Tag Archives: Advanced Marathoning

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 9 of 18

I can’t quite believe I’m halfway through the training plan. Officially over the hump and its now downhill from here. only 6 weeks real training left before things start cutting down for the taper. Its been a tough week, with 2 long runs including one at marathon pace, and I am very much looking forward to next week’s “Recovery” week.

This week I ran exactly as prescribed in the P&D schedule, shown below.


My legs felt surprisingly good on Monday, which was encouraging given the previous day’s 20 miler. So going into Tuesday’s recovery run they felt a little fresher than usual, though were still suffering with fatigue. Thankfully, by the end of the run things had improved greatly. Love these recovery runs! Ran it with Jodie which made it all the more nice too 🙂

On Wednesday I had my longest midweek medium-long run of the whole training plan, 14 miles. Last week I struggled through the 12 miles on a relatively flat – but unfamiliar – route, so this I went into this run with some trepidation. I’d already had a long work day, and the idea of a 2 and a quarter hour run didn’t exactly thrill me! This week however on a much hillier yet much more familiar course I managed to consistently hit my negative splits, progressing right the way through my long run pace zone, and ran the last mile a little short of marathon pace. It felt great to be able to do a run of that length midweek and still feel strong at the end.

Thursday however was just awful. 6 recovery miles. I had next to no energy and as a result, next to no pace. I was in the right pace zone, and my heartrate was about right, but my legs just did not want to co-operate! Thankfully, Friday was a rest day.

Friday though was a much more positive day. I didn’t weigh myself last week, but this week continued my post christmas downward trajectory. I’m now at a NEW lowest weight ever and just 3lbs from that magical 8th stone. I’m hoping to be there for next weeks weigh in!


I am still just about on track to make my goal weight by Manchester, though I could do with a couple of 3lb weeks really to give myself a degree of comfort. Check out my awesome spreadsheet – conditional formatting too to highlight exactly when I hope to achieve my short term goals! Great for motivation 🙂 So I am on track to hit Target B by Reading too, which would be another little milestone.


Ultimately I’m not massively concerned if I don’t hit those numbers exactly. I know that I am already well over a stone lighter than my pre-Paris weight. If I can be 2 stone below Paris weight by Manchester I will be just as pleased. So thats my backup target (13st 5lbs) which could be more achievable. Save the big goal for a pre-wedding target!

I was Run Directing this parkrunday, 184 runners ably assisted by 24 amazing volunteers on this special Valentines run, the theme being “Fifty Shades of Red”. It was a good day and despite some minor timing and scanning issues the results were processed just fine! Jodie ran her 35th run and is now only 1 behind me as we bid to reach our 50th, together, the week before the wedding.

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I took my opportunity to run later in the day, and the weather perked right up. Even went out in a vest! Just like summer (though a tad colder…)! 6 recovery miles with 6 strides near the end, though I missed my watch beep for the 6th so had to just make one up in the middle of my last half mile. The strides were great, I concentrated on my form and felt like I was really running!

Sunday was a big one. The second of three “marathon paced” long runs in the program. All three are 18 miles, the first was with 10 miles at marathon pace, the second (this one) was 12 at marathon pace. (The last one is 14 at MP). To say I was nervous pre-run is an understatement, I was dreading it. But it all turned out fine. In fact, the last mile before the marathon pace section was only 10s off MP too, so in essence it was 13 miles. And with almost 900ft of elevation gain, to say I was chuffed to finish it so strongly (With a sub 7 mile) would also be a massive understatement! Its real evidence that training is working and gives me even more confidence that I’m on the right track.

It seems the mileage has really conditioned my legs well, as I’m sat here writing this feeling naturally fatigued, but nowhere near wiped out. I’m not going to revise my goal just yet, but after seeing Steve Way say something along the lines of “If you are comfortably running marathon paced efforts over a long distance you might want to think about your goal” I may reassess it after the last MP run.

