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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<b>WARNING:</b> I am rambling a lot during this report, but I think it is an accurate reflection of how things went with the plans:<br><br><b>POST-MORTEM</b><br><i>Pfitzinger/Douglas training plan</i><br><br>
As most of you are aware, this summer I decided to follow the Pfitzinger/Douglas 18-week, up to 70 miles per week program while I trained for the <a href="http://www.equinoxmarathon.org" target="_blank">Equinox Marathon</a>. Upon returning from the Equinox, I decided to use their 4 week plan for multiple marathoning to run the <a href="http://www.baystatemarathon.com" target="_blank">Bay State Marathon</a>. Now that both are over, I wanted to try to put some ideas down on what I thought of the plan.<br><br>
Going into the plan, I was about a 40-50 miles per week runner. I ran on a 4 days on, one day off scheme. During that scheme I would occasionally do "speed-work" at the track (either 5x1600 or 5x3200), and I would do some hill repeats as well. Going into the program, I felt strong, but I was also concerned. In 1991 I tore the medial meniscus cartiledge in my right knee, and in 2000 I fractured my left ankle in a running accident. The Pfitz plan had me running 6 days on, one day off. I really didn't know if my body could handle that kind of beating.<br><br>
Still, I decided I would try the plan. I told myself "If anything goes wrong, if I find it's too much, I'll pull the plug and go back to my 4 days on, one day off plan."<br><br>
Going into the plan, I intended to do at least some of my training on trails. This was for two reasons. First, it would reduce some of the impact on my knee and ankle. Second, much of the Equinox is on trails and since the Equinox was my goal race, I thought that the trail running would help me at the Equinox.<br><br>
For those not familiar with Pfitzinger's programs, they are broken down into what Pfitzinger calls "Meso-cycles". The 18/70 program is no exception. The first mesocycle is a "base-building" part of the plan. The second mesocycle is to improve your lactate threshold and speed. The third mesocycle is for race preparation, and the final mesocycle is the taper leading up to the race. When I started the training program, I built in 2 extra weeks. I called them "mulligan" weeks, and they were there in case something went wrong and I had a bad week. I never needed the mulligan weeks, and ended up using them to repeat the last 2 weeks of mesocycle number 3.<br><br>
Through all of the heat and humidity of summer, I was able to log the miles that the Pfitzinger plan called for. In fact, I only had to skip one run and cut two runs short during the 18/70 program, and one of the runs that I cut short I could have finished, but did not want to get myself injured, so I decided to end the run short.<br><br>
The plan was definitely intense, but I think it is supposed to be. I definitely felt the heat/humidity on some of the VO2max workouts. I definitely struggled on some of the longer runs. The mid-week long runs gave me the most trouble. The runs I had to cut short were always mid-week long runs.<br><br>
Something that I take issue with when I look at the plans from Higdon and Pfitzinger is the fact that they don't have you run 26 prior to the marathon. Pfitzinger has you go to 22 miles, but I ended up pushing that to 26.7 miles. The reason was simple. In 2006 when I ran the Bay State Marathon, I felt great at mile 22, and felt like garbage by the time I hit mile 23. It was an all of a sudden thing. I wanted to know what my body would feel like after mile 22.<br><br>
Beyond that though, I thought the 18/70 program was pretty good.<br><br>
Something that definitely helped me get through the program was the trail running. Without it, I don't think I could have done the program. It cut the impact on my body, but it also had some other great effects. When you're running on a trail, you're in the woods, and normally you are out of the sun. I'm convinced that th pavement absorbs the sun's heat, then radiates it back. Often the pavement can be 20 degrees warmer than the ambient air temperature. I'm convinced this causes a pocket of hot air near your legs when you run pavement. When you're on the trail, the trail isn't as dark in color and is more in the shade, so it doesn't absorb the heat as much. Put another way, I felt like even when it was 90 and humid outside, it wasn't as bad on the trail as it would be on pavement.<br><br>
The trail running was also a huge help in another way. As I learned the hard way through many falls, in order to run on trails, you have to be focused at all times. If you aren't focused, you're going to fall over a tree root or a stone. On pavement, you can get away with being unfocused. On the trail, you have to remain focused, or you'll end up on your butt.<br><br>
That mental focus served me well during my races. Down the stretch of the Bay State, when I was starting to fade and starting to hurt I was able to use that mental focus to focus on things other than the pain. That was huge down the stretch.<br><br>
I'm sure by now you all know about the debacle that happened for me in the Equinox. I didn't get to use all of the training for the Equinox.<br><br>
When I got home from the Equinox, and signed up for the Bay State, I decided to follow the 4 week program for multiple marathoning, and hopefully use some of the fitness I had for the Bay State. The idea behind the 4 week multiple marathoning program is to use the 26 miles of the first marathon as your last "long-run" prior to the 2nd marathon. Obviously, after what happened in the Equinox, I didn't have that last "long-run" prior to the Bay State. That concerned me a little bit, and I thought it might lead to a fade down the stretch of the Bay State.<br><br>
During the 4 week program, I did pretty well. There was one run that I do question my doing though. Two weeks prior to the Bay State, I did the Town of Wilmington, MA Happy Birthday half-marathon. The race was kind of a double edged sword. That day I was supposed to run a 12 mile medium long run, but instead I raced it. This race turned out to be a double edged sword. Two days later I did a VO2max workout on tired legs and my quads were bothering me for pretty much the rest of the program, so that wasn't good. In fact, 2 days after the VO2max workout, I tried to do a 20 miler, but had to cut it to 13 miles because of the sore quads. However, the race came in helpful mentally for me. During the 1/2 marathon, my HR stayed in the 170s and 180s for most of the day (it finished in the 190s). When I got to the marathon, I was less concerned about running in the 170s. I knew I could hold that for at least 13 miles, so the race was a real confidence booster.<br><br>
If you've read my race report from the Bay State, you've seen there was a bit of a fade towards the end of the race. I think some of that comes from the lack of a 20 miler in the last 8 weeks leading up to the Bay State. Even though I did PR in the Bay State, I can't help but wonder could it have been a better PR if I had finished the Equinox? What would I have done in Bay State if it were my goal race? Would I have run a faster race? And what kind of time would I have run in the Equinox? I can only offer 1 data point. In 2004 I ran both the Equinox and the Bay State with the Equinox as the goal race. In 2004, I did the Equinox in 4:24:26 and the Bay State in 3:52:34. To arrive at 4:24:26 from 3:52:34 is a factor about 1.138. So, if I were to multiply my time from this year's Bay State by 1.138, I come out to about 4:07. I know that's probably not perfect, but it's about the only data point I can come up with. Since I thought a 4:15 Equinox would have been a miracle, I really wonder how I would have done.<br><br>
In the end, I'm glad I did the Pfitzinger program. Would I do it again? Call me crazy, but I probably would.
 

