From Last to First
1984 training log from May 13th (won London Marathon in 2:09:57) to August 12th (3rd at Olympic Marathon in 2:09:58)
The following is an exact copy of my training diary from the London marathon to the Olympic marathon. After each week I have added comments to explain my reasoning.
May 13th: London Marathon 1st in 2:09:57
Mon 14th: too stiff to run
Tues 15th: rest
Wed 16th: 4 miles easy run
Thur 17th: 5 Miles steady run
Frid 18th: 5 Miles steady run
Sat 19th: 6 Miles steady run
Sun 20th: 10 miles in 65 minutes
I ran only thirty miles this week because I was mentally drained and my legs were very sore. Steady running for me was about 6 minutes per mile, and an easy run was 7 minutes per mile or slower.
Mon 21st: 7 miles steady run
Tues 22nd: 9 miles steady run
Wed 23rd: 7 miles steady run
Thur 24th: 5 miles steady run
Fri 25th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. 6 miles easy
Sat 26th: 7 miles including 12×100 yard strides with 100 jog, to stretch legs
Sun 27th: 10 miles steady
I was in no hurry to rush back into training and only felt fully recovered after 56 miles of steady running. The real benefit of taking two weeks to recover was clear in how eager I felt to start training again.
Mon 28th: 15 miles in 90 minutes
Tues 29th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. Track – 6x1000m (with 2m 30s jog) 2 min 57 sec, 2:57, 2:55, 2:55, 2:52, 2:52
Wed 30th: am. 8 miles steady run, pm 5 miles steady
Thur 31st: 15 miles in 90 minutes
Fri 1st June: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Sat 2nd: Race – Northern 5,000 metres, 11th in 14:30
Sun 3rd: 15 miles easy – felt tired
I wasn’t sure how I would go in my first track session, so I ran the first two kilometre reps conservatively. I ran the next pair a little quicker, and because I felt good, I ran the last two quicker still. I didn’t want to start too fast and be forced to slow down, because that is bad for self confidence. The race was a poor performance, but a decent training session. I increased my miles for the week to 91.
Mon 4th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Tues 5th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. Track – 10 x 400m (90 sec jog) at 64.2 sec
Wed 6th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Thur 7th: 15 miles in 89 mins
Fri 8th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Sat 9th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. Race – Blaydon Races – 3rd to Kevin Forster in 25.50 (5.6 miles)
Sun 10th: 20 miles steady
This week shows the typical structure of my marathon training. Two long runs: a 20 miler feeling comfortable to build endurance, and a 15 mile run at a brisk pace without straining. Two speed sessions: a track session of 400 metre reps may seem short for a marathon runner, but I needed to work on speed all the time. Even a marathon is a race won by the fastest runner. The other speed session could be another track session or a race or a hill session.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday were always steady running to recover from the faster work. My volume of running was up to 101 miles for the week.
Mon 11th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 8 miles steady
Tues 12th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. Track – 16 x 200m (200m jog) at 31.4 sec
Wed 13th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Thur 14th: 15 miles in 86 mins
Fri 16th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Sat 16th: am. Track – 5 x 1600m in 4 min 40 sec with 400m float in 90 sec., pm. 4 miles easy
Sun 17th: 20 miles steady
The Saturday track session was one of my benchmarks. It was basically 10,000 meters of continuous running made up of four laps in 70 seconds, then a lap in 90 seconds, with the whole sequence repeated 5 times. It adds up to 31 minutes for 10K. There are no rest periods during a marathon, and this session trained me to recover from mile efforts while running at six minute per mile pace. 103 miles for the week.
Mon 18th: am. 9 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Tues 19th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. Track – 3 x 800m in 2 min 9.5 sec (2 min rec.) I was supposed to run 6 x 800 but my calves were getting a little tight so I changed the rest of it to 2 x 400m in 64 and 5 x 100m strides
Wed 20th: am. 8 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Thur 21st: am. 6 miles steady, pm. drove 4 hours to London
Fri 22nd: am. 2 miles easy, pm. AAA 10,000m. Dropped out 5K (14:35); ran 5 miles in the evening
Sat 23rd: 15 miles in 91 mins
Sun 24th: 15 miles steady – drove 4 hours home
This was a bad week. My calf muscles were tight from the build-up in my training. I ran the AAA 10K because I was defending champion, but I wasn’t in shape to run a track race at that level, and I wasn’t motivated enough either. It was a mistake to run the race, but I knew my mind was on Los Angeles, and I wasn’t too worried. 89 miles for the week.
