Marathon Training: Week 14

Need for speed

With just over 9 weeks ‘til the Queenstown marathon, it’s time for the speed and power phase of our schedule.


This week, Duncan our Subaru manager, is finally feeling some freshness as he prepares for the Queenstown marathon. It’s time to change up a gear for the speed and power phase of our schedule.


Over the last 14 weeks we’ve built up some basic fitness, lots of endurance, but most importantly, some solid strength. If we now add some speed to that strength, we’ll start to develop the power we need to run at race speed for the marathon distance.


Of course we’ll also continue to develop endurance to go the distance by further increasing the duration of our long, slow Saturday sessions.


Using intervals to develop speed

To develop this speed we’ll be doing 2 sessions of intervals each week on Thursday and Monday. These sessions are challenging, specifically showing our bodies how to run at race speed. Although intervals are hard work, you’ll enjoy the fact that they’re short and sharp, and finished before you know it!


After a 10 to 15 minute warm-up of easy jogging, we’ll run hard for 3 minutes, (just less than full speed). Then we’ll jog nice and easy for 3 minutes, or how ever long we need to get our heart rate back down to below 100 bpm. This recovery between intervals is critically important, so make sure you give it 3 minutes or more of easy jogging, or walking, (but don’t sit down, as we need muscle movement for your lymph system.) Then we’ll repeat this cycle of 3 minutes hard followed by 3 mins easy. This week we’ll just do 2 intervals, and then over the next 7 weeks we’ll ramp it up to 7 or 8 intervals. Of course it’ll be important to warm-down with an easy 15 minute jog and then immediately stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings, gluteals and anything else that’s tight for you.


The intensity or effort for our intervals needs to be at approximately “anaerobic threshold” so that it builds our body’s efficiency at removing and recycling lactic acid and also delivering oxygen to the muscle cells. If you want an ultra accurate measure of the intensity to train at for intervals, you can go a testing lab for accurate lactate testing to determine the corresponding heart rate to train at. But more simply this is roughly just below your maximum, and you’re only able to utter 3 or 4 words before gasping for your next breath.


Ideally we’ll do these intervals up a moderate hill. You could do the intervals up the hill and jog easy back down to the start for recovery.


Coach Arthur Lydiard's principle of only 4-6 weeks

I’m using the principles of famous kiwi coach Arthur Lydiard as we enter this phase of interval training. Lydiard, who trained world champions such as Walker, Halberg, Dixon, Quax, Taylor and Snell, maintains that we only need 4 - 6 weeks of interval training to bring our cardiovascular systems to optimal race performance. Longer than this and it’s likely to induce mental staleness, because interval training is quite challenging.


However, you’ll be able to really enjoy this extra challenge, knowing that it’s putting the “icing on your cake”. You’ve been committed to this goal now for several months, you’ll be well and truly feeling the benefits of that extra fitness, and there are only a matter of weeks now to the satisfaction of reaping what you’ve sown by running the marathon.


As you’re digging deep for those intervals, Time Trials and long Saturday sessions, you’ll be able to smile from inside, knowing you’re using the world champion proven Lydiard principles.


Go for it!


Week fourteen training schedule:

Remember to join us for strength and conditioning on Wednesday nights, 5:30pm. Meet at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton.


Thursday 18th Sept

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 2 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes


Friday 19th Sept

Rest day (optional swim or bike or yoga or gym)


Saturday 20th Sept

2 hrs and 45 mins; long, easy endurance run /jog.

Start at 8 am.

Eat breakfast 2 hours prior.

Pace yourself to jog or run the entire time, (no walking) to show yourself the discipline for race day.

Soft trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc to avoid injury.

Stretch straight after, and ideally get a massage to aid recovery.


Sunday 21 Sept

Easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 60 to 90 mins. Make it scenic and fun.

Important to make it easy, to help recovery from yesterday’s long session.

Alternatively, an easy bike ride or swim.


Monday 22 Sept

Warm-up jog; 15 minutes

Intervals x 2 of the following.

3 mins hard; pace, unable to converse. Ideally up a hill

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 15 minutes


Tuesday 23th Sept

Warm-up 10 mins brisk walk or easy jog.

Time Trial #11. Aim to beat last week’s time. Do this in the morning if possible.

Warm-down 10 mins walking. Record your time.


Wednesday 24th Sept

Steve’s Strength and conditioning clinic:

5:30pm sharp! til 6:30 pm Meet 5:25pm at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.

Alternative: 60 mins, easy pace jogging with fartlek = speed play.. with 4 x 5 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

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