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Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

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Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:09 pm

Hi kids, decided to take a page from McMillan's book and try to make a somewhat loose/skeletal plan for my sub-3 hopes in December.



I'll be using his pace chart pretty religiously (as I did for the BQ), so my questions are:

1. Too long of long runs? I've been building up my LSD distance for the past month (did 16mi on Sunday) and will be hovering at 16mi until the beginning of this plan. For my last "real" marathon cycle, my 2hr+ runs were: 15, 16.5, 17.5, 18, 18.5, 20, 22.5, 20, 16, race.

2. Too many workouts? I like MP miles, as they give me confidence and fluidity at that pace (it's awkward to me, otherwise). I find that Hal-style tempo work keeps me feeling quick without killing me. I've never done any real "steady state" runs or intervals in training. The speed intervals (faster than 10k pace) will be more of "whatever feels good," since speed work has given me niggles in the past.

3. Enough miles? I peaked at just under 70 last time, eventually incorporating doubles once a week, and I respond well to higher miles, to a point. I can sustain 2 doubles/week for probably a month, but after that start to get burnt out.

Any input is appreciated.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Jerry on Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:38 pm

Big fan of Hal's tempo. However, for sub 3, I would go harder than that like FCR style. I would do it once a week.

Then of cause, Jerry only needed miles to make it happen. lol!
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:40 pm

Jerry, what pace range do you run your FCRs at? Is this MP-15sec? MP+15sec?
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Alex Kubacki on Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:46 pm

Mike, are the MP runs done at the end of the Long Runs or a seperate workout?
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Jerry on Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:47 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Jerry, what pace range do you run your FCRs at? Is this MP-15sec? MP+15sec?

I do 6:00, just for convenience. It's around my 15k pace. I like to hold the pace as steady as possible and end the tempo when I can't maintain the form. The longest I have done is 4 miles.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:56 pm

A little of both. The 10mi will be at the end of my last 20: 10@MP+60, 10@MP. The cutback week MP miles will probably be during the long runs, too.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Chris M on Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:49 pm

I'm shooting for the same marathon goal and I do FCRs (3-6 miles continous) in range of 6:30 down to 6:10. If I'm really feeling banged up, I might start one with a 6:45 mile. Do 2 x 3 miles (back to back sub 20:00 5Ks with a cooldown break in between is a good workout that shouldn't kill you), then a 4 standalone and then work up to 6 continous. Entering a 10k and doing it as a workout is an easy way to cross that off. I'm not a fan of the Hal's style tempos. Too little time spent at what I would define as real tempo (faster than HMP and slower than 10k) pace. Tempos suck when you start to spend 20+ minutes in that pace zone. They are so much easier and of course do less for you when you don't hold that kind of pace for that long and that's how I understand the HH tempo structure. There's relatively little time spent truly at tempo pace. FCRs are not fun. But they are so key. I need to do a ton more of them. Once a week as Jerry suggests is painful but right.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:16 pm

Chris, sounds good. I had planned to enter a 10k with my girlfriend on Thanksgiving and run it as a tempo run (that's 10 days out from my marathon) as my last "clear out the pipes" run.

And yeah, you're on the money with why I like the Hal-style tempos; they're easy. I like to be gently led to the pain cave, not just thrown into it.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:38 pm

I'm not a fan of Yassos and would prefer to see you do more of the longer repeats. One workout that I really hate, but know that when I nail it I'm good is a 10 mile run broken into 3 x 2 miles segments @ slightly slower than half marathon pace or 2 x 4 miles @ 10 min slower than HM pace. For both of these runs, you are running at a high threshold, but not crossing it. Feels good when you finish.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:45 pm

To be honest, the speedwork/Yassos were because "everyone does it." I have never noticed much of a boost from any sort of speedwork... though strides do help my turnover and form. So maybe I'll nix that and start the "stamina" training earlier for 3x 3-week blocks?