I’ve also now broken in my new Asics Gel Kayano 21s (Blue) and retired my Orange 20s. I always like new trainers, I’m not sure how psychological it is but any niggles I’ve had always seem better and I feel faster. Getting the new model was a slight risk, but there seem to be few changes from a comfort point of view and to the lay man (me) they feel no different.

Halfway through February in Jantastic and I am still on 100%. I’m hoping next week I’ll get that 6th run in for the February “Pro” badge by doing a quick parkrun on Saturday morning, and an easy 5 in the evening as the plan calls for 8.

It’s literally downhill from here, just 6 weeks real training left until the taper and just 2 more weeks of this mesocycle before we start the real speedwork. Still loving it!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 8 of 18

OK, week 8 of 18 has come and gone, almost at the halfway point and 2 out of 5 weeks through the second mesocycle of the plan. As of tomorrow, its now “9 weeks to race week” – single digits! Its flying by. This week I had made no alterations at all to what the proper plan recommends. So the calendar diagram below is exactly match the P&D 18/55.


Monday was a well deserved rest day after Sunday’s exertions, but Tuesday’s recovery run with strides was a little tougher as a result. I could tell I ran it a little faster than I probably should have, so I resolved myself to run this weeks long run at a slow pace. See, reflective thinking in action! What I was pleased with was the pace of the strides, and my form when I was running them. Marathon training seems to trick my brain into thinking I’m incapable of running fast (perhaps contributing to last weeks tempo failure?) but this is not the case with some very quick sections – albeit only for 100 meters!

Wednesday saw a midweek medium-long run of 12 miles. I thought, as a time save, I would get dropped off on the way hoe from work and run the distance I needed home. Route planned, I set off. Unfortunately I left the maps I had printed on my desk, which meant I had to stop and refer to my phone twice! I wasn’t a fan of running the route I did – unfamiliar country lanes in the pitch black. It was a bit depressing. I found it a bit tough, I think I was partially dehydrated and should have eaten more before the run, but still managed to hit negative splits throughout the run, with the exception of Stone Lane, a giant mega hill! Picked it back up afterwards though.

Spot Stone Lane!
Spot Stone Lane!

Unusually, Thursday was a rest day this week. 7 of the next 10 weeks have Thursday as the rest day in favour of a Friday run for some reason. Might take some getting used to!

When Friday came along I was extremely apprehensive. 10 miles with 6 of them at Lactate Threshold pace. I failed this run last time so psychologically I needed to nail this. I planned a route I knew well, and despite a couple of Garmin glitches in the 2 mile warm up I found the pace I needed, maintained it, and even increased it. I came away bouncing with confidence!

I was scheduled for 5m at recovery pace on parkrunday, so did a mile warm up and cool down either end of a very relaxing run with Jodie! We did pre-event setup and clear down and I processed the results, so it was nice to be able to just enjoy the run.


As I enjoyed my group run a couple of weeks ago, I joined them again on Sunday. They ran the Yeovil Half route, and as I needed to do 20 miles I decided to tag them on the end. The first 13 flew by, very sociable miles running at a variety of paces chatting to a lot of different people. Then after a pitstop for water at the car, I motored on with a progression run going from 9m/m through to just under 8s, with a beast of a climb the only thing making me miss out on some nice negative splits!

After 2 x 20 mile runs with the Gu gels, both at 4 mile intervals, I am pretty happy with that as a nutrition strategy for the race. Next Sunday sees a marathon paced run, so will be fun to try them!

My legs (writing this on a Sunday afternoon) feel a little tired, but no more than I expected. I’m feeling much better after my 20 milers this time around then I did last year, and my legs are carrying me through well on a weekly basis. On the whole I’m very happy with the plan and my progress so far.

So much so that I am still nailing Jantastic. Still rocking the 100% score! #boom!


Onward to week 9 and the halfway point!


Manchester Marathon Training: Week 7 of 18

Week 7 is the first week of the “Lactate Threshold + Endurance”, second mesocycle of the P&D Advanced Marathoning training plan. Introducing a little more speed and a little more training at Lactate Threshold to increase the speed endurance.

