Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Committing to the 3:15 Marathon with Hal Higdon's Help

For the first time ever, I am trying to closely follow a training guide for the Chicago Marathon on October 9.  This will be my 23rd marathon, and, though I always follow a program for the long runs, I have never followed the speed, tempo, or hill workouts in any training program.  But I do think there is something appealing about being able to commit to a time goal and then lay the foundation to take you there.  I am willing to give it a try.  My usual race-day approach is to start way too fast and try to hang on until the end, and this has led to alot of misery during the last few miles.  Also, I feel like I could improve on my PR with a little more training. 

I decided to try for--well, at least to train for-- a 3:15, or a 7:27 pace.  This is a 3-minute improvement from my PR marathon last February, which was on another flat course.  Last week, I was shocked to notice that we are only 12 weeks away from Chicago!  I quickly looked up programs (after consulting with my "trainer," Rick!).  He recommended Hal Higdon's Advanced 1 program found here, though I am having to modify it since it's a 16-week program.  I started "official" training with a 12-mile long run that left me pretty drained (it is super hot and humid right now here in Alabama).  It's not a good sign to be that beat after only a 12-miler! 

Hal's descriptions state that less than 10% will commit to the advanced programs because they are so demanding.  I am not sure I can stick with it, but it sure helps that some of my friends are on board with also trying the speedwork, tempo, and hill repeats called for by this program.  My most uncertain workout is the weekly marathon pace run, which Hal calls for on the day before the long run.  The day before the long run?  I usually take it easy on that day!  I may have to run some of those pushing a single jogger too.  I certainly would slow the pace down a bit for that though!

Today was a 5x800 speedwork session.  I did not have my friend Julia's advice on how fast to do them (and I had forgotten the recommendations Hal gives on the link above), so they were all over the place as I found my rhythm.  The 800s are much harder to do than the 200s and 400s, and not just because they are longer.  I had so much trouble finding the right pace.

When I got home, I looked up my splits on my watch and averaged them to a 3:15:
3:25, 3:08, 3:11, 3:14, 3:19

And, lo and behold, I looked up Hal's suggestions and read this:
I've prescribed 800 repeats for this program, also done every third week. Run an 800 at faster-than-marathon pace, rest by jogging and/or walking 400, then start again. Further instructions are included in the Interactive emails, but you might want to consider running these like "Yasso Repeats." Regular readers of Runner's World are familiar with what I mean. Bart Yasso is Promotions Director for the magazine. Bart suggests that you run your 800 repeats using the same numbers as your marathon time. In other words, if you run a 3-hour marathon, you do the 800s in 3 minutes. A 3:10 marathoner does 3:10 repeats; 3:20 marathoner, 3:20 repeats, etc. It seems silly, but it works.

I am aiming for a 3:15 marathon, and my repeats averaged 3:15.  Now to get them to be a consistent 3:15!


  1. That is great about your 800 splits! I wonder what that means if I want a 45 minute 10k... :) It was fun being out there with you even if we weren't doing the same workout. I will try those 800s...eventually. And I have NO DOUBT you can and will get that 3:15.

  2. THAT'S GREAT!!! I think you'll have an "easier" time being consistent now that you have a specific time to shoot for and not just going by feel. It's so inspiring for me to read about what you and Jane do in training. THANK YOU!!!! :D

  3. Jane, Hal's website has a link to a calculator so you can figure out what time you should do your 800s at to get a 45:00 10K
    (I think I am reading it right that you would need to try for 3:10-3:19).
    Thank you Jane and Dana for your encouragement. I think I finally have a good sense of what I am capable of, so I feel pretty good about the 3:15. But it helps to have friends to support me too!