And when you say 10min slower than HM, do you mean 10sec? Or add 10min onto my predicted HM time then figure out the pace?
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  ssilvert on Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:12 am

@Mike MacLellan wrote:
3. Enough miles? I peaked at just under 70 last time, eventually incorporating doubles once a week, and I respond well to higher miles, to a point. I can sustain 2 doubles/week for probably a month, but after that start to get burnt out.

Since doubles burn you out, have you considered longer singles? I've done as much as 80 miles in 6 workouts a week. It felt good and I only had to take one shower per day. cyclops

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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:59 am

It's a thought, especially after going back through and checking out some of the faster guys'/gals' weeks on here. I generally cap my runs around 8mi unless they're long/sorta-long, but I think I could push that to 9-10 without much issue by the end of the cycle.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  mul21 on Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:07 am

I have kind of the same thoughts as Chris, probably because we've had similar training plans. I honestly think that running as many miles as he and I have at a pace very near or at tempo makes MP seem like a breeze. Those 10 milers with 6 @ tempo really make you work. I was typically starting mine at around 7:15 pace and working my way down into the upper 6:30s by the last mile when I was getting ready for my spring marathon last year where I ran 3:16. That was a 15 minute PR and I think it had a lot to do with the tempos in particular with a bit of an assist from the overall increased mileage.

Do the FCRs, but don't overdo them. I would avoid doing one in the same week as you do an MP run because that ends up being a lot of miles at a relatively quick pace and you don't want the injury or burnout bug to bite you. I just don't think the Hal style does much for you when you're looking to run the times you're shooting for. I think they're a much more valuable introductory tool for speed work.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:11 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:To be honest, the speedwork/Yassos were because "everyone does it." I have never noticed much of a boost from any sort of speedwork... though strides do help my turnover and form. So maybe I'll nix that and start the "stamina" training earlier for 3x 3-week blocks?

And when you say 10min slower than HM, do you mean 10sec? Or add 10min onto my predicted HM time then figure out the pace?

Yes, seconds. It has been a busy, whacky month.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Ben Z on Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:35 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:

1. Too long of long runs?

2. Too many workouts? I like MP miles, as they give me confidence and fluidity at that pace (it's awkward to me, otherwise). I find that Hal-style tempo work keeps me feeling quick without killing me. I've never done any real "steady state" runs or intervals in training. The speed intervals (faster than 10k pace) will be more of "whatever feels good," since speed work has given me niggles in the past.

3. Enough miles? I peaked at just under 70 last time, eventually incorporating doubles once a week, and I respond well to higher miles, to a point. I can sustain 2 doubles/week for probably a month, but after that start to get burnt out.

Any input is appreciated.

1) No, not in my opinion. I'm a big believer in the 2 or 3 straight weeks of 18-22 mile long runs, then step back for a week of 14-16, then repeat. Everytime I have run under three hours (3x now) I did at least eight 20+ long runs. In fact, I never feel good about a training cycle unless I have done that many or more.

Once you build up to 20 miles I think you need to stay there as often as you can without breaking down / affecting your other key workouts in the week (too much - 80% of a planned workout is still OK for me).

Early in the cycle, perhaps the first eight weeks, I would focus on slow(ish) long runs. Perhaps in the MP + 90 second range. But the last 8 weeks I don't see much value in doing those long runs that slow. I think you gotta do a good chunk of the runs at MP or faster. Trying to build up to a 20-22 miler with 14-16 @ MP.

2) No, but I wouldn't have the focus of the early second workout be MP. I know you said you like that but it's not going to do much to advance your fitness. I think you would be better suited to doing shorter, faster intervals early (like lots of 100-200s) to build functional strength. Then the last 12 weeks the second workout would be a FCR each week in the 4-8 mile range. Something in the HMP range (6:30 or perhaps a bit quicker at the end).

3) Run as much as your body can handle...then cut it back 10%. So if you peaked at 70 miles last time I would think you could build up to that faster, then peak a bit more this time, before breaking down. I'm curious why you talk about doubles as well as I don't think you should be doing doubles for weeks below 70 miles. So with your planned schedule you should only need to double in week T-4 and T-3. I think up until 70 miles you are better served aerobically by doing singles. This way you'll get a day to rest between each run. Note: this assumes you are only taking a day off every 2-3 weeks.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:48 pm

Thanks Ben. I promise I wasn't directing my snark at you in an attempt to get you in here, but I'm glad I did.

