Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Bridge the Gap

Here's the gap. I ran a 3:39 on my last marathon. And I need to break a 3:10. I've finally realized that I need to scratch my entire workout plan and create a new one, which is good because I never had a workout plan.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was just running twice a week up the trail at a comfortable pace for 10 or 15 miles. Problem is that I wasn't getting any faster. After making some changes over the last few weeks, here is what my schedule is evolving toward:
  1. Not Running Slow: Yep, simple as that. How do you expect to run a 7:15 pace for 26.2 miles if all your 10-15 mile runs are at an 8-minute pace? My goal is to get my distance runs at a 7-minute pace. This means that a 7-minute pace should feel comfortable, not like I'm about to keel over. My last 10-miler was at a 7:35, so I'm on my way.
  2. Intervals: Once per week. I only do these if I can round up a couple friends for 40-minutes of pain. Because intervals suck! We do this workout on a high school track, and start with a mile warm-up. During the warmup, we jog the turns and sprint the straightaways. Then we get into the sprints: two 800s, two 400s, and two 200s. We have a two-minute break in between each interval. I've done this workout four times now.
  3. Hills: Once per week. These are like speed work in disguise. I run 3.5 miles to a hill I discovered, run up it, walk down it, repeat a number of times, then run home. I've done this workout three times now. Next weekend I'll be bamboozling a friend into doing this workout with me.
  4. Tempo Runs: I just read about these in Runner's World, and haven't done one yet. They say this run should be a 15-minute warmup, followed by 20-minutes at the "tempo pace", then finished with a 15-minute cooldown. To figure out my goal for a tempo pace, I checked with the McMillan running calculator. It says that for a 3:10 marathon I should shoot for a tempo pace between 6:36 and 6:53. Holy smokes!! Well, that ain't gonna happen for now, but I'll report back on my progress.
I've also been getting in an extra workout or two throughout the week. So now I'm running 3 or 4 times per week. Hopefully this will slowly bridge the gap for me so I can accomplish my goals.


  1. IMO, your intervals should be much longer if youre training for a marathon. Longer as in 1000's and up. Some speed work like 400s should be ok but i really think that the interval distance should increase.

  2. Thanks sounds like a better plan but I agree that you'll probably need to spend more time running at faster speeds for your intervals. Why not start by doing 4 x 5k repeats at faster than your 5k pace with 2k recovery jogs. The goal is to build up your pace to run faster for longer. Keep it up!

    Interval Training Man

  3. Seems like a pretty solid plan. i'd be concerned that there isn't enough LSD though. Although cliche, make sure you listen to you body and back it off so that you don't get hurt.

    Of course, I'm still 15 min away, so I am sure not one to talk!!

  4. Good luck to you! Quite the speed demon, you are!

    My Coach runs his long runs 4 minutes slower than marathon pace. (He runs with us, and we run close to 11 minute miles on our long mileage days.) We always feel bad that we're making him run too slow, but he always assures us that you cannot run your long runs too slowly (more time on your feet, decreased injury risk, etc). He just ran a sub-3 hour at Boston. Just food for thought.

    Obviously I'm not impressive (fast) like my Coach, but he sure puts his money where his mouth is! It still baffles me.

    Good luck - keep us updated!