The Road to Paris - On a Plateau - Asics Target 26.2 Training

The highs, lows (and everything in between) of my 16 week Paris Marathon training plan.

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31/12/2012 at 13:56

Happy New Year Ady! Sounds as though your training - and getting down to your racing weight - is going really well!!

01/01/2013 at 15:57

Happy New Year one and all!

I'm very happy that today was a scheduled rest day. How I'm currently feeling, it was a mission to open the curtains and let the shards of sunlight pound my head, let alone get out and pound the pavements. Maybe I'm taking following my schedule far too seriously - my last day of holiday before returning to work and I'm nursing the one and only hangover my training schedule called for!

Barry......I'm already looking forward to my next Parkrun. It might be difficult though to do them every week, as I don't think it will be possible to fit these into my training schedule. I have another one in 2 weeks, and I think this performance will go some way in to seeing any adjustments in my training to lower my current goal from 3:36 towards 3:30. No pressure! What is your first week of VLM training like?

Clive....I hope you had a great New Year as well and also enjoy your holiday. The off-road run was probably the first run I've done in this training, where I haven't been looking at my watch regularly. I just went out and ran at a speed that felt comfortable. Considering the indifferent terrain, I was also surprised that the speed was fairly consistent throughout.

Hilly.........I'm extremely jealous of that dessert. Eating one and a half though BR, is impressive! I might have had some unhealthy delicacies myself  my defence though, I was only trying to clear my fridge out of all the unhealthy leftovers from Christmas, before the New Year started!  I did an excellent job in succeeding in this task, but paying the price for it today!  

RRR.......Happy New Year to you too. It seems your training is going well too. Some nice runs you've been on as well, looking at your photos. Hopefully the huge puddles and mud will clear up this week, although that will take away some of the fun trying to navigate these obstacles! 

01/01/2013 at 16:57

Day 15 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (31/12/12)

Target: 3x1 miles at 7:20-7:30 pace with 2.5 minute recovery plus 1 mile w-up/c-down (5 miles)

Actual: 7.41mi @ 8:27m/m including 2 mile w-up (@ 8:32m/m)/c-down (@ 8:51m/m) & 2.5 minute recovery between 3x1 mile reps.

Splits of 3x1 mile reps as follows: 1st mile: 7:06m/m. 2nd mile: 7:12m/m. 3rd mile: 7:04m/m

I was expecting today to be a struggle, considering the aching of my legs after yesterday's recovery run and Saturday's 5km Parkrun, where I pushed myself harder than any other recent training session. It didn't help it was pouring with rain again. I can't remember the last time I rain with sun and blue skies!

I was therefore slightly surprised that it was much easier than I was expecting, and my three one-mile reps felt much stronger than my efforts two days earlier in the Parkrun. Maybe it was knowing New Year's Eve festivities would start almost as soon as the run was completed.

After previous comments on this thread by Sam and other runners, I increased my warm-up and cool-down from 1 mile to 2 miles. Wherever possible I will do this for all future sessions as well, time permitting.

It was the same tried and tested pavement route I ran today. As this session revolved around the mile reps, I needed a stretch of pavement with few obstacles and crossings. The only section to offer this was slightly downhill to start with, and then ended with a slight uphill section. I did miles 1 and 3 in this direction and mile 2 in the opposite direction. As mile 2 was into the wind and contained more uphill than downhill, this explains why this was a little slower than mile 1 and 3. I felt I could maintain this pace for at least another 2 or 3 mile reps. I was surprised to feel like this considering how I struggled in the last mile of the Parkrun on Saturday. There were no feelings of wanting to vomit either today.

My mile splits were quicker than what my training plan asked for. I have no problem pacing myself at 8m/m or 8:30m/m, but when I run in the low 7 minutes per mile, I don't find it as easy. I think this might be because I haven't ran that much at this speed in recent months. As I didn't want to be clock watching, and therefore speeding up and slowing down constantly in order to come in closer to 7:20-7:30, I ran at a speed I felt I could happily maintain for the full mile and where I knew I didn't have to keep checking my watch to see if I was going too slow. I'm hoping as I progress in my training I'll become better at hitting quicker pacing targets every session.

I wasn't sure what I needed to do in my 2.5 minute recovery between mile reps, so I walked instead of jogging. I really wish today was my Parkrun, as on this course, I feel I'd be much closer to my 5km PB than I was on Saturday.

Here's today's training session:

01/01/2013 at 18:08

Ady -  Nice mile reps from you.  First week of my training plan is nice and gentle, was good  to run in sunshine today,  but soon ramps up.  Most weeks my plan calls for a Parkrun or easy 5 on a Saturday so I'm going to try and fit in a few Parkruns if I'm not working.

