Monday, 4 October 2010

Planning to Succeed

Last year I designed my own marathon training plan but unfortunately was prevented from testing it by injury and have since lost it when the old laptop went to the big PC World in the sky.


So, for this year I've been looking at some different 'off the shelf' marathon plans and have a shortlist of 5. Not sure which, if any to go for but here are the runners and riders:



Runners World Sub 3:30 Ultimate Plan


  • Starts at 31 miles a week and peaks at 61

  • 6 runs most weeks but 5 weeks at 5 runs

  • 682 miles in 16 weeks

  • Longest runs of 18, 18, 20, 20, 20, 20, 22

Pros & Cons: 7 runs of 18 miles or more would really give good endurance; no nonsense plan; starts at a low level; the 6 runs a week weeks would be a bit of a concern in terms of injury, no guidance on other exercises or pace; a lot of easy runs; peak mileage week is a bit daunting and is nearly double the start point.



Runners World Smartcoach

Starts at 31 miles a week and peaks at 54

4 runs a week

637 miles in 16 weeks

Longest runs of 18, 20, 20, 20, 20



Pros & Cons: 5 longer runs is decent enough; low mileage start; guidance on pace throughout plan; 4 runs a week gives plenty of rest but means an average run length of nearly 10 miles which could be difficult to fit in with 3 midweek runs in winter time.



Matt Fitzgerald Brain Training

Starts at 32 miles a week and peaks at 53

5 runs a week

619 miles in 16 weeks

Longest runs of 18, 20, 22



Pros & Cons: Similar to Smartcoach in terms of starting mileage and peak mileage; very detailed guidance on pace and cross training; only three long runs so limited injury risk but maybe insufficient endurance training content; emphasis on faster and/or marathon pace running rather than LSR.



Bob Glover's Basic Competitor Plan

Starts at 32 miles a week and peaks at 45

5 runs a week for 7 of the weeks, 6 runs for 7 weeks and one week with running every day

614 miles in 16 weeks

Longest runs of 18, 18, 20, 20, 20, 22



Pros & Cons: Ostensibly aimed at a category of runner below my current ability; only basic guidance on pace;the 7 runs a week week is a concern; decent quantity of longer runs; fairly limited demands in terms of mileage overall and average run length of under 7 miles so low injury risk; might not push me hard enough.



Bob Glover's Advanced Competitor Plan

Starts at 43 miles a week and peaks at 55

6 runs a week most weeks but with 3 cutback weeks where it drops to 5

736 miles in 16 weeks

Longest runs of 18, 20, 20, 20, 22, 23



Pros & Cons: ItalicOstensibly aimed at my current category based on 10k pace; starts 10 miles above my (currently assumed) likely weekly mileage in December; very high mileage overall but weekly mileage doesn't increase greatly; 23 mile run in training seems a risk; good interspersing of cutback weeks.


I'm really not sure what to go for. I'm modifying Das Uber Plan to push my mileage over 30 miles a week for most non race weeks between now and 19/12 (when the marathon plan would kick in) but starting at 40 miles from week one feels like it has disaster written all over it. I like the idea of running faster like the Brain Training plan but worry that there's not enough longer runs (less than half some of the plans) in it. Running 6 days a week seems risky too - even if some of the runs in such plans are short and easy.

I don't know. Maybe I'll need to write my own but keep it flexible?

Any thoughts?

8 comments:

runningcupcake said...

Gosh how confusing! It is interesting to see how much they all differ. I would say that running 6 days a week seems too much- no time for rest, lots of risk of injury, and surely overtraining (junk miles?). Perhaps take the plan you like- the brain training one, and add in some more longer runs in the weeks leading up to those, if that is the main drawback of it. Was that the one with the ten miles midweek? Perhaps change those and have shorter ones midweek and longer one at the weekend?
So yes I would say choose on and adapt it to what suits you.

Alison @ Running From, Running To said...

Ok, I've only had one cup of coffee, so this may be confused. But my first instinct is:

1) I agree that 6 runs a week is a lot for someone with injury concerns. I think subbing one of those out for a XT session would be sensible instead of a slow recovery run.

2) Don't make a big jump in weekly mileage at t-16. Also, resist the urge to ramp up the weekly mileage too soon now in order to avoid such a jump come the start of mara training. Looking at training plans can get you overexcited - be restrained!

3) Based on your last marathon, and your current fitness, have you thought about what you think you need to work on most? Are you confident with the distance and would rather work on running it @ MP in training? Or do you feel like post injury you need some slower paced LSRs first before you add in the speed?

4) I don't think you really need a plan that gives pace guidance. You're very literate(?) in that regard, and you can take guidance from other plans and work it into whichever plan you intend to use. So scrap that variable.

Build your own!

Laura said...

I don't really have much advice, I've never run that kind of distance before! Just to confuse things though I do love the run less run faster plans, they have a specific sub 3.30 plan on p229 if you have it. If you're not too familiar with it it's based on 3 runs a week and cross training so it's good for avoiding injury. It peaks at 20 miles and has 5 of those. Starts at 24 miles in week 1 and doesn't seem to get too high.. worth having a look at IMO!

Anonymous said...

I’m as confused as you Rob. I’ve been looking into the FIRST running plans which, because they combine the distance and speed training, are based on 3 Key runs per week. This, to me, looked like the busy runners Holy Grail and I was hoping that it would suit my training and I could use my off days to strength train. Of course, speed + distance at the same time = hard work.
However, closer reading tells me that the off days are supposed to be x-training cardio work. The writers do not recommend intensive strength work outs on the off days at the expense of cardio sessions.
So, I think that like you, I’m going to have to prep up my own schedule. I could do with an 8 day week! But as I type this out I realise that because I have longer than 16 weeks (the length of many mara schedules) I could work up a plan that has a slower mileage ramp, with less weekly runs but still gives me the total training distance and the LSR runs..... back to the drawing board.

John

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