The only change I made to the “Original” plan here was that I wanted to run a 20 mile long run instead of the prescribed 18. The other planned sessions were all identical.


I started the week on monday with a nice short recovery run – the intention being to get a 6th run in and earn the Jantastic “Pro” badge!

I can’t work out if this affected Tuesday’s aborted 10 miler with the middle 5 at lactate threshold pace, which was a bit of a failure. I managed to mis-plan my route so the first mile was uphill, I needed to make a toilet stop, and halfway through the lactate threshold section i just couldn’t maintain pace. With the benefit of hindsight I recognise that I hadn’t slept enough, hadn’t really eaten enough and was still recovering from a cold, all of which clearly affected my ability.

Still I was concerned I may have overtrained again. Last time I felt like this was after the Street 5k. The day after that run I went out for 4 miles at recovery pace and still felt horrendous. Thankfully, this was not the case on this occasion, as Wednesday’s run was fine. A good nights sleep and some extra food really helped.

Still feeling a bit concerned though, I went out on Thursday’s 11 mile Medium-Long Run with caution. Though thankfully I felt fine all the way around and even managed my target of making each mile split slightly quicker than the previous! I felt very pleased with myself 🙂

Friday was weigh-day. I was hopeful I had lost weight, but I wasn’t expecting a 4lb shift! I take these big jumps with a pinch of salt, it probably means this Friday I’ll lose less or even slightly gain. But still it was a nice feeling! It means I’m just 1lb over my pre-christmas weight, so very soon I’ll be “treading new ground” again.

Spot Christmas!
Spot Christmas!

parkrunday saw a bit of a strange, broken run. I was down for 7 miles with 8 strides. I also wanted to get parkrun in though, and I also had to volunteer as a car park attendant. So I ended up running to parkrun, doing my volunteer stint then running parkrun! It was a bit strange as I was going slow then fast, I kept swapping places with people and they must have thought I was a bit mad/crap. But still I got my strides in. Not as quick as they could have been (And have been when running on the road as part of a “proper” session), but better than 5k pace nonetheless, which was the purpose.

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss
Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

Sunday saw my first long run as part of the campaign. I have detailed about this run in this blog post, but essentially I ran a 7 mile warm up then the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon at training pace. It was a great event, and I was quite pleased as my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected them to, and much better than when I did my first 20 miler last year! Also, I’ll reiterate that I was super proud of Jodie for her massive PB!

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss
Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

This week also sees the first month of Jantastic draw to a close! I’m happy to report a 100% score for the month, and finish the month with a fantastic 14 badges! Every badge I went for and could have possibly gotten I achieved.

Onwards and upwards to week 8!


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Manchester Marathon Training: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 has been a watershed week in two different ways.

Firstly, its the last week of the P&D “Endurance” mesocycle. The purpose of it was to do lots of aerobic mileage, building a solid base to progress from in the next mesocycle, which is designed to increase my lactate threshold. So now I have the miles in my legs, I can start making them a bit faster!

Secondly, it was the first “Recovery week” of the plan, and represents being exactly one third (33%) through the training plan. A drop in mileage and intensity has left my legs feeling significantly better than they did after last weeks Marathon paced run. Interestingly (OK not interestingly at all, quite clearly deliberately planned) the next recovery week is immediately following the NEXT marathon paced run!

The more I learn and read about this training plan, the more it just makes sense. Its logical, well balanced and it seems to be working. As such, some of the “Tweaks” I’d previously made (And detailed in my strategy post) have been undone, leaving only the changes to accommodate the Reading Half Marathon, and an increase in long run distances to ensure I do 5 x 20 milers.

Meanwhile, week three of Jantastic is in the bag! Still rocking the 100% score, keeping it up for both myself and for the team!


Next month you need to additionally set the length of your longest planned run for each week. So I have planned 20, 18 (Marathon pace run), 13 (Recovery week), 20 in that order. I was torn about possibly putting a 22 into the mix, but I think I’ll wait for March to assess that. I can’t tell yet if it will help me either physically or psychologically.

