Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marathon Training Plan Emails

I recently had some email correspondence with a reader who was following my 20 week marathon training plan, which was published by Competitor in their September issue. For many of you who may have read it online only, the webmasters forgot to include the key to the initials in the plan, so I wanted to re-post it here, along with an email I received and my responses.

Here is the plan, as an image, click on it to enlarge:

Here is the key to the plan:

E - Easy jog
A - Accelerations of 15-20 secs at high speed, with quick turnover, plenty of recovery between each.
S - Steady paced run. Not easy, not hard.
F - Fartlek - Speed bursts as you like, from 1 to 3 minutes in length, unstructured. Allow time for warm-up and cooldown.
MGP - Marathon Goal Pace - Time spent running at goal pace for the marathon is in parentheses. (MGP 90) means 90 mins run at marathon goal pace.
T - Tempo Run - Hard effort at faster than marathon pace, around 10K to half-marathon intensity. (T30) means 30 mins of tempo.
TT - Time Trial test - 30 mins HARD, with average pace and HR measured for the last 20 mins. These should improve over the course of the program.
XT - Cross Training - Your choice of cycling, elliptical, stairmaster or swimming, as well as any weight training you might enjoy.
Off - Rest day - Focus on recovery techniques, (hydration, stretching, massage, nap, etc.)

I did a quick Google search on the plan, and found it listed as a plan on the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon website, under their training guidance. That was a suprise to me!

Recently, I recieved the following email, along with my replies, for any of you who might be interested in something similar....

Hello Jim,
I found your 20 week training program in the Competitor So Cal magazine I picked up from a Jamba Juice facility. It was in the September 2008 issue titled " 20 weeks to your first Marathon". All I have to say is THANK YOU!! This training program is very amateur friendly and i love it!! I have one question though, i am on the 14th week of the 20 week program but I need to go one more week since I signed up for Carlsbad Marathon on Jan 25, 2008. So....my question is do I repeat any week in the 20 week course to help make it to 21 weeks or rest for a week? I am at a loss and need your assistance. Once again thanks for this great training program i could not have done this without you!!


My response:


Thanks for the great email. I'm always happy to hear how my work helps people who need it. Believe it or not, I don't hear much, so sometimes I wonder if anyone takes my advice. :-)

Here is a week I've come up with which should placed between weeks 18 and 19, that helps stagger-down the taper a bit more. I call it week "18a".

Monday - off
Tuesday - 75 XT
Wednesday - 60 (T 30)
Thursday - 50 E
Friday - 60 A
Saturday - 90 E
Sunday - 120 (MGP 60)

The abbreviations are the same from the original plan. I think this is the best adjustment for adding in a week toward the end.

Let me know how the race goes, and good luck!


Her response:

Thanks for the feedback, i will definitely let you know how it goes.... your program changed my whole outlook on running,,, thanks again!

If you're following my training plan, I'd love to hear how it's going, as I'm always looking for ways to improve things, or see if something works for a lot of people.

Coach Vance

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