Q&A: Training For Sprint Triathlon & Marathon
Response From Coach Neil Scholes
Thanks for the great question. I’ll try and keep my answer succinct although I suspect there may be a few ifs, buts, maybes and possibly a potential definitely possibly
Let’s start with qualification. If you are under 49 then you have to run sub 3:50 to get a Good for Age slot at London. This time then increases through the age groups in batches of 5 years maxing out at 70+ where you need to run a 6:30. In fact as a woman if you can run sub 3:15 you can get an Elite or what they call Championship Start!
I wrote a piece on predicting your marathon time (here) that maybe of interest to you, but if we stick with one of my preferred resources, that being the work carried out by Professor Jack Daniels and looking at your times specifically we can potentially make some comment.
You ran your recent 10 miler in a great time of 1:15 which is 7:30 per mile pace. IF you could have continued that pace on for another 16 miles you would have run a marathon in 3:16:38. The “if” is deliberately in capital letters. I read however that you may have been nursing your achilles to ensure no flare up and potentially you could have run the 10 miler faster. So the correlation between this time and how fast you could run a marathon may not be accurate. However it is unlikely on this performance alone that currently that you could go faster than 3:16. I say currently and unlikely deliberately.
Having completed a number of Ironman distance races and a few marathons outside of this your endurance should be good although I note a significant (in the scientific use of the word) drop off in your Ironman run times. This is very common. With appropriate training I expect my athletes to be able on a good day to run approximately 30 mins slower in an Ironman that they would do in a stand alone marathon. Ones first attempt at Ironman is the exception – I think until you do one you have no idea what it is like. Just finish and stay out of the medical tent are great goals – they are goals that I myself have failed to achieve once. So for you if you can run 3:30 a good day at the office would be 4:00 for an Ironman!
If we take a half marathon PB (your current proven time) of 1:42, then Daniels predicts that with the right training that you are physiologically capable of a 3:32 marathon. If we take your 10 miler time and keep this pace to give a half marathon time of 1:38 then Daniels predicts a marathon time of 3:24. These tie in with your own online calculator. Both times would give you a London Marathon good for age slot, also allowing for some drop off in the last few miles to comfortably come in comfortably under 3:50.
So London Marathon 2014 is extremely likely to be achieved and I’d be very surprised if you did not achieve this.
Before we leave marathons and look at your training let’s look at the target of 3:00. Firstly no one wants to run 3:00. If I ran 3:00:00 you’d find me hanging from a tree – 2:59:59 is the goal!
So, what does it take? Well these goals are the absolute simplest ones to aim for; ALL you have to do is run 6:51 pace for 26 miles if you run 6:52 then you fail. Can you run that fast? I don’t know. What does it take? It will take 1 to potentially 2 years of run training for you to get to your best. That means running 6 times a week over 5 days with 2 rest days. Will your swim and cycle ability drop if you don’t keep them up? Yes. Can you still cycle and swim on top of this? Yes – as long as it doesn’t stop you hitting the run numbers and detailed paces and as long as you are recovering. Running as you well know causes the most impact on the body compared to cycling/swimming so the potential of injury is higher.
Your marathon on 1st June is less than one month away. Regardless of that, you are physiologically capable of running a London Marathon qualifying time. But as I don’t know what training you have done I don’t know how much this will take out of you!
Training for the short distance does not necessarily equate to being able to hold specific speed endurance or having the muscular endurance over the longer distances. Iwan Thomas who is still the GB 400m record holder used to train at our track and subsequently has run the London Marathon a number of times. As an Olympic Silver Medallist and still a very fit man you might expect him to perform relatively wel. However I do often remind him that even me, a very soon to be 50 year old, can beat him by about an hour in the marathon! You can see that short course performance does not necessarily equate to long course performance.
Looking at your training you 3 runs look a reasonable balance. If we start with the assumption that you are looking to achieve around 3:30 for the marathon (8:00 per mile pace) then your “long run” should be carried out at no SLOWER than 8:30-8:45 per mile pace. As Emil Zatopek said “I don’t need to run slowly I already know how to do that“.
Your tempo run I would suggest could be something like 10 mins easy, 30 – 40 mins @ 10k pace, 5 mins easy. In terms of an interval session then something like 10 mins easy, 5 x 1 mile @ 7:30 per mile pace, 10 mins easy may be appropriate.
It is difficult to be very specific as I only have limited information but based on my assumptions above these would be a good mix. It is the ability to hold a specific pace for a length of time that you require; so pace endurance (ie the ability to hold that pace for 26 miles) and muscular endurance are what you require.
Lastly, and I apologize for the length of the response, but I didn’t want to give you you half an answer – it’s not my style! I want to come back to the question of running 3:00. The truth is I don’t know and neither do you.
I do however know what it takes and that is progressive development over a period of time. We have just under one year until London Marathon 2014; is that enough to see a significant MARATHON improvement – yes. Is it enough time to get close to sub 3:00 – possibly not – that may take a couple of years. Potentially you would go 3:10ish after a year and close to 3:00 the year after given the right course (incidentally I do not think personally the London Marathon is the right course – I’d go Berlin, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, even smaller races) and of course you need luck and the right conditions.
Hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you need any more coaching advice.
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