01/01/2013 at 19:11
I like the look of you week 3 Ady. It looks a nice varied week of running. Good to see your making headway with your weight loss targets too. Hope you had a nice day off today!!!
01/01/2013 at 21:35

Happy new year mate, can you believe we're in week 3 already?? Well done on actually managing to lose weight over the Christmas/New Year period - that is some achievement!

01/01/2013 at 21:38

Interesting contrast between the parkrun and the mile reps.  It sounds as if the next parkrun will be a good benchmark of feeling comfortable at that pace.

It is also interesting that you ran significantly faster than your prescribed pace for the three miles, yet felt that you could, in effect, have done double the amount the session asked for.  That would suggest that either the session was too easy for you, or that it testing an area in which you are already very strong and therefore the plan might need to be tweaked to work on other areas.  You have said in the past that you think that it is your speed you need to work on.  It seems from the evidence of this session that you could either run them a lot quicker, or do more, or cut the recoveries down significantly.  It will be interesting to see what your coach makes of this.

01/01/2013 at 23:02

Evening Ady! Looks like you're definitely going to smash that parkrun target next time around! I find the intervals harder than the smooth pacing ... so looks as though next time you're at Coventry parkrun you're going to kick my butt!

Happy New Year!! Woo woo!! Can't quite believe we're into Week 3 of training already!! Eeek!

02/01/2013 at 20:14

Day 16 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (01/01/13)

Target: Rest Day

Actual: Rest Day

Sometimes there's not a better feeling than waking up and knowing you have no reason to get out of bed, before turning over and falling back to slumber land.

My schedule did say a hangover was acceptable, but in comparison to some I've had in the past, this was a poor showing. Maybe it just shows my best years of power drinking are already behind me.  Or it could have been the two hour wait for a train home from London in the early hours that sobered me up.

After my continued weight loss (even if a miniscule amount), I didn't really hold back as the New Year was celebrated, easily drinking and eating enough to put all the weight back on, plus a whole lot more. As soon as the last mouthful of a rashly bought Cornish pasty was eaten on the train home, the feelings of guilt were already mounting. This will be my last fall from the wagon now before Paris.

I had planned on doing some cross-training, depending on how I felt today, but it was almost sunlight by the time I reached home and I didn't rise again until the afternoon. By this time, I just wanted to relax on the sofa, enjoying the last afternoon of my holidays before returning back to the stresses and reality of work......and that's exactly what I did.

Back on it tomorrow! 

02/01/2013 at 20:46

The only way to get over the depressions of going back to work today was to get back running and also use up a good percentage of this year's holiday allowance and book my next trip away. With both of these completed, I'm in a much more positive mood than I was at 6am this morning when my alarm went off!

Barry......Good luck on the VLM training plan. What kind of mileage are you doing for yours? Will you be doing a lot of intervals and speed training in your build up alongside Parkruns? Are you planning on doing a Parkrun the day before your long run? I'd love to do more Parkruns, but I would also worry that they would affect my performances in my long runs as well.

A.W........Thanks. I'm also enjoying Week 3 and the extra speed variety as well. I never thought I'd be excited about the prospect of intervals, but I'm really looking forward to see how I do in these and if I can maintain a constant pace for all 8 reps.

Steve........It's hard to believe isn't it that we are already in week 3 of training. Hopefully now all the alcohol and over-eating is last year's news, I should drop weight much quicker now. It'll have to be a lot more weight though before I have your confidence and put a picture of me on here dressed head to toe in lycra. Maybe before Paris I'll give it a go! 

BR...........I am very optimistic that my next Parkrun will be much closer to my PB. I'd also like to run another track 5km at some point, to see exactly how much I've improved on speed since Boot Camp.

I don't think the session was too easy. I definitely felt like I was working and working hard. But I also felt that I had enough in my legs to continue with the mile reps and do 2-3 more at the same pace.  I think it has something to do with knowing that I have maintained a similar pace for 10k races in the past, and I'm feeling confident that I'm coming up close to being at a similar stage. I also think that the recovery could be spent doing a jog rather than a walk. This could test me more.

If I'm honest, I think I've only ever finished one race averaging under 7:00m/m. If I can do this again, even for a 5km race, then it would be such a big psychological boost. This is one reason why I'm looking forward to the interval training session tomorrow.

RRR.......I don't know about kicking your butt. I think you'll definitely break the 20 minute barrier before me! It'll be nice to transfer some of this shorter distance time though into 10km or a half marathon. I hope week 3 is going well for you!

Edited: 02/01/2013 at 21:13
02/01/2013 at 21:23

Day 17 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (02/01/13)

Target: 5 miles comfortable @ 8:30-9:20m/m

Actual: 5.11 miles @ 8:21m/m

Mile Splits: 1st mile: 8:26m/m. 2nd mile: 8:26m/m. 3rd mile: 8:19m/m. 4th mile: 8:21m/m. 5th mile: 8:26m/m

The one thing that I struggle with when running at lunch, is keeping myself hydrated in the morning. With the busy schedule my job entails, plus a variety of meetings, I hardly ever drink enough liquids. By the time I finally have time for a drink, its normally an hour before my run. To stop the feelings of being dehydrated, I then drink too much, meaning all I can think of while I'm running, is needing the toilet.