From a pure training point of view, this week exactly matched the plan as described in the book. As it was a recovery week I saw little point in pushing anything and wanted to focus on recovering my legs ahead of the next tough mesocycle. I am happy to report I ran each planned run with 100% success!


Monday was a rest day, though my legs were quite sore. I contemplated a short recovery run in order to get the “Pro” Jantastic badge for running 6 times in a single week, but decided against it. Not worth it in a recovery week.

Tuesday was the new favourite 10 mile general aerobic, with 10 x 100m strides. After reading the book a bit more and learning more about this session, i chose to run it differently to usual. Rather than spacing the strides out evenly throughout the run at half mile intervals, I stacked them towards the end of the run, at quarter mile intervals instead. This meant the strides were a bit tougher as there was less recovery, but also most of them seemed to be uphill! But its still a brilliant session, shame about the weather as it was cold wet and miserable!

Wednesday saw a nice easy recovery run with Jodie. I really enjoy the recovery miles, (although they are often still tough despite being significantly slower) as they follow a harder run, the session the day after ALWAYS feels easier. I have seriously neglected these types of run in the past.

It was an 8 mile general aerobic run on Thursday. By golly it was cold and I think it’s only going to get colder before it gets warmer! I actually went a bit faster than I think i should have, and Strava reported the workout as “Extreme”. I think part of that was because of the first couple of miles being me trying to sustain the pace while running uphill, then on the downhills and flats running faster than I should have. Either way, it certainly didn’t feel extreme and actually finished feeling pretty good.

Friday was weigh in day, and I lost a pleasing 2.5lbs, of which 2.3 were fat! Still on track to reach my ultimate goal before Manchester, though could do with a couple more good weeks (Perhaps even a couple of 3 pound weeks?) to give me some breathing room. Ultimately as long as I get close to it I’ll be happy. Still 5lbs over my pre-christmas weight – I’ll feel much happier when I’m back below that figure and reaching new “Lowest ever” weights!

I volunteered on parkrunday, and I was run director for a phenomenal 215 runners! A record attendance for a non-anniversary run! The car park was a bit chaotic though so we have to put a marshal out there next week, though I’d be surprised if we had the same amount of people again! As I couldn’t parkrun, I went on a nice little 4m recovery run, which was later than intended as we had a busy day!

Credit to Karen Handley
Credit to Karen Handley

As I “Only” had 12 miles to run on Sunday, I took the opportunity to run with the running group I usually do intervals with. It was so much nicer running with people than slogging out a long run on your own! Officially this was only a “Medium Long Run”, according to the training plan. It was a little faster than I had planned but my legs felt fine afterwards so not too concerned.

All in all, I have to say this recovery week has been a success. I feel good and ready for the next mesocycle, where the plan is to build on my lactate threshold. More miles, and faster! Bring it on 🙂

When Jantastic meets discipline

Following yesterday’s epic 18 mile marathon paced session, the 150 mile 5am drive to work this morning was a little more challenging than usual. Not only was I mentally tired from the shortened amount of sleep I had (not a good idea for recovery, especially when Strava just rated your suffer score as “Extreme”) but my muscles were achy and stiff. My eyes could barely stay open!

Following that up with hard day at work I was feeling a little drained. There were several things running around my head.

  • My legs could really do with a recovery run to shake off the stiffness
  • I need to burn some calories to help me lose weight this week
  • I’m in a hotel room on my own tonight
  • There’s a Jantastic badge to be earned for completing 6 runs in a week
  • It’s -1 degrees and there’s a Jantastic badge for that too!

However, written in clear letters at the top of my training plan for this week was this stark reminder:


It was my first “recovery week” of the program, and its a noticeable drop in intensity and volume. Therefore I deduced that on tired legs I’d be stupid to go out for a run. It would do me FAR more harm than good.

Having previously written about how much walking helped me through my Paris training, I figured I’d brave the baltic conditions of the West Midlands and headed out for a brisk 5k walk. And the mission was a success! My legs feel much better (though still a bit fatigued), calories burned, and it killed an hour.

