2 Weeks of Sub 3 Hour Marathon Training: This Is Easy (For Now)

After having successfully completed training for an Ironman almost a year ago (good god, it’s been that long??), the first 2 weeks of training to run a sub 3 hour marathon at the Baltimore running festival has been a breeze.

That also, shouldn’t be surprising considering in 2 weeks, I have run a grand total of 22 miles. Which means that in 336 hours, I’ve run less mileage than I (hope?) plan to run in 3 hours 10 weeks from now.

That, however, is no cause for alarm (I hope) as I’m moving along exactly according to plan.

Running 4 days during the week (1 more day than I ran during Ironman training), and squatting twice a week to maintain some leg power, has proven to be relatively ‘easy’ from a recovery standpoint. And my main goal over these last 2 weeks (and really even some of the next 2) is to get my legs back under me, and moving with some quickness.

When I was doing all the Ironman specific running, I was running at a “natural” pace of 7:30/mi which is really where I just felt comfortable. Knowing that I need to run this marathon in 6:50/mi or less, well, I don’t get the luxury of being comfortable anymore.

How to run fast and not die

That’s really been the theme of the last 2 weeks.

Like I mentioned in my first post about this training, I’ve needed to incorporate more intervals and upbeat running sessions into my program in order to train for the proper pace.

As such, my 4 days of running look like this:

  1. Monday: Run a short distance (won’t exceed 4 miles) at a comfortable pace, but make sure that pace is 7:30/mi or less
  2. Tuesday: Run a progressively longer distance (ranges from 3-10 miles) with a designated warm up & cool down distance (1-2 miles) and race pace running in the middle, which I’m targeting 6:45/mi.
  3. Thursday: Run a progressively longer distance (ranges from 3-6 miles) with a designated warm up & cool down distance, but with intervals of either 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile race pace bursts
  4. Saturday: Run a long distance (ranging from 4-20 miles) at a comfortable pace, but make sure that pace is 7:30/mi or less

Comparative to my Ironman training, that’s a lot of sprinting.

Good news is, without the added physical stress of swimming & biking, all my training runs thus far have been right around 7:10/mi for the “comfortable” runs, and each run where there’s a 6:45 interval, I’ve been able to hit it.

Most of that is due to the focus of 2 things:

  1. Step cadence
  2. Forefoot landing (& rear push)
  3. Bonus (I got sweet new shoes..)

Run faster with quicker steps

I’m making a conscious effort this time around to keep my step count at or above 170 steps per minute. That’s up about 10/minute compared to most of my Ironman training.

That 170 coupled with a stride length of 1.35m+ gets me under the 6:50 threshold.

1.35m is almost a whole 10th of a meter longer than my average stride length from Ironman training, so that extra 10th plus another 10 steps per minute, gets me at my proper pace.

But Josh, where on earth is all this silly data coming from?

Well, as a resident data nerd, I’ve naturally fallen in love with my Garmin products. I’ve done all my endurance training wearing a Garmin 935 watch, and paired with a Garmin Run Pod, I get all my cadence, step & stride data too.

The Run Pod data gets streamed live to the watch while I’m running so I can see if I’m slacking off, not pushing off well enough, or simply not moving my legs fast enough (this is particularly useful going up or down hill).

Longer strides don’t mean longer strides

What?

Let me explain.

the 1.35m stride length I mentioned is obviously longer than 1.25m. But, that doesn’t mean that my leg has to reach out in front of me .10m further to get there.

In fact, that would be a negative attribute to my running, as it would require me to land more on my mid-foot/heel compared to my forefoot.

That type of strike (heel, for example) increases my risk of injury because it becomes very easy to drop my hip, internally rotate my knee and injure an IT band, OR pull harder with my hamstring/glute and strain that too.

No, increasing stride length that .10m really comes from the push off, not the reach.

The push off power can be increased in 2 ways, simply exerting more effort (not recommended) or pitching the body forward so the center of gravity is ahead of your toes.

Doing this allows you to use the same level of power, but propel yourself forward, vs forward and up.

That directional power allows you to extend the length covered by each stride, without actually lengthening each stride.

*mind blown emoji*

A sub 3 hour marathon can’t happen without a sub 42:20 10k

As I mentioned I haven’t exactly run ‘far’ in the first 2 weeks of training. 4 miles has been the peak, and largely by design to get my legs under me.

From next week onward though, I’ll be increasing my Saturday mileage 2 miles per week from 6 miles on 8/3/19, to 20 miles on 9/29/19.

Next week’s 6 miles I’ll likely end up turning into a 10k (just cause) and will target sub 42:20. That would be a time directly on pace with 6:50/mi, so ideally I can run faster for the shorter period of time.

Guess we’ll find out next week!

Until next time.