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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20/12/2012 at 19:51 if I could swap you a little bit of my flat for a little bit of your hills, then I think we would both have the perfect combination!

When I lived in China, I was surrounded by mountains so had an excellent selection to choose from.......the only problem was, they were all a little too steep.

No one else ran in the city where I lived; they only walked, and on the mountain trail I used, there were hundreds of people that also used it. Instead of walking forwards though, they would all walk backwards, which meant as soon as they saw me, their gaze became transfixed and they would speed up to keep ahead of me. It's never good for morale when you have five 70 year olds walking so quickly backwards, that you can't overtake them running forwards! 

20/12/2012 at 20:01

Xyloid..............Regarding your query about stretching. Now that is an excellent question indeed.

My flexibility is atrocious and has often caused me problems (there's a rude joke in there somewhere, but I'm steering well clear of it!). It's getting better now that I've started doing pilates again, but there was a point where I'd struggle to sit crossed-legged on the floor! Pilates how really, really helped with this (I know it's not the most masculine of things to brag about, sharing your love of pilates to the world!)

I don't really do stretches before a run. I limber up, so some knee raises, strides, etc. After my run (which is what you asked about) I do stationery stretches on my calves, hamstrings and quads. I also do some arm stretches as well. I'd say I only spend 5 minutes doing this, which might not be enough. It's hard to fit enough time in though if running in my lunch break to spend a lot longer stretching as well as running!

Can anyone recommend a stretching routine or a good amount of time to stretch after a run? Like Xyloid, this is something I would also find useful to know more about.

20/12/2012 at 20:12

Ady - nice one on taking peoples' interests and queries in the manner in which they were meant.

FWIW your previous approach seemed to be ALL quality (marathon pace or faster) for all runs, so whilst it might seem strange to be told to run at 9:30 pace or slower that is entirely the correct advice.

However, the corrolary with reducing your pace is usually an increase in mileage.  The first ever RW online coaching threads were back in 2004 and Mike Gratton took on a runner with times in the same general ball-park as you and got her to slow down her training runs but also, crucially in the view of many, increase the mileage.  You will see from the link below that she was running typically 50mpw with some x-training, peaking at 60.  Mike got her to increase that to a peak of 70 in the first instance (cutting the pb from 3:26 to 3:15) and then onto 80-90mpw and on to a 2:56 in 2006.

So whilst rule #1 is don't get injured, to maximise marathon potential, the evidence would suggest a pushing of the endurance, rather than the speed boundaries.

20/12/2012 at 20:15

Minnie.....thanks also for your good luck wishes. I hope to do the 3:30 forum thread proud and become a bona fide member in my own right!

Sarah.........glad you like the programme. What kind of programme do you normally follow? Is it similar to this? current HM PB is 1:40. I remember the last 6 miles of this was run head first in to a gale. I did this with very little speed, tempo or interval training. My first big goal of the Asics Target 26.2 training is to better this, and I'm targeting knocking time off this when I do my half at Dorney Lake in February.

Cheerful Dave.......I think your original query regarding the taper was for the first plan I posted, which is obsolete now. This could possibly be the hardest part of my marathon training, as I've been very bad at tapering in the past. I've been known to run half marathons the week before a marathon, just because I didn't think I'd done enough training in the first place. Obviously this was an act of stupidity and something I wont be doing again! 

20/12/2012 at 20:32

Minni.........reading your message about averaging 50mpw. Is this what you do regularly? Even in the off season? Did you find you started to suffer any injuries when moving upwards to 60 miles per week, or because your body was use to 50mpw, then this step up wasn't so much of an issue?

For a person in my position, who doesn't run for a club (I'm going to change this though once my training is finished for Paris) and hasn't concentrated on speed work as much as I really should have done in the past, then I would also worry (like Sam has said), that a jump from an average of 30 miles per week to 50+ miles per week would be a big ask.

I was hoping my base mileage would be much higher than what it is now, but like I said on a recent message, virtually all my friends got married this year, which not only meant weekends spent at weddings, but also weekends spent on stag parties with a less than adequate diet. (Not that I'm complaining about this........although my wife did insist on being bought a new dress for each wedding. I've quickly learnt you can't recycle and re-use a dress when it's already been worn at one wedding! It's been an expensive year)

Even during my marathons this year, my highest mileage peaked only between 35-40, so I'm happy to be increasing on this, this time around, or as Sam prepares. 

20/12/2012 at 20:37

RRR.......Thanks for your message.....I hope your training is going swimmingly (not a bad adjective for the weather we're currently having!)

Sorry I haven't had the chance of popping by your forum page (and the other Steve, Alex and Mel) as much as I wanted. The build up to Xmas has been a hectic one........don't tell Mrs. Shady Ady, but I haven't had the chance to purchase a single present for her yet. This Saturday might make or break my marriage! 

20/12/2012 at 20:43

Apologies if I sound like an inexperienced running virgin asking this, but what does P&D stand for? I've seen many people mentioning it on this thread? 

