Sub 3:15 - FLM 2009

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07/12/2010 at 14:21
I found out in late 2008 I was successful in the ballot so was fully focused on the sub 3h15 target again! I did two autumn half marathons in 91min and 90mins and then dived into regular Wednesday night sessions with the club’s group 1: the fast guys and girls basically. Although I managed most Wednesday nights from Oct-Dec the rest of it was piecemeal and while I would have one good week of 30 miles it would be followed by a week of 11 miles for instance. I was not “consistently consistent” as TR would say. I got ill in early December which I couldn’t shake off fully but on 1st January 2009 I decided to do the local 5 mile race and although below par still managed 33m01s. I classed that as the start of week 1 of a 17 week build up to FLM 09. By week 5 I was up to a long run of 20 miles and a weekly total of 43mpw. By week 12 I’d managed 5 x 20 milers one of which was a race (2h21m) and I’d also done a 15 mile race in 1h45 and also 2 cross country events for my club. I was now getting the miles in and focusing on 3 to 4 runs a week: Monday easy run or spin on bike, Tuesday would be up to an hour at marathon HR which was equating to about 7m03 – 7m07s pace, Weds night would be club night with group 1 doing mile reps / 1k reps / fartlek / Kenyan hills sessions, Friday would be circuit session, Sunday long run.
In the run up to FLM 09 I did a short 19min 5k on 1st April, Midland Relays 4th April, 39m31s PB for 10k on 5th April. I then did the National Relays the week before London (18th April) and felt strong. I was down to sub 7min miling for the last 3 marathon paced sessions in the last 3 weeks so felt confident. I had done 512 miles over the 17 weeks, had my 5 x long runs = 100 miles and had a good solid build up with no illnesses / injuries and had done a sub 40min 10k. Everything pointed to 3h09/3h10 on the day. The weather was yet to play it’s trump card however….. After 4 months of being used to cold and inclement weather the actual day was a scorcher. I ran it to HR to make sure I didn’t over-extend myself but I knew I was off pace by halfway as I went through in 1h37m17s. Although I came in with another PB of 3h19 it wasn’t good enough by the standards I’d set myself in training and racing. The positives to come out of it was that my positive split of the race was only 1h37 / 1h41 compared to 1h38 / 1h51 the previous year and I only did 3 miles in the whole race that were 8min-odd pace. In fact I even did miles 3 and 4 at sub 7 min pace!
Just to prove that it was the weather that was the root cause I did an 18m32s 5k 10 days after London and an 87min half marathon 4 days after that.
07/12/2010 at 14:21
I was all set to draw a line under marathons after the finish line of FLM 09 as by now my wife was pregnant with our second child but it was actually her that convinced me to enter Abingdon and go for it.
I then embarked on an 18 week build up for Abingdon in October having banked another PB during the summer: this time a 31m20s for 5 miles. I knew now what it would take as I had 3 marathons under my belt – endurance and miles in the bank. I had enough basic leg speed already so the Weds night club sessions were ditched and I concentrated on getting the miles in instead. My wife went on maternity leave in August which all of sudden freed me up to run to work and back every day and meant I didn’t have to take our eldest to nursery either. Naturally my weekly mileage went from 3 to 4 runs a week struggling to hit 40mpw on occasion to 9 – 11 runs a week and weekly mileage at 50mpw+. In the 4 weeks of August 2009 I clocked up 208 miles with 35 run sessions, 6 commutes by bike and 1 swim – a record high! My five longest runs totalled 101 miles. My marathon paced run was only 3 miles in week 11 but increased by 2 miles each week until I did a local half marathon as a marathon paced run in week 16 in 92mins. Unfortunately my hard work was undone by picking up a viral infection with about 5 days to go and all my form counted for nothing as I did not start.
2 weeks after I should have run Abingdon I tried to run my local half with disastrous results as I still hadn’t shaken off the illness and bombed out with 91m35s when I should have been sailing under 90mins with ease.
07/12/2010 at 14:22
A few weeks later I won a competition through Runners World to get the chance to have go at London again following the RW sub 3h15 schedule. I took things steady until the last 2 weeks of the year, doing a couple of local cross-country races, some club sessions and a few runs to and from work. I was prescribed 2 weeks off over the Christmas break to allow me to rest up and be fresh for the start of the schedule.
From the 1st week of January for 16 weeks I had absolutely the perfect preparation under the guidance of Liz Yelling. I ran to and from work 4 days a week, did the club session every Wednesday evening, did 5 x long runs equalling 98miles (including a 22 miler), ran all my runs at either 8m00s or slower or at less than 7m00s pace. I had a range of pace that meant I was flying. On week 4 of the schedule I ran a solo 40m09s 10k in training over a hilly circuit which showed I was going well from the outset. On week 8 I ran a 10mile training run in 68m39s as a tempo run and then 2 weeks later ran the Banbury 15 in a PB by 3mins, not far outside of my HM PB pace.
Although I only did 98miles in my 5 longest runs the pace was around 8m30s for those runs where previously I had done 7m40s pace on my long runs. My cumulative time on my feet for those 98 miles was 14h00mins exactly whereas the cumulative time for the 100 miles pre-London 2009 was 12h05mins and the 100miles pre-Abingdon 2009 was 13h03mins.
I was having bi-weekly massages to keep me from breaking down which helped when I picked up an ankle injury in week 11 as I got over it in a matter of days and only missed 3 sessions in reality. In week 13 I managed a training week of 62 miles which included a 19m09s 5k followed by a 22mile run the next day. That was in the middle of a 9 day block of continuous running where I managed 82miles. I was shattered but the next weekend after an easy week I knocked out a 38m43s 10k PB. By now I had 2 weeks till London and it was apparent to all that all I had to do was turn up on the day and I would run a PB for the marathon. Sadly with 4 days to go, yet again I picked up a slight viral infection and allied to the stress I’d placed myself under I woefully underperformed on the day and recorded 3h32mins – my worst time of all. It was such a shame to see having done 675 miles over the 16 weeks and having been so unbelievably consistent with nothing going wrong in the build-up.
07/12/2010 at 14:22