But those Jantastic badges had better watch out… I’m coming for them next week!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 5 of 18

After nailing last week, my Monday rest day recovered my legs nicely to start this weeks training, which followed the book precisely except for the Sunday Run. P&D wanted a 16 miler with 10 at Marathon pace, and I wanted to, in line with last week, increase that to a total of 18 (Keeping the 10 at marathon pace.

With all that jargon out of the way, here’s how the week looked. Perfectly to plan!


Though that obviously doesn’t tell the whole story. Tuesday’s threshold run was a particular challenge. The longest session of that type and sustained intensity I’ve ever done, and by the end of the 5 miles in the middle I knew about it! I was a little quicker than threshold, which I hope was effective enough to make it a worthwhile session.

Wednesday was a 5 miler at recovery pace, but it was much harder than it should have been. With hindsight I recognise that cold and windy conditions didn’t help, but the main driver for it being a struggle was just lack of sleep. 2 early (4.45 alarm!) wake up calls in 3 days and I haven’t been having the best quality sleep either.

Thursday saw an improvement, compared to Thursday, with 10 miles of general aerobic running. As it was around Coleshill it was a bit flatter than usual and my splits were nice and consistent.

As I was volunteering I was unable to add to my parkrun tally this week, though Jodie managed to secure yet another brilliant PB! I went for a 5 mile recovery run in the evening instead. Clear skies, cold crispy weather it really was a lovely evening for a run.

Then came the big one. I was apprehensive (Or scared, one or the other…) about the session. 18 miles with 10 of them at Marathon Pace. But what a session! I started the run at a nice slow pace (9:15s) and increased it by 15s per mile until I reached Marathon Pace. So far so good. I ran up through Ham Hill and down into Stoke-sub-Hamdon, and through to Montacute where I called in for a bottle of water. Up until then I felt really good and really comfortable. But it was like after that I tried to compensate for the short stp and it became a bit tougher then. Unsurprisingly, the last 3 miles at MP were quite hard, givn the elevation profile, but all in all a very good, very pleasing session. I came away feeling confident – 275m of elevation in that run so it looks like I can possibly make y target! But there’s a long way to go yet.

After week 1 of Jantastic, they were kind enough to award me some badges!

For achieving 100% in any week in January
For being a top 10% most consistent scorer in my location
For ranking my workouts as “Ready to Go Go Go!”
For claiming a Strava workout

OK, they are meaningless, but I am still LOVING them. Unlike last year as well, you can now see what you need to do in order to win the badge. So I have my eye on a few – I hope to achieve ALL the available badges by the end of the challenge. And by available, I obviously exclude the cycling and swimming badges, and also the “Silver and Bronze” versions of the top awards.

Next week sees a drop in volume and intensity as its a recovery week – hopefully the last few weeks training will see some “supercompensation” in this recovery!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 4 of 18

New year, new start, and the first week of Jantastic! Marathon training week 4 was identical to the P&D 18/55 training plan with one exception – My long run was 16 miles instead of the plan’s 15.


Tuesday was a bit of a challenge. With my working scenario now generally involving a long commute on a Tuesday, I’m not normally home til 6.30, so getting motivated to do an 8, 9 or 10 miler is difficult as I know I’ll be out for an hour and a half.

But goals don’t achieve themselves so i headed out for my 8 miler with strides. And I’m so glad I did! Its the second time I’ve done this session and I really enjoyed it. My stride splits were rapido and its nice to know I can run that fast, albeit in very VERY small chunks! Must be good for my fast-twitch.

Wednesday was a 5 mile recovery run and I ran it with Jodie. She is continuing to impress me – she did 17 miles on Sunday (Her longest ever) she barely seems to be fatigued! Very jealous but very proud. She’s well on track for London. I struggled around though and felt better for finishing it.

