A Second Opinion On Marathon Training Regimens

Last week, we talked about a possible 16-week regimen to train for a marathon. Some running enthusiasts took issue with the program’s unrelenting schedule, which tasks runners to end weeks with increasingly longer runs at the end of each of the first 13 weeks.

Alex writes in with a counterpoint:

Putting the body through an increasing amount of stress for 13 weeks straight without recovery can lead to serious injury. Runners call it TMTS (Too Much, Too Soon), but it frequently comes in the form of shin splints, stress fractures, and pulled muscles. I don’t know if you’ve seen the schedule for P90X, but “the mother of all workout programs” has recovery weeks every 4th week and that’s not even running. Muscles need time to recover, increasing stress on a constant basis is a killer.

This is just one issue I (and others) have with Marathon Rookie. His idea of “if I miss a workout/week what do I do? Pick up where you should be, not where you left off” flies in the face of the “10% Rule” that you should never increase mileage by more than 10% in any given week.

Alex suggests the Pfitzinger Lab Report recommendations, which suggests that runners follow three hard weeks of running with a lighter recovery week.

In the example given, three weeks of running a cumulative 90 to 100 miles should be followed with a 60-70 mile week that includes either one or no particularly difficult runs.

Finding Your Optimal Work/Recover Ratio [Pfitzinger Lab Report]