Intermediate Level - Moderate Effort Marathon Training Plan


This is an intermediate level 24 week moderate training effort competitive marathon program that uses one workout per day/six days per week. This marathon training program that is designed for intermediate level marathon runners with some competitive experience. This program includes high intensity workouts, weekly long training runs and high intensity strength training.  The 24 week program begins with a long run base of 6 miles.


Running Workouts


There are ten specific types of running workouts in this program:


Endurance Runs - This type of run is also known as aerobic conditioning. Endurance runs make up the highest percentage of overall mileage for a distance runner. Endurance runs build your overall endurance, increase your blood volume, improve your ability to store energy supplying fuel, and improves the ability of your system to deliver oxygen to your muscles. These workouts are performed at about 55 to 75 percent of your VO2 max (your body’s ability to process oxygen). This pace should feel easy and “conversational” in nature.


Lactate Turnpoint Runs - These workouts, which are also called anaerobic conditioning, are intended to improve your body’s ability to process accumulating lactic acid to produce energy. They also improve your ability to continue to run with rising potassium levels (a cause of running fatigue). LT runs are typically performed at between 75 percent and 90 percent of your VO2 max. Your LT pace is about 2 to 4 percent slower than 10K pace. These workouts are performed at or near 10K race pace because you are flooding your system with lactic acid and potassium at that pace, which makes 10K pace very efficient at improving your LT.


Progressive Runs - Progressive runs are a workout that combines endurance training, tempo training, lactate turn point training. When performing progressive runs you should start at an easy endurance pace and gradually increase your pace through out your training run. Increase from endurance pace to lactate turnpoint pace through all but the final mile of your progressive run. Then speed up to speed or 5K pace for the final mile. For example, if you are doing a 6 mile progressive run you should start at endurance pace and gradually speed up to lactate turnpoint pace through the first 5 miles. Then speed up to goal 5K pace for the final mile.


Speed Runs - These workouts are also known as aerobic capacity training. Speed runs are performed at between 90% and 100% of your VO2 max which is between your speed pace or 5K race pace and your vVO2 max or 3K race pace. Improving this pace will increase your fitness, speed, endurance and speed endurance.


Sprint Training - This workout is not the same type of high intensity running that a sprinter would do. Sprint training for a distance runner involves running at very high intensities of between 100 and 125 percent of VO2 max. These workouts should be performed at a nearly “all out’ but relaxed pace. You should concentrate on maintaining good form and a smooth, fluid stride. The purpose of these types of workouts are to improve your top running speed, running strength, running economy and neuromuscular conditioning or the ability of your brain to communicate with your muscles.


Hill Training - One of the best ways to improve your running strength and running economy is through the use of hill running. Hill running also helps improve your LT pace


Long Runs - These runs improve your endurance, goal pace endurance and mental toughness. They also improve your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel and conserve carbohydrates. Long runs are performed at an easy pace, goal pace or a combination of the two paces.


Goal Pace Training - One of the most important and often forgotten competitive training paces is goal pace running. Goal pace training will improve your goal specific neuromuscular function and make you a more efficient runner at goal pace.

Strides - Strides are a form of sprint training that is often done just before a post training cool down. In this program, strides are 100 meter runs in which you start your stride at a moderate pace and smoothly accelerate to full sprint pace at about 80 meters. You then use your forward momentum to “coast” the final 20 meters.


What about tempo runs? Most training program depend heavily upon tempo training runs. Tempo runs are moderate to long distance run that are performed at between marathon pace and about 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace. Tempo training intensity is slightly less than lactate turn point intensity. The purpose of tempo running is to improve your ability to run long distances at paces that produce a significant amount of metabolites without the limiting factor of reaching your lactate turn point. Why doesn’t this program include tempo runs? It does - this program uses many goal pace training workouts. Your marathon goal pace is on the low end of tempo run pace. We use this tempo pace because it is critical to develop your neuromuscular efficiency at your goal marathon pace.


Strength Workouts


The second category of workouts in this training program are strength workouts. Strength training is important for runners because it helps prevent injury, improve your impact resistance, improve your running economy and build your speed and power. Strength training workouts fall into one of three types:


General Strength - General strength workouts build your overall body strength and provide a base for the more specific types of strength training.


Running Specific Strength - These are strength building exercises that target your running specific motions and muscles


Plyometrics - Plyometrics are high intensity strength exercises and drills that are explosive in nature and are great for improving running economy and power.



Your Training Paces


This program uses 6 different training paces. Five actual training paces and a distance runners sprint pace. The 5 paces are the critical paces for improving running performance. Specific training paces for your goal time are provided in the tables at the end of this chapter. The five training paces are:


Endurance Pace, goal pace, lactate turnpoint pace, speed pace and vVO2 max pace. This plan includes a complete description of each pace as well as your specific training paces for goal finishing times between 2:10 (two hours 10 minutes) and 6:00 (six hours)


Please click here for a sample training week.


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