Last year around this time I was in the middle of Ironman Training and not really enjoying running all that much (all that much = not at all). With the increased training workload I was finding each run to be mentally and physically exhausting. I needed help.
Knowing I had four more months of Ironman training I started to look for answers as to why doing something I once loved had become such a chore? Was it just the accumulated volume that was weighing on me or was it something else?
So I hit the endurance message boards and over and over again people were recommending a book called, Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. I downloaded it an begun to dig in!
The opening of the book tells you that you can basically skip over all written chapters and go right to the training plans in the second half of the book.
This is what I did.
The back section included three weekly volume training plans presented in the form of: 55miles per week, 70miles per week, and 70+ miles per week. You could choose a 12 or 18 week version of these three plans.
My first reaction was that the "easy" plan was 55mpw!!! People do that? I was in the middle of Ironman training and was usually around 30-35mpw and this felt like a lot. Triathlon had been my focus over the last few years and I never realized how much went into stand alone marathon training. Ignorance was bliss, I guess?
Instead of pushing the book aside I decided to do something drastic - read the first half!
I sat down and started in and the book basically explained what the training plans would accomplish. Chapters on nutrition, training, and recovery all presented in a clear and concise manor made me realize something - I knew very little about running, especially for the marathon distance!
It also answered the questions I was having about my lack of desire to strap on the sneakers: I really had no idea what the hell I was doing! This book changed the way I attacked each run and made me think in terms of "why" each run was being done and what it would accomplish. Pfitzinger also made it easier for me to understand what I needed to be eating before and after workouts and how glycogen levels were integral to performance. Even though this book is for marathoners the principles covered really applied to all forms of endurance sports so it got applied to my Ironman training.
After all this information was absorbed I decided that after Ironman was done a serious attempt at running a Boston Qualifying time was going to happen and one of Pfitzinger's plan was going to be my guide.
Fast-forward to today and I am over half-way through the 18wk/70mpw plan. Over the first 10 weeks of this plan my running performance has increased to levels once never thought possible. Now do not misunderstand, this plan is not easy and definitely not for everyone. I'd recommend you have a solid volume base in endurance sports over a couple of years. Just for a reference of the amount of work required, for the month of December I have ran 252 miles and over 650 miles the last three months.
But if you are serious about getting faster at the marathon distance and the training volume above seems realistic then you should probably check this book out.
Click Here to see my 18wk/70mpw plan on a Google Spreadsheet. I also included my recommended training paces.
Happy Running and Happy New Years!
Thanks for Reading,