Week 4 - "Full-Cream"

It's time to get serious! For the first 3 weeks we've been establishing a good 'base' of miles and regular discipline; for the next 3 weeks the focus is our strength base. This week we cut out one 'off-running' day, lower the mileage a little, and add specific sessions to build running strength and extend our anaerobic threshold. These sessions will be the main platform for the next 3 weeks, as we head towards our highest mileage weeks of the program. You'll have noticed that we're using distance as the measure for each run rather than time. That's because we're training for an event of a specific distance, rather than of time. The distance of the marathon is inescapable and unchangeable, so it's good to get used to aiming for a particular distance in our training runs.

Monday June 20 - very light jog, 3 km (2 miles); include some swimming if possible. Tuesday June 21 - 1st endurance-speedwork session. You will need an accurately measured 1-mile (1600 m) flat course, either on a 400 m track or else a measured section of road or cycle path. The session is a 12 km (7 mile) run at 'conversational' pace, incorporating 3 x 1-mile (1600 m) repeats at about 70% - 80% of maximum effort, with a 3-minute recovery between each repeat. The key is to aim to run each of the 3 x 1-mile repeats at the same pace, so don't start the first one too fast (especially as the legs may still be carrying a bit of Sunday's run).  Each repeat should be not as fast as you would run in a 1-mile race, yet faster than you would start out in a 2-mile race. Time and record each repeat, and time the 3-minute recovery between, during which you continue to jog easily. With the 3 minute rest, you will be starting each repeat more tired than the previous one - thus replicating conditions in the latter stages of the marathon, where just keeping going can be a real obstacle. Push the third repeat as though it were a race. After the third repeat, continue your 12 km (7 mile) run at as close to 'normal' training pace as you can - forget the 'conversational' bit! Sessions like this one are hard work, physically and mentally, but super preparation for the race itself. Wednesday June 22 - medium distance aerobic run, 14 km (9 miles) on flat surface at moderate effort, including 6 x 100 m 'floating strides.' Thursday June 23 - easy recovery jog, 5 km (3 miles). Friday June 24 - 1st strength-endurance session. Locate a good hill, not too steep, that will take you about 2 minutes to run up. The session is a 10 km (6 mile) run, incorporating 4 x 2-minute hill repeats. Run at least 5 km (3 miles) before starting the hills. Work the hills hard, and time each one - one way is to set your watch to 'beep' every 2 minutes. Try to get to at least the same point after 2 minutes each time you run the hill. In between each hill repeat, jog slowly back to the bottom while getting some of your breath back, but take no more than 4 minutes between the end of one repeat and commencement of the next. This is another demanding session. If you feel that as you are running a flat marathon course, there is no point training on hills - think again! Hills magnify intensity the same way the 30 km, 35 km and 40 km markers do in a marathon, and maximise returns for training effort. Like the endurance-speed session, the value of hills is really shown late in the marathon, when strength reserves become more important than speed. You need strength to run the marathon, and hillwork will reward you with inner AND outer strength. Saturday June 25 - day off running, enjoy some alternate exercise for 40 minutes to one hour. Sunday June 26 - Sunday longer run to celebrate Sri Chinmoy's Weightlifting Anniversary, 22 km (14 miles) easy run, just cover the distance joyfully. The 'long' run is not so long this week, as we're putting more effort into the strength and anaerobic threshold build-up for a few weeks.