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The FIRST Three Day A Week Marathon Schedule


I've avoided my usual running injury nightmare by doing reduced running in my Wimball/Cowman 70.3 training program - only two runs a week (10km in a OD BRICK and a 20-25km long run). Its working, I've knocked 4mins off my 10km time this year, but thats probably attributable to losing 2 stone in weight.

Thinking about the latter half of the year thought I'd have a crack at the Amsterdam marathon to keep my fitness up and check I can do it before entering a full ironman.

Has anyone experience of following the FIRST training approach? http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/general/t ... /2493.html

They say it suits someone who likes cross training, and, guessing, is probably is roughly whats required in a ironman program, which is next years goal.



  • jmurt71jmurt71 Posts: 46
    I used this recently for my first marathon - I was recommended it by a friend who used it to complete her first marathon as well and I found it was good as you could incorporate swimming and cycling which was handy as I was using the marathon as a base builder for the winter to build up aerobic fitness. It is a 'just finish' program though, I found my legs seized up a bit after twenty miles and I shipped a lot of time over the last few miles, purely because I hadn't got enough miles in my legs, particularly long runs over 20m. But that's only really an issue if you're looking for a good finish time, if you're using the marathon to build to something like an IM, I think it's excellent.
  • okennyokenny Posts: 231
    same by me!

    After the 35km point my legs started to seize.....
    That program just doesn't include enough km per week for a decent time, but for a painful finish it will be fine!
    If doing it again, I would add a fair amount of incline running to the tempo part...

    Right now I am training for a few 70.3s but I want to do a marathon afterwards. (IM prep for next year)
    I do a 20 to 25km run each weekend. During the week I do a 8km Tempo run after a short cycle (1hr) and a 15km run with increasing amounts of incline at my marathon target pace. (treadmill run, start at 0.5% and work up to 2.5%....the legs start feeling like they do in a much longer run without the load on your body of a 30km run)

    I will increase the long runs to 30km or so when finished with my heavy triathlon training (biking). If I were to run 30k+ now I'd have no legs left for biking the next day.
  • PC_67PC_67 Posts: 196
    Exactly the same for me too, though to be perfectly honest I followed the spirit rather than the letter of the programme.

    I underdid the long runs. I did quite a few up to 20 miles but nowhere near as many as the programme prescribed (my back took time to recover so I kept my long runs at mainly 16-18 miles as this is what seemed to minimise my lower back issues).

    Also, I didn't follow the strength training recommendations, and a change in circumstances meant my daily bike commute got shelved about 5 weeks before the race.

    I really loved the track sessions and still incorporate these into my weekly schedule. They are uncannily accurate at estimate what is a tough but doable session for any standard of runner. The tempo runs were a doddle, and maybe I did too many at faster than they prescribed.

    In my race (my first - Dublin, October 2009) the last 6.2 miles was awful. I did the last 6.2 miles in 62 minutes, 10 mins per mile. I was on 2:50 at 20 miles = 8:30 per mile, pretty much on schedule to run my target 3:40.

    That said, I was a bit unlucky that I came down with a cold (my first in a year) 3 days before the race & think that maybe that had had an impact too. I certainly have made a point of telling people that!

    I think the programme is good in that it educates you about the different components of running fitness and how to improve each component. It's easy to read, easy to follow and quite motivational. I like the way it really rams home the "trust us, we know" mentality, taking a lot of the pressure off the runner. However, it's also a bit too self-congratulatory in tone.
  • okennyokenny Posts: 231
    it's bloody hard to do a lot ot mileage per week....I think running a decent distance 5 times a week takes a set of well conditioned legs.....sure it's fine every now and again, but to do it week after week without injury is tough....
    Thank god we do Triathlon and can mix it up!
    I still wanna run a 3:40 marathon though.

    For me it was the same, caught a cold, but I was on track for the first 30k or so until it all fell apart.
    Of course the cold was the reason for that, naturally.....
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    Thanks for the feedback, I think I'll give it a go then. I've never been over 14 miles before so it will be bit of a journey into the unknown.
    Fingers crossed the injuries stay away.
  • ashthetashashthetash Posts: 164
    I used a modified version of the FIRST Half Marathon plan to train for a half marathon in April. I will admit that I did not do as much cross training as I should have done. I barely got on the bike between December and late March.
    I had some problems calculating my pace for runs. I had a goal time that was very demanding and based on a target that was totally unrelated to my fitness level. This resulted in me having to monitor the pace for the various runs and amending during the program.
    The other issue with pacing was trying to modify it for different conditions. I was targetting a flat road HM. I was training on hills (I was doing the endurance life CTS over the winter), cross-country, in snow. The only time I ran on flat roads was for the intervals. Not sure about you but all the adverse conditions affect my pace. The problem was working out by how much.
    Even considering the above I was surprised by the intensity of the runs. The tempo runs were quick, the intervals had me at full stretch and the long runs were way quicker than my normal long runs.
    The one tool that I found invaluable was the footpod for my FR60. I was quite surprised at how much I had to rein myself in at the start of runs and how much more difficult it got towards the end. A word of warning though it is important that the footpod is calibrated well. Mine was slightly out and it showed at the end.

    I missed my target time for the HM and am now considering another one later in the year. I will probably use a program based around the FIRST system to train for that so I can't have found it too bad.
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