Sub 3

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

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26/04/2013 at 19:30

I am with HR. It is just too simplistic to suggest a straight line relationship between miles and results. There is a VLM 2013 thread on here where a very good runner aimed for sub 2 50 and with, in my very humble and personal opinion, somewhat OTT guidance the gentleman in question unfortunately imploded. I followed with keen interest for a few days and then felt obliged to look away as the outcome seemed inevitable- just checked back a few days ago and saw the outcome. 

26/04/2013 at 20:17

Just one data point for miles vs LM time

15 week pre London avg mileage and time

2009 49M = 2:35

2010 66M = 2:28

2011 71M = 2:29

2012 61M = 2:31

2013 41M = 2:35


26/04/2013 at 20:49

RS78 -- glad you're almost over the ankle

Padams -- sorry about your dog (nice running though, for what it's worth right now)

runninggeek81 -- is where I documented my experiments last year. My recipe is still:
0. Use plenty of surgical spirit on your foot and tools to avoid infection!
1. Cut away all of the loose skin, and anything trapping any bubbles of fluid -- possibly leaving some rather raw but solid flesh exposed
2. Trim the inner (gooey) part of a Tesco own-brand "Sterile Blister Plaster" to fit exactly over the missing bit of normal skin (other brands I tried were too thick and fell off)
3. Douse the affected area in Essence of Benzoin a.k.a. Friar's Balsalm -- this is dissolved in alcohol and will hurt like hell on anything raw, but leaves a valuable sticky residue...
4. Wait for it to dry properly, otherwise stickage will be limited.
5. Press the pre-cut blister plaster on in one go, taking care to avoid wrinkles or bubbles.
That will leave you with something that sticks with a vengeance (for some days), taking the place of normal skin. It saw me through VLM 2012 and 2013.

TT -- great to hear you feeling good.

Simon Longthorpe -- I had a big mileage campaign by my standards this time (avg 60 mpw, a couple of 80 mpw) but I regularly had 2 days off. For sure you can do a great marathon on 4 days/week.

I currently have my feet up on the sofa very belatedly watching the race and enjoying a couple of beers that have been languishing in the fridge for some weeks... ahhh. Got a bit cocky today and ran my commute -- felt pretty good going in at 7:06/M, but my legs were well cranky by the time I ran home and my shin hurt. Another day off before trying a gentle longer run on Sunday I think.

26/04/2013 at 21:09

i think I was somewhere between 45 and 50M when averaged out before the taper,

CW - easy does it, although with 11 months til VLM 2014 I dont care if you hurt yourself running a 27 miler this Sunday, fill your boots.

I did a MTB commute and 2.2K in the lido today and felt fine, so its back to some bike smack a doodle doo in the morning, I'll get the trainers out again Monday.

26/04/2013 at 21:28

LD this has your name stamped all over it

26/04/2013 at 22:09

Pisc/Al P - well done on your pbs and AL I did see you/gave you a shout at 17 1/2 too, just remembered.

TR - I looked pretty hard honest, bloody hard spotting people though. It's easier spotting the fast(er) mob on here to be fair, lol

TT/PP - Berlin is only 2 weeks into my 2nd year at uni so I'd be able to concentrate on it over the summer and it wouldn't interfere with studies.

No serious injury to ankle, I do however have nerve irriation down the left side so have a shopping list of exercises to do to strengthen, stretch and sort posture. Reckons as there isn't anything major wrong mechanically with the ankle/foot I should be able to get back to running within two weeks. Uni gym is doing a months offer so I can tide myself over in the pool, bike, x trainer for just under a fortnight. Ironic that I've become a case study to work on for my course, haha

Edited: 26/04/2013 at 22:10
Cheerful Dave    pirate
26/04/2013 at 22:19

OS: not just me then.

26/04/2013 at 22:47

I'm with HR, OS and CD too. I've managed to run 4 sub-3s in the last 3 years. The slowest one of those (by a fair chunk) was VLM last year. That was by far my 'best' campaign in terms of pure mileage, but that mileage came at a cost re compromising quality. The total miles per week took precedent over everything else so I didn't do my key sessions properly. I thought regular 80-90 mile weeks would move me up a level. It didn't. The exact opposite in fact - I was almost 10 minutes slower at VLM 2012 compared to 2011. In fact it's fair to say that from Spring 2011 to the end of 2012 I lost about 20 secs a mile across all distances. That's cos those extra miles left me feeling tired, so my tempo runs, MP sessions etc weren't anywhere near target pace or HR.