My body tends to do pretty well with long runs - I was able to handle back-to-back (Sat/Sun) 20mi+ runs for a few months while training for an ultra with minimal breakdown. I will consider bumping those miles up a little bit if the runs feel right. Right now I'm averaging around MP+75 for my long runs, so maybe I'll dial the pace back just a little bit and tack on more miles now.

What do you think of replacing the 100s/200s with bike sprints or weights (squats/leg press)? I find that short intervals at faster-than-5k pace tend to cause me problems.

I typically take a day off each week - I typically hate it, but it helps me stay fresh each week.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Ben Z on Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:09 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Thanks Ben. I promise I wasn't directing my snark at you in an attempt to get you in here, but I'm glad I did.

My body tends to do pretty well with long runs - I was able to handle back-to-back (Sat/Sun) 20mi+ runs for a few months while training for an ultra with minimal breakdown. I will consider bumping those miles up a little bit if the runs feel right. Right now I'm averaging around MP+75 for my long runs, so maybe I'll dial the pace back just a little bit and tack on more miles now.

What do you think of replacing the 100s/200s with bike sprints or weights (squats/leg press)? I find that short intervals at faster-than-5k pace tend to cause me problems.

I typically take a day off each week - I typically hate it, but it helps me stay fresh each week.

No worries. You probably know by now I love talking training so any chance I get is cool with me!

Yes, with the early long runs I'm starting to believe the pace is somewhat irrelevant. Time on your feet is more crucial. The idea is to build raw endurance (credit to Hudson there) so if you can add 3-4 miles by running a notch slower then please do so.

Perhaps you could take the short intervals to the hill. I've found that doing hill sprints / repeats is much easier on the body and you get most of the same benefits. Early on too, whether doing hill repeats or intervals on the track, treat it as more of a functional workout where the goal is to develop leg strength, not aerobic power. In other words, take longer breaks between each repeat during the recovery interval. If you want to try 100s or 200s where you go really hard try to walk for 1-2 min between each repeat. No shame in that and it's actually better in my opinion. As a marathoner I think you are better served by only treating 400s and up as true interval workouts where you keep the recovery period brief to work on aerobic power as well.

I too have problems if I do more than a handful of really hard track workouts in a typical cycle but that is where strength training comes in to play. If you can get your hamstrings and hips really strong I bet you would be surprised how much less the track workouts break you down. That was my experience this last cycle. I recovered much faster from the hard track workouts by doing 2-3 really running-specific strength workouts each week. And just like track workouts a little bit goes a long ways here. I'm talking 2-3 sessions of 20 minutes of key exercises. So if you want to do bike sprints or squats, please do, but I wouldn't replace a run for them.

If you are going to take a day off each week, and that's cool, then you are going to have to double most weeks to hit the necessary mileage IMO. Sub 3 is entirely reasonable on 70 miles/week. But you need to get to 70 miles/week (or more) more often than not IMO.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:56 pm

All duly noted. Hills are definitely something I can do without issue. Guess it would be too easy, too, if everything in the training cycle came super easy, so I'll have to figure out whether or not I can handle some doubles or running every day more easily.

I'll be back in a week or so once I've reworked the plan a bit.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Martin VW on Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:39 pm

Another vote for FCR runs as THE key workout for improving your marathon time. The combination of uptempo pace and the length of time that you stay there leads to a really high ROI - physically AND mentally. McMillan plans include, on average, one per week. But, he breaks them down to Tempo Runs (3, buidling up to 6 @ 6:15 - 6:30) and Steady State Runs (5, building up to 8 @ 6:30 - 6:45). The "easier" pace of the SSRs makes them less daunting, but then the duration gets you. He includes as a training tip that the goal is to fatigue yourself with the duration of a workout, not the speed.

