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 altered plans for the next marathon
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

altered plans for the next marathon Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:25 am 

OldManRunner and I will be running the Wineglass Marathon on October 1, a small race in upstate NY. It's a mostly flat, fast course, and with luck we'll both BQ for 2007. If I want to do my normal 18 week Pfitzinger or Daniels training plan, then I need to get started next week, but I'm actually leaning towards doing something quite different. Am I crazy?

Since coming back from Boston, I've been running almost exclusively for fun, on totally random routes I've never done before. I've also been doing about half my running on trails, which is a big change for this mostly pavement guy. I don't know the mileage of these routes, so I've just been estimating the distance based on the time spent running. Doing lots of new routes has been very refreshing, and running by elapsed time has been great mentally, since it frees me from worrying about my pace. Subjuctively, nearly everything I've done in the past month has been at a very easy effort level.

I've been enjoying this so much, I'm thinking of making this the basis of my marathon training. I'd like to build up my mileage to around 70-80 mpw (compared to 55 peak and about 45 average for Boston), with almost all of that being easy running. I would still do a weekly long run, and also a weekly speed workout of some kind with my new team, but the focus would really be on building up mileage with lots of easy miles on varied routes. I can readily imagine building up to that mileage level when freed of worrying about measuring exact distances, stressing over proper pace, and logging everything to 0.01% accuracy.

Is this a bad idea? Daniels warns that "random training produces random results," and I believe it. However, I don't think this is really random training. It's more like unstructured or loosely-structured training. I have a hunch that this approach will help me maintain my enthusiasm and energy much more easily, and combined with the higher mileage, will lead to a better end result.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: altered plans for the next marathon Posted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:16 pm 

So are you thinking that by upping the milage can make up for less speed and interval work? You obviously proved you can reach your BQ goal with less mileage. I keep reading comments from the experts that many runners are too focused on quantity over quality.

My philosphy is that you really only need to focus on three quality workouts a week. The rest of the week are recovery runs and so you're free to run them any way you want....with a focus more on taking it REALLY easy. So during my peak "build" period I try to get in one day of a tempo run (building from 3 to 7 miles of time spent at temp pace or so as I get closer to the tapper phase), one day of intervals (working up to 10x800), and my long run on the weekend. Granted, I've not reached my BQ goal yet, but then I'm a heavy runner and i think if I were 20lbs lighter I could back up my philosophy with better race performances. Regardless, I'm still a firm believer that you have to have these three quality workouts a week.

So, I don't think you can prepare for a BQ without paying some attention to speed and pace training. I think one of my problems has been that I've never done a long run any faster than my marathon pace. I read someone's comment recently (in Running Times think) that you can't possiblly expect to finish a marathon in your goal time if you don't do long runs at goal pace (or faster considering your long run never reaches marathon distance). So one of my goals this year will be to try to run portions of my long runs at my goal pace or faster.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: altered plans for the next marathon Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 1:25 pm 

mfox wrote:
So are you thinking that by upping the milage can make up for less speed and interval work? You obviously proved you can reach your BQ goal with less mileage.


Sort of... but when I ran my BQ time in 2004, I peaked at 75 mpw during training. I'd like to get back to that level or higher to help me improve further. While training for Boston this spring, my peak week was "only" 55 miles.

If I continue to do weekly workouts with this new team I found, then that's basically an interval workout every week. I don't think I'll be lacking for speed practice, and if anything, it'll be too much.

With a weekly long run, the only thing I'll really be missing in tempo runs. Maybe I could turn one of the mid-week runs into tempo intervals or fartlek or something.

Really, the biggest (only?) benefit of this training approach is that I enjoy the training runs a lot more. Usually I sort of tolerate my training runs, sometimes they are enjoyable in themselves, but normally I view them as something that must be done in order to achieve my desired race result. But running 800 miles over four months just to prepare for one 3 hour race kind of stinks if you don't get much enjoyment out of those 800 miles. What if the goal race goes poorly, then were all those training miles a waste? Was the race (and by extension the months of training that went into it) a failure?

This way, I find that I'm genuinely looking forward to my runs every day. I feel a lot more energized and positive about running in general. I think that this in turn will help me to achieve higher weekly mileage. Following a plan where I end up resenting the training miles, I would find it mentally very difficult to build up to 70+ mpw. But following a plan where I enjoy each run for its own sake, I think I'll have a much easier time increasing mileage. You may be right that the emphasis on mileage is overdone, but when I look back on my 2004 BQ race versus my three subsequent (and slower) marathons, higher mileage stands out as the main difference in my pre-race training.

Maybe there's not actually that much difference between a plan like Pfitzinger and the kind of training I'm doing now. I'm still doing similar workouts, it's just that I'm not scheduling or tracking them strictly. By throwing away my watch and running by time on a huge variety of different routes, I feel a lot less stressed. Yet running by time is still perfectly compatible with the Pfitz plan unless you think a 7 mile run must be 7.00 miles and not 6.7 or 7.4.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: altered plans for the next marathon Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 2:51 pm 

Rickshaw wrote:
Maybe there's not actually that much difference between a plan like Pfitzinger and the kind of training I'm doing now. I'm still doing similar workouts, it's just that I'm not scheduling or tracking them strictly. By throwing away my watch and running by time on a huge variety of different routes, I feel a lot less stressed. Yet running by time is still perfectly compatible with the Pfitz plan unless you think a 7 mile run must be 7.00 miles and not 6.7 or 7.4.


It sounds like you've got the right attitude. If you are going to be doing the speed work with the group and the long run you've got most of the quality work covered. You know better than anybody how your body reacts to training. You've got plenty of experience and are the best judge of whether this new approach will work (I think it will). So, go with her gut instinct. If it doesn't work out quite as you planned...well, then your that much wiser for the next round.


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