While this Blog is focused on sprinting and speed endurance events, I do enjoy researching training plans from various sports including marathons as I coach a couple of corporate executives for the marathon distance. It gives me an excuse to go to Death Valley every year.
Growing up in Canada in the 1970’s, Jerome Drayton was a household name in the world of Track and Field and Marathons. Contrary to rumour, he did NOT change his name from sprinters Harry Jerome and Paul Drayton. If he did. he would have chosen “Ron Bilika” or “Abebe Hill”. He liked Jerome as a first name and Drayton made his full name a double disyllable or double disyllabic. Like Tina Turner. Or Robert Redford.
Believe it or not, Jerome Drayton’s 2:10:08 marathon, set in Fukuoka, Japan in 1975, is still the Canadian record.
Here are excerpts of Jerome Drayton’s training. What works for him may not work for you. But I do like the meticulous detail and approach that he puts into planning for a major marathon. The recovery and regeneration component is missing is the excerpt below. I doubt he used ice baths back then.
Most of the time, I trained alone, particularly on Mondays to Saturdays. I wanted to get the training over with as fast as possible in order to get on with my personal life. Most Sundays, I joined the club members at High Park where I would join the main group for a “social run”.
TYPICAL TRAINING SCHEDULE:
For a major competition, like the Olympic Marathon or Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship, Japan, I had a plan that took 26 weeks. It was divided into four phases.
- The first phase consisted of a general build up of strength and aerobic capacity. It meant a lot of slow steady running with lots of miles – up to 150 miles per week in the later stages of this phase, which usually lasted for ten weeks.
- In the second phase, I concentrated on the development of speed. It consisted of a lot of interval running on the track about two or three times per week – for example 12 to 16 x 400 meters, each at maximum aerobic capacity, with a short break between each interval. The rest of the week would be the same as in the first phase – casually running, twice a day, up to 20 miles a day. Near the end of this phase, I introduced anaerobic running – for example 8 x 200 or 4 x 400 meters, sprinting flat out. Each was followed by two to five minutes of jogging. The total weekly mileage was also less than in the first phase. This phase lasted for nine weeks.
- In the third phase, I tried to combine strength and speed. That is when I started heading towards my seasonal peak. The weekly mileage and the number of speed sessions went down, but the ones I did were faster than in the second phase – for example 6 x 400 meters at maximum aerobic capacity; followed by 4 x 200 meters at maximum anaerobic capacity. This meant that the reserves I had depleted in the heavy mileage training stage of the first phase and the aerobic and anaerobic speed training stage of the second phase began to return. This phase lasted for four weeks.
- The fourth and final phase consisted of continued reduced overall mileage, a continuation of the third phase but with further reduced quantity and an introduction of short distance races for peaking purposes. This phase lasted two weeks. The final phase culminated with THE RACE, usually the Olympic, Boston, New York or Fukuoka Marathon.
The best way to start training is to understand the vital processes of the body – at least those that relate directly to running. If the runner understands some of the body’s inner workings and is sensitive to its needs and states of tiredness, it can perform magnificently for the runner. Without such sensitivity, the runner can too easily push him/herself into pain, injury or fatigue. With a little fine tuning, this knowledge can make training safe and more productive. A sound knowledge and practice of good nutrition is also of benefit.
The best training program is one that meets the distance runner’s particular needs. This applies equally to novice and to world-class distance runners. Do not adopt the successful program of your friends and competitors. Although they may be succeeding they may be improving IN SPITE of their program. It is fine to try new training ideas, but experiment with only one at a time. Then blend the successful ones into your program to fit your own demands, rest needs and current level of performance.
However, never experiment in the year of an Olympic Games or World Championship! By that time you should be set with a program in mind. Some of the training principles that must be understood by the distance runner are:
- RECOVERY – introducing days of easy runs after a day of a long run, hard run or competition.
- OVERLOAD – introducing long runs or speed/hill training sessions to encourage the body to adapt and improve performance capacity.
- PROGRESSION – increasing workloads gradually as the runner’s body adapts to previous loadings.
- SPECIFICITY – relating training loads to the runner’s present level of fitness and his or her competitive event – 5,000m or 10,000m or marathon.
- PEAKING – careful scheduling of key workouts at the end of the speed training phase that can raise the runner’s performance potential to its highest level.
- REVERSIBILITY – understanding that the rate at which performance capacity is lost, due to injury or rest from a previous competitive period, will be similar to the rate at which it was gained.
The training program should be divided into four distinct periods:
- TRANSITION – a period of recuperation, during which the runner recovers from the fatigue of the previous competitive period.
- GENERAL PREPARATION – foundation training where aerobic fitness, mobility, strength and local muscular endurance are developed. These allow the runner to prepare for specific forms of training.
- SPECIAL PREPARATION – training to develop specific fitness required to meet the demands of the runner’s event – aerobic and anaerobic speed/hill training and long runs arranged in the proper order.
- COMPETITION TAPERING – training aimed at preparing the runner for an important race (Olympic Games or World Championships) or a series of races that lead to THE RACE (Boston, New York or Fukuoka Marathon), in non Olympic or World Championships years.
Finally, and particularly for the marathoner, there are certain prerequisites or internal characteristics that the runner must possess in order to undertake the necessary training that a marathon requires. Of all the distance running events, the marathon presents the greatest challenge both physically and mentally. Even after completing all the required training and making it to the race site rested and healthy, arriving at the marathon starting line in less than an ideal physical or mental state can have a devastating effect on the runner’s performance.
The prerequisites or internal characteristics are motivation, self-discipline and effective time-management. While a coach can provide interest and enthusiasm regarding the training program he or she designs and presents, motivation and self-discipline must be primarily developed from within. It requires a great deal of motivation and self discipline to complete the long training runs while at the same time cope with the other daily distractions and manage all the personal responsibilities daily living provides such as school, professional career, personal life, etc. This is why it is so crucial that the runner who wishes to train for the marathon be an effective manager of time.