Sub 3

For anyone trying to crack the 3 in any marathon anywhere in the world

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28/09/2012 at 10:13

Best of luck to the Berliners and Bristolers this weekend, and anyone else who happens to be racing.



28/09/2012 at 11:16

First off, good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I'm going to jump right in here and see if anyone can help out. I'm thinking of going for a marathon in May next year and I think sub 3 should be doable. I do triathlons and my running is pretty good so this year i've been focused on swimming and cycling and i've only been running at most twice per week up to 10k. I did a half marathon last week pretty comfortably in 1:17:43, 10k in 34:24 and 5k in 16:40. The numbers suggest i should be okay for sub 3 but i need to run more. I'm planning on upping my running to 3 times per week (not a lot i know). 1 interval, 1 tempo and 1 long. I also want my 5k and 10k times to improve through this training. Could anybody suggest changes to my plan below? I'm keeping up the swimming and cycling so 3 runs a week is probably my limit.

I'm thinking intervals will be repeats of 400m - 1500m or hill reps, tempo would be about 8 miles at 6-6:30min/ml and a long run of about 10-15ml at around 7:30/ml. On top of that would be 3 similar bike sessions and 3-5 swims per week. I know the long run could be longer and probably slower.. is that a big issue? I'm giving priority to running over the next few months so any hard bike or swim sessions will be replaced with an easy session if I need a break.

Basic aims are to do a 16min 5k, 33:30min 10k and finish off with a 2:45ish marathon in May. Kidding myself or reasonable? A rule of thumb i was told is double your half marathon + 15 minutes. That gives me about 2:50 but I know i'm a long way from there right now.

Cheerful Dave    pirate
28/09/2012 at 12:05

I think I've wandered back in here into an alternative reality where CW is in complete health.

Congrats to padams, great result and it sounds like you enjoyed yourself out there.

Good luck to zattu & others Berlin-bound.  My club is sending a few over, including several in the 2:30 to 2:45 range, so I'm looking forward to tracking a few at the weekend.

B_K, your times do suggest a bias towards the shorter stuff right now.  If you can build up endurance to match, something well inside 2:45 should be possible, there are a few in here who run faster than that but can't match your 5k time.  Plan looks OK to me, except that you'll want to get some of those long runs up to 20+ miles or you'll die on your feet in the marathon.  Not something anyone enjoys, we've all been there!  Mixing in biking & swimming isn't a big deal.

28/09/2012 at 12:34

B_K - I'll be attempting sub 2:45 in a month off a similar HM time but my 5k and 10k's are a fair bit behind yours (although in need of a spanking at some point!). Your running plan seems very light when looked at from a single discipline background, but has obviously served you well so far. As per CD's advice, I think you need to plan 5-10 runs in the 20+ range.

28/09/2012 at 12:42

(Scurries off to find previously-undetected niggle...)

I reckon you can still run cross that bridge Wardi, the police will never catch you :- )

chrono -- as a cautionary tale, I ran 20M @ 6:45/M in training before my first sub-3 marathon -- but was dying in the race in the last few miles, and hit 3:00:00 pretty much on the nail. (Might not really have been sub-3 in fact.) So to echo what the others have said, don't aim to run fast early and then slow down -- but yes by all means aim to have a few mins spare as insurance. The first few miles should feel like a warm-up jog.

B_K -- you've got some great times off little training -- I'm in a similar ball-park and did 2:42.5 in London. I bet with more running training you'll do something stellar, and certainly manage sub-2:45 by the spring -- but again I'd echo the others and say that doing some proper long runs (20+M, my own bias being to do 26 once or twice) is key. Each year most of us run past scores of tortured souls in the last few miles at VLM who set off at a cracking pace but blew up for lack of endurance (or over-ambitious pacing, same thing really), so it's that you need to develop and test.

Edited: 28/09/2012 at 12:49
28/09/2012 at 13:44

Thanks for the responses guys. Some good advice there and the main thing is, as I expected, that i need to get the distance of my runs up. I think i'm better off starting low and ramping up fairly quickly as i get into running a bit more regularly. I assume you don't want any aches after the longer runs? It should be fairly easy right? I know if I went beyond 8 miles now even at an easy enough pace i'd feel it the next day.

