RW Forum Six – Sub 2.50 Kier with Parkrunfan

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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!
27/12/2012 at 19:01

Its alright, Jase - when we run out of sensible stuff to talk about, we'll start some arguments off

Are you VLMing this year?

27/12/2012 at 19:11
I am indeed prf all being well although knowing my luck it may end up coinciding with my imminent move back to Yorkshire. Hopefully see you for a pint afterwards.

As for schedules, I like a lot of what you say and I used to get a lot of pleasure out of putting my own schedule together and seeing the results come through. but I can't really be arsed with that anymore so followed up to 85mpw P&D last year (which helped me to 2:29) and this year will try to push the boat out for the upto 105mpw and see where it gets me.
27/12/2012 at 19:16


I just about managed 1 week at that last year but it takes some resolve to do several weeks at that level.

Very impressive ambition and I assume you'll be looking at around 2:25 in that case?

Hey, you could be touch and go for fastest marathon runner in Yorkshire, the land of Olympic Gold medallists.

Is Harrogate your destination?

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 19:18
27/12/2012 at 19:20
Frightening looking 10 mile sessions there prf. I know the paces are just a guide but can you remind us what your 10 mile PB is Keir?? Doing 6 of them in 8 weeks (along with all the other quality) looks like fantastic but risky training to my mind. Is this still assuming race day MP ends up just under 6.30 ?? Do you suggest these after a 3 or 4 mile warm up ie more or less a race pace HM?

I'd have thought if you could do all them plus those scary "proper " fast finish 22 milers you'll be laughing Keir.

Am I right in saying that more or less works out overall at 3-4 quality sessions per week in the 8 key weeks?? Hardcore.
seren nos    pirate
27/12/2012 at 19:21

loving the discussions on this thread.........

27/12/2012 at 19:21
Jase - good to see you've got sorted for a return to the homeland. Only a matter of time eh!
27/12/2012 at 19:35
prf, there aren't too many over 100 and I've only ever done one of those weeks myself in the past. So will play it by ear.

Harrogate unfortunately not. Ultimately not too practical with work and the cost of property(!). Moving to South Leeds, to be in spitting distance of motorways, train line to london, etc. and a reasonable looking running club

Sub 2:25 is the dream that will get me out the door at 5am, but as you know it doesn't really mean anything at this stage of the game. I will be doing London as first claim Orpington though and not Yorkshire club.
27/12/2012 at 19:37

Fraser - The 10 milers are tough but thoroughly enjoyable. YD has become quite a fan of them.

And although it may look like a lot of hard work, the volume of quality work that is mentally tough is actually pretty limited. It is a case of focussing mental resources on a very select small number of key sessions and relaxing the rest of the time.

x-post: Jase, in which case you are welcome to come and do a weekly 5K at Dewsbury parkrun, I've heard that the ED is a decent chap Although theres also Temple Newsam starting soon as well.

Nice to see a speed merchant such as yourself looking at it from the point of view of concentrating on the inputs and letting the output be whatever it happens to be.

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 19:42
27/12/2012 at 20:06

Keir - I made sure that I cut out some of the slow midweek mileage I did the year before (2.58) and ditched the 12-16m MLR.  I replaced it with either a progressive 10 miler (each mile faster than the last aiming to reach PMP at 7 miles.  I used to start around 7.20 pace & increase by 10s per mile) or a session that involved Easy/HMP/MP blocks.  The progressive run was one Gobi recommended and is great for pace control but also mental strength and fast finishes.  Tough but strangely enjoyable.  Also, when I did set my sub-2.50 target I then made sure I ran good chunks of miles at 6.20-6.30 pace to get used to how it felt.

PRF - I like the fast finishing long runs you have prescribed.  They are similar to some that I did last year and I think they not only help you keep going physically on race day, they are also mentally tough and give you alot of confidence when completed.  I also ran most of long runs with negative splits, even if they never got close to MP.

27/12/2012 at 20:58

Looks like we have another progressive 10miler fan in Martin.

My take on the 10 milers.
I always run the 10 milers to effort, making sure as Martin says, each mile is faster than the last. However, I would expect the outcome to be an average pace of around MP with a HR in the same ball park but rising a fair bit as you go past MP in the final stages of the run. So, starting out with a 65 - 66 minute run might be more appropriate IMO.
I found that within a block of 4 or 5 sessions/weeks your pace will come on quite a bit doing these sessions. Assuming you use the same route each week, don’t be surprised if you take 60-90 seconds off the time it takes to cover the route for the same effort; if you happen to hit a nice improvement curve you might even see as much as 2 minutes improvement.  I would also limit it to 4 or maybe 5 sessions in a block as they can burn you out on consecutive weeks.

One thing I have done to provide a slightly different stimulus is run a progressive 10 miler on a flat out and back route one week and then use a hilly route the next. I have two trusted routes I use for these sessions, a flat one from my front door at home and a hilly route of 2.5miles that I do 4 laps of near my work. I have found I am able to hit and sustain higher HR on the flat route, so get a tougher aerobic workout on that session but get more of a strength element on the hilly loop route. Driving through the gears going up-hill on tired legs on the last lap is really good training. I have done these sessions enough times to know that the hilly route will come out at 1:45 to 2mins slower than the flat one and be in the same effort zone.

Can you tell I am a fan of these sessions

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 21:02
27/12/2012 at 21:11

Uh, hum. It's 1.3.31 Fraser.   But it is a bit old and I was hoping to better it 3 wks and 2 days out from VLM along the flat Folkestone seafront on Good Friday. But if I've run PRFs marathon 6 days before that might not happen!