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Nice report. I used the same program with great results as well.<br><br>
You continue to inspire.
 

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Thanks for posting your experience with the plans. That can be very helpful when looking for a plan for myself.<br><br>
I haven't read your race reports for either race (even though I have seen them posted here and on CR). I'll take a look soon.<br><br>
Best of luck in your running
 

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I will let you know how the 18/55 works out for me. I've been following that plan too. I've been very anal about getting all the runs in. I've only missed on long run; that's while I was on a biz trip to India. I did add in a full length marathon training run (at USAF marathon) 4 weeks ago. I think it's worked for me...My splits are fast, and my heart rate low. And, I just PRed a 5K by a little over a minute last saturday after I did a 12 mile run before the race. I'm looking for a large PR at Marine Corps a week from this Sunday.
 

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Thanks for the review EQ. I use / modify Pfitz's plans from Road Racing for Serious Runners for most of my goal races and I've been very happy with it (no 26.2 though).<br><br>
I think one of the things I like best about Pfitz is that it is very easy for me to understand why he is doing the specific workout that he is, and why it is where it is in the cycle. I've read Daniels a couple times and still don't have that level of comfort.<br><br>
There's an overlap with his books, but his articles here are very good:<br><br><a href="http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreport.shtml" target="_blank">http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreport.shtml</a><br><br>
I pretty much just use the 10 Step plan one to roll my own Pftiz style plan for goal races now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was giving it some more thought today at lunch. There's a couple of things I should point out that I did wrong...and if you decide to follow one of Pfitz's plans, I would try to avoid these mistakes:<br><br>
1.) Going into the plan, I had <b>NO IDEA</b> what my 5K pace was. I haven't run a 5K in years. Yet, much of his speed work is predicated on your 5K pace. I think next time, I'll either do a 5K prior to the plan, <b>OR</b> I'll do a race of another distance, and use the McMillan calculator's equivalent from that race to get my 5K pace.<br><br>
2.) During the plan, I had trouble finding races to use as the "tune-up" races in the race preparation MesoCycle, and was left to do Individual Time Trial style runs. Next time, I hope that's not an issue.<br><br>
Also, I think next time through the program, it might be easier. Notice I didn't say <b>easy</b>, but easier. I know what to expect now.<br><br>
I have to agree with Sparky, the taper does seem a bit aggressive. That said, these are "advanced" programs after all, not intermediate programs. I suppose that means they are supposed to be aggressive.<br><br>
Timr1 - I'm looking forward to seeing how you do, and how you feel the training program worked/did not work for you, as well as what lessons you learned, ie what to do differently next time.
 