At the start of this year I dropped my mileage a bit, had a rest day most weeks and started doing 2 or 3 hard sessions (tempo stuff, track work etc). In mid-March I took nearly 90 seconds off my Half PB (which was over 3 years old) and was going great. 18 months of pissing in the wind seemingly at an end. I then switched attention to training for the Marathon - and for some reason I've yet to fully comprehend I reverted straight back to plodding slowly and doing 80+ miles a week. End result - crap times in a couple of races and I knackered my achilles. What a complete tit

So I've learnt from experience that for me, maybe 60-75 mpw with 2 or 3 key sessions is the way forward. I now work things backwards in a way. I prioritise my key sessions and want to nail those if I can. Anything else is just padding around it and I'll listen to my body much more. If I'm tired/have a niggle then I'll x-train or rest. I'd rather have 2 or 3 rest days (if need be) but nail a long run and a tempo session than run every day and not nail those key sessions. I get FAR more benefit fitness-wise from doing this and being relatively fresh for those important sessions. So I really hope I've learnt my lesson now.

Edited: 26/04/2013 at 22:51
26/04/2013 at 23:33

Just realised that although I stalked the splits of half the forum and have congratulated many elsewhere I haven't said anything here.

PP - I was worried that you had started too fast but you held it together really well unlike your Irish club mate who was clearly feeling a bit frisky at the start.

Mr. B - NicePB.  Going to change anything for next time?

CW - I'm with TR on the bigger miles making the difference but you remain inspiringly bonkers.  Fantastic photo.  You should get a copy blown up as big as possible, frame it and hang it somewhere.  You'll never get a better one.

TR - Never in doubt.  One year you'll get an uninterrupted campaign and do the 2:4x.  In the meantime you're building an impressive string of 2:5x's

Pi - Perhaps a little more than most other versions of cross training it matters how good you are at skiing.  It also matters how hard you go at it.  If you're skiing instead of running it's going to have an impact but we're not professionals so I wouldn't worry about it.  Just listen to  your body and do a little less than you think you could to make sure you avoid injury.  Good idea to do the review though.  Too many move on without learning any lessons.

SL - Another very high quality result.  Anything planned for the autumn?

LS21 - I think that you can probably add mileage over time but the philosophy you espouse of building the rest of the week around the sessions is very sensible.

Dan - A 2kg pack is nuts.  Why would anybody think that a good idea?  Tough luck on the darts.  Very difficult to perform at your best in that kind of scenario - sounds like you put up a pretty good show though.

Jools - 20+ miles at marathon pace wouldn't be too far off the run that Marders did at the Toronto marathon shortly before he made a breakthrough.  Any backup plan?

TT - Great to hear that your treatment has made such a positive difference so quickly.  Fingers crossed you get it permanently sorted.  You asked if I ever got a definitive diagnosis.  Sort of is the answer.  The injury I keep getting is posterior tibialis syndrome.  It's easily fixed though so the real trick is getting to the root cause.  My physio took a video of me a couple of weeks ago and spent a fair bit of time thinking through what to do and has come up with a plan which makes sense.  The essential root cause though is a muscular imbalance in my back which means that I can't control my landing on my right foot.  I'll shut up now because it's not really that interesting and I can go on for quite a while.

Bits and pieces of training for me.  Outside of the 10k races 5 miles or so seems to be as far as I can get before my tendon starts complaining. Feeling optimistic about the latest plan though.

27/04/2013 at 06:46

On the flip side I ran 2.36 doing 70 miles a week but with lots of quality, a year later off base building of 90 miles a week I ran 2.28. It's pretty much swings and roundabouts but what's key is making sure your plan is not a hodgepodge of both, either ramp up the miles making sure it's all slow or focus on quality hard sessions and accept a lower weekly mileage.  Or over time build both into your plan through periodisation. 


27/04/2013 at 07:28

Stu - yes agree that for some it will work well, There's evidence of that on here from quite a few folk. BUT to say 'run more miles and your Mara time will improve' is a bit simplistic I think. That approach really doesn't work for many others. I suppose you need to play aroind and see whic approach is best for you. For me it's my legs that can't handle the extra - probably due to my shocking running 'style'. From my calf downwards I suffer tendonitis quite a bit when I push the mileage. Tried all sorts over this past 2 years to address it, but I've come to the (painful and expensive) conclusion that the method outlined in my post above gives me by far the best return on investment.