Under the guidance of Liz Yelling I decided to go and do Chester 5 weeks after London. I had a rest week with no running then did weeks of 35miles, 38 miles, 32 miles before an easy week of 11 miles. The longest run I did was 2hrs and that was alternating blocks of 15mins of easy running with 15mins blocks of marathon pace work for the entire 2 hours. I did one run mid-week that included 15min blocks of MP and the rest of the week was easy running to help me recover from London.
Chester marathon was my PB – 3h12m49s and it was a perfect race in that I ran a negative split by a handful of secs but I know that it was seriously compromised due to running London only 5 weeks previously. I was not fully fresh going into the race but did the absolute best I could on the day. I ran an amazingly even paced day with all my mile splits being very close together and didn’t pay any attention to my HR. A useful lesson learned for the future.

07/12/2010 at 14:22

What have I learnt? There’s no short cuts to success in running a sub 3h15 marathon. You need basic leg speed at shorter distances so good times at 5k/5mile/10k are a must as is an ability to run 90mins or even less than that for a half marathon. You need 5 long runs to equal at least 100miles and to be honest, having run more than 5 x 20 milers will help with your endurance. You need to do a minimum of 40mpw consistently over a good 10-12 weeks prior to your taper. Running with a club will bring you in leaps and bounds provided you go out with a group that tests and stretches you. Cross country races are a great way to build leg strength and keep you race fit over the winter and provide some mental stimulus. Long runs need to be run at MP + (at least) 60s so for a 3h15 time you’re looking at 8m27s pace. My 5 long runs pre-London was an average of 8m35s pace and at Chester those runs kicked in with style allowing me to run a negative split and get stronger over the 2nd half and come out with 7m20s pace. Time on feet is key for long runs.

