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Mar 15

The Plan Reviewed

I finally had time to sit down and do a review of The Plan.  With the marathon now over a week in the past, it is probably a good time to reflect on what led up to the race.

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The Plan, for those that don’t remember, was based off of the book Advanced Marathoning by Pete PfitzingerJeff clued me into the book and based on his recommendation I purchased the book (Kindle format) on Amazon.  The book is divided into two sections, the first section is theory on training and the second section is devoted to the various plans.  I found the first half of the book fantastic, but I honestly think you have to had done a marathon or two for it to make any sense.

I ended up picking the 12/70 plan which was 12 weeks long peaking at 70 miles per week of running.  Prior to starting the plan, these numbers were daunting, but now I realize how well the plan works.  Here are some of the things I learned from this planned.

My biggest concerns with the plan was that I was getting a late start and only doing the 12/70 plan instead of the 18 week 18/70 plan. This was simply due to procrastination on my part and not starting when I should have. In the end though, the 12 week plan fit me best. By the end of 12 weeks, I was ready to be done with *only* running and ready to start biking and swimming more.

So, without further ado, here is what I learned:

Volume

Volume is key. Basically, if you run a lot, you are going to be comfortable running far.  This definitely took some adjusting to and the first couple of weeks were brutal.  However, midway through, running long simply became the norm.  Over the 12 week period I logged 82 runs for 753 miles which averages out to over 9 miles per run.  Like I said, crazy to think about, but it is amazing how the body adapts to it.  753 miles is half of my total 2011 running mileage and I somehow managed to cover it in 12 weeks.

Go Slow

Probably the biggest key to being able to cover the amped up volume is to go slow.  The first part of the Advanced Marathoning plan is to figure out your paces.  My goal race paces was 6:59 min-miles.  This gave me the following training paces:

Paces

As you can see, most of my paces are at least a full minute/mile slower than race pace; if not slower.

So, out of the 82 runs, I did 40 of them at an 8:00+ min/mile pace and 19 of those at over a 9:00 min/mile pace.  At times, especially during the end, it was hard to run slow and I would find myself forcing myself to slow down.  It was really important to keep in mind that there is lots of running to do and not to blow it on a single run by letting my ego get the best of me.  Run slow to run fast. Who would have thought?

Go Fast

Wait. Didn’t I just say to go slow? Yes, I did.  But going fast – when scheduled – is just as important.  There were usually two days a week that incorporated speed work in some aspect.  There were three types of speed workouts: intervals, tempo, and race pace.  Interval workouts varied from 600m to 1600m repeats and were done at 5k/VO2 Max pace.  I did all of my interval workouts at a local college campus using my Garmin’s workout feature to measure the distance rather than running on the track (I hate the track).  Doing the workouts on the campus incorporated a few hills (albeit small hills) and windy conditions into the intervals to make them more realistic.

Tempo workouts were a medium distance run (9-13 miles) with a portion of the run (normally 4-7 miles) done at half marathon pace which was about 6:45 min/mile for me.  These were probably the worst and hurt the entire time.  Usually I would finally settle into the temp pace right as it was time to start cooling down.

Finally, and in my opinion, the most important speed work was race pace work.  Race pace work was done about every other week as part of the weekly long run.  For example, instead of just doing an 18 mile long run which I would normally do at a constant speed, I would do a 3 mile warmup up building to race pace and then hold my 7:00 min/mile race pace for 12 miles before cooling down.  These were really tough runs, but they really boasted my confidence for race day.

Take Care of Yourself

With all this volume, you are going to be sore. So foam roll, use The Stick, stretch, etc. Do whatever it is that you need to do to make sure you are prepared for your next run.  For me, this involved a lot of compression sleeve wearing and relaxing with my feet up at the end of the day.  I recovered after all my long workouts with chocolate milk (or a milk shake) and pickle juice.  I continued to swim 3 days a week mainly as way of working out the kinks of running.

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This also meant joining the Hoka Revolution. Laugh all you want, but these shoes are amazing.  I did about half of my runs in the Hokas (I have the Bondi B’s) and they made a huge difference.  I would start with sore legs, run 5-10 miles in the Hokas and feel completely refreshed afterwards. It is amazing.  Do not mock them until you have tried them.