He also includes a tempo portion in the final long runs. Yes, tempo (6:15 - 6:30), as in 9 @ LSD pace, 4 @ GA Pace, 4 @ tempo pace, 1 mile cool down. His theory is, if you can run that hard at the end of an 18 miler, you'll be better prepared for the final 10K of the marathon.

I also agree with Ben that a weekly 18 - 24 miler will add a key element of endurance. My last cycle I did 16 18 mile+ long runs in 19 weeks. 9 of them were 20+, with the longest being 25.9 miles. I stepped back twice to 16 milers during the speed phase, and I raced a half marathon 4 weeks out from Boston. Other than that, it was alternating 18+ / 20+ every week.

As for speedwork, unless you're training for a hilly race like Boston, I don't think it makes tht much of a difference whether it's on a track or hill circuits. The benefits are the same. But, I DO think they are necessary. If you read McMillan's article on rethinking marathon training, the speed phase gives your the capability to handle the paces in the pre-marathon strength/stamina phase.

Finally, what each of these - the FCR run, the longer long runs, and the speed/hill work - provide goes beyond the physiological benefits. They also make you tough mentally. If you can't handle the training stress because your body breaks down, then you have to do more base building to strengthen the tendons and muscles. But if you can't handle it mentally, then you're not going to be as well equipped come race day to reach deep when you need to.

You're a young guy, and with your build, you have the potential to be a beast of a runner, certainly more than I do at (significantly) more than twice your age and 50# heavier. Do what you need to do to get there. Then leverage the hell out of it.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:55 pm

Remember Mike that all these suggestions/ideas/workouts are great, and you will find what works best for you. Since I actually had my old running logs in the basement here, I looked back at some workouts that I ran the summer of 1987 before I broke 3 hrs. Things were definitely a lot simpler at least in terms of definition and I was working a full time job. At least 2x per week, I ran 2 a days with a harder (what we would now call tempo or FCR or even Progression Run) of up to 8-10 miles in the morning and then an easy 5-6 miler in the early evening after work. It also looks like I ran roughly 2.5-3 hrs for my long run every other Saturday morning from late July until 3 wks before the race in later October, unless I was racing. I ran a couple of 10Ks (one in the summer, and one in early October 2 wks out), a 10 miler early evening race the first week of August, the Falmouth RR (7 miles), a 15K in late September (where I actually ran a PR) and 13 miles at a 6:55 pace during a relay race on the Saturday after the Monday 10K in Oct - 2 wks out. I peaked at 88 mpw - although, I seemed to have differing ideas as to how far I ran in the 2.5-3 hr runs (days before Garmins and all measuring was done by feel or with a car if possible. It seems as if I assumed a pace of around 7:30-8 per mile depending, but I honestly can't remember that far back).

Have fun, enjoy, and let us know how it is going. And remember even the great ones have bad days (read Joan Benoit's log books in Nike Boston sometime for a laugh as she describes a run as horrible and bad and then runs a WR 3 wks later at Boston).
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:25 pm

All points well taken. I appreciate the phrasing ("be a beast of a runner"), MVW. And Michele, thanks for the level of detail there. Really cool to see exactly what others have done, and it sounds like my final plan will be pretty similar to what you did.

Still tinkering.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  ounce on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:47 am

So what's a "FCR". I know a "CFR" is a specific Incoterm. Inquiring mind wants to know.
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Jerry on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:52 am

@ounce wrote:So what's a "FCR". I know a "CFR" is a specific Incoterm. Inquiring mind wants to know.

Fart Continuous Run. Very Happy
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Re: Sub-3 or Bust (Training Plan Critique)!

Post  Martin VW on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:38 am

@ounce wrote:So what's a "FCR". I know a "CFR" is a specific Incoterm. Inquiring mind wants to know.

Fast Continuous Run. We certainly didn't invent the term, but we use it to differentiate between a tempo run where you maintain a constant, fast speed (10K - 15K pace) and a Hal-type tempo run where you build to 10K pace, hold it only very briefly, and then gradually decelerate.
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