Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Everyone wants a marathon training regimen that will leave their legs feeling “fresh." They want to know, 'How can I get that spring in my legs?' That’s the wrong question. The question should be: 'How can I train my body so that when the fatigue hits me, I'm still able to respond?'

The program that I follow has guided more than 25 men to qualifying times for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, including Brian Sell, who finished third at the 2008 Trials. In October, Desiree Davila was the first American woman at the Chicago Marathon in 2:26:20, finishing fourth overall. The philosophy is simple - Running a marathon is all about pace. (If you would like more information, or would like me to send you a detailed copy of the program, email me at nming47@gmail.com. )

This program teaches your body and mind how to run your goal pace, no matter how tired you are. The training is designed around a concept called "cumulative fatigue"—high weekly mileage volume and a steady diet of hard workouts. Those workouts, dubbed "Something of Substance," or SOS, include a speed or strength day run slightly faster than goal marathon pace, a marathon-pace tempo run that gets progressively longer, and a long run done 45 to 60 seconds slower than goal pace.

All successful training programs have speed, tempo, and long run components. This program differs because it puts equal weight on each part. In conventional programs runners often do little training at their marathon goal pace. But in this plan, the workouts are all calibrated around your marathon goal pace so that, come race day, you'll be able to hit your splits in your sleep.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the plan is the absence of a sacred cow—the 20-plus-mile long run. For non-elite runners, the long effort tops out at 16 miles. People say, 'How can a long run be only 16 miles?’ Then they'll finish that run and say, 'Gosh, I don't think I could run another 10 miles.' And they'll be right. With the plan's emphasis on high mileage and hard workouts, you're not running the first 16 miles of a marathon, you're running the last 16. This program is duplicating that final-miles feeling.

Traditional programs overemphasize the long run. Twenty-plus mile efforts sap most runners and compromise the quality of subsequent workouts. There's nothing magical about a long run of a certain distance. The most important factor is quality total mileage, week in and week out. It's a formula that holds true for beginners, elites, and everyone in between. This program is very appealing to people like me who coach, have three young children, and are very busy in general.

Building mileage volume is key. Sometimes running when you're tired isn't a bad thing. Once your body adapts, there's a callusing benefit. You just have to get through a period of feeling pretty crappy in all your runs.

Here’s three key concepts to keep in mind -

#1: Let the body recover without the mind losing confidence.
Severe tapers can leave you flat. Cut mileage by 20 percent two weeks out; 40 percent one week out.

#2: You can't bank time.
Going out too fast in the beginning means you have zero seconds to draw on later in the race. In fact, you're investing in a crash.

#3: Forget about your splits in the last 10-K.
You should have a good idea of what you have left. Time to tap the reserves for all they're worth.

Bottom line is this - Speed, strength, and tempo sessions—combined with shorter long runs—will help marathoners of all abilities run a better race.

Run Happy!

Coach Nolan Ming

No comments:

Post a Comment