I'll change my plan to get up to 20 miles rather than 15 miles. What about tempo runs? I'd like to have these a lot shorter than race distance and as fast or a little faster than race pace. Working from 5 miles up to about 12 miles. I want to avoid getting too focused on high mileage and not improving my times over the shorter distances.

Last triathlon of the year is tomorrow so I can get stuck into this plan pretty soon!

Cheerful Dave    pirate
28/09/2012 at 14:08

Don't ramp up too quickly whatever you do.  I can't speak for others, but I still know about it the day after a 20 mile run.  Less than I used to, for sure, and these days I tend to save a bike session for the day after.

Tempo runs for me tend to be anything from 5 to 10 miles, but others can give better advice on pace - I rarely get to marathon race pace in training, other than during intervals.

28/09/2012 at 15:01

CharlieW, thanks - that's exactly the kind of tale I'm interested in hearing right now - to hopefully learn enough from others who have been there before me to not miss out on the day!   What's your diagnosis of what happened in that marathon? Sounds like you were in a similar place to me for fitness at the time, if not better - and to just scrape in - ! 

What makes breaking sub-3 so much harder than 6:45 for 18 or 20 in training? Mental energy loss on the excitement of the big day vs. relaxed training routes we know? Fuelling? (Were you taking gels/drinks? I plan on fuelling 250 cal/hour from 3 miles) The difference in energy systems when passing the 20 mile point?

One good thing about Liverpool is that the last big hill is at 18 miles, and after 23 it's all downhill - with one big downhill to help! 

28/09/2012 at 15:29

Best of luck TT/Dachs. Do yourselves proud

28/09/2012 at 17:08

it wont last, CW will be injured again by Sunday !

BKins - I know too well the quad pain that goes with low mileage/3 runs a week marathon campaigns. You can blag 1/2's off that sort of training you posted, but marathons need more. You also have more than enough leg speed to run well under 3hrs, it'll be running endurance and muscular endurance that will limit you. I'd plan for 6 to 8 weeks of more specific marathon prep before the taper, maybe with a midweek MLR included up to 10M at MP. None meant, but how fast you can run 400m to 1M reps and tempo runs count for diddly squat when the wheels come off at 18M and your quads are on fire through lack of impact miles. I'll be doing swim, bike and run too, but will hope for a few marathon specific runs in the last block.

All the best to the Bristols !

Edited: 28/09/2012 at 17:09
28/09/2012 at 17:10

come on Ode, tell em what you were doing last SUnday !

28/09/2012 at 17:50

Evening all.

Safely ensconced in my apartment after a very long day. I was up at 4:40am, and by the time I got through the whole travelling thing (including straight to the expo from the plane) and finally got into the apartment I'd been awake and on my feet for nearly 11 hours. The whole thing was made more manageable by the fact that I'd pre-planned today as a rest day. I figured walking several miles, etc, would more than match squeezing in a hurried 30-40min jog as I did last year.

Cheers for all the good wishes. Fingers crossed I can execute to plan  Conditions today seem pretty good, so as long as that holds for the race I'll be happy.

Time for a bit of dinner and a few movies now methinks

28/09/2012 at 18:47

Chrono - What's your diagnosis of what happened in that marathon?
Good question, I never did a proper post-mortem. I certainly hadn't done enough long runs, and also I went too fast because it felt really easy -- I probably did the first part at sub-2:50 pace and wondered why nobody else was trying. It was cold and very windy, though flat. I got very thirsty because it was a small affair with a fuelling station (plastic cups) once per 5M lap, and it was a bit busy on my last time through, so stupidly I "saved time" by skipping it., and didn't have much before that. I can't remember what I did nutrition-wise. Overall, I probably got utterly defuelled in the legs by burning all my carbs in the first 20M by going too quickly.

The idea on nutirition (as expressed by Noakes in the Lore of Running) is not so much to fuel your legs -- it's too late to significantly top up your muscle glycogen -- but to keep your blood sugar propped up so you don't get hypoglycaemic. A lot of people here don't bother with too many gels now, and generally use them later in the race, but no harm if you are comfortable with them.

But the long runs in training get your legs used, it seems, to burning a higher proportion of fat. If they are only accustomed to burning carbs, that will surely be exhausted with miles still to go, with a nasty drop in pace (and comfort) resulting. If you're burning more fat from the outset, that will conserve some carbs for later and you shouldn't get such a shock.

