Monday, April 6, 2009

Marathon Training Program: Part II: B

CM SEAL Team blogger: Tim Grizzell

There are a number of marathon training programs that you can follow. I have written my own. I have trained under Hal Higdon’s programs and Jeff Galloway’s programs. The main difference between Hal Higdon’s program and Jeff Galloway’s program is that Jeff Galloway promotes a run-walk-run method during the long distance runs (i.e., run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute – this varies depending on your pace) that he considers injury free training. Hal Higdon only suggests walking if necessary and at aid stations. I personally did not like all the “starting and stopping” associated with the Galloway program. However, the Galloway program is a proven program. If I were to personally recommend it to anyone, it would be a true beginner. Keep in mind though, Galloway has had followers post times below 2 hours and 30 minutes using his method.

Most training programs consist of the following type of training:

-Running 3-7 days a week depending on what category you fit in.
-Non-running days incorporate rest and/or an alternate form of exercise
-A long run ranging in distance from 10-20 miles that is normally run at a pace slightly slower than your marathon pace (i.e., 1-2 minutes per mile slower). Usually, most runners complete this on a Saturday or Sunday when they have the most time.
-Mid-week runs generally range from 3-8 miles.

A typical week would look something like this. Please keep in mind that these are average distances. A beginner will run less and an experienced runner might put in more miles each week.

Monday – Rest/Alternate form of exercise
Tuesday – Shorter Run (3-5 miles) and/or Alternate form of exercise
Wednesday – Mid-Distance Run (5-8 miles)
Thursday – Shorter Run and/or Speed Work (3-5 miles)
Friday – Rest/Alternate form of exercise
Saturday – Mid-Distance Run (5-8 miles)
Sunday – Long Distance Run (10-20 miles)

You can move these workouts around to fit your schedule. The most important workout of the week for this training is the weekly long distance run. In addition to the long run, I recommend at a minimum that you do not miss the two mid-distance runs. I suggest that you do not miss any runs at all. If you have to miss some, I would cut out the short ones.

Just remember that there is no substitute for running. If you do not run consistently, you will be breathing like a lung-shot caribou the day of the marathon and potentially putting your health at risk. I said this once before and I will say it again. You cannot phone in the training.

Alternate forms of exercise are very important. The first couple days after the long run it is good to inject some low-impact exercise into your weekly schedule, such as cycling and swimming. Do not forget to continue your strength training (i.e., Perfect Pushups, Perfect Pullups and working your abs).

There is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to training for a marathon. I believe that I have given you a very thorough overview, but I am sure you all have some questions. So – go ahead and fire away.

Next week, I will be discussing one of my favorite topics – running apparel and shoes. Hoo Yah!!

Fired Up!



Joe G. said...

Superb advice.

Question: Tim, can you tell us some specific information about interval training; e.g., wind sprints, and how this discomfort of lactic acid buildup leads to higher performance?

All I know is that it hurts. It burns. It makes you want to vomit if you have anything in your stomach (which is why I NEVER eat or drink anything before running).

My understanding is that, if you run fartleks, for example, which is simply accelerating for brief moments during a normal run, you feel this slight discomfort in your chest and stomach, which grows into SEVERE discomfort in your stomach and chest, which forces you to slow down - sort of like being forced to your knees during Perfect Pushup 2-minute drills - not exactly, but you get the point. With the pushup, you're running out of muscle strength; with a fartlek or wind sprint, you're running out of breath.

So, the question is, what exactly is this feeling? What actually is happening to the body? We're not scientists so YA GOTTA MAKE IT SIMPLE.

You are the man!

Tim Grizzell said...

Hello Joe G.:

Very interesting question!

When I was running track back in the sixth grade, I remember telling my coach that my muscles were sore. I was told that the soreness was the result of lactic acid buildup. I was then advised to stretch more to rid my sore muscles of this “bad” substance. It has since been proven that lactate is in fact a good thing and that it has nothing to do with muscle soreness or stiffness. It is suspected that muscle soreness and stiffness comes from damage to muscle cells.

As you suggested, let us keep it simple. When we exercise (whether it is running or doing perfect pushups), our active muscles need fuel to contract. Lactate is a product of muscle contraction (i.e., fuel burning) and actually helps re-distribute energy from energy-rich inactive muscles to energy-depleted active muscles. It also helps create more energy in the form of blood glucose. So, lactate actually acts as a form of fuel and transporter in the whole muscle contraction process.

How does lactate correlate with high intensity-training (i.e., interval training, perfect pushup two-minute drills, etc.)? As the intensity of exercise increases, so does the rate of fuel consumption by your muscles. At some point, your muscles will produce more lactate than they consume and the residual is kicked to other parts of the body. The more your body is exposed to these high levels of lactate production, the more efficient it becomes at re-distributing energy to and creating energy for the active muscles that need it. Your body’s efficient re-distribution and creation of energy will lead to higher performance. Keep in mind though that too much high-intensity training can lead to over-training.

Most recent research would say that the feeling you refer to is not related to lactate levels in the body and it has more to do with rapid energy consumption. I say that it is all related. At some point, you redline your engine!!

Fired Up,