Marathon Training Code

Posted: 4th December 2013 by mockjogger in Race Preparation, Training Plan
Tags: , ,

Post race calorie replenishment candidate #1

Post race calorie replenishment candidate #1

I am taking the 2014 Paris Marathon very seriously. On Tuesday evening I found myself daydreaming about a candidate restaurant in which to replenish my expected calorie deficit when I get back to Edinburgh after the event. The restaurant I was thinking about was “Home Taste” a Chinese Hot Pot restaurant. I have been there several times, it is always full, my entourage and I are always the only Westerners in there and they don’t take bookings. A never-ending supply of thinly cut beef, lamb and lychee roots appeals to me.

Anyway, I digress.

It occurred to me that I might be getting a bit ahead of myself. After all, I have to actually run the race first. And before that, I need to prepare for it. The Paris Marathon is on 6 April 2014. If that seems like a long way away to you, it did to me too, until Tuesday evening.

After thinking about food for a while, my thoughts moved on to training, and I started to search for plans. The plans that consistently popped up were from the guru himself, Hal Higdon. The Higdon plans are published online. There are a wide variety of plans from novice to expert. I started looking at the novice plans, as befits someone who has never actually run a marathon, but has put a fair amount of time into considering their calorie replenishment strategy.

Relevant pirate

Relevant pirate

The first thing that jumped out at me was the length of the plan. It runs for 18 weeks. I started counting back and, to my surprise, found that my Marathon training start date was not some abstract number of weeks away. It was now. It started yesterday. I looked at the novice and intermediate plans in more detail. “I am not really a novice” I lied to myself. I justified this by looking back at my training runs over the last few months and convinced myself that my base fitness is not ground zero.

In the end I grasped Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan, for two reasons. Firstly, the initial weeks are in line with my normal training pattern and secondly, because I want two 20 milers in there. My max distance so far is 17 miles and I feel a bit underexposed.

I then used Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan as a canvas upon which to practice my high art. Sunday’s are not the best for me for long runs as I have a family. So my routine is going to involve early Wednesday start long runs. On the other hand I need a run on a Monday morning to work out the excesses of the weekend. So I played around with the schedule a bit, trying to keep the weekly mileage in line with Hal’s original masterpiece. Then I remembered that I had actually booked up some other races before the marathon. Luckily they fit in pretty well with the overall shape of the plan, with a couple of day switches. Now that I was getting into the whole planning zone thing, I remembered that I have two marathons in the schedule and built a nice rest / wind up / taper thing in between them. That part was all mine, I won’t hold Hal to account for it. Finally I programmed in a holiday I am going to have over Christmas and New Year to Sharm el-Sheikh. I don’t know if I will be doing any running there or not yet, so they are “do what I want’ weeks.

And so my canvas was ready. And here it is.

Marathon plan

I think of this as a code rather than a plan. My lifestyle does not allow me to dedicate day slots for 18 weeks. I have business trips and the like. Kids parties. Who knows what else. So I will not be sticking to the letter of the plan, but I will be trying to match it as much as possible, maintaining one long run a week and generally matching the overall weekly mileage if I can.

Or, in the words of Captain Barbossa of the Black Pearl, “the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules”.

Wish me luck!

  1. No speed work in your plan?

    Good luck!

    • mockjogger says:

      They’re all speed work 😉 More seriously, I plan on using the one 3 mile short run per week as a speed workout. For me that means keeping them sub 25m. I’m having more difficulty with the concept of doing the long slowly. I think I get the physiology but I keep thinking I should be pushing it on.

  2. It is a difficult thing to wrap your mind around; I had to do them for my half marathon training, and the first few were a bit too fast. They help your stamina incredibly well though, despite feeling like you’re not putting in a ton of effort. I’m sure you’ll have read the benefits of long, slow runs, and how to keep them slow to help your recovery and stay injury-free during your training cycle?

    • mockjogger says:

      I have read about the benefits, but I haven’t put the theory into practice yet, mainly because I like to feel I’ve given a good amount of effort every time I go out. As I understand it, Hal recommends that if you really can’t control yourself then allow for a speed up in the last quarter of the run, and that’s what I intend to try out.

  3. […] would have to crank things up a bit to get back to marathon-ready state. I took a look back at the training plan I put in place for Paris and Edinburgh in 2014, and decided I did not want to be a slave to the calendar this time. Instead I planned a […]