Monday, February 20, 2012

Training plan for a Sub-5 Marathon

One of my 2012 target is to run a sub-5 marathon. I put up a training plan and some tips to remind myself on how to do it. Now, 10 weeks passed. I had faithfully stick to the plan for the first few weeks, but after my New Year Newton challenge, things just keep popping up and I didn’t able to follow 100% to the plan.

The plan mainly divided into 2 types of training, mileage/endurance training and target/strength training. Mileage training is those easy run and long run. You basically run at easy pace to accomplish certain mileages in order to build up the endurance. Say you hearth rate stabled at 145BPM around 6:30 pace after your body fully warmed up. It will start increase when you hit your endurance’s limit even you going in the same pace. This training helps to extend the 145BPM @ 6:30 pace for a longer period of time. On the other hand, target training working on your strength with tempo runs and speed works. It will reduce your stabled hearth rate @ 6:30 pace, say to 140BPM by time. Your body is now more efficient at the speed and the heart can relax a bit.

Out of all training plan, my personal preference will be speed work. The feeling of exploration to see how fast you can push your body is great! When my speed approaching the peak at sub 5 minutes pace, the feeling of you are about to take off from ground is just fantastic! This is a zone that I seldom experienced in my previous trainings or even in races. I am not a fast runner. Now I can only stay a very short period of time at this zone, but I think the speed works repeats will improve my running and may be this will be my easy pace one day.

On tempo run, it’s just like a faster easy run. Whenever I waked up late, all easy runs will upgraded to tempo run automatically (some time even to speed works if there is not enough time).

For long runs (which is >26km with easy pace), I never completed both requirements, targeted mileage with the suggested pace. I will either meet the pace with less mileage, or meet the mileage with slower pace. In the last 32km long run, suggested pace is 6:52, but I did with 7:40. Anyway, this is the first time I actually did LSD at 32km. Most (if not all) marathon training plan will propose the longest run of 32km before the actual 42km race. You may ask, how about distances in between 32~42km? After I did the mine, I start to understand the few reasons behind,
1. You need to allocate plenty for these slow long run (a marathoner typically cover 32km in 2.5~4 hours). Apart from commitment on time, running long hours outside may have difficultly to get hydration and food supply.
2. The physical & psychological wall may hit you anytime. You need to put in lots of effort to complete the 32km, and there will be not cheers, finisher medal and finish line awaiting you at the end of the workout. Some time, to deal with the psychological wall is more challenging then the physical one.

The 32km runs will give you a glimpse of the overall effort you needed on the marathon day, without wearing you out in the mid of training. Anyway, there is still a 10km gap to fill up during race day. The theory that normally used is the adrenaline rush on the event day will get you thru the 10km.

Looking at the LSD result, I am not ready for a sub-5 marathon. I will use the next marathon (Energizer Night Race 2012, 21 Apr) to gauge the effectiveness of the training plan, and then adjust accordingly. The target for ENR 2012 will be simple, run the whole 42km with minimum/no walking & complete within 5:44 (timing from SCMS 2011).
Regarding ENR 2012, its organized by 21st Century (who organized the 2011 Putrajaya Night Marathon and many other races). This is one of the reason I joined this race (other reason? There is no other Marathon event until June in Malaysia, how sad). As last year was a total failure, it will be difficult NOT TO IMPROVE in this year event. I am confident that they will do a good job! See you on the starting line :)


  1. Well, for us life does get in the way. But striving towards the goal is already a commendable effort Neoh! :)

    The sub-5 marathon? Which race are you targeting it for? SCKLM?

    All the best at Energizer! :)

    1. Target is to do a sub-5 marathon in this year. SCKLM will be my first attempt. No pressure, got few more Marathon later in the year to try out again if I missed in June :)

  2. Go for it! You are a lot more organized than me. When I first started, I didn't know much about any of the tempo, or interval or LSD until late 2009....
    Keep it up! Hope you get your break through in SCKLM.

    1. I will, and will train hard for that too :)