27/04/2013 at 07:50

The mileage debate is a good one, thought I would de-lurk and add my two pence.
I was supposed to be running my debut Marathon at Manchester this sunday but have had to pull out due to an overuse injury. I fell into the trap of trying what Stuart Leaney describes, of trying to build milage whilst introducing big sessions (long MP tempo’s in my case) so ended up with a hodgepotch of the two approaches. This is, IMO the trap that the chap chasing 2:50 that OS is describing fell into, bit more to it than that, but that has been well covered on his thread.
As a newbie to this Marathon game, the instinct for many is to run more miles, and I still think that is correct, but it needs to be built up slower than I was doing it, and the quality stuff needs to be paired down at first. So in the spirit of the lessons learned discussion that has been going on, I am going to get myself into an autumn Marathon and try to put it right. Thinking of doing Abingdon if anyone knows of a number going spare btw?
I going to keep it simple for myself I think, I might follow a  P&D schedule and just adjusting that a bit to suit local build up races and what not. Have to say I have really enjoyed following the thread recently, love to read about the big breakthrough performances, certainly serves as inspiration to numpties like me. Hope to stick around for Autumn Marathon season and join in a bit.

Edited: 27/04/2013 at 07:51
27/04/2013 at 08:39

YD - good luck getting an Abo number. Fair chance you'll get one from somebody on here! I fortunately got selbs' last year. If you run there's a fair chance we might get a train going? Me, thee, TR and HR on the 2'50 express. Lovely

27/04/2013 at 09:03

CW - I'm shocked you're not out there for 26m circular miles this morning.  What are things coming to?!  In response to your question on a HM target, difficult to say.  I'd like to run sub 75, given that I failed to use my 2:41 from Rome to get a champs start at London this year.  I think that will be possible, as I've run 4 tempo runs over the last couple of weeks with between 7 and 8 miles at around 5:40 pace, but I don't know that I could have held it for 5 to 6 more miles.  Still a total novice with racing - though I'm now recording HR on runs so I have a clearer idea of effort.  It's actually not that flat a course (surprising for Berlin).  Failing sub 75, I'd like at least to beat my time there last year of 76:29. 

Interesting discussion of quality vs quantity.  Revisiting my experiences from Rome, I think I'd probably agree with the "quality" side of the equation.  My tendency is to want to push myself too much, to add those few extra MP miles in a long run etc because I can or because I think it will prove that I'm able to handle it. This goes back to not having run for long, having only ever done 5 or 6 races and having a need for rather constant reassurance.  In the build up to marathon 2 in Rome, I got injured, clearly because I'd been overdoing it, upping mileage and effort together too quickly with my biggest month ever (over 320m), some 80-85m weeks and a couple of quite intense progressive 20/21 milers. Following 3.5 weeks taken pretty much completely off, however, I had a 6 week schedule, building over 3 weeks to 60m with only one 20 miler then tapering down.  More long runs would have given me confidence but I'm convinced that my performance on the day was down to being much more rested, so part of me thinks that if I hadn't got injured and had continued with a version of the P+D 18/85 programme I was loosely following, I might have overdone it.  Has anyone got experience comparing the Jack Daniels "quality session" approach (sessions like those which marigold plans) vs the Pfitzinger approach.  I think for Berlin this autumn I'm going to try the former - a mid-week quality, a Saturday tempo and a Sunday LR with all the rest easy, steady or recovery - at least a bit easier than getting 15m MLRs in before work...

On that note...

TippTop wrote (see)

Andy D - with you now. LT is quite different from top-end speed. My basic plan, once I'm sorted out, is to simply do a few LT type sessions a week before I start a marathon specific phase. If you like racing regularly (which, tbh, I'm not pushed on), then I would have thought that would be compatible with running 2 marathons a year anyway if you wanted (e.g. finish a marathon; 16-18 weeks of LT work; 8-10 weeks of marathon specific work; repeat).

TT, how would you plan/did you plan for Berlin a "marathon specific" phase.  I'm hitting tempo runs at the moment and am likely to continue that/do some speedy stuff for the next couple of months before adding MP stuff - hopefully by which time, in light of the number of runs with big segments at 5:40m/m-ish, a PMP of 6m/m (or even quicker phps) should feel a bit easier... 

Oops, sorry for the long post...!

27/04/2013 at 09:04

Mileage - maybe we summarise as follows:

1. Unless you are a freak of nature, you need to at least get to 60/70+ miles/week. No one really does that well off 30-40? (Unless perhaps you've trained at higher miles previously)

2. Even those that run 100 miles/week aren't so dumb as to plod em all out slowly. Either we do tempo runs all year round, or we have a period of sharpening at the end when the focus switches to key sessions for 6-8 weeks or a combo.

Therefore, the mileage debate really comes down to whether each individual benefits, or is hindered by running very high miles as opposed to moderately high miles? 

i believe Noakes discusses this and concludes a law of diminishing returns around the 70/80 mile point.