Training Partner

The final thing that made this training plan a success really had nothing to do with the training plan itself. It had to do with training with someone else. While Jeff and I were over 1,000 miles apart, we were following very similar plans (Jeff was doing the 18/70 plan; 18 weeks, 70 mile peak).  Regardless, we were in nearly constant communication after each workout comparing our progress. Not only did this help keep me honest but it also reassured me when I was dragging.  After a hard week when I was feeling defeated, a quick talk/text with Jeff would find that he was struggling with the same workouts so I knew that what I was feeling was completely normal and just part of the process.

Overall

Overall, I would call the plan a total success.  Yes, I missed qualifying for Boston, but had my goal simply been to run a 3:05 and there was no mystical quality (qualifying) to the 3:05:00, I would have been over the top ecstatic. Missing the BQ dampers that feeling a bit, but all in all, the race was a huge success.

If you are looking to take your marathon racing to the next level, I can’t recommend this book and plan enough.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2012/03/15/the-plan-reviewed

10 comments

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  1. Mark in Ottawa

    Kevin,
    I’m really glad that you took the time to do a thorough review and could distance yourself enough to evaluate the plan objectively. It seems that the plan worked well for you, despite the 12 seconds!

    I totally agree with the training partner aspect…one of the hardest parts of tri-training this year is that I’m the only one I know doing a half-ironman distance race (others are doing Olympic distances). Motivation is key for plans spanning multiple months, since it’s only normal to have your energy or enthusiasm flag at certain points along the way.

    Overall, I think you have everything to be proud of, and as a huge added bonus, I think all this early work will help you smoke IMMT!

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  2. Matthew Smith

    Great review of your training! Those numbers are crazy to think that you ran that many miles in that short time! That’s more miles than I ran the ENTIRE year last year! I think it would help me a whole lot to figure out my paces for those different distances/intensities. I may need to pick up that book to learn some, but like you said, I might be confused because I haven’t run a marathon… Those Hokas, although not the sexiest shoes around, sound like they have incredible healing powers to make you feel refreshed. Very cool!

    Boston will be waiting for you when you’re ready for another shot!
    Matthew Smith recently posted..Hello Spring…Where Have You Been?

  3. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    Thanks for the thorough review.

    Depending on how well or bad Puerto Rico goes I may be doing this plan for The Woodlands marathon.

    Now it’s time to add in those swim and bike workouts and cruch IMMT. Your base is huge and your adaptation to the bike will be easy. Now all you need to do is workout on the Grand Canyon cliffs.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Pacer Or Chaser?

  4. Jeff Irvin

    Great review/recap Kevin!

    Cannot think of one thing I would add as you nailed it all.

    The recovery runs were beyond key in this plan and staying within the assigned paces despite how you felt was extremely important as well.

    The “Hoka Revolution” — hahaha! Awesome!

    The part about us training together was so true. With the high volume we were both doing, the up and down feelings over the the length of the plan were many. Having you going through the same thing took away a lot of the mental anguish we usually put ourselves through. Also, knowing that you were out doing the same runs at the same paces made me push hard as I knew you wouldn’t quit.

    Excellent posts!

    Now lets keep the positive mojo going for IMMT!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Ironman Mont-Tremblant Training Week #1

  5. Carolina John

    That book has been on my amazon wish list for a while now, it looks great. Really glad you posted this. It sounds like the kind of plan I’ve been looking for.
    Carolina John recently posted..Tobacco Trail FTM!

  6. James F

    I definately need to get that book before the St Jude marathon in December!
    James F recently posted..As I Reached for the Peanut Butter Egg…

  7. Matt Oravec

    Very very very similar to the brain training w/ fitz. Only difference is he incorporated form drills in the speed work sessions.

    Good stuff man, I firmly believe you need the volume to get the speed.

    Also, I saw last year you can be a speedy mc speederson by running slow. Totally mind boggling.

    I agree, 100% success. Screw Boston, they are all snooty anyways over there.
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Ready… Aim… Fire!!!

  8. Spike

    That is pretty much the FIRST program. I’ve found it works for me. I love the idea of the track/tempo workout during the week…only I hate doing them. Really, I would dread those workouts. Ugh. But we suffer so we can try to not suffer as much during the race.

  9. katie

    I need to go read about your spaceship shoes. they look comfortable!
    katie recently posted..random friday facts

  10. DR

    excellent review! I must pick up a pair of the Hoka’s – I bought the stick last week

    your race and marathon effort was incredible – but also attacking and completing this plan was a huge accomplishment! I could not have done it – u r a machine

    D

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