20/12/2012 at 20:47

P+D - Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, the authors of `Advanced Marathoning' and `Road Racing for Serious Runners'.  Of all the running books people have bought over the years to follow training advice, they are the default source of expertise for many people on the forum who are keen to improve.

20/12/2012 at 21:11 your normal mileage for a 3:45 only 25-30 miles then? How do you break these miles out into runs? In the past when I've only had time constraints and could only train for a similar amount of time, I really found the last 6 miles were a struggle.

As for always having something interesting or funny to say, now you've put me under a whole lot of pressure! I used all my best stories in the voting stage.........I have nothing left to give.........well actually I still have quite a few more even more embarrassing stories, quite a few of which are running based!

MCS.....Thanks for your wishes. I'm very excited to be working with Sam and it's been excellent so far. It's a task of knuckling down for the next 4 weeks though and see if I've done enough to raise my target of 3:36 to closer to 3:30.

Malcs......seeing your HM time again, it does seem like you have the opposite problem to mine.....whereas I'm okay with going the distance, it seems you already have the speed. Here's to both breaking 3:30 next year  

Seren Nos......I totally agree.......a busy thread is a healthy thread..............I'm very happy for all the discussions and advice that have taken place so far. I'll soak it all in like a manky bath sponge!

Sarah.......if you can sell a run on Christmas Day like that, I think you'd probably make money selling anything! It's funny how things like that make people friendlier and more talkative to strangers. The only times I've had  strangers talk to me in London, is if they are crazy or drunk.........but if five flakes of snow happen to fall, even the sane, normal members of society are chin-wagging away to anyone who will listen.

Enjoy your long run far are you going?

20/12/2012 at 21:17
I saw Minni kissing Santa Claus wrote (see)

malcs - you'd learn a lot from the guys (and more from the girls ) on the sub 3:30 thread.   Shady has popped in there too so I'm sure he wouldn't mind.   By the way I ran 3:28 off a 1:36 half last year, with about 4 20s.  This year I ran a 3:20 off 1:32 with 7 20s.

Malcs.......I would definitely recommend it!

20/12/2012 at 21:29

Barnsley Runner.....thanks for your post and letting me in to the P&D secret! It was interesting to see what Dawn did. Looking at her PB's, they are only a couple of minutes on average quicker than mine......until you get to her marathon time, which is much faster.

The idea of going upwards towards 80-90mpw is intimidating to say the least!

I will certainly be trying my best to follow rule #1. No injuries allowed!

20/12/2012 at 22:28
Shady_Ady wrote (see) your normal mileage for a 3:45 only 25-30 miles then? How do you break these miles out into runs? In the past when I've only had time constraints and could only train for a similar amount of time, I really found the last 6 miles were a struggle.

Ady - I can run 3:45 off of this mileage which partly lends me to agree with Sam. However, I know I can't run faster times off of this mileage so this year I've got the base to 40-45 and I'm seeing vast improvements. My family commitments have meant I just couldn't do more in previous years.

I generally got a longish run in every other week and maybe 2 more runs. I rarely ran more than 3 times a week. The other two run were a steady 6 and a tempo or long interval session.

I'm loving this thread at the moment with all the debate and disagreement. I think that's what it should be about. Now for the bit where I disagree with Sam - I'm convinced that for me more mileage (up to a point) corralates to more strength and a faster marathon. I just have to find that magical point where I can handle the mileage without the injuries. I'm lucky in some ways in that I have run all my life although much of this was for other sports so my legs are used to running.

I think we are all different and I'm sure she'll correct me if I'm wrong but this is Sam's point. She has set her schedule for you based on her knowledge of you, what you can cope with, your history etc. I don't think it would be right for me at this time but that doesn't mean it's not right for you. I'm sure you'll have success with Sam in your corner and you'll achieve your target. I really hope so. Ultimately, you have to trust your coach. That's why you entered the competition. You can adapt with it as your fitness improves.

Good luck mate!

p.s. I do find the last 6 hard on 25 miles a week which makes starting at the right pace extra important. This year both halves of my marathon were almost identical. Of course it was a bit tougher at the end but I hadn't worked in the first 15-16 anywhere near capacity so I always knew I was in control.

20/12/2012 at 23:08

Store Day

The last thing I expected Asics Store Day to be was traumatic. Why would any experience where you are given a lump sum of money to spend on the latest running fashions and accessories and have the most professional gait analysis possible, be anything but an exceptional delight in a lifetime of ordinary?

The reason? Lycra.

Lycra and I have never seen eye to eye. To me, lycra has always been the popular girl at school. The girl everyone wants to be with. But the sad reality is that you'll never be with her. You'll never make her happy and content.

I normally buy my running clothes from Sports Direct, so having the chance to spend the day at Asics flagship store in London is very much like winning a golden ticket from Willy Wonka. It's probably the only time in my life when I'll get to feel like running royalty. With this new found confidence, I spied the one I've always wanted, and decided this was the day to make my dreams come true. Today, I wasn't going to shy away in the corner thinking I'm not good enough.

