The Sub 3:30 Marathon Experiment

Feb 2020 Update:

February saw the training continue but has been a tricky month. The weather was hard to fight against with long runs lost to the elements. The temperature has been up and down and it’s been harder to get out first thing in the morning to keep churning out the miles. But I plodded on with my marathon training plan with the Ultra twist.

I managed to put in a few couple of 20 miler runs. One on road and one trails around Wendover Woods – a real highlight in the month for me. I tried to push one of them to my marathon pace. I aim to hit 8 minute miles to get around Brighton Marathon in 3:30. On the 2nd Feb I put in just over 18 miles at an average pace of 7:31 per mile. comfortably within marathon pace. this was on roads so close as I can to race day. I also employed the relatively new Levitate 2 in orange. So that was fabulous, that has given me renewed confidence of achieving the task in hand.

The highlight around Wendover woods has been something I have been thinking of and planning for a while. It has appeared on many searches, Facebook posts and there are a lot of events. Being a trail fan I got the feeling I needed to try it out. So on 20 Feb I packed up the car early and rolled up to Wendover woods, arriving in a rain shower and to be only the second car in the car park.

I packed a drink some snacks and took on the 10 mile circuit from Centurion Running. Well as best I could. the route includes some of path routes which were not always easy to find, let alone follow. I did two loops, pausing in the car park for a snack renewal half way. I pulled in just under 20 miles and achieved over 4000 feet of gain. It was a real challenge with some serious poor weather making it incredibly wet, slippery and windy. But I loved every step and every second of it. A trail runners dream I would say.

Theres only a smidge left of February, and I plan to put a small pre-race warmup 5K in for that on the 29th. I’m in the Big Half on the 1st March, to take on my first race of the year. I’ve taken part in the first two years of the big half and at the moment I intend to they and take part each year, until I forget and book another race the same day, or they introduce a ballot for which I have zero success with so far!!

Oh and the New York Marathon ballot was drawn on the 26th. Big fat no for me, will try again and maybe next year I’m lucky.

For March in in two events (Big Half, Maverick Buckinhamshire) and I need to build my training a little towards completion. Early April starts with the Reading Half too.

my distances for the last 6 months are below, Jan was a highlight and feb a little low.

I’ve also included the last 12 months trace for VO2 max as this has shown a nice trend and I’m really pleased with how that has developed.

So the month is up and we go again. Brighton is not far away and the thought of breaking that 3:30 barrier is front of my mind when I get out running. This could be the year for making it happen, and I certainly won’t miss the target through not trying.

Jan 2020 Update:

So training has started as of 1st Jan. In order to make a 15 minute improvement in my marathon time I’ve got to make some noticeable improvements in my training. 15 minutes is a big deal, that won’t come without some effort. So I’ve started to follow the Runners World sub 3Hr 30min training plan which is 5 runs most weeks, a mix of easy effort twice a week, mid to high effort twice a week and a long run. Now to confuse the situation I am running a 106Km ultra 2 weeks after Brighton. So a marathon plan alone isn’t going to give mt the mileage I need for the ultra. So I’ve decided to modify the plan a bit. Firstly 5 runs a weeks has become 6. Long runs starting around 9 miles and working up to 20 are starting at 10/15 miles and work up to 30 miles prior to marathon day. Finally I have opted to take the short easy runs (3-5 miles) and add an extra mile on. What that has meant is that week 2 totalled 45+ miles already and im likely to hit 60+ miles training weeks before I get to Brighton.

Progress though has been encouraging. My training runs were often mixed with some real high pace (for me around 3:30 per km/5:40 min per mile but also regularly 5:30 min per km/8:51 min per mile. So far after nearly completing 3 weeks of training my tuns are averaging 7:47 min per mile which equates to 4:50 min per Km. an average that is much faster than I used to run at. And it feels OK. I’m not finding it a real struggle and I’m not finding I’m on the edge of what I can do. A good indicator of where I am now is my rent long run at the end of week 2 – 17.06miles averaging 7:57 min per mile which, in a training run, is probably one if not the fastest run over 15 miles. And I still felt strong and could have carried on. My splits were good and I wasn’t flagging at the end.

So it’s going well. Im enjoying the training and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. Building the miles further and looking to see my pace hopefully improve a bit to underpin my hope of making my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon. Fingers crossed!

Dec 2019 Update:

Brighton 2019

2019 – my first Marathon year.

Brighton – April

3 Hours 44 min 7 seconds

Write Up here

2020 – the. 3:30 marathon experiment begins!

In 2020 I aim to try an push 15 minutes off my Marathon PB and go under 3Hrs 30min. For many that’s an easy target, for more thats far too fast – we all have different targets which are all as challenging and significant on a personal level. Mine just happens to be 3:30, yours might be 2:30 or 4:30 or 5:30 – we all have our own goals to work to.

I’ve drawn uo a training program using Excel which is based on the Runners Worlds Training program for a sub 3:30 marathon. The link for that Runners World training plan online is here:

https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/marathon/a760129/rws-ultimate-marathon-schedule-sub-330/

What I have done is prepare a spreadsheet with all my runs listed and then built a training program about delivering the ones I want to target for performing well at.

Currently my training program focusses on hitting Brighton Marathon on form for a sub 3:30 time. 16 weeks starting in the new year.

Over time I will build out the rest of the year too but for now, and for the purpose of this blog I am focussing on Brighton.

If you want to see the training program or wonder if my template might be useful then you can download it below.

Notes on the plan:

I have-it most sessions in as the below example:

1M/@9, 3x(0.5M/@6,200m@10),1M/@10

This translates as:

1 mile at 9min/mile followed by 3 repeats of – 0.5 miles at 6 min/mile then 200 metres at 10min/mile – cool down 1 mile at 10 min/mile

I have also included an adjacent column for the approximate total training time. For me thats also key as time is not so easy to find sometimes and knowing a good idea of the time I’m committing to a training session means I can better plan and work around training days.

I plan to put routine updates on this blog post during my training. Compare plan to actual, record general comments and how things feel. And hopefully come late April 2020 I can report on a successful marathon and breaking that 3:30 barrier.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. cavershamjj says:

    I have the same goal for Brighton. I’m following an intermediate plan off coolrunning.com which is allegedly good for sub 3:30. It’s my first marathon so at least I am guaranteed a PB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nickbr4 says:

      Good luck. Be interested to see how your plan differs from mine. Guaranteed PB is always nice ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ‘

      Like

      1. cavershamjj says:

        I’ll do a post at some point. Basically it has one quality run a week (hills, intervals, fartlek etc) and 5 easy pace runs, 2 light, 2 medium and one long.

        Like

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