Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts on Advanced Marathoning ...

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,



  1. I hadn't heard of that plan. Sounds awesome!!
    Whatever your doing---it's working.
    Ya I'll be checking into it further.
    Happy [almost] new year!!!

  2. I'm not sure what is more impressive.

    Your miles or your reading the first half of the book.

    This plan is certainly working for you, no doubt.

    When the marathon becomes a priority again (2013?) then I will certainly be looking into this book. I learned a lot about the marathon and my training and end of year marathons from 2011.

  3. I never read the first half if a training book, I always skip rig to the plan! Haha. Seriously, that book looks good, am going to add it to my cue

  4. Woah.... people actually read those books?!

    I have mentioned this at some point but I have found that for my body to get naturally faster for long distances (i.e. 26.2) I need to over train.

    Over train sounds kinda funny... because it is all relative in life.

    70MPW does not sound insane to me. You see, if you want to be fast you need to put your body at it's limits to actually build speed and endurance. Most people don't try to hit hard time goals at this distance, they merely want to finish... so to them 70mpw is insanity.

    You won't catch me running that much this year... nope. I like my knees and back just the way they are right now ;)

    Hang in there man, reaping what you sow will be oh so F-in sweet in just a short amount of time!!!

  5. Dude, you are a machine! Look out Boston! Thanks again for helping me out the other day, I really appreciated it!

  6. Holy shit dude! 252 miles in December?! That shit cray...

  7. I've used the 12/55 plan before with success, but I found when I went to lower mileage with more intensity that I had better results. Although I have wondered what high mileage would do again. I guess it's just all about variety.

  8. Great post Jeff! Keep the ball rolling man. It makes me wonder if it's a male thing to skip right to the plans at the back (just like not needing driving directions)? I've got plastic tabs all over my book(s) and I use this book as well as Daniels Running Formula as my two "go to" references.

  9. I actually just downloaded this book last night and started reading it. I have heard lots of great things about it and have been looking to focus on the marathon distance for 2012. I need to build my mileage base back up but I may be trying out the 12/55 plan for my first marathon in 2012.

  10. Holy Moly... those are serious miles you are putting into your training. Its looks very technical to me as a beginner. I am still trying to figure out how to lace my shoes!

    I will enjoy following your training.

  11. Sooo in the burn-out mode right now. I'll have to check out this book. Glad the training's going well.

  12. Yes! I love that book. A few of my friends have used it successfully. It has amazing detail about what works and why like you said. Best of luck to you again!

  13. Heard good things about Pfitzinger's plans, but they are too high mileage for me. I'm going to try Jeff Horowitz' plan for my fall ultra and see how that goes. Have a great New Year Jeff!

  14. Nice book review Jeff. I'm putting that on my "to read" list. Really impressive mileage you've been pounding out too! Can't wait to read about the race.

    I like the Google spreadsheet idea. I'm putting my half ironman training plan in so I can access it anywhere from my phone.

  15. I will be in the market for a plan come spring. Building a base these days. I will give advanced marathoning due consideration when the time arrives.

  16. I heard great things about that book too and actually got it last year. But, like you, I was training for IMAZ and didn't really have the chance to read it. BUT, this year, my focus will be more on running so I'm definitely going to give it a read. I'm glad to hear it's working for you!!

  17. Nice review! I should read this book... oh wait!

    I totally got into the first half of the book. Absolutely loved it. When I get some free time, I'm going to do a similar plan. Gotta get registered and book some flights first though.

  18. You may be liking my bike volume but I'm loving your run volume. Awesome dude.

  19. I think P.P. is a genius at marathon training and clearly it is working for you. Can't wait to see where it takes you this year!

  20. Thanks for sharing! That is a really interesting plan.