Reality hurts, and so does rejection. I pulled on my new skin tight leggings and shirt from the Top Impact line, developed at the Asics Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan and stood mortified in front of the mirror. I've heard the expression 'muffin-top' before, but what I was viewing before me took on the shape of an exploded nuclear bomb. It was horrifying.

To make matters worse, we were ready for the first photo shoot. I came out of the dressing room, looking like a character from Little Britain. Completely self conscious as female eyes glanced in my direction, I looked at the other runners with the their perfect physiques and wished I hadn't spent the last 8 years running "so I can eat more."

One thing I'm sure of, wearing this lycra in the photo shoot, I would have looked like an imposter. I felt I didn't belong. So what did I do?  I spent five minutes sweating as I attempted to take the clothes off. This itself was a workout I wasn't expecting. I put on something a little less revealing and smiled for the camera.

Then the leggings and skin tight top became my first purchase of the day. Why did I buy them? Because I have full confidence that before Paris, I will wear it, and I will look good!

When I returned home, I made my wife take a photo of me in my new Top Impact outfit. I'll also make her take one just before Paris. I have a feeling this alone will show people have far I've come in this 16 week journey. Losing 16lbs in 16 weeks sounds a lot, but now I'm concentrating as much on my diet and lifestyle as I am on my running, failure is not an option.   

Of course I jest slightly..........this is the first time in my running career where I've received such professional advice and a selection of the best running items available. This alone has put me in an elevated position, even before the training has begun.

Thanks to everyone at Asics and Runnersworld for this opportunity.

 Smile for the camera!

 Clothing purchased!

 Now time to go back home and start the real work!

20/12/2012 at 23:18

Day 1

4 miles @ 9:30 per mile: 

I've never purposefully ran at this pace before in my life. I have a nasty habit of speeding up considerably when running past people, in order to look a lot better than what I am.

As I couldn't do this, I had the urge to mention to work colleagues as I slowly jogged past them, that I was capable of much quicker, but I had to go this slow as that's what my training schedule says. I don't think they would have believed me.

As I misjudged my distances, I completed the 4 miles with a good 1/3 mile still away from work. With a meeting looming and still having to shower and eat lunch, I used my initiative and did a few acceleration strides all the way back to the office!

Here's my run:

Edited: 20/12/2012 at 23:19
20/12/2012 at 23:27

Day 2

5 miles @ 8:30 per mile: 

My wife swears I have Attention Deficit Disorder. If I had a pound for every time she comes home to find that the hoovering, cleaning, washing and ironing have all been started, but not finished, I'd have enough money to pay for someone to do these chores for me!

I suffer the same problems when running. As soon as my mind drifts and starts thinking of something other than running, my pacing can become very erratic. Take today for example. I work next to Farnborough Airport and was running my last mile back along the runway perimeter watching the planes landing and taking off. With my mind away from running, without realising I finished the last mile faster than I should have done.

This is something I need to work on. If I'm speeding up and slowing down regularly, especially during the marathon, I'll be expending energy inefficiently. 

Here's my run:

20/12/2012 at 23:42

Day 3

5 miles @ 8:00 per mile

The one problem with today's run was that it was supposed to be run on a hilly course. There's not that much choice of hills available where I work, so to get anything resembling a hill into my run, meant running up and down the same hill, time and time again. 

It wasn't as boring as I expected. I found it difficult to stick to 8 minute miles as I was pushing myself harder up the hill and then not relaxing enough and slowing down when coming down it. I finished the 5 miles averaging 7:54 mins per mile, which was fairly comfortable and I felt I could have easily carried on for more miles keeping this pace, if not quicker.

Here's my run:

20/12/2012 at 23:53

Blimey - you pop out for a shish and a beer (singular) and Ady goes into posting overdrive!

Nice work dood. Very impressed with your efforts here to keep everyone informed. Just don't let it interfere with your sleep patterns! 

Saw the weather forecast for the weekend - strewth! You weren't kidding about that monsoon. Apparently it reaches storm force around Glasgow on Sunday which should make our flight there a real joy

21/12/2012 at 00:03
Are you sure you're fitting any running in with all this posting, Ady???
21/12/2012 at 00:04
I would've put a smiley face after that but Apple has outlawed things like that. Very serious, Apple.
21/12/2012 at 00:50
Hi ady, I have only done the one marathon this year. My mum did me a programme which we then had to revise due to me missing 4 weeks of training with whooping cough. I have used my plan last year and tried to do my own plan again this year but have just ordered that book everyone is recommending by p&d so after reading that and your and Sarah's training plans I might be making some adjustments!

I think I'm quite lucky where I live, lots of people always seem quite friendly and happy to say hello in the street, but its jut extra special, almost magical on Christmas morning (I love Christmas!)
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