Thursday saw a 10 mile at general aerobic pace. After the recovery run was a struggle I expected the same here. Thankfully it wasn’t, and goes to show that the recovery runs in this plan are really working for me. I covered 174m of elevation and had some gloriously consistent splits!


Friday was a rest day, but also weigh in day. The post christmas bloat is back under control. I’m about half a stone over where I was at the start of December, but i’m back on track and on target to reach my target weight before Manchester comes around.

On parkrunday I was scheduled for 4 recovery miles, and as Yeovil Montacute was cancelled, we went on tour to Southwick. The intention was to parkrun for 3.1 miles at recovery pace and then top it up by leaving the funnel to do another 0.9 miles. I ended up doing a bit quicker than that and finishing at threshold, but I did do a cool down lap.


Sunday was a 16m long run. After reading the book it said the long runs ought to start at the slow end of your pace zone and end up around 10% slower than marathon pace. With my target marathon pace being 7:30 per mile this meant finishing up at about 8:15s. So with McMillan calculating the slow end of of my pace zone at 9:05, that’s what I targetted as my start pace, then speed up 5s or so a mile. This would take me quicker than the books target, but still within my McMillan zone, which I’ve always trusted and never let me down. And aside from one or two anomalies it went to plan and finished strongly.

Oddly, I thought I had picked a much flatter route than last week – but it was only about 10m less in the end, and felt much less strenuous. Best of all, my legs felt good all day afterwards.

Although it was week 4 of marathon training it was week 1 of Jantastic. The motivational challenge which promotes consistency as an avenue for improvement. I successfully negotiated week 1 with a perfect score, and until it gets to March (When you have to predict a race time) I hope this will continue!


On the whole I am really pleased with my progress through the plan so far. My legs still feel good, and I am in much better shape than I was last year – I had to take a week off as I fell over at Weymouth parkrun and gashed my leg! If I can remain consistent and stay confident my ambitious target is definitely achievable.

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 2 of 18

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! Needless to say as someone who struggles with weight, its been an indulgent festive season. I’ve eaten far too much, but thankfully my training has continued uninterrupted. So whilst I no doubt have gained weight (And I shan’t be finding out how much for a couple of weeks) the running has been consistent.



This is the most disjointed week of planned training, and doesn’t follow P&D too much at all. It was always going to be though – with it being Christmas week, there is always so much going on family visits etc I was pleased to get these all in.

Tuesdays General Aerobic run was splendid, and Introduced me to Strides. Bursts of acceleration to 5k pace (I actually just accelerated to top speed). I felt strong and comfortable and it also involved a lot more climbing than I thought – and didn’t really feel it to much.

Wednesday was meant to be a recovery run, but as Thursday was Christmas Day and I was intending to do the parkrun Chrustmas special, I switched it with Thursday, so it was a 10 mile General Aerobic run in my second home of Basingstoke. I’ve found some really nice routes around there now, and the run felt comfortable.

Thursday was Christmas! Yay! At Basingstoke parkrun they host a Christmas run and it was always my intention to run this if timing allowed it. So although I SHOULD have been recovering, I wanted to run it hard. Furthermore, I wanted to run a sub-20 minute 5k by the end of the year. Unfortunately off the back of 18 miles on the previous 2 days, I didn’t make the sub-20, but I DID set an ALL TIME 5k PB by 5 seconds. On that course, off of 2 long training days, I was very pleased. Jodie also managed to smash her PB at Basingstoke and rather nicely they presented finishers with a christmas medal!

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Saturday was, again, supposed to be a recovery run. But still being in Hampshire, the opportunity for parkrun tourism was rife, and it would have been my last chance to go sub-20. We went to Woodley parkrun, as Kerri, who interviewed me for the parkrun show, is the Event Director there. She wasn’t present, instead touring in Southampton. She told me Woodley was very flat, so thought sub-20 was more likely. But alas, it was not to be. I knew the opportunity had gone after the first kilometre, and instead treated it as a threshold run. The course WAS flat, but there was a lot of muddy field I didn’t have much grip on, my legs were tired and it was absolutely FREEZING. C’est la vie!

