Breakthrough

The runs this week 59.5k: 21st Jan 10k 4.34m/k 22nd Jan 13k 4.28m/km 23rd Jan 10k 4.30m/km 26th Jan 26.5k 4.38/km

The legs are getting stronger and the mileage feels comfortable.

There are so many experts with so many versions of how to train for the perfect marathon it's easy to get confused with what you should be doing in terms of training.

Running your first marathon should be the most straightforward. 2-3 runs during the week of about 45mins then increasing your long run gradually at the weekends. The goal should be to make it to the start line injury free, complete the course and enjoy the whole experience. If you fancy a crack at a 2nd marathon then is the time explore what works best for you.

The training for my first marathons consisted pretty much of that. I finished Berlin in 3h17m.

For my 2nd (Paris 3h02m) and 3rd (London 3h08m) marathon's I experimented more with speed and interval training. Generally 8-10kms worth of sprinting at different speeds and distances between 800m and 1600m. I found these sessions to be extremely effective and would find I would be running my 10k runs at the same pace but a lower heart rate the following week - a sure sign I was getting fitter.

The downside to these runs were that they were particularly draining, it would take me several days to recover from these sessions which generally meant that my overall mileage was low as a result.

The plan for this year is to focus on higher mileage at a steady pace, to get out regularly and keep ticking off the miles without exhausting myself which the speed and hill sessions. Ideally 5 times a week. For the second block of 3 weeks I wanted to introduce some speed work but not too much that I'm exhausted. I stumbled across a podcast with Pete Pfitzinger for Marathon Talk. He wrote Advanced Marathoning which looks at marathon running including a lot of the science and evidence behind the training.

Well worth a listen at this link here:

http://www.marathontalk.com/podcast/episode_207_pete_pfitzinger.php

He concluded by saying if he could rewrite the book he would put more emphasis on hill work, nutrition and strides.

Strides (I prefer to call it sprints) is possibly what I've been looking for. He suggests doing 10 x 100m sprint sessions at some point during 1-2 runs a week. These should be as fast as you can comfortably go with relaxed shoulders and without losing form. You should jog until you feel ready to do the next one.

The idea is to improve running economy, the amount of energy required to run at a given pace.

Perhaps this offers part of the improvements I gained with interval training without it being physically demanding and wiping me out for a few days. I'll be adding 2 lots of 10 x 100m sprints a week.

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