I was feeling very lethargic the first mile. This had more to do with getting up early for work, rather than my training schedule. After this though, I soon fell into a steady rhythm and I was very surprised that three out of the five miles were at exactly the same pace.

After completing the 5 miles, I treated myself to a short sprint finish, which has brought my overall speed down lower than what it actually was for the initial 5 mile run. I'm starting to enjoy these comfortable runs.

Here's my run from today:

03/01/2013 at 15:37

Hi Adrian

Congratulations on the forum so far. I have enjoyed reading through all the posts. I read with interest the discussion on cramps, I agree with the post that cramps is usually caused by lack of conditioning to weather conditions or/&intensity or duration of runs rather than fluid related. I also agree with Sam  that  training low in carbs is an area that has more and more research to back it up but the key is to only focus on training low for some sessions.  My name is Ruth and I am the Asics Pro Team Dietitian. I have worked with athletes now for 12 years from young developing athletes to Olympic level athletes and enjoy the challenges that sports nutrition brings; research continues to move at a  pace, but often getting the basics right will have the greatest results throughout training and on on race day. Good nutrition will benefit immunity, motivation and recovery. A sucessful race day is dependant on a well practiced nutrition plan.

Please feel free to post typical daily food and drink consumption, including meal & snack times as well as sleeping and training times. Also include any recent dietary changes.

You are in safe hands with Sam. I look forward to see how your journey will progress over the coming few months. I tend to come onto the forums a couple of times  a week (likely to be Mondays & Thursdays) and try to answer all nutrition questions.

Great as always to have the support of everyone posting on forums.



03/01/2013 at 17:54

Ady -  I'm following the RW plan with some tweaks, 6 runs a week and with my tweaks peaks at about 60 miles a week.  Speedwork on a Tuesday and a tempo run on Thursday most weeks.  I think the idea behind doing a Parkrun/ easy 5 miler on a Saturday is to run the long on Sunday on tired legs. Check with Sam re her thoughts on Parkruns before LSR's.

Ruth -  Re training low in carbs, would you recommend doing most LSR's unfuelled or use them to practice race day fuelling strategies.

03/01/2013 at 18:10

Phew! I am now up to date with everyone's Christmas festivities and running. A happy new year to all. I have been in the wilds of Scotland - no wifi, no mobile phone signal and lots of hills and trails. Bliss!

 The angrier I am, the faster I run!


I'll bear the above claim in mind, Ady. If you're ever slacking off, I'll just make sure I get you all riled up!

Xyloid. Thanks for pointing out I hadn't mentioned about length of hold for stretches. Post-run, to restore 'resting length', I recommend holding for 15-20 seconds. I count 'hippopotamus' in between each number to avoid the temptation to rush through the counting!

If, however, you have specific tightnesses (eg. for me it's hip flexors) then you need to hold stretches for longer than this - 45 secs to a minute or even longer. This isn't a very attractive prospect when you are sweating in your running gear, so I tend to do these developmental stretches as a separate thing, in the comfort of the house.

So, 15-20 secs to put muscles back where they were after the repeated contractions of running and 45-120 secs for actually gaining length (through development of new 'sarcomereres', the building blocks of the muscle fibres.)


Ady - it's best to jog between the mile reps - or walk till you catch your breath and then ease into a jog. On the speed reps, you'll probably want to stand with your hands on your knees for a moment (or two!) and then walk/jog when you've realised you're not about to die 


03/01/2013 at 18:18

I am intrigued that you ran your mile reps at almost the same (slightly faster) than your parkrun. What I'd like to do for the next time you do these (week 4), is up the stated session from 4 to 5 reps and keep the recovery the same. You should be breathing hard, but controlled and not be bent over double at the end of each rep - save that for the speed intervals! If the trend throughout all five continues to remain steady or get faster rep by rep then I'll adjust the session again.

I'm really pleased with how your training has gone so far - great commitment, good pacing and buckets of enthusiasm. A great start.