Thanks very much for the session PRF. Those look good. Nothing rocket science in there, but I can see how they will build over the 8 weeks and how they cover all the relevant bases. 

1. The breakdown of the 10m session makes it look managable as well (thanks to everyone who has endorsed this session, I have somehow missed out on this one before). 

2. I was a bit of a fan of the progressive 20+milers as recommended by Gobi to Martin and similar to what Minni mentioned on the previous page. Could one of these replace a fast finish 22m or one of the LSR (session 3.)?

4. No carbs might take a little forward planning.  I am a ‘not-proper’ (fish eating) vegetarian (do you have veggies in Yorkshire?) so I guess it might be a case of scrambled egg on lettuce for tea. J

5. Presumably I need some flat road for this session. I live on a flat 800m stretch, otherwise there is a canal tow-path 3 (hilly) miles away. Alternatively I could get to the track for this session on a Wednesday. Any preference or isn’t it important? The Parkrun is 45miles away – so not something I have yet gone to L

Recovery days – I assume the odd bike ride can replace a recovery run? Also, so long as it isn’t too hard on the legs, does it matter if I am hitting Marathon / HM HRs on the bike?

Moraghan – for sessions 1 – 5 by progressive over each session I assume you mean harder / faster or longer each week?

YD - How do you manage to maintain the progressive effort on the hilly loop? I struggle to keep the HR up on descents and have to really focus on increasing perceived effort to avoid dropping to much below target HR.

27/12/2012 at 21:11

YD - I was actually going to clarify what you would expect with 10 milers and then you just about summed up exactly what I was going to type.

In a nutshell, I wouldnt be surprised to see the four full sessions show a pattern of something like 66 mins, 64 mins, 63 mins, 62 mins.... and the 62 min run will feel the easiest of the lot (though that is different to feeling easy).

I notice Moraghan also referred to making these sessions progress as well, although I would suggest that they progress of their own accord quite naturally.

 X-Post - Keir -

1. Yes to the progressive 20 miler. That is effectively what I would be suggesting if you replaced one session with a 20 mile race anyway, whereby each 5 mile block was faster than the previous one. You just have to make sure that you dont venture too close to what could be considered racing 20 miles. That is when you start to potentially negatively affect your marathon.

2. Low glycogen - I would just eat nothing after breakfast if doing an evening session. I know it horrifies people but it really is no big deal.

3. 10 mile location - Mine are usually done on the track, you just get into the zone and enjoy

4. Recovery days/rest days/x-training - mix it up however you want as long as it is low heart rate stuff.

So, after this week there are 16 weeks to go to VLM:

4 weeks - Robustness building where you're getting ready for the critical 8 week period. No real prescription here but try incorporating taster sessions that will get the body ready for the sessions in the crucial 8 week period, eg try fast finishing the last 4 miles of a 10 miler at about the paces that will experienced later at the end of 22 miles.

8 weeks - The Engine Room period outlined above.

4 weeks - to start getting ready for race day.

Not overly complicated, but should be pretty effective.....



Edited: 27/12/2012 at 21:34
27/12/2012 at 21:32

Keir, reading back I wasn’t clear. The flat out back run should give you an average of MP and Marathon HR, the hilly route might come out something like 4 beats (about 2% of HR max for me) lower and a slower pace than MP. Once you have a couple under your belt you soon become dialled into the effort and rely less and less on the Garmin for mid run feedback, but it still provides great feedback after the session.   ~
As for maintaining HR on a hilly route, not sure I do the whole way round, I rarely look at HR mid run, I just like to use it for comparison after. I also turn off the auto lap function on my garmin on the hilly lapper and just hit the manual lap button after each lap. So overall each 2.5mile loop will be progressively faster for a higher HR average but there may be ups and downs within the lap that I don’t see.  
I would just accept that on a hilly course you may get the odd drop or sharp rise in HR and pace. As long as the effort is progressively ramped up the overall pace and HR trend for the run will be upwards.

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 21:33
27/12/2012 at 22:42

Don't eat anything after breakfast until after your evening run?  I would, quite literally, pass out. How on earth could you run an MLR off just 300 ish calories 10 hours earlier? Sorry, but that sounds like madness.

27/12/2012 at 23:03

Speedy - It just isnt a problem and I cant imagine that I'm that unusual, although I think my bowl of muesli is probably 1000+ cals rather tha 300ish

But it isnt really any different to racing a morning half marathon after not eating anything for maybe 16 hours (eg a 10am start after a 6pm evening meal the night before) and I wouldnt dream of eating before a morning race.

27/12/2012 at 23:11

Good to hear you are returning to GOC RaceJase.  Be careful in South Leeds though, there are some dodgy characters like prf around! Though you will be close to Elland Road which will always be a bonus.

prf  – the 4 weeks getting ready for a race after the 8 weeks ‘engine room’ period sounds interesting. I assume you are not talking about a 4 week taper?
I have to agree with others that I think your carb depletion suggestion is quite hardcore. I have no issue in running before breakfast and fully intend to do some MLR and LSRs before breakfast on fresh air and water, but going all day without is tough. I certainly wouldn’t try it on ‘quality’ days, maybe it’s something to be practiced on shorter runs first?

Off topic, I might have a Brass Monkey number for you and I am working on a plan to get permission to run the Thirsk 10, smackdown ahoy

Edited: 27/12/2012 at 23:12
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