Sunday, 18 January 2015

Marathon Training Week 1 of 9

I have just finished my first structured training week in nearly two years having dusted down the marathon training programme that got me two PBs in the summer of 2013. Back then I had the relative luxury of starting my training plan in April after getting one or two decent races under my belt. This year I was still enjoying the tail end of the Christmas excesses when the programme was scheduled to start.
As it is not a beginners programme it does require a good endurance base and a decent anaerobic base before you start. While I had no problem with the endurance base my anaerobic base was largely non-existent so I was prepared for a baptism of fire in that regard. To allow some bit of a lead in I cut the programme from 10 to 9 weeks, still keeping the total number of quality sessions.  I thought it would be a good idea to compare my key training sessions to those of my 2013 marathon build-up, which will give me a better indication of what I could realistically aim for in Barcelona.

January 2015  - Week 1 of 9
April 2013  - Week 1 of 10
Session # 1 - 8 mile warmup followed by 3 x 2 miles @ HM pace with 2 min active recoveries and 2 mile cooldown
I ran from work following a circuitous route in the Straight Road and out the Model Farm Road to the CIT Track. Conditions en-route were icy in places but runnable. However the track was completely iced over and after running a few laps I decided it was too risky to carry on with the speed session and I was all set to run back to work & drive home. However clubmate Vivian (one of 5 who turned up) suggested we could run on on a path that ran around the adjacent football pitches, assuming the floodlights were on. We complete a recce of the 0.8 mile route, which was partially illuminated and consisted of a mixture of gravel, stone and macadam paths with a few ankle deep water features so with 8.65 miles already on the clock Vivian and I struck out on our first 2 miles as snow began to fall - so, long story short, I completed the 3 reps at approximately 6:25 pace - a bit slower than I would have liked, but i'll take it given the conditions. But the effort was certainly on the uncomfortably hard side of the spectrum and I was glad/relieved when I was done.
While I had initially anticipated cadging a lift from a Ballincollig bound clubmate after the track session, the absence of such a session/clubmate meant that my 2 mile cooldown was closer to 4.5 miles, the last 2 of which was in heavy snowfall. Overall one of my tougher sessions. Lets hope it gets/feels easier from here on.
The race (UCC 10k in 39:30) kind of scuppered the first speed session of my training programme 2 days later (too close but I had no other opportunity to get it in) – 8 mile warmup up followed by 6 x 1 mile @ HMP with 1 minute recoveries and 2 mile warmdown. I converted the 6 x 1 to 4 x 1.5 (90 second recoveries) and managed to complete 3 @ 6:14/17/23 pace before calling it a day as I was progressively slowing down during the 3rd rep and the 4th would not have been worth the pain and effort – anyway 6.2 straight miles @ 6:21 pace 2 days beforehand was enough of a training benefit.
Session # 2 - 18 miles with the last 2 @ marathon pace.
I planned on keeping a steady 7:30 pace for the first 16 miles so as to make the last 2 a bit more challenging.
Things went reasonably well until I took a tumble after 13 miles (slipped on an icy path while taking a corner without slowing down) - all I could think of when hitting the deck was stopping the Garmin so that my "pace" wouldn't suffer. No harm done, apart from a few scratches so on I went.
I had planned on completing my faster miles on the walkway at the back of CIT but as I approached I saw a wall of a few 100 walkers in front of me, apparently an "operation transformation" event (annual weight loss TV programme for those of you from outside the jurisdiction). I took a detour around Bishopstown where I found a 0.9 mile flattish circuit and after 16 miles @ 2 hours of running I managed to churn out 2 miles at an average pace of 6:33 (Target was sub 6:40). It's wasn't as difficult as I was expecting, but certainly more on the tempo side of things than MP. As my detour took me away from my intended finish I had a few miles cooldown, bumping into club mate Elaine on the way.
Week 1 down, 8 to go. Avg Hr 132.
My first scheduled long run on Saturday went a bit better – 18 miles with the last 2 at MP. I integrated it with a 13 mile club run at 7:20/30 pace, getting 3 miles in beforehand and heading off on my own for the last 2, for which I had targeted a 6:40 pace, to see how I’d get on after 16 miles of steady running. I ran them a little faster and certainly harder than marathon pace/effort in 6:32/34 – it certainly felt more like a tempo run than a pace I could sustain for more than 20 minutes. All good training. 1 week down – 9 to go.

So far so good.



  1. Nothing like a bit them Christmas extra portions to load up for the season ahead looking like a decent start to the year Grellan keep it up.

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  3. Is that a Jack Daniels program?

    1. No Thomas. It's a Canato type programme that a clubmate gave me.

  4. Good idea to follow the same programme that produced the PB - lets you know how things are going. Tweak sessions as you go along.

  5. I like the marathon pace Ks at the end of long runs and if you are hitting pace with then at this early stage it looks good for you! All the best.