Training For The 'Right' Distance

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16/10/2010 at 16:28

This looks a good thread.

Will read it with interest.

16/10/2010 at 20:15
Pammie* wrote (see)

PRF - With regards to MP+25% for easy pace would you say that for all standards as using me as an example at the moment my Marathon time wouldn't be faster than 4 hours so using 9 minutes per mile (i know its 9:09 pace) to make the sums easier would mean easy runs at 11:10 pace which is too slow for me normally operate around 10:30 pace Tried 11 min pacing before but this changes my natural gait significantly and am sure this can bring on unwanted niggles or even more

Pammie - Thats a very good question.

The MP+25% is a figure that fits for the elites, say 5:00/mile MP equating to 6:15/mile for overdistance work and it also fits for my level at 6:30/mile leading to overdistance at 8:15-8:30.

However, it is also probably true that this equation breaks down at some point where easy paces and race paces start to get closer together.

The MP+25% figure is an approximation that I came up with to replicate the fastest pace that can be maintained after glycogen depletion , ie where fat is the predominant fuel source. This is the system that you are trying to stimulate to enable fat to bring more to the party during a marathon.

That doesnt really answer your question but have you ever experienced gycogen depletion in a marathon and do you have any data to establish what pace you were able to continue at after that point?

Edited: 16/10/2010 at 20:17
16/10/2010 at 22:08
parkrunfan where is this evidence that running a marathon in your early 20s get results ?

i would say this is the opposite of what you need to do at my age. my own experience is that short term a few months of running more miles works wonders but this only works short term though. after a few months your performance plateaus by just running lots and i think most people's answer to this (running more and more and more !) is the wrong one!

i did purely endurance running for two years and i think i went from 20.15 to 18.30 in six months but in the end it took me six month training to go from 17.15 to get under 17 minutes. i think i knocked myself out with the running because i have lost my enthusiasm for long distance now.

when i eventually got round to start track at 23 and i met hordes of teenage boys who can run 52-55s for 400m and i was running with 14 year old kids at the 800m that could easily destroy jessica ennis. they can all run under 2.10 but most of them would not be able to run 5000m. i realise now i have a lot to do here but i would pose to do you long distance runners - how on earth do you guys expect to beat these kids. at 24 these kids in 10 years time they would be running 1.55 for the 800m and if they went up in the distance under 15 minutes for the 5000m. those who have done marathon training will never have the speed training to get anywhere near that sort of speed.

track makes you rethink a lot what you think about training and i would say in general people who run track train a lot less for much better results. i would even go as far as to say that those who train hard on the track and later go up to long distance become unbeatable by anyone who does not run track - look at our chris thompson!

Edited: 16/10/2010 at 22:19
17/10/2010 at 04:51

> (great username btw!)

Not wanting to divert the thread away from Moraghan's original aim, and not wanting to repeat the same info twice, I would refer you to here:

specifically pages 143-144 where I quoted several examples of runners who specialised in the marathon in their very early 20s and were certainly capable of 13:xx 5000s and 27:xx 10,000s .

But I would emphasise that this was a specific debate and I'm not necessarily saying that it is a good idea as you may miss out on the opportunity to maximise your potential at the shorter distances.

The debate was centred around if the marathon was the ultimate goal, what was the best route to achieve maximum potential at THAT distance or if indeed there was one definite favoured route. 

17/10/2010 at 14:52


Thanks for the reply there and there is  a lot of truth in that that the paces (Easy and MP) get closer together the further back in the pack you go

Only done 2 marathoners but different first i hadn't done enough training to be frank had to walk/run last 8 miles my records say i got to 18 miles in 3:17 and it took me just over 2 hours to do the last 8.2 mile

More lack of miles in legs i think than anything else and from my report i felt bad from the start but somehow didn't put me off i have the spits might blog it over on fetch for posterity as i had to hunt for it lol and don't want to clog up this thread

2nd one was better but felt held back all the way whether that was a good thing or a bad thing i don't know

17/10/2010 at 19:39


 what type of training do you mean that took you to sub-17?

 i've pretty much followed that same pathway so far, going from 20.30 to 17.30 mainly focusing on endurance running, with very little 5km specific work. I'm looking to run under 17 next year, with 5km being my main focus for 2011. Be interested in your thoughts as I prepare for winter training next month as to how I should plan it.

17/10/2010 at 19:50
parkrunfun - those names are blasts from the past!! You're not Australian are you?