28/09/2012 at 19:20

TT - Good luck mate......may the marathon gods be with you

28/09/2012 at 19:46

CharlieW, brilliant that you pulled off the 'sub-/on-the-dot-3' considering all those disadvantages. I'm seeing more clearly after reading up a bit that the best school for marathons is hard experience (of course!), which makes me wish I hadn't put all my eggs in one marathon basket. But, there ya go.

I've read quite a bit of Noakes, but didn't pick up on the point about gels not fuelling the legs in particular during the race, rather avoiding hypoglycaemia - which would affect - concentration? Neuromuscular control? In the last marathon I recall going a bit faint before I got 'cramps'. In retrospect, hypoglycaemia seems like it was the issue, running too hard on the first half.

Perhaps I'll go easy on the gels, then. I've been training with them on my MP runs, usually taking an 80-cal gel every 20 mins (as directed on packet) from 40 mins or sometimes later, and my system seems fine with them at MP and slightly faster. They hand the suckers out at Liverpool at miles 15, 18 and 21, but I was planning on carrying extra. That's 4 or 5 gels, tho, which seemed like a bit of a faff.

28/09/2012 at 20:08

CT.. officially no Parkrun at York tomorrow, the Knavesmire is underwater!  BTW I take 2 or 3 of packets of Lucozade jelly beans around a marathon with me, I find them easier to deal with than gels for some reason - probably because they taste nice! 

Zattu.. no stubbed toes now!

Welcome to BKins.

Marigold.. nice feature on you & Marders in AW mag re the 50k, best of luck on the day.

28/09/2012 at 20:32

chrono -- I had a 'bomb belt' (actually elastic loops integrated into my race shorts) of 6 gels, but I think I dropped to 4 or 5 (all caffeinated) last time and still felt like I had a stomach full of gloop by the end. If they're comfortable on the stomach though, I can't imagine they're going to slow you down, so go for it just in case they help if preferred. If anything a gel can be a psychological prop if you have a wobbly moment later on in the race...

28/09/2012 at 22:05

Congratulations to Padams on the Worlds Duathlon result, very impressive!

Good luck to TT & Dachs for Sunday in Berlin, hope you both have great races  Might try and catch a bit of it on Universal Sports, if I'm back from my long run, what's the start time?

Not a bad week's running so far, with 9 and 6M sub 7mm steady runs on Weds & Thurs and then a planned 800&400s session today. The intervals didn't work out very well, my heart rate seemed to struggle to get going in 3M warmup and the first (of 8) 800 felt a bit lackluste, I managed to get going for the next few, the best being a 2:33, but I just knew this wasn't going to be the day for it, so canned the track reps and headed home. As I'd programed my Garmin with the workout it conitnued to beep the remaining 800 and 6x400m intervals, so I ran the 3ish miles back home as a kind of Fartlek. In the end not a bad run, sort of half an interval sessionand half a decent steady run with quick bits (av 6:25/ml). Surprised myself back home when I realised I've already run 50ml this week, so much for the plan to focus on quality and not quantity of running! Next week less general mileage 

Chrono - My approach to marathon nutrition is very gel based, I think I had 7-8 at London this year (a mix of GU caffienated and non-caff), which worked well as I never ran out of energy. but my legs were screaming with fatigue by mile 23 instead! I was listening to the latest Marathon Talk interview with Noakes this week on the role of Carbohydrates in diet. Well worth a listen, but what I got from it was that I'm probably very tolerant to carbs (I can process them quickly and easily) hence I can take a lot without bother and keep my blood sugar topped up. If you are more carb intolerant (ie put on weight easily) you might be better of training your body to improve it's fat buring ability (ie by running long steady endurance miles with no carb supplements). 

28/09/2012 at 23:20
Wardi - cheers! I got asked if i would like a small piece in AW as marders slightly slower mate....... I jumped at the chance

Forgot to say good luck to Dachs earlier so...... Good luck!
29/09/2012 at 08:49

Ooh, just got around to reading AW - fame for Marigold and Marders!  

Off for 3-4M with strides.  Not sure I've done a full taper for a half in years - hope it pays off...

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