You Be the Coach: How Should Torsten Train Between Marathons?

Today is another installment of the popular “You be the Coach” series where I ask for your coaching advice.

The strength of the SR community (see what I did there?) is that collectively, we can help runners train smarter by making better decisions.

And one of the most important decisions a runner can make is long-term planning. Sure, day-to-day workouts are critical. But the daily training is directed by your long-term goals so before you get specific, you need to be general.

One of my favorite aspects of coaching is helping runners plan entire seasons with periods that focus on mileage, speed, racing, or simply rest. It’s often the big picture elements of training design that runners struggle with and it’s what I absolutely love.

Now it’s your turn.

How to Structure Pre-Marathon Training

Torsten struggles with off-season training – or the time between training plans. How much much is too much? Or too little? How often and at what intensity?

It can be tough to plan multiple training cycles, especially when they don’t line up very well.

Torsten ran the Chicago Marathon on October 13th of this year and his next goal is Boston on April 21, 2014. His typical “official” marathon training is about 16 weeks, which would put the start of his training plan sometime in December.

He has about 8 weeks until that period of marathon training starts. So until then, what should he do?

Here’s his background from an email he sent me:

I have been running on an advanced level for over five years, averaging 80 miles a week. My peak mileage can top 100 miles a week. I usually run 7 days a week with the day after a long run dedicated as a recovery day. I also take one day off every month.

I use cycling and swimming as cross training 1-2 times a week as well. I just ran the Chicago Marathon in a 2:47 PR and usually use 16-20 week training cycles. I typically do 2 marathons a year, multiple half marathons, 25k, 10mi, and shorter distances – perhaps 10-12 “real” races a year.

I run pretty much every kind of workout in the books – structured workouts, of course.

As for injuries, as you well know, running is a tough sport. Just this last year (I just turned 36) I started having some hip and knee issues, mostly the left leg. I have been experimenting with minimalist and zero drop shoes and believe the issues came from that – I don’t like them and won’t use them anymore. I run mostly Mizuno shoes, the Elixir being my daily trainer and the Ronin my race shoe.

What I am looking for is some advice on my 8 week off-season training. Every year I struggle with what workouts to do (variation), what pace, and what intensity. Unfortunately, I was pretty exhausted going into my spring 16-week spring marathon build, because I may have overdone it during the off-season.

Clearly, Torsten is an advanced, competitive athlete. At this level, training becomes more complex.

Given what you know about his background in the sport, injury history, past training, and upcoming goals – how would you structure the next 6-8 weeks of his running?

What should he focus on? What should he avoid?

Are there certain workouts that could be more beneficial for him (and some that may be more detrimental)?

Leave your reply in the comments! This weekend, I’ll also join in and provide my advice to Torsten in the comments below.

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