03/01/2013 at 20:17

Day 18 - Asics Target 26.2 Paris Marathon Training (03/01/13)

Target: Thursday Intervals: 1.5 MILE COMFORTABLE then 3 x acceleration strides then 8 x 400m (or 90 seconds) at 6.20-6.40 pace with 2 min jogs in between each. 1.5 MILE COMFORTABLE (4 MILES)

Actual: 1.5 MILE COMFORTABLE w/up (@ 8:24m/m), 3 x acceleration strides then 8 x 400m (shunned the metric system and did 1/4 miles instead!) @ 6:08-6:21m/m pace with 2 min jogs in between each. 1.5 MILE COMFORTABLE c/down (@ 8:20m/m)

Total mileage in today's run: 6.56mi

1/4 Mile Splits: 1st: 6:08m/m. 2nd: 6:11m/m. 3rd: 6:21m/m. 4th: 6:20m/m. 5th: 6:20m/m. 6th: 6:18m/m. 7th: 6:18m/m. 8th: 6:21m/m

Apprehensive is the best word I'd use to describe how I felt before today's run. I've only ever ran twice before at speeds lower than 7m/m, so the fact that every sprint today was closer to 6 minute miles than 7 meant I was entering completely new territory.

I found a nice flattish piece of pavement close enough to work to get my w/up and c/down in and as soon as my acceleration strides were finished, I decided to go straight into my first sprint, so not to prolong the torture!

The first two sprints I ran much quicker than my target speed. After this I feel ecstatic that I was able to keep the speed almost identical between the final 6 sprints. I think I was faster the first two sprints as I pushed myself harder than what I needed too, as I didn't want to fail. After that though, I found myself pushing myself hard and then almost coasting for the last 50m of each sprint, knowing that I was comfortably going to make the top end of my target speed. During the sprints I also made a mental effort to try and increase my cadence (I've never even thought about doing this before!). I don't know if it was psychological, but this made the 1/4mile feel much easier to get through, while still keeping up a decent speed.

I could tell I was getting a good work out. Towards the end of the last few sprints, I was starting to feel sick. Obviously this is a sign that my body isn't currently used to running so fast (and possibly why I was struggling with the same condition during last Saturday's Parkrun). But this feeling didn't last long and didn't affect my sprints. I feel I could have maintained a time closer to 6:00-6:10 for the 8 sprints, or increased the reps to 12 and stuck nearer 6:20m/m..............

03/01/2013 at 20:20

.................One thing I feel I could have performed better in, were the recovery jogs between each 1/4mile rep. I was hoping to do these at 9-9:30m/m, but after the first one, I found it impossible to go straight from the sprint into a jog, without walking for a bit first. I also mistimed the distance from the beginning of the 1/4mile course I'd measured out every time I did my recovery jog. This meant I didn't always stick to 2 minutes between each rep.

I'm glad I'm doing this training in winter. I was drenched in sweat almost as soon as I'd finished my shower. Luckily there were no important meetings after lunch, and I could sit at my desk with red face and perspiring back, until I reached something resembling normal again.

It looks like I've gone way over my planned mileage for today (6.56 compared to 4). When adding up the individual segments though, I've completed what I should have done.

Overall though, this was another confidence boosting session.

Here is today's run:

Edited: 03/01/2013 at 20:31
03/01/2013 at 20:48

Ady - well done - yet another session you could have done more of or gone faster.  I note your coach has already increased your mile rep session by 25% above the Asics plan.  It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to the 400m session feedback.

03/01/2013 at 20:50
SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)

Phew! I am now up to date with everyone's Christmas festivities and running. A happy new year to all. I have been in the wilds of Scotland - no wifi, no mobile phone signal and lots of hills and trails. Bliss!

.....and there was me thinking you'd realised the scale of your task in getting me close to a sub 3:30 and left while the going was still good!

Glad you had a nice New Year. I can imagine it was nice without wifi or a phone signal. No constantly having the urge to check your phone!

They'll be no slacking on my part. No need to worry about that. But if you do feel the need to rile me up in anyway you see fit, I won't take any offence from it!

I'll try and focus on jogging between my reps in future. This should make the sessions harder. I expect it'll also keep my heart rate up as well. I feel I might even struggle more then to keep my pace during the reps.

Thanks for the increase in my mile reps for week 4. That should come in very handy for making my face even redder when I make my way back to the office afterwards. During my 400m (or 1/4 mile) reps today, I didn't feel like I needed to bend over double at the end of each rep, although I did feel sick at the end of the last two. Do you think this means I should be doing them faster? I did find it hard work, but felt I could have maintained a speed slightly faster than this (probably around 6-6.10). But then would it be worthwhile attempting to do it faster, if it means the last rep or two could suffer if I run out of steam and get slower?

03/01/2013 at 20:51

Well done so far Ady.  It is a bit of trial when first doing sessions and it's only by doing them that you can see what needs to be adjusted.  You say you've gone way over your mileage and yet you've covered the session as planned, perhaps the experts might like to comment on how a 1.5 mile warm up, a 1.5 mile cool down, 8 x 400m (2 miles) and 14 minutes worth of jog recovery (about 1.5 miles) could be a 4 mile run?  There seems to be an illogicality about the Asics plan, was it 6.5 or 4 miles?

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