Saturday, April 01, 2006


I still haven’t been running since the marathon. I didn’t feel very well on Thursday. I don’t know if it was a setback of the fight against the cold I had before the race, or if it was something else, but I felt a distinctive lack of energy. I felt completely slack and devoid of energy, and feared I was going to be sick yet again. However, I felt better on Friday, and I’m absolutely fine today. The weather, though, isn’t. The wind is blowing very strongly, and between bouts of sunshine we have rain so heavy that you wouldn’t send your dog outside (but of course you would still train for a marathon if you had too).

My thoughts are turning to the Dublin marathon, despite the fact that it’s still a long time away – 30 October 2006, to be precise. If I counted correctly, there are 29 weeks to go, which I intend to use to prepare thoroughly. I just don’t know how yet. I have plenty of options, but two of them are very much in my mind. The first is Pfitzinger’s 24 weeks/70 miles plan. It starts with several weeks of around 50 mpw, and gradually increases to 70, a level that is reached on three separate weeks. I quite like that plan, especially as it increases the mileage gradually, and I’ve never run such high mileage before. The second option is a Lydiard style training. I don’t intend to do the full 100 mpw that Lydiard recommends, mainly because I’m convinced it would leave me injured. In his book, he describes some lesser training plans, one which goes like this: Monday 1hr, Tuesday 1.5 hrs, Wednesday 1 hr, Thursday 1.5 hrs, Friday 1 hr, Saturday 2-3 hrs, Sunday 1.5 hrs. That’s 10.5 to 11.5 hours per week, which would probably mean about 75 mpw, give or take a few. You know what? That sounds rather daunting, especially for someone who has never run more than 55 mpw. Actually, I once did around 65 miles in 7 days, because I did a long run late in one week, and then another long one earlier in the following week, leaving me with a higher mileage for 7 days, but that wasn’t planned.
The main drawback of the Lydiard method, at least from my point of view, is that it’s much more difficult to follow. When following Pfitz, I can just do the workouts he describes every week. I tend to juggle the work around every week (e.g. do the long run on Tuesday and the rest day on Saturday, rather then long Sunday/rest Monday), but I tend do to all the workouts within each 7 day schedule. Lydiard isn’t so clear, his method requires tuning into your body and adapting accordingly, and I don’t think I know my body that well yet, being the inexperienced runner that I still am. I’m sure Mike would disagree, but I think I prefer Pfitz this time round, even if it means not being quite as well prepared.

Or am I too ambitious, and should do less mileage? Is it foolish to increase my mileage to 70 mpw, when I only just about managed to stay reasonably injury free on 55 mpw max (and that still included tendonitis, muscle pain in my quads, in my hamstring, and some mild heel spurs – yes, I know, I have a warped view on being injury free).

So much to think about, so much to decide. What do you think?


  1. I disagree!! Kidding, really. Pfitzy and Lydiard really aren't all that different, especially if you follow the longest Pfitzinger plan. It starts by building miles slowly, then starts adding strides and 4-7 mile tempo runs, then gradually introduces track or anaerobic workouts (all 600's to 1600's, no super short stuff), and then adds a few marathon pace runs (something like 10 of 15, 12 of 16, and 15 of 18+). Lydiard is really pretty similar, especially if you read from the latest "Running from the Top". The biggest difference is that Lydiard uses a hill phase between base miles and the anaerobic track stuff.

    If I wasn't following Lydiard, I would definitely still be following Pfitzinger. He really is in the same model. In fact, if asked to suggest a training program, I more often suggest Pfitzinger simply because he is easier to follow.

    Please don't count Lydiard out though, and even if you do his training principles can still influence how you train under Pfitzinger. For example, running longer days slower and shorter days faster during the base phase instead of always running a similar pace. Food for thought at least. If you do decide to go the Lydiard way, please let me know if I can help at all. Best of luck, as always, and stay well (err, get well).

  2. Vote here for Pfitz from a long standing user of his plans. I've done the up to 55, up to 70, and most recently the 70+ (but modified to suit) and have been successful as well as injury free.

    When you're only running 50'ies the 70 plan can look quite daunting but the trick is to not look to far ahead and only take it one workout at a time. I'd highly recommend getting the mileage up slowly, you have lots of time before starting and can take more time but do the 18 week version instead.

    Re- switching workouts, if you read the book and from experience the back to back harder days and midweek long runs are killers and must be approached carefully. Take your rest days seriously! In short it's challenging but doable and you will be rewarded in Dublin.

  3. Agree about building the mileage slowly, but you've got a good solid base from which to do it so the Pfitzinger plan doesn't look outrageous.

  4. Thomas since I have never followed a plan I cannot really give advice and I really don't like to give advice anyways, but both Mike's give some good advice.

    I need flexibility in my life right now, which is why I have never really followed a plan strictly. Of course I usually add in the normal elements of any training plan, but perhaps not with the precise efficiency as they should have been. I admire anyone who can stick to a plan, but I also admire those who can follow the plan and adapt when necessary. I have seen, or read about, both Mike's doing this as well as others. Good luck with whatever plan you decide to follow. I still have hope that someday I will be able to follow a Lydiard plan.

  5. I have no advice, as I generally do things on the fly; however, I am very interested in following your journey - which plan you choose, and how it works for you.

  6. I think they are close enough not to make you fight over the name:) However, with either plan I would be careful with packing miles, and really recommend getting on soft dirt for your easier runs of the week, especially with summer coming. Less pounding.
    Best to you.

  7. 70 per week? That is a lot - great finishing pics below too! Take care of yourself.

  8. As a fellow Irish Runner, and Connemara expieriencer(is that a word?), and also looking towards Dublin, with a few others on the way, I think the advice that Mike has given is excellent. The only fer I would have is of injury. Maybe it's because I am getting too old these days, but as soon as I rack over 40 miles in a week the body starts to break down.

    Therefore, I work on quality rather than quantity and try and get as much value out of each run as I can. As l2r says, the rest days are a vital ingredient as well.

  9. The wind is blowing very strongly, and between bouts of sunshine we have rain so heavy that you wouldn’t send your dog outside (but of course you would still train for a marathon if you had too).

    HAHA!!! so true.

    I don't know much about either plan although I did buy the Pfitzinger book and thought that his training plans looked tough....but tough in a good way! Good luck picking a training plan.

  10. I think it all depends on what you want to get out of it.

    I am 50 years old, with young family,and follow a three-days-a week plan, with no slow recovery runs. In other words every run is quite focussed and intense. One tempo run 5-10 miles, one mixed session (hills, intervals etc.,) and one long run at guestimated marathon pace + 15-30 seconds per mile).

    I think this might work quite well for you too, as you probably don' t get enough REST and SLEEP getting up so early most days. It would also reduce the risk of injury.
    You might need to mix in a spot of X-training though..I swim a bit and do yoga.

    Interesting stuff here

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck and keep posting!

  11. It is very exciting to choose a new way to train, I am still wondering wich training to follow for my firts marathon.

    Chosing one that keeps your injury free sounds like the best plan.

  12. the key for me over the past year, has been to increase the mileage, but to slow down on those recovery runs. i was hammering every run with months at 60-70 mile weeks and my body felt it. once i slowed down and only went hard on speed days, all the niggles disappeared.

    next monday will tell if it worked, but i feel pretty good and haven't had any of the nagging itb, hamstring or knee stuff that always hung around.

    go slower to go faster.