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Equinox, I agree that not knowing your 5K pace might affect your training for your speedwork sessions. Otherwise, you find yourself second-guessing whether or not you are getting the maxium benefit out of a certain type of workout.<br><br>
That being said, I am very familiar with Pfitz's plans and I have found that I much prefer Jack Daniels-type training (which Pfitzinger actually borrows from quite a bit). There are three significant benefits of Daniels' schedules: (1) flexibility, (2) confidence and (3) challenging stimulus.<br><br>
FLEXIBILITY: Daniels' does not have a day-to-day schedule but instead recommends two quality workouts each week and you fill in the rest as you see fit, based upon your desired mileage.<br><br>
CONFIDENCE: While your daily workouts are flexible, Daniels recommends a specific pace for every workout, based upon a recent race which you performed well in (McMillan calculator-style). So you always know how fast (or slow) you should be running.<br><br>
CHALLENGE: Daniels' quality workouts are tough, but doable. The body is very highly stimulated with these workouts (which sometimes involve running at four different paces over the course of the run).<br><br>
Of coruse, this is just my humble opinion.
 

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I am doing the 24 week program for 70 mpw or less. I am currently on week #13 out from the race and the 1st week of mesocycle 2. I was a 40-50 mpw runner prior with not much speed work. I have found the program to be aggressive but haven't had any issues with it (ask me after this mesocycle). I have heard the taper is too aggressive and per the advice of a fellow runner, I will be dropping down to the 55 mpw program during that time.<br><br>
It won't be hard for me to PR (my first 2 were complete crap) but I would like to be around 4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
<b>Lofc</b> - I actually read Daniels book and considered his plans prior to doing the Pfitz plan. Part of the reason I went with Pfitz is exactly the reason you didn't. Being the first time I followed a specific training plan, I wanted the structure of a plan like Pfitz.<br><br>
Of course I think you're a bit more advanced than I am. In my case, where this was the first time I followed a training program, I wanted the structure that I found with Pfitz. As I get more advanced, I might find the Daniels plans more appealing.<br><br>
And by the way, you're "humble" opinion is always welcome and valued. Someone as accomplished as yourself in this sport is someone who should be listened to. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey folks,<br><br>
I wanted to try to clarify something from my earlier post. I have gotten a couple of PM's saying that post about the taper being intense was kind of insensitive, and as I look at it, it could definitely be interpreted that way.<br><br>
First, if I offended anyone, I am sorry about that. It certainly wasn't intentional, and I wasn't commenting about anyone else's abilities other than my own.<br><br>
Let's see if I can clarify what I was trying to get at. Like many others, I found the taper intense as well. In fact, when I did the taper for the Equinox, I was surprised that the legs didn't feel more rested prior to going to Alaska. The taper was definitely intense. I knew it was going to be intense, but I didn't think it was going to be as intense as I found it.<br><br>
Second, I probably should have known that even the taper would be intense. The rest of the program had been intense. When I bought Pfitzinger's book, one of the reasons I bought it was that it was titled <b>Advanced Marathoning</b>. I hardly consider myself an advanced marathoner. Heck, I hardly consider myself a beginner when it comes to marathoning. But I wanted to see what so-called "advanced" programs were all about. I wanted to see if I could handle them. When I opted for the 18/70 program everyone told me "It's intense". They were right. One of the surprises I found was that even the taper was intense. I wasn't expecting that...but maybe I should have. After all, I had been warned it was intense, and the title of the book was <b>Advanced Marathoning</b>. I should have realized that these plans were for marathoners who have a bit more experience than I have. In the end, I found the taper more intense than I think I was expecting. In my case, and <b>I CAN ONLY SPEAK FOR MYSELF</b>, I underestimated the taper, and in hindsight I probably shouldn't have.<br><br>
Again, if my previous post offended anyone I'm sorry. I'm certainly not trying to comment on anyone else's running ability but my own.
 

