Question about training pace

Robert asks

Hi Lee.

I have just downloaded your Advanced Marathon Program and have noticed that the fastest that you do a long run (target 3hrs - 3:10) is around the 5:12mn / km mark. I am concerned that my heart rate / fitness may not enable me to maintain a 4:30mn / km avg if my long runs are at 5:12mn / km. Can you explain how the shorter runs will prepare me for this? (For reference, so far I have run 3 marathons (3:17 / 3:11 / 3:31). Thanks.

Lee's response

Hi Robert,

The training programs that we have devised work off a different principle to most that are on-line.

Most programs focus on the athletes doing their long run at close to goal pace over subsequent weeks leading into the marathon. The rest of the week contains either rest days or easy jogging to recover from this. This type of program gives you the confidence in your training that you can complete the marathon distance and hit the target pace but some athletes are usually injured or tired by the time the marathon event comes around and have run their marathon effort in their training.

Our training programs are different and structured very similar to that of an elite athlete with long runs, tempo runs, fartleks, track work outs and easy runs.

The long run is important to do as you need the mileage in your legs to run the distance but it is not the only run in the program that will help you to run well. You have said you wanted to run 3hrs - 3.10 for the marathon which equates to around 4.16 - 4.30 per km over the marathon. All your long runs should be ran at around 50 - 60 secs per km slower. The objective is not to run your long run at race pace, but be able to do the long run to get the mileage in the legs and still have enough energy to get through the rest of the weeks training which includes 3 x hard sessions that depending on the session, will be run 9 - 19 secs quicker than race pace per repetition.

Over 16 weeks the training balances out by doing runs must faster than race pace to really elevate the heart rate and push you to a level that you possibly did not know existed and easy runs that are to help you recover from the hard sessions. Each week as you get tired you will want to just tick the long run off.

I have run 2 x sub 2.10 marathons and that equates to around 3.05 per km but each Sunday my long runs would no faster than 3.45 per km and no slower than 4.15 per km for a total of 2hrs and 30mins or roughly 34 - 38km.

Combined with the fact I am doing 200km's a week over my 16 week preparation I too am practicing what I preach.

I hope you can see the difference in what we are trying to achieve with our program. We want to provide variety and have runners experience the beauty of different training.

Good luck.



Robert's follow up

Thank you for your response. I appreciate the detail that you have put in.

You are correct in describing the other programs – the previous ones that I have done have all focused on running my Sunday run at (or close to) race pace. Whether it is related, before Sydney 2009 (5 weeks out) I suffered a foot muscle spasm injury (ended up running 3:18), before the Gold Coast 2010 (5 weeks out) I suffered an aductor / hamstring strain (ended up running 3:11) and before Hobart 2011 (5 weeks out) had a Soleus strain and developed Achilles tendonitis (ended up running 3:31 after walking between 35km-40kms with a left knee lock from the ITB and cramping in my right calf.

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