Coach’s Blog #3

BLOG #3 – April 29th, 2014

Hi team – sorry for missing a blog last week.

I am back after running the Nashville marathon this past weekend – a challenging hilly course.

The weather conditions were far from ideal and I struggled in the heat to finish well.

In a later blog I will share with you my need to cut to plan B when heat exhaustion forced me to adjust my race expectations.

ECP Nashville Finish

Needless to say, it was not a PR kind of day.

 It’s now time to focus on our Fall Marathon Training plan.

Our first training week is quickly approaching and starts May 12th.

I hope you are working your way up to getting your weekly runs in.


Base Building Phase:

We are entering the “Base Building Phase” where we will slowly develop your endurance level and to improve your running economy.

All runs, no matter which plan you are following, should be done at an easy or conversational pace. Let’s consider the science behind the overload/recovery principle and why it is important to do this at an easy pace. This is the most difficult thing to convince a runner to do.


Greg McMillan, a well-known running coach, wrote an article which was published in Running Times (March 25 2011):

“The purpose of the base phase is to further develop the aerobic system and to prepare the body and the mind for future training phases that will become increasingly more race-specific as the goal race or season of races nears.


In the base phase, the focus is less on the intensity and more on the volume of training. A common guideline is to increase weekly mileage by 10 to 20 percent above “average” mileage level. Intensity is necessarily reduced to keep the stress/rest cycle in balance, and to let the race-specific energy systems recover from the previous season. Physiologically, the extra training volume adds components to the muscular system that help deliver oxygen to the working muscles–a critical aspect of racing faster.


First, with a few weeks of adding volume and reduced intensity, the body builds more capillary beds around the working muscles. Think of capillaries as pipes that deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Adding more pipes to deliver more oxygen-rich blood allows the muscles to perform better.

Second, within the muscle cells, mitochondria are the structures that produce the aerobic energy that powers muscle contractions.

Base training helps build more of these power plants, and it also builds them bigger, resulting in the ability to create more energy.

Third, within these mitochondrial power plants, base training stimulates the body to build more of the enzymes that aid in aerobic energy production.

Finally, base training increases the durability of the musculoskeletal system–muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones become more resistant to injury.


Some coaches consider only race-specific training valuable, and pooh-pooh the idea of a base phase.

But the fact is that adding more capacity to deliver oxygen to working muscles and adding more capacity within the muscles to produce aerobic energy is necessary for ultimate success as a distance runner.”


There are two points in the article to re-emphasize:

• long runs are always done at reduced intensity or easy pace,

• unless you have gone through multiple training cycles (i.e. you are an intermediate or advance distance runner) your bodies currently are not durable and therefore you must run at reduced intensity to minimize the risk of injury.


For you novice runners, increasing the durability of the musculoskeletal system won’t start happening until well after you have run your marathon this fall and that is why your training plan calls for all easy pace running.

 With that said please note at weeks 5 or 6 (mid June) in the training plans there is a suggestion to consider running a 5 or 10K race instead of the Long Run on Saturday.

Your finishing time can help to predict a possible marathon goal time under ideal conditions.

There is a further recommendation to consider running a half marathon in week 16 (late Aug) in place of the Long Run.

Again your finishing time can be used to measure your overall improvement and predict a marathon goal time.


Why am I mentioning this now?

Many local races and especially half marathons can fill up fast or have cheaper sign-up rates the earlier you commit.

This is a good time to consider some race options near where you live.


Some website you might find useful to search for races are as follows:


Please send me an email if you have any specific questions or if you need some guidance on what training you should be doing now ahead of the program start date on May 12th.


Happy Running,

Coach Everett

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