The story comes to mind about a certain Peter Pfitzinger who came out here and ran a good marathon. He entered a 25km hilly race on one of the little islands dotted around Auckland. He had a pesky 13 year old hanging intently on him. This boy was just suited to distance running. He still is one of our best marathoners. This boy is now 35 just took out our NZ Road champs 10km yesterday. I'm sure he wouldn't have had the career in running that he has had if he had concentrated on 800m 1500m running. He probably would have given up like most youngsters just knowing that they weren't fast enough!

On the other hand we have Rod Dixon who was a sub 4 minute miler and because of this and the way he trained he could convert that easily to a 2.08 marathon - winning New York.

John Walker on the other hand ran 100 sub 4 minute miles and was handy up to half marathon distance but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted to run the marathon.

Alison Roe although had plenty of speed found that her strength and stride length and the power of the mind is what found her starring in the marathon.

It's like the thread says - we do what we do best, but the training should change too. Sometimes we need speed, sometimes it's long easy running that we need, we just have to get that right!
17/10/2010 at 21:21

Good post Moraghan.

I have only one question which I've never quite worked out about quality work. My favourite 2 quality sessions are hill reps and mile repeats. What sort of effort should go into these sessions?

I have been running my mile repeats as fast as I can cope with given the total distance (6 mile loop with 4 repeats) and I'm hurting when I get to the last 100m or so of each rep. I'm guessing this would be too fast, but I've never been quite sure what would have the most benefit. I also find it difficult to back off when going fast so tend to get carried away.

Other than that I'm going in the right direction as most of my mileage is easy work and I'm on around 35 miles/week at present with my main aim being 10k for now.

17/10/2010 at 22:26

Jeesby - I'd class anything at marathon pace intensity and quicker as quality.  Easy is obviously not.  The bit in the middle (often called steady state) is very much an individual thing - ability, background, context, how it's incorporated etc. 

NZC - nothing booked yet.  800m and either 400m or 1500m.  

YRob - the hill reps completely depends on your objective for the hill session which is usually dictated by your event and / or where they fall in your overall schedule.  Sounds like a bad way of running your mile repeats to me.  I'd go for either an even pace or making each one slightly faster.  Again it depends on the point of the session and whether they hurt aerobically, mechanically and if they affect your form.  Sorry to sit on the fence!

17/10/2010 at 23:01

Cheers Moraghan.

Hill reps for me are more for fell training than anything else so I'm not hugely worried about them. I'm aiming for climbing ability more than anything else. I have the descents pretty nailed so I just need a bit more strength for the climbs.

As for the mile repeats, I try for even pace but it sometimes gets affected by hills etc. so I'm going to try running them all along the same stretch next time and see if that helps. I don't think they affect my form too much (although it's hard to tell), if anything my form seems better the faster I go and I seem to have less aches and pains after a fast session then I do from a longer slower session. I'm more concerned that running them too fast might give the wrong sort of benefit.

Thanks for that

17/10/2010 at 23:41

Moraghan - did you watch the Commonwealth Games Women's 800m & 1500m?

Could you believe our girl making up so much distance for the silver medal?

Do you realise that she was a junior Great Britain rep? She came to NZ for a break from running after a string of injuries.

Her NZ coach, who is not great with words, but has coached some of our top triathletes, comes from a Lydiard background. He spent most of his running days with people like Kevin Ryan - a 2.12 marathoner, who Barry Magee coached. Barry Magee was marathon Bronze medalist at Rome Olympics - one of Arthur's boys. Just thought you might enjoy a bit of background.

18/10/2010 at 02:43

you sure that you want to dedicate the entire year to train for 5k?

i think you will get better results by racing track in the summer. racing 5000m is basically an a pure endurance event and i think most people who train for it do the same as anyone doing half marathons. since i never really train for 10k or half marathons i am not really a person to ask for a year timetable of how to run a decent 5k in the summer if that is what you are after.

what type of training do you mean that took you to sub-17?

winter time interval training really worked so just do that and you'll be able to do it easily. from about september to march I did six months one weekly high volume, short recovery, 5k pace track sessions. i love it! i live off this training. i have memorised all the sessions - 16x400m, 8x800m, 5x1200m, 4x1600m, 2000m/5x600m/2000m etc. try this. it is probably all you are missing if you have progressed well already. good luck.
Edited: 18/10/2010 at 02:48
18/10/2010 at 09:45
NZChristine I always enjoy reading your posts. You obviously have a wealth of knowledge and experience. How did you approach the marathon? Did you have a background of shorter distances or focus on the marathon early on? I would be very interested  to know what you think contributed to your best performances.
18/10/2010 at 10:36
Moraghan wrote (see)

Jeesby - I'd class anything at marathon pace intensity and quicker as quality.  Easy is obviously not.  The bit in the middle (often called steady state) is very much an individual thing - ability, background, context, how it's incorporated etc.