Finally, I wonder whether anyone has ever done a really good time without having first done a spell of high miles at some point in their running career? I wonder whether if you do this your body will make all those micro changes that last for years even if you do lower mileage thereafter?

27/04/2013 at 09:26

TT - good to hear that you've been hopefully sorted out.  Does this mean we will no longer know it's you coming from your characteristic form?

Charlie - sounds like the most disgusting Saturday Kitchen recipe ever.

Dunno if Sweedo made the Last Friday 5k in Hyde Park yesterday, but I did.  Got outsprinted for the win (I have a piss-poor sprint finish), but decent 2nd place in 16:22.  An 11 second PB, but I do feel I could go a little faster than that, so will hopefully line up some more 5ks in the coming months before my thoughts turn to marathoning.

27/04/2013 at 10:42

Lev_ -- if the course is fast and it's not windy, I think you'll find sub-75 a doddle given those training runs. I'd just go out pacing it evenly, aiming marginally sub-75 but hammering it in the last couple of miles if you have anything left.

Mileage-wise I'm a bit sat on the fence. I've just done my highest-mileage campaign and got a big PB; at the same time, I was close to my previous PB on a very low mileage build-up (Abo 2010, 2:43 on 40 mpw). I would keep the absolutely key long runs (extra long in my case of course) and a high-quality MLR, which I've done in all cases; and if there's time, add some general padding around that, which I'm sure must have contributed to knocking 4 mins off for me this time. If there isn't time, just keeping the LR and MLR gets you most of the benefit I reckon. A lot of adaptation, I feel, is to the extremes of what you do.

SL -- did I already point out you were also in that superb photo?

Edited: 27/04/2013 at 10:43
27/04/2013 at 11:11

Hi.  Have only been semi-lurking during my 5 days off running, so hope all is well with everyone.  5M bimbled this morning.

27/04/2013 at 11:15

Not sure I entirely agree with you especially on point 1. LD but that's okay 'At least 60/70 mpw' is over-egging it I think.Part of my coach's aim in getting me to sub3 was to demonstrate that it's about quality above quantity. Concretely that means 3 key runs a week: the long run, and two different types of speed session, one of which may include distance. The rest is purely tick-over. I peaked at 55mpw for my 2h50 and I was feeling pretty unwell in the final week. My coach also told me the story of someone who sub3h'd off using a rowing machine. Oh, and he's proof of the pudding as a sub 2h30 man.

Over about 55mpw it's only worth adding miles if you not only don't sacrifice the quality, but you increase it relatively speaking. Otherwise it's a law of diminishing returns, as LS21 put so eloquently. His point about rests is also very pertinent I think. If you lose the quality on those 3 key runs because your legs are knackered you're adding emtpy miles to the detriment.

However, there will always be exceptions to this, and I'm not sure it applies to younger runners so much, nor to elites. Coro you're clearly exceptional!

Anyway, it's fine to know we all have slightly different approaches, and these are only my opinions.

I've got the fire back in my eyes for the marathon ...

Edited: 27/04/2013 at 11:27
27/04/2013 at 11:28

Good discussion on mileage. To come clean my prep this time (which got me 2 53) was:

1. A flat out 5k on a Tuesday, followed by a 10k jog home.  done on a treadmill; 18-19 mins. 

2. An MP session of more than 20 mins on a Thursday, jog home. Again on a treadmill. Mostly 20-40 mins- longest was half Mara LS21 special. 

3. Long run on a Sunday. Around 7- 8 at 18-20, one 22

4. The odd jog here and there that amounted mostly to nothing.   

So a max of ~40mpw and mostly a fair bit less.    On top of this I spend 30-60 mins a day  (weekdays, work permitting) on core and strengthening work, and have done this now for approaching two years.  I also commute by bike a lot. And without trying at all usually walk 6-10 miles a day.

Over the last couple of years I have lost 2-3 kilos, and at the same time significantly increased muscle mass (I am still skinny!). (on weight loss, i don't think I could lose more than 3 kilos without being quite unhealthy). 

This "program" was mostly due to injury probs which took a long time to clear.  So I used the treadmill both to keep me honest in the faster bits, but also to give a softer surface to run on.   

I have only had one period of more than 60-70 mpw- this lasted about 6 months in 2009-10 when I set most of my PBs. My injury problem started in Nov 2010 and lasted the best part of two years, during which I ran in pain all the time.  I now feel as strong as ever. 

To agree with LD at the top of this page i would guess that with 6 months or more of 50-70 mpw combined with all of above I could rewrite my PBs. I remain slightly cautious though as a 43 year old aiming for longevity and won't go crazy.         

Edited: 27/04/2013 at 11:30
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