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Another Pfitz/Douglas Post Mortem report:<br><br>
I have decided to add my own observations to this thread and bump it up to the top instead of starting a new thread.<br><br>
Background: I ran 600 some odd miles last year and raced on HM. Pretty much no structured training plan. Then, this year, I decided to run a Marathon and started training for the Country Music Marathon at the end of april. I used a RW/hybrid plan where I basically focused on just putting in the miles and getting ready to go the distance. I ran CMM on April 28th with a 3:52 time on about 400 or so miles of training.<br><br>
After that I immediately decided that I wanted to do another one and do more. In May, I picked up a copy of <b><i>Advance Marathoning</i></b>. The same book that <b>EQ</b> talks about in this thread. I agonized a bit over what plan to choose after reading the book and chose the 18 week / max 55 mile per week plan. The primary reason for this was not wanting to make too large of a jump to the opening week's mileage on the max 70 mile per week plan.<br><br>
I always figured that I could run extra miles if I felt up to the task. So, starting in the first week of June, I ran three base building weeks before starting on the 18/55. Basically, I adhered to the plan almost exactly the way it was printed in the book save for three things.<br>
1. I missed on long run while on a biz trip to India. I did all of the other runs but had to skipp the LR because I just can't run that far on a treadmill and TM was my only option in India<br>
2. I added a full Marathon as a training run 5 weeks out from my goal race. I think that helped<br>
3. I moved the long run to Saturdays (for the most part) and ran recovery on Sunday because my LR training group did their runs on Sat mornings.<br><br>
On a few occasions, I ended up a few miles over the weekly mileage, but that was early in the plan. A lot of the long training weeks were done in the blistering hot August heat of Alabama.<br><br>
So, how'd it work out?<br><br>
The plan calls for 779 miles in 18 weeks, leading up to the goal race. I ended up with 826.8 miles in 20.5 weeks leading up to the race.<br><br>
I had a very healthy goal of knocking off 22 mins from my original Marathon debut. My goal was a 3:30. I conservatively ran a 3:48 at the USAF 5 weeks out from my goal race. I did well on the marathon specific run where I would do 17 miles with 14 at marathon goal pace. But, still I wasn't sure how it would feel to try and hold steady at roughly 7:55 pace for the entire race.<br><br>
I think I did get a lot of benefit at the training marathon race because I was able to practice managing the race. Also, at the USAF race I planned for a huge negative split in order to see what that felt like late in the race. Bascially, I went out with the 4:00 pace group to the HM marker and then chased down the 3:50 group and passed them just before the end. It was something like a 9 min negative split. That experience served me well.<br><br>
In the end, everything worked like clockwork on race day. I decided to go out at an even pace and then adjust if necessary. Fortunately, I never had to make and adjustment. I was pretty even the whole way. I also felt great until mile 24. From there I had to consiously push to get to the finish. I ended up with a 3:29:53 officially, and the MCM course is harder than I expected from an elevation perspective and it was very windy in some places.<br><br>
6 days after the MCM I cut 2 mins off my 10K PR. So in summary, I think that this training plan did exactly what I expected it to do. More than just the plan on paper, I think I learned a lot about how my body reacts to the different types of training and what role each type of training run plays in the overall big picture.<br><br>
For contrast, and more information, I think I'm going to read Daniels book. I need to make a decision on what training plan to start in January on my way to BQ attempt.
 

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BTW EQ, here's my HR data summary:<br><br>
Heart Rate Data Avg Low High<br>
Heart Rate (%max) 77 66 84<br>
Heart Rate (zone) 3.7 2.6 4.4<br>
Heart Rate (bpm) 162 137 176<br><br>
My HR average was a little higher than I would have liked during the early stages of the race, but part of that I attribute to nerves. I wanted to keep it below 160 bpm to the HM and then see if I could go up a little from there. I ended up with a 162 avg and was a little surprised that 176 was the max. I can drive it much higher than that. Apparently, I didn't need to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That's interesting data Tim. Much like you, my max was low for the Bay State. I maxed out around 185 or something like that. During training this summer I hit 194 a few times, and 2 years ago, hit 203 a couple times. My highest rates though are not sustainable for anything more than a really short burst.<br><br>
I think you can definitely attribute the higher HRs to nerves. I mean, look at your low HR number. I assume that came right at the start of the race. That seems pretty fast at the start. I know I usually am 10-15 beats higher on race day than I am at the start of a training run.
 

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Yeah, I've run long runs with sub 150 averages. Also, I've hit 209 this year. On two different occasions, but like you said, nothing north of 190 is sustainable for me. Yeah, my HR was high in the first couple of miles, but then it dropped down considerably. And I got into a comfortable cruise pace with an avg in the 150s.
 
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