Finally, Sunday was the Gutbuster. P&D would have had me doing a traditional long run, but Jodie bought me this race entry for my birthday. And what fun it was! It was cold, hilly and muddy 10 miler. There was a ford which few people ran through (Though me and Jodie did) and a brilliant medal at the end. No way a PB course but certainly a lot of fun and great motivator to keep you focussed over christmas and stop you indulging TOO much. I ran a creditable 1:18:57, and could have gotten a little quicker but had a seriously bad tummy and was praying for a portaloo for the second half of the race which, alas, didn’t arrive! As you can see from the photos below, Jodie also ran and did incredibly well. The race was brilliantly organised, has a fun, friendly atmosphere, superb medal and mulled wine and mince pies at the finish – first class event!

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So Week 3 starts tomorrow and is back to the proper structure of the plan with minimal of my own mods. Though we are doing a New Years Day parkrun double – so will need to fit those in as part of another session.

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 1 of 18

So my Marathon Training plan, (18 weeks, up to 55 miles from the Advanced Marathoning book by Pfitzinger and Douglas) has officially kicked in. The first week is done and dusted and I couldn’t be happier. 3 key sessions this week aside from the rest and recovery runs, but had to do some shuffling around to accommodate work and Christmas parties!

The calendar shows me planned runs vs actual runs.


With the P&D plan, you shouldn’t run the day after a long run. However, this was week 1 and I didn’t run on Sunday, so running my Lactate Threshold run on Monday was OK. As I knew I would be travelling back from Birmingham on Thursday I knew I wouldn’t be able to get in a 9 miler, and as I had a rest day on Tuesday, I switched out the Wednesday and Thursday runs.

According to the actual plan, Saturday should have been a 4m Recovery run, but as we were away for the weekend and the opportunity was there for some parkrun tourism, we went to the beautiful Lanhydrock parkrun instead.

What an amazing course and a brilliantly friendly team! It was a real toughie, with the second half being all uphill aside from a quick downhill finish. Got some brilliant photos too.

Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_003

And the cafe was magnificent! Highly recommend this run, well worth the travel!

Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_022

The week was rounded off with a 13mile Medium Long Run with 8m at Marathon Pace. This was the key session of the week and the one that filled me with the most apprehension.

According to the book, the run is supposed to start at your long run pace, and crank it up speed wise to run the last x miles at intended marathon pace. I modified it slightly so I had a mile cool down back at long run pace before finishing up. My main issue was being worried about running at marathon pace in the middle of a long run – but I needn’t have been. That may change as the runs get longer but this session I just nailed.

The first 4 miles I increased the speed by 20s per mile and found the sub 3.20 marathon pace (7.36m/m), maintaining a good cadence and keeping a reasonably consistent pace in spite of nearly 200m of elevation.

So all in all I can look back on week 1 happy with my efforts, raring to go into week 2 (Christmas week!) high on confidence.

Here’s some more photos from Lanhydrock.

Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_010 Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_011 Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_018 Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_016 Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_10_13_14_Pro Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_023 Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20141220_019



Marathon training starts here! My strategy

Time Every man needs a plan, and this is mine.Well, in spite of unceremoniously uttering “never again…” after completing the Paris Marathon in April, the bug caught me again. After many months seeing my running improve, I want to better my time. Its amazing how ego comes into play to overrule any thoughts of historic pain and agony!

I signed up a few months back, along with Simon and a few others. Jodie managed to make it into London so it means we’ll be training together. Well, we’ll be training at the same time at least.

I’ve spent the last month or two researching different training plans. I had a great deal of success following the Bupa training plans in the past – they’ve delivered many PBs in the last year, and I certainly need the discipline and structure of a training plan to keep my running balanced and focused. But following Bristol’s half marathon PB, I’ve set my sights quote high. After much deliberation I settled on the Advanced Marathoning 18 week up to 55 miles per week training plan, by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas.

As that’s not a particularly snappy name, it often goes by the name “P&D 18/55”, which is much shorter to write!