07/12/2010 at 14:22

What would be a perfect schedule then? Ideally you’d be coming into a schedule where you’re already doing 35mpw based around a 2hr run on the weekend, a club night run Weds night and some easier paced running around those 2 sessions. Maybe the odd Parkrun and 10k or HM if during the summer or the odd XC race during the winter. This would allow you to start doing 2hr+ runs as your long runs fairly quickly and without any likelihood of picking up injury.
I would say that mid-week semi-long runs (13-15 miles) are the 2nd most important session of the week followed by a speed session and the rest of the week easy paced running. Long runs and semi-long runs run off at MP + (at least) 60s and the easy runs at MP + 90secs. One thing that Liz Yelling taught me post Super Six was to keep practicing MP as much as possible so using the longer runs to introduce blocks of 15mins at MP is a good thing especially near the end of the run so you’re learning how to run at MP on tired legs.
Ideal week (for me) if I was planning a schedule would look like:

Mon – 30mins easy run
Tues – max 60mins easy run
Wed – run to club (2 miles), club session (7 miles), 4miles loop home (class this as semi-long run)
Thu – 30mins easy run
Fri – max 60mins easy run
Sat – rest
Sun – long run

I would not do 20mile runs on consecutive weeks, instead I’d do 16 miles one week, 20 the next then back down to 16, etc. This does mean you need 10 weeks to do your 5 longest runs before a 3 week taper. Liz advised your longest run should be 4 weeks out – a 3hr run where distance is not the primary concern. My 22 mile run pre-London 2010 was 3h07mins / 8m30s pace.
Liz totally is against 20mile races in the build-up to a marathon – I did this 5 weeks pre-London 2009 and believed I never really recovered from it as I did it at faster than MP. Even running it at MP is too destructive and never leaves enough time to recover from.
Liz would do her last long run 4 weeks out then 3 weeks out do a 2hr run at MP + 20secs so for a sub 3h15 aspirant you’re looking at roughly 7m50s for 2hrs. 2weeks out do a 90mins run at MP + 60secs and then 1 week out do a 1hr easy run. Don’t make my mistake where I did 4 races in the final 4 weeks of my 2009 schedule, which allied to my 20mile race meant I was too tired for the one race that mattered!
07/12/2010 at 14:23
You really don't have to read all that but I've sent it on to a few people this year and they seemed to appreciate it!
07/12/2010 at 14:33
Will read later when not at work MM
07/12/2010 at 14:53

Thanks very much for all your Help MM, hats off to you for doing that, it was a great read.

I am working my way through the schedules you posted for me on the previous page, so thanks once again for that, am building my training spreadsheet as we speak on the back of that.

07/12/2010 at 15:03

Read it mid lesson.  

Absolutely fantastic. About the 3rd or 4th time I've read this and every time I learn something else (this time I am wondering if I feel a bit run down yesterday and today after averaging 7.47 pace on my LSR on Sunday). Thanks for posting again MM. Inspiring stuff..

07/12/2010 at 15:41
SteveC1975 wrote (see)

Thanks very much for all your Help MM, hats off to you for doing that, it was a great read.

I am working my way through the schedules you posted for me on the previous page, so thanks once again for that, am building my training spreadsheet as we speak on the back of that.


If you want to become the thread's pet project as it were then feel free to post up your schedule for us to comment on and/or help with. I realise the thread is moving on with most of the posters more at the '3' end of the 'sub 3h15' but it doesn't mean we don't remember how to do 3h14m59s off 40mpw av (or maybe less). Like I said, the basics are the same, it's just the time spent doing them that is the difference.

This thread (and the posters on it) have helped me enormously in various guises over the past 2 years and I'd like to pass the help/advice on where possible

MsE
07/12/2010 at 15:57
I think having Steve as the Thread Guinea Pig sounds a marvellous idea.
07/12/2010 at 16:14

Yeah, can we poke him and make him eat nasty things to see what happens?!

Keir wrote (see)

Read it mid lesson.

What do you mean? That was the lesson.

A very interesting read MM. And lots to take away too.

