I’ve had a few people ask me about my training plan. I ordered it from RunSMART. The plans are based on training schedules designed by the legendary coach Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels is a two-time Olympic medalist in the Modern Pentathlon and world-renowned exercise scientist. He was also named “The World’s Best Running Coach” by Runner’s World. He has lead many runners to the podium over his long and successful career as a coach.
I have been loosely following his training formula since the beginning of the year with amazing results. I shaved almost 5 minutes off my 5K in less than 3 months after returning from injury. (32:55 to 28:06) It was a minute and 43 second improvement from my PR at the end of last season. (29:49 to 28:06) I’m sure some of my development has come simply from an increase in mileage over the past few months, but I don’t think I would have seen such dramatic results if I were still heart rate training. (I’m interested in taking out my heart rate monitor for a little MAF test at same point to see how that has improved!) Heart rate training certainly did me well for 2 years especially in regards to keeping me injury-free. Daniels Running Formula has not only built on that base, but is far less boring than HRT/MAF.
Daniels divides running performance into six components. Daniels argues that each of these components requires a specific training intensity to improve. Daniels uses five specific training intensities to improve the different components. A runner can determine the correct speed for each intensity based on the VDOT from a recent performance. There are many videos of him online where he says that you when you head out for a run you should always know the goal of that run–if you don’t, you might as well sit home.
His training plans are different from those you will find for free online. All of my workouts are created to work a specific system which means running at a specific pace. I have 2 “quality” sessions a week and the rest is easy running. For my marathon training I do not have any 20 or 22 mile long runs. I think the longest distance I do is 17 miles. Not all long runs are done at easy pace, though. Some are done at marathon goal pace so I can practice running at that speed. He also incorporates “bunched runs” which are long runs scheduled within 12 hours of each other. This is to reduce the risk of injury during training. I will get in at least one 20 mile bunched run during marathon training.
If you are interested in a customized training plan you can order one on the RunSMART project site. You tell them what days you want to run (at least 4-5/wk), your average weekly mileage, and at least one recent race result. It takes 5 business days for them create it for you. After it is created, you can add races into the online calendar and have it update your training paces based on your performance. If you don’t want to enter races, they do naturally progress your paces over time to account for development. (It’s kinda crazy to see my paces in October!)
There are plenty of reviews online, but the most compelling I found was at The Running Jones. He not only used it to get back into shape for a marathon, he ended up BQing by 21 minutes at the NYC Marathon. I’m not looking to BQ, but I certainly want to know that the time that I am putting into training is optimal. Marathon training is huge commitment so why leave it to generic training plan that may get you to the finish line, but may not get you there at your best?