Monday, June 25, 2012

Training Like An Elite

Lately I've been doing a lot of reading on elite runners and their training schedules.  I've also decided to do a "Train Like The Kenyans" speed training class in a few weeks with Michael and a local running group.  Some of my training has become a little stagnant so I'm looking for new ideas.  And while I'll never run at the speed or fitness level of these elite runners, I figure it can't hurt to try and model as much of my training after them as possible.

Last week I ran across an old blog (check it out here) from elite runner and 2:20:02 (5:25/mile) marathoner Jeff Gaudette.  Coach Gaudette posted his log from a two week section of training for the 2007 Twin Cities Marathon.  I found his comments and notes from the workout very interesting.  These two weeks are from a 16 week training cycle, specifically the last 4th & 5th weeks before the marathon (the week after this one was three weeks before the race). Jeff averaged about 140 miles in each of the weeks, which were his mileage peaks for the cycle.  Below is a spreadsheet I put together outlining the workouts - the week starts with Monday (Saturday on week one should read Run #1 12@7:00)...

Of course, I was blown away by the speed and overwhelming volume of his runs, but after you get past that, there are a few great principles I think we can learn from his training.

1) He ran two speed/tempo workouts per week - one on Tuesday and the other on Friday.  His Tempo work was about 10-15 seconds below his marathon pace goal, and his speed work was 20-25 seconds below, in shorter bursts.

2) He had one long run (Sunday of the first week on this chart) of 24 miles which was about 15 seconds slower than his goal marathon pace.

3) All other workouts - both morning and evening runs - were about 1:30 SLOWER than his marathon pace.

4) You don't see it on this chart, but in the blog posting, he also mentions that he "needs to spend more time in the gym strength training".

The thing that struck me the most was that he only "killed it" with his pace twice a week.  All other runs were significantly slower than his marathon pace.  So for example, if YOUR marathon goal pace is an 8:00/mile - to train like this elite runner, most of your runs would be around 9:15-9:30/mile.  Essentially building a base at a slower, more manageable pace.  Speed runs would be around 8:30/mile average pace, and tempo runs would be around 8:50 or so - but only twice a week.

Also, it seems that most elite runners run twice a day.  My friend Pat, who at age 51 ran a 1:20 half marathon a few weeks ago, told me that double runs teach your body to run on tired legs.  About a month ago I started adding more and more double runs (AM & PM) to my schedule and I can already feel a difference in my leg strength and stamina.  I've dabbled with double runs before, but it's really something that I'm going to mix in 3-4 times a week this summer during the 16 weeks leading up to my fall marathon.

Just thought you might enjoy the elite athlete's training plan.  Hope your training is going well!
... be great today!


  1. I know I really need to add in double runs, but I hesitate to slow my running down anymore. I do several slow and easy runs a week, but not quite that slow, and not quite that often. But it seems to me that I just adjust to that speed and never improve. When a "fast" day rolls around, it feels difficult for me compared to the easy runs.

  2. I've read some of Jeff's stuff and I think he has some really great philosophies. I know I am guilty of running my longer runs/easier runs too fast at times due to the group I run with (it just happens in a pack!). I am making a conscious effort to do more solo running this year to keep that effect to a minimum. I also love doubles and do them every marathon training cycle.

  3. Great post Jim! I credit my ability to shave 20 minutes off of my marathon time in one year by training like an elite. The smartest decision I ever made with my running was to join and watch how elites train. Luckily for me Jake Krong took me under his wing and taught me how to train correctly. I will never be an elite runner but that doesn't mean I can't train like one. :)

  4. Very interesting! Thanks for this post!

  5. Ya know, I think I've only done twice a days once, maybe twice. Back when I was training for my first marathon. I'm gonna do them more though when I run my first ultra next year.


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