I just got back from 16 hours of running coach training! Training was very informative and I’m still digesting it all. My two buddies and I had a good time and learned an INCREDIBLE AMOUNT of well-researched, tested training methods. I learned a ton about how to handle the training groups, but we learned perhaps even more about how to handle OUR marathon training. (They “dissed” the “cookie cutter” Runners’ World plans we’ve been using. Apparently they are not based on sound research.) We had a published book author/exercise physiologist/college professor/personal running coach and an ultra-runner/running coach/exercise physiologist as instructors.
I’m not sure if we want to toss the marathon training plan we were planning to use, but I’m strongly inclined to do so. The two exercise physiologists who taught the class helped us put together a marathon plan. They want HIGH mileage but EASY pace. No speed work even starts until week 14 of a 20-week plan! It’s got us building a base of 40-45 miles per WEEK. All running is totally easy pace---easier than any long run we’ve been doing. No tempo runs, no intervals, just lots of miles at a really easy pace---for me about 11:40/mile based on my 2:11 half-marathon in March. That's INCREDIBLY SLOW!!! And I thought my regular 10:15-10:30 was bad! (The website with the Macmillan running pace chart has a similar chart to the one they created. Look up what pace you should be running those long runs!)
I will be running 4 to 5 days per week, alternating easy/hard/easy. (Hard refers to distance, not pace.) This week I’m going to do--- 2, 5, 2, 5 and 8 for long run. (Five is considered a mid-length run, not an easy run, and thus, "Hard".) That will put me at 22 miles—a good start in the build up to 40! Our first official training long run should be at 9 or 10 miles next week. Did I mention the FOUR twenty-milers?
They have had over 30 years of success with this program---high mileage, but low injury and burnout. And finish times apparently indicate that the program WORKS. I can do my training at an 11:40 pace with a few 6 miles or less runs at marathon goal pace, and on race day meet my goal of 4:45 to 5 hours. Allegedly. And you apparently cross the finish line with much less damage to yourself and recover faster. It's not a "just get across the finish line" plan. It's a finish STRONG plan.
There is very little time for cross training (where would you fit it in during a 5/day a week running plan?), but assured us that running easy is the number 1 way to build the endurance. Unlike my last marathon plan, they felt that running only 3X per week doesn’t build the endurance, connective tissue, blood volume, muscle, lung capacity, and VO2 max to be as successful during a marathon as you could on higher mileage. It’s kind of counter-intuitive to me to run 40-45 miles per week as a relatively new athlete, but I trust their research.
I'm in. I'm jumping on the bandwagon. It will completely change the way I planned to train, but I'm finally excited about it. That was really the first step, wasn't it?? Update: I finished my marathon in 4:45:51. This stuff works!