Pacing a Marathon Plan
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about developing and planning my next marathon training plan. After some considerable deliberation, I threw away the plan that I had drafted and reviewed what I had done previously in 2015 when I trained for my most successful marathon in Chicago. I realized that my preparation for that race was coincidentally similar in principle to the Hansons Marathon Method. As most of my regular visitors know by now I settled on the Hanson plan that I hope will result in a new PR in 2017.
The book goes into great detail in describing the theory and methods behind the training. The plan prescribes 6 runs per week with 3 of them designated as SOS (something of substance). These runs are basically 2 types of speed workouts progressing from 400 meter repeats to 3 mile intervals (or strength runs). A tempo run paced at goal race pace and the weekly long run complete the weekly SOS trifecta. Recovery runs at easy pace comprise the remainder of the training week.
I like the variety of the plan and, despite missing my first real week due to the cold plague, I am well over half-way through and have not missed any subsequent workouts. When I finish, it will represent the most mileage I have ever attempted but the program is progressive in that one week lays the foundation for the following week. The longest “long run” never exceeds 16 miles although I may extend one run to 18.
But, what about pace? 6 runs per week with a different speed workout each week – at least for the first several weeks. What about long run pace, tempo, and what is easy? Fortunately, the book provides a great reference table that provides a scale based upon target, or anticipated, marathon time. But, how do you know what your anticipated marathon time is when you are at week 0?
There are a couple methods that come to mind that can help. The books suggests a 1.5 mile Vo2 Max type test and repeating this periodically to gauge increase in fitness. There are also other sites and programs that can calculate training paces based from recent race performances at shorter distances (5K, 10K, HM) – I believe McMillan uses this technique. Galloway uses his “Magic Mile” test.
But, still where to begin?!! I have completed a few marathon training cycles that have targeted different objectives so I have some experience to tap. If I am able to complete the program and stay injury free, I want to target a marathon time of 3:50. This is pretty aggressive for me with my current PR being 3:59, but hey, aim high and all that 🙂 A 3:50 marathon equates to 8:46 pace. For 2017, this will be my marathon “moonshot.”
“Moon-what?!” I heard that term on a Runners World podcast led by RW editor David Willey a few weeks back as he discussed the Nike “Breaking2” project. Breaking2 is an ambitious goal to break the 2 hour mark for the marathon in 2017. Nike are partnering with 3 of the elite marathon runners in the world to achieve what appears borderline impossible…a 1:59:59 marathon! It requires a 2.4% improvement on the current world record which is already a mind-blowing 2:02:57 held by Dennis Kimetto. You can read about the project at the Nike Breaking2 site and follow the progress on the Runners World podcast and website.
Moonshot kinda resonated, so I’m borrowing it for a little while for my attempt at 3:50’ish!
Whether I can achieve that goal at my next marathon however is questionable. I examined the course for Reno a couple of weeks ago and came across this that I somehow missed during registration:
This is a 26.21 mi Run in Reno, NV, United States. The Run has a total ascent of 1126.81 ft and has a maximum elevation of 4,917.52 ft.
1100 ft of ascent at an altitude of just under a mile high and I train mostly on flat trails at sea level. Thinking I probably should have examined the fine print before signing up. But, it will be a challenge and I’m looking forward to getting through the training and enjoying the event. Bringing us back to the point of the post though, I’m realistic enough to acknowledge that I will likely need to seek a flatter, more PR friendly race later in the year. Guarantee Nike are not sending Desisa, Kipchoge, and Tadese to Reno next month to take a crack at 2 hours 🙂
I have been running my training paces aligning to a 3:50 goal race. In the Hanson’s book, the pace charts provide the following guidelines for me for my various workouts:
- Speed (intervals ranging from 400 to 1200 repeats): 7:45
- Strength (longer intervals ranging from 1.5 to 3 miles): 8:36
- Tempo (goal pace): 8:46
- Long Run: 9:29
- Easy: 9:50-10:20
- Recovery: 11:19
With 5 weeks remaining I am pretty much hitting these pace targets but it is taking all I can muster to make it through a week. However, I am reasonably certain both my physical and mental strength is improving.
These are my targets for as long as I’m chasing that 3:50, at least in 2017. After about 3 weeks of using the program, I started to adapt. The speed/strength repeats on Tuesday are borderline torture with the mid-week tempo run 2 days later. To be fair, the book does not sugarcoat this training and it is very clear on what to expect. As a side-note, should I ever wish to attempt to qualify for Boston I would need to subtract at least 1 minute from all of the paces listed above. Not saying never but hmmmm, that might be beyond the moon for me. But, in 2018…who knows .
Interestingly enough, David Willey is also part of the Nike Breaking2 project. His moonshot is to finally qualify for Boston. He is in a similar age-group to me so his progress is something that resonates. Maybe if David can make it then I’ll be inspired to attempt it myself one day. I’m certainly rooting for him to succeed after so many years of trying.
I could probably take a more scientific approach and adjust workout/target pace as I adapt. Arguably, that would be the preferred technique. I could run a baseline test and repeat every 2-3 weeks – if nothing else, it would be interesting to see the progression. But, at least for now, I am comfortable using my previous experience as my baseline. Maybe, that will change, time…and Reno and beyond will tell 🙂
- How do you pace your workouts? Do you run a baseline test or go with a target goal? Do you have a coach to guide you through pace runs?
- What’s your Moonshot?
- Have you heard of Breaking2, what are you thoughts?
‘Till next time,
Run safe, run strong, run happy!