Wednesday, May 23, 2007

3 X 20 = Too Much?

Irish Blue and Lisa asked me to share with them the training plan I had. Which I did. TheTeam in Training Coach had given everyone a beginners and intermediate training schedule. I mde the decision that I would use the intermediate schedule because it was closer to my skill level.

I started thinking about the schedule yesterday and the fact that there are three 20 mile long runs on the schedule. The first one is on week 13, the next one is at week 15 and the final 20 mile run is at week 20.

I met another runner at kindergarten graduation last night. She is the sister of one of the other moms, and everyone kept saying we should met... It turns out she is the team captain for the summer Team in Training program. I mentioned that I had three 20 mile runs on my schedule and she said she had never heard of anything like that before.

So, here's the deal. I'm not complaining about this. If I have to run three 20 milers before the race and it will make me a better runner in San Francisco, then I'm totally cool with that and up to the challenge. I would rather be prepared when I running the marathon, as opposed to struggling my way through it. But if I'll be running 20 miles three times just for the sake of running 20 miles, than why?

Any thoughts on this one?


At 2:03 PM, Blogger petra duguid said...

Hey Maddy,
3 x 20mile runs is not uncommon, though not inconsiderable either. It's hard to judge a program simply on the lengths of its long runs - but they are a factor. Some programs have you running further (up to and over 26 miles) and others don't go that far (like the Hansen program). The key is finding out what would work for you. 20M runs are exhausting, and if doing 3 of them will mean that you are so exhausted you can't devote the requisite energy to the rest of that week's training then you've got to ask whether it's worth it. On a personal level - I trained for my first marathon with a very intense program - 6 days a week and 3 x 20M runs. I was exhausted when I started.. For my second I used Hal Higdon's Intermediate I (check out his website for the schedule) and only ran 5 days a week, adding cross training if I felt up to it on the Mondays. I finished Chicago happily and comfortably in 4:17. As for my third marathon - well you know what happened there - there is such a thing as too much undertraining... But seriously, I think it might be wise to pick a slightly less exhausting program for your first marathon - you're always going to set your PB anyway and the key is enjoying the race!

Shirley Perly wrote me a great e-mail about picking a training program and I'm sure she would be happy for me to forward it to you which I will do. I'm still debating whether to go with a "hardcore" training program like the "Advanced Marathoning" program or go with something a bit more manageable, like maybe Hal Higdon Intermediate II (which does, incidentally, have 3 20M runs but enough stepbacks for me to feel I can handle it). We'll see. Let us know what you decide and why - it's really interesting!

At 5:44 PM, Blogger MarathonChris said...

My training program is something of a version of Hal Higdon's matched with some of my personal schedule and Shirley's great advice. My program currently has a 20, 22 and 25 miler in it. Shirley and I discussed this and figure I may not need to run 25 miles (keep it around 20). Last year I did a 20, 22 and 24 miler. They definitely are exhausting runs - but good training for how the marathon will be. In this year's training I am trying to do longer mid-week runs. Last year I maxed out at 8 miles at mid week. To increase the mid week I am trying to run twice in one day (once in am and once in pm). This could ramp me up to 12 miles in the mid week, decreasing dependence on the huge long run on the weekend. Last year I did 5 days of running with 2 rest days (before and after the long run). This year I am doing 4 or 5 days with cross training and strength training added in (did neither last year).

I figure I will keep them in the schedule and see how the training goes. I have room to drop one if I need to.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger ShirleyPerly said...

As both Petra & Chris have mentioned, three 20-milers is not that uncommon in a marathon training program. Many first-timer marathon training programs have only one 20-miler, however, and how many to do is largely dependent on the person and their race goals.

An experienced runner who wants to do more than "just finish" a marathon will usually benefit both physically and mentally from doing more than one 20-miler. Galloway run-walk training programs often include longer than 20 mile training runs because taking regular walk breaks is much easier on the body than pounding continuously and, indeed, the folks who go further in training are more apt to be prepared *if* they are able to do so w/o getting injured. For those who plan to run continuously, going further than 20 miles is often not worth the added risk of injury.

If you find that running three 20-milers is just too much for you, cut back either their number or the mileage (some folks do fine running no further than 16-18 miles in training). It's actually much better to be 10% under-trained than 10% over-trained. A proper taper, cooler S.F. weather and adrenaline on race day will make running 26 miles seem easy compared to your 20 mile training run(s). Trust your training.

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Susan said...

My training plan called for two HORRIBLE 20 mile runs. Gosh they really got me! I had one FABULOUS 22 mile run, but both 20's just really, really got me.

Overall, my training plan rocked. I couldn't have been more pleased with my marathon results. But something about 20... stinks...

At 10:18 AM, Blogger IrishBlue said...

I think I've gone back to doing the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 Schedule. It calls for 2x20 miles, but I'm thinking of making the second one a 22 miler.

Ultimately, I think you'll know after how well the first two 20 milers go whether or not you really need the third one. I think it depends on your goals and how well trained you feel at that time. If you don't feel it would add anything, I wouldn't risk the injury. Too many miles can be just as bad as too few. I think it's important to listen to your body.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger David said...

With my schedule I go with a 3x week plan. It's T-T-Sa/Su with speed-tempo-long at higher rates than a 4x-6x/week plan. I go 20+ three times with step backs. I cheat and add 10% to all tempo and long runs. I was injury free for my last race and felt good throughout. It's really all about listening to your feet and legs and doing what they can handle.


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