MsE - I had a look at the Youtube vid you mentioned earlier and it was horrendous. In the strange helter-skelter that is watching videos on Youtube, I also saw an amusing one of 2 women who were doing a synchronised wobbling just before the IM finish line.
I'm not sure how much advice you can get on this thread regarding fuelling for a HIM but I believe competitors try to shove as much food down their throats as possible on the bike, in readiness for the run.  Perhaps if he's lurking TR might pop in to give you some advice. Or maybe you could knock on the door of the sub3 thread as there are a few IM and HIMers in there.

07/12/2010 at 16:16

Are we allowed to stick needles into him, or just stroke him from afar?

Matchstick Man wrote (see)

 I realise the thread is moving on with most of the posters more at the '3' end of the 'sub 3h15'  
Brings us back to the thread name change thing around page 1200 of this thread. Any more happening with that, or are we staying put?
07/12/2010 at 16:23
MsE wrote (see)
Experienced marathoners/endurance athletes of the forum! Please can you talk to me about The Wall? I have just watched some clips on YouTube and one, in particular, of Paula Newby Fraser in 1995 was not pleasant to see. What is the best way to ensure I avoid this in April and during my HIM? I have a feeling that a combination of training and fuel is the answer...?


questions about tri-stuff I'd ask on the triathlon forum but from a purely marathon perspective the wall is more of a Daily Mail construct. It's something that is easily avoided through decent endurance in training and nutrition in the days leading up to the race, the morning of the race and during the race itself. There's plenty of us here who've managed a negative split during a marathon so it shows that "the wall" is something that people who don't train enough or who aren't diligent enough with their nutrition tend to experience.

tbh, after 20 miles pretty much all of us want to stop and the last 10km is ruddy painful but it's that challenge that we look forward to. Right?

07/12/2010 at 16:26
Keir wrote (see)

Are we allowed to stick needles into him, or just stroke him from afar?

Matchstick Man wrote (see)

 I realise the thread is moving on with most of the posters more at the '3' end of the 'sub 3h15'  
Brings us back to the thread name change thing around page 1200 of this thread. Any more happening with that, or are we staying put?


http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/forummessages.asp?dt=4&UTN=168846&last=1&V=7&SP=

 let's go!

07/12/2010 at 16:34

Ok, but before we all go can I just draw the thread's attention to.....

Matchstick Man wrote (see)

Ideal week (for me) if I was planning a schedule would look like:


07/12/2010 at 16:38
Opportunities for ripping it out of me exist on the "other side"
07/12/2010 at 16:42

I don't mind being the thread guinea pig (especially apt as I am on my fourth Krispy Kreme doughnut of the day (someone's birthday is the excuse)

Will post up my excel file link or screenshots when I have had a chance to look at the P & D schedules.

A few changes I am thinking about, the 20th Mar - Brentwood Half is to run that at HM Pace rather than at MP, but in the context of the training week, i.e. no taper etc, thoughts?

Also, in Mid March onwards, I usually start my rides into work, this is about 16 miles each way, should I can them and wait until after VLM or use them as cross training, in the place of a recovery run?

07/12/2010 at 17:28

Are we all de-camping to that other thread then ?? Will it be scary

MsE - like Keir said - orthotics solved my knee pain 100%. I splashed out and got a proper assessment by a biomechanics guy and he made me custom shaped ones. Utter agony breaking them in but I know struggle to wear any shoes without them.

Great stuff there MM. How do you manage to be so organised ! You must be cutting/pasting and organising sub folders twenty four seven ! I like your view of "the wall" as a Daily Mail construct. I don't think it really should exist for anyone at our humble level since we're all prepared to put in the hours training and be sensible.

Steve - as our experimental subject just how far are you prepared to go ?? You wouldn't mind if you start getting hairy palms or growing pert little breasts would you ?? On a more serious note - good luck and I'll attempt to chip in as you progress. Hope I didn't sound overly negative the other day but - like most of us- having been through injury it really is a pi$$er and avoidance of overdoing it and imploding should be number one priority in my book. I find it's taken me about 3 or 4 years to get to the point where 50-60 miles a week as a base doesn't feel too arduous

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