Thanks, Moraghan. I went out for an easy run yesterday and found it difficult to bring my pace down to an 'easy' level. I kept naturally going to about an 8/8.30 mile (which isn't far off what i should be doing for quality work) but i guess being able to maintain a slower pace will come from practice. Until I can maintain an easy pace for the easy runs, i'm probably going to hold off on doing any quality work.

Edited: 18/10/2010 at 10:42
20/10/2010 at 03:33

Zion - I've told my story before, so those that know it, I apologise.

I've pretty much run all my life - started as a 10 year old - inspired by Rome Olympics - 1960 - Peter Snell, Murray Halberg. I lived across the road from the Lovelock track and the Owairaka Club where these guys belonged, also Arthur Lydiard.

So of course I joined Owairaka. If I had to say what I was most proud about in my years of running I probably say getting 2nd to Millie Sampson as a 12 yr old in the 1st unofficial NZ National xcountry for women in 1963. If you look at the world progression of the women's marathon you will see Mildred Sampson's name on there - she was my hero!

I've been around for a long time, but had a break to travel, and have my children who are now 35 and 30. Another highlight was in 1981 when I managed NZ marathon Champion in 2.56 at Rotorua - the top girls were away!!

Because I belonged to a good running club there was a wealth of knowledge, but in those days they were tough. When I told my coach in 1978 that I wanted to run a marathon he said you'll have to break 3hrs. So I had a very painful introduction to the marathon - I was gone at 8 miles and I struggled to the finish in 3hrs 20m. He just wanted me to "know" want running a marathon meant. By the end of that year I'd got my first sub 3.

To get under 2.50 I enlisted Gary Elliott - Alison Roe's coach. My husband said if he can do it with Alison, why not see if he can do it with you.

His training was all about speed, visualisation, belief in oneself, and not thinking about the finish - I started out at 2.37 pace - mind blowing now that I think about it, and it was fine till about the 20 mile mark then I struggled to the finish but I still got 2.47.25 - the only time I went under 2.50. I couldn't continue this training as I found it too hard with a young family.

I am only pleased that now the goal posts have moved and 4hrs is still a respectable marathon, so I can still compete. My last marathon was 3.56, but as I've always done - started out too fast - 3.30 pace and struggled to the finish.


20/10/2010 at 15:35
NZChristine thank you Born to run it seems and not fed up with the marathon yet. Very inspiring!
20/10/2010 at 17:00

NZ Christine is very modest I believe her 5k time at 59 is 21.03 and a 90% score.

I lurk on the over60s thread where she posts.

20/10/2010 at 17:32

NZC - thank you for posting that. I've been posting on the same threads as you for years, and although I knew you'd been pretty sharp (and still are!) I didn't know the details.

I will re-lurk now.  I've been enjoying this thread.

20/10/2010 at 18:43
NZC - I didn't catch that race, as I don't have a television.  I'll try and find it on the internet.  Thanks for the heads up.  Also, thanks for the other contributions - very interesting as always.
27/10/2010 at 17:29

Just found this interesting thread after a bit of trawling around. I'm heading in the opposite direction to the one you were initially railing against Moraghan.

At 42 years, I've just conquered a long time goal to run a sub3 hour marathon (where I had the pleasure of running with PRF for a while). It's like something has been freed in my head. I don't feel the necessity to just keep relentlessly pursuing the same distance in a faster time. In fact, I'd like to be able to compete in more races rather than just two maras a year with some feed-in shorter distance races. I actually get a kick out of competing and pushing into the higher heart rates.

That said, i still intend to do the training for 2 maras next year, but the first I'll take a less disciplined approach to the first one and offer to pacemake for someone with a less stretching target.  What I do want to do right now, is start having some fun (by being competitive) at shorter distances. 10Ks, 10 milers and HMs. My feeling is that running improvements at these distances will certainly enhance my marathon running abilities anyway.

I've never run a timed 10K, but can probably pull off 40mins in training for the distance. I did a hilly 20K this year in just under 1h24. It seems for my age, I already have good VO2Max (60.5, tested back in Feb.). So now i want to put the energy and discipline into these new distances.

I'd be really grateful for some pointers as to how i can approach these distances and find new training structures suitable. For the last mara, I was running upto 70mpw, 6/7 x week. Cheers, TD.

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