It has been tried and tested, and comes highly recommended on the Runners World forums. Not to mention, its from the same book Steve Way used to run his first marathon! Though he did the “Up To 70 miles” version.

I could of course have just mindlessly followed the training plan, but I would have: a) Not learned anything. And b) Not understood how to effectively alter the plan when things go off track. Which would have inevitably resulted in c) Abject failure.

On the surface, it seems pretty complicated. There are some difficult terms to get your head around and aside from my “Lactate Threshold” and “Marathon Paced” runs, I’m still not QUITE sure what my pace zones will be – but I’m going to use common sense (As well as the trusty McMillan Calculator). Overall, I must make sure my easy runs are easy.

Unlike a lot of training plans, P&D promote marathon paced running during the long runs, something which excites and scares me in equal measure. Whilst I know compared to my recent half times this is well within my comfort zone, sandwiching it in as part of an 18 miler is a bit scary!

Although I want to follow a structured well designed training plan, I have made some tweaks. For example, I wanted to get more 20 milers in after reading that around 5 is the optimum number, so I have modified the long run routines a bit to reflect this, as well as included some “races” which i’ll run at training paces – Its nicer to run with others than it is on your own!

Also, the plan has several “Tune Up Races” on Saturdays. parkrun isn’t really long enough for this purpose, so I have added some tempo type running in the mix there instead to simulate a hardish race effort. Instead, I have incorporated the Reading Half as my “Test Race”. My target is to run this in under 90 minutes. If I can achieve this, then I will be on track to hit my end goal.

Another element that ought to help me with my overall training strategy – weight loss. My target weight to hit for the race is 12st13lbs, which should be 1 stone less than my weight at the end of the year. This equates to losing less than 1lb per week, a very sensible weight loss. However, If I can lose it a bit quicker, I can focus on proper nutrition and energy in the month or so pre-race.

Finally – my greatest improvements and focus seemed to come when I was accounting for my running and diet on a weekly basis in this blog, before I got lazy and reported monthly. So I am determined to write a weekly report, every Monday (In place of a run – its a rest day after all!) of how things have been going.

So with all that that said, here is my masterplan.

Endurance Mesocycle (17 to 12 weeks to go)

Also referred to as “Base building”  this starts preparing the body to endure the rigours of a tough training program, building the miles and mixing in some threshold training.


December is a tricky month. I’ve made several tweaks here but you can see the focus is largely on General Aerobic type of runs. Christmas week is a bit special and I’m going “parkrun mad”. I’m hoping for some final end of year PBs, and they are short enough for recovering from the tough efforts quickly so not to affect the longer runs – at least thats the plan!

Lactate Threshold + Endurance Mesocycle (11 to 7 weeks t go)

This phase builds on the endurance phase and introduces more work at the Lactate Threshold (LT). Many sources believe training at or around your LT is the best way to improve your race performance. You can get properly tested to identify your LT, but I tend to use the approximate value that McMillan Running’s paces calculator tells me.


You can see there is either an LT run or an MP (Marathon Paced) run on a weekly basis here. It also introduces a VO2 Max workout, basically hard intervals in the middle of a longer run. But more on that later!

Race Preparation (6-3 weeks to go)

The portion focuses on speed. There is a VO2 max interval workout each week to increase raw speed performance. This is also where I have my practise race to check my pace is where it needs to be, and I’ll also use it to check my hydraton and nutrition – the gels I use in Reading will be the gels I use in Manchester.


Taper and Race (3 to 0 weeks to go)

The plan follows a pretty standard 3 week taper. Reducing the training volume whilst maintaining intensity. I’m a bit concerned about running the day before the race, but in for a penny in for a pound! Its been tried by millions so might work out OK!



P&D have a 5 week recovery phase. I’m not sure how patient I’ll be with this, but I can promise to follow this for 2 weeks minimum. Plenty of recovery runs and light on intensity. If anything, I may try and bank a speedy 5k in here, after building my fitness so much I’m sure I’ll be able to give it a blast!