Sunday, January 18, 2015

My own personalized training plan

When we last checked in with my friend Suze, I was helping her out with a homework assignment for her exercise science and health promotion degree.  She's back at it, this time for an assignment in which she had to create a personalized marathon training plan.  I love nothing more than a random professor somewhere reading of my marathon exploits, so I agreed to be her guinea pig again.

She sent over the completed, 11 page paper tonight and here are a few excerpts:
Scott is a 33-year-old marathon runner.  His first marathon was the Philadelphia Marathon in 2005 at a finish time of 4:29:47.  Since then, he has been diligently reducing his time and ultimately qualified for the Boston Marathon at the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 3:03:05.  His registration was accepted and he plans to run Boston on April 20, 2015.  He therefore requires a 13-week training program with the goal of a personal record (PR).
I'm not actually planning to PR at Boston.  Training through the winter with a baby at home and running a tougher course than Philly will make it difficult to do so, but Suze decided this would work better for her assignment.
Scott's marathon goal time is 2:59:00 (a 6:50 per mile pace [Figure 1]).  The Boston Marathon's elevation involves more hills compared to Philadelphia's relatively flat course (Figures 2 and 3).  Instead of running every day, Scott will now add in a six-week program that includes two days of strength training and one rest day for increased muscle recovery.  After those six weeks, he will switch to a seven-week program with hill sprints and tempo runs to maintain the power output gained earlier.
She goes on to describe sciency things like lactate threshold, voluntary neuromuscular adaptation, and maximal oxygen uptake.

She then describes the steel rigidity of my hamstrings we learned about in her last assignment.
Some special attention will be given to Scott's hamstrings for several reasons. Over-lengthening weakens the muscle as it is in an inefficient position to produce a contraction.  Weak hamstrings is a risk factor for decreased running economy, shortened length stride, and potential muscle or tendon injury... Part of his program will include core stability and stretching of the hip flexors and knee extensors to corect the pelvi tilt and reduce the stretch effect on the hamstrings. Exercises include plank variations, medicine ball throws with a twisting motion, and single-leg bridges.
I've mentioned this on the blog before, but I should reiterate that I've never actually followed a training plan in my life.  Every success I've had in distance running has come down to gut intuition and listening to my own body and experience.  In short, I just make it up as I go.  So it's interesting to have someone take all of my experiences, and where I'm at currently, and apply a scientific look to it.

I can't say I'll go all out for Boston and try everything Suze mentions in her report, but when I do attempt a sub 3 marathon, it'll be nice to have this document to dust off and consult.

In the meantime...


  1. Hahaha when I'm a real coach I'm going to make that a poster and put it on my office wall ;)

    Glad you enjoyed reading my report. I kind of enjoyed making it as well. I'll let you know what my professor says about it. Obviously, if I took into account your life with a baby and the fact that you aren't running for time, I would change things up a bit. Giving you a PR made my life a lot easier and also fit with the theme of my course (training for speed).

    If you ever want me to show you any of those stretches or exercises, you know how to find me. I'm sure I'll need you again for future assignments but you might be off the hook for the spring.


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