' on the effort days but only if a) You have time and b) You are recovering well enough between sessions.

Will this provide sufficient mileage? That isnt really important. By doing the key sessions in the approx quantities outlined you will default to a respectable mileage, the volume of the additional easy runs will, to some extent, depend on how you are responding between sessions.

Dont be afraid to bin a session or take a rest day just because of some notional weekly mileage target, a week is not some magical unit of work anyway - it is the totality of the 8 weeks that is more important.


When racing during this period, you would generally just substitute for one of the sessions, eg a HM race for a progressive 10 miler.

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 16:26
27/12/2012 at 17:03

I really like the alternating pace session BR mentioned.  I tend to try and fix part of it at marathon pace / effort (depending on your preference) and increase the other pace and reduce the length of the work intervals to make it more difficult.  I tend to cap the quality portion to 50 minutes.  Was it Horwill who had someone alternating a lap of the track at MP and a lap at 5k? 

It's magic for improving perceived effort and, if I remember correctly, helps the body use lactate as fuel.

 YD / Keir - recovery is completely individual - I'd graduate the session so you can start at something you know is comfortable and move it along.  You have to feel the limitations in a session like that imo - something like 5:00 @ HMP / 5:00 @ easy for and hour would be a good spot to start.  Then 7:30 hmp / 2:30 easy etc or 5:00 hmp / 5:00 steady.

PRF's method of identifying key sessions and backfilling the rest of the week is a great idea.  I'd try and make the number 1 and 5 sessions progressive in nature of difficulty by from session to session by fiddling with the structure assuming you feel just as ready before each session.

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 17:05
27/12/2012 at 18:52
Loving this thread. Although steady on folks cause you'll run out of thing to say!
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