Line up 10 coaches of the 10 different runners with the same PR (Personal Record), and youâ??ll get 10 different programs that got them all there. Itâ??s true, running is part science and part theory and will always be that way because of the human factor. We know a lot about how the body physiologically adapts to training, but how the mind comes into play is why 10 different training programs can result in the same PR for 10 different people, for example, a 3 hour and 15 minute marathon.
Marc wants to run a 3 hour 15 minute marathon, and he is well on his way, but as we get so close to the date, doubt is creeping in. Like many marathoners in training who have a maximum run of 20 miles planned for their training, heâ??s wondering, â??how am I going to run 6 more miles at this pace?
As his coach, I assure him that the positive energy of runners around him, his own excitement and adrenalin, rest, diligent nutrition, and his training will enable him to run the 26.2 on race day. And I assure him that in the case of long runs for marathons, there is a fine line he cannot cross. He must resist the temptation and limit his long runs, or risk injury and have his nearly 3 months of training be all for naught if he overdoes the long runs.
While the extra 6 miles to go from 20 miles to the full marathon distance might not seem like much, muscle fatigue increases exponentially with every mile beyond 20. During those last 4-6 miles, your form begins to break down, your major muscles become weaker, and overuse injuries can rear their ugly heads even if youâ??re running easy. This risk of injury over these last few miles is prevalent for runners whose aerobic capabilities exceed their musculoskeletal readiness. In simpler terms, the body isnâ??t ready to handle the kind of stress that their lungs can withstand.
While a 20-mile run, or longer has potential to be a great confidence booster, from a training and physiological standpoint, they donâ??t make much sense, because most coaches and exercise scientists now know that your body doesnâ??t see a significant increase in training benefits after running for about 3 hours. The majority of physiological stimulus during long runs occurs between the 90 minute and 2:30 mark. This means that after running for 3 hours, aerobic benefits (capillary building, mitochondrial development, myoglobin levels) begin to actually stagnate or decline instead of improving. Therefore, your normal 20-22 mile run builds about as much fitness as running 26.2 miles, but with much less risk of injury.
This week is supposed to be a bit of a recovery from the last two weeks where Marc has had a long run of 19 miles then 22. It is critical that he steps back and lets the training settle in during this week.
Marcâ??s Marathon Training 4/22 - 4/28:
Big week for Marc, a 20 and a 50!
Tuesday: 5 m run at relaxed pace, confirm recovery from long run
Wednesday: 7 mile at goal pace â?? NOT faster than 7:26 per mile
Thursday: 10 mile run, at about 8:00-8:10/mile
Saturday: 8 mile mile run at about 8:00/mile
Sunday: 18 mile at comfortable pace @8:00/mile, consciously keep it at this pace
Same worries, different race
Just like Marc, Anne is wondering how 4 miles will get her ready for 6.2 miles. Anneâ??s 10K training will take her only up to 4.5-5.0 miles and I have no doubt 6.2 will breeze right by for 2 reasons:
1) With 2000 or so people spread out along a 6.2 mile Bayshore 10K course that is an â??out and backâ?? route, there will be so much fun and positive distraction all along the course, Anne wonâ??t believe it was over with so soon.
2) Anne will be ready. With 16 weeks of consistent running on her body, Anne wonâ??t find it difficult to add on less than about 20 minutes of running on race day.
To give Anne a break from worrying about her mileage, Iâ??m going to have her run for time on her long run this weekend, and ask her not to track the mileage until after she is done. She could be experiencing a bit of a mental block about mileage, and this approach will help.
Anne 10K, 4/22-4/28:
All of Anneâ??s runs are at conversational pace
Monday: walk or XT, Prehab, hip strength
Tuesday: run 30-35 min
Wednesday: Prehab, hip strength
Thursday: run 30-35 min
Friday: walk or XT, Prehab, hip strength
Saturday: 40 minutes, non-stop, easy talking pace
Sunday: alternative exercise
Laurenâ??s half marathon plan
Lauren continues to have success with her return to running following EXCELerate rehab to get her back on track.
Looking at Laurenâ??s altered program provides a chance to compare running with other forms of aerobic activity by discussing a scientific term called metabolic equivalents, aka â??METsâ??.
As you know, because some folks are training along with Lauren, I am keeping her schedule up to date with the progression of running we had originally planned, plus am having Lauren supplement the distances with cross training.
As many know, different forms of cross training have different energy demands. Understanding these energy demands is best learned by comparing the MET value of certain activities, for example, an elliptical machine versus running. By comparison (source: Compendium of Physic al Activities â?? google it!) running 10 minute miles demands 10 times more oxygen use than sitting at rest. An elliptical machine would compare at a rate of about 7 times more oxygen use than sitting at rest.
Good news is that any activity with a MET value above 6 is considered â??vigorousâ?? activity, and thatâ??s what we all need to be doing every day for an hour!
Laurenâ??s Match the Run Duration 4/22â?? 4/28:
Note: alt means match the duration of a run of this length
Tuesday: 5 miles running plus add on for equal to 8 miles total
Wednesday: Alternative to equal 6 miles at pace (9:09)
Thursday: 5 miles running plus add on for equal to 7 miles total
Saturday: 5 miles running plus add on for equal to 11 miles total