Mon 25th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 9 miles steady
Tues 26th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. Track – 5 miles on the road in 25 minutes, then 800, 1000, 800, 1000, 800 (all with 2 mins rec.) in 2:18, 2:51, 2:18, 2:52, 2:16
Wed 27th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 8 miles steady
Thur 28th: am. 7 miles steady, Flew to Boston for heat acclimatization
Fri 29th: am. 9 miles steady, pm. 6 miles with 20 mins of 15 sec stride/15 jog
Sat 30th: 20 miles steady
Sun 1st July: 15 miles steady (75 F and 80% humidity)
The track session was designed to work on pace, with the tiredness of 5 miles fast running in my legs. I swapped the 20 miler to Thursday because I was travekking the next day. Saturday’s session was done with a running watch. Every time the watch hit a minute or 30 seconds I strode hard for 15 seconds, leaving me 15 seconds to recover before I went again. This gave me a high heart rate for 20 minutes and worked on my speed. I couldn’t do both things for twenty minutes using the long repetitions of marathon training.
Spending the last 6 weeks in the heat and humidity of Boston was essential if I was going to cope with the weather in Los Angeles. 102 miles for the week.
Mon 2nd: am. 6 miles steady – hamstring pulling, pm. rest and treatment
Tues 3rd: am. flew to Atlanta, pm. 7 miles steady – leg ok
Wed 4th: 8 am. Peachtree 10K road race – 11th in 29:30, pm. 5 miles easy then flew to Boston
Thurs 5th: 16 miles steady (85 F and 85% humidity)
Fri 6th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 2 miles easy, 1 mile hard effort, 1 mile steady, 10 x 600m Pump House hill, 2 miles easy
Sat 7th: am. 6 miles easy, pm. 9 miles – felt good
Sun 8th: 21 miles interval session on the road. Timed efforts of these minutes 5, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 5, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 5 mins steady running between; 10 mins steady at start and finish, no jogging at any stage. Very tiring. I had to lie down for 2 hours afterwards.
This was a big week, despite covering only 92 miles. A 10k race, and a tough hill session set me up for the hardest session I ever ran. Sunday’s session was the perfect session to prepare me to race the marathon rather than to run it. Using a continuous watch I ran steady for 10 minutes, ran hard for 5 minutes, then steady for 5 minutes. The next effort was 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then 4 minutes, with 5 minutes steady in between every effort. I repeated the sequence except the third effort was 5 minutes instead of four. I repeated both sequences again. This session teaches total concentration, pace judgement, and the essential ability to surge and surge again on demand as you get more tired. I used different periods of effort so i could go with someone else’s surge in a race, when I didn’t know how long the surge was going to last. This is not a session to get you fit, you have to be fit to contemplate it. It is the session, which I believe, changed me from a marathon runner to a marathon racer.
Mon 9th: am. 6 miles easy, pm. 10 miles easy
Tues 10th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 8 miles steady
Wed 11th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. Track – 2 x (2 x 800, 1 x 1600), 2 x 800 all with 2 min 30 jog 2:15, 2:14, 4:29, 2:13, 2:15, 4:28, 2:15, 2:11
Thur 12th: 15 miles in 88 mins
Fri 13th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Sat 14th: 4.8 mile road race 1st in 22:49, pm. 8 miles steady
Sun 15th: 20 miles steady (85 F, 85% humidity)
I needed two days of steady running before I felt recovered from last Sunday. The significant part of the track session was trying to run the miles at the same pace as I ran the half miles. It was nice to win a road race. 107 miles for the week.
Mon 16th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 8 miles steady
Tues 17th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. Track – 600 in 93.3, 45 sec jog, 1200 in 3:34, 100 sec jog, 4 x 200 in 30 with 20 sec turn around, 45 sec jog, 1600 in 4:50, 2 min jog, 800 in 2:05.9 (sprint and coast alternate 50m), 45 sec jog, 1600 in 4:48
Wed 18th: 15 miles in 90 mins – tired.
Thur 19th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. 8 miles easy
Fri 20th: am. 7 miles steady, pm. Track – 2 sets of 8 x 200 with 20 sec jog, av 30 sec.
Sat 21st: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Sun 22nd: Race 8 miles: 3rd in 39:22. Felt flat.
Tuesday’s track session looks complicated, but it was all about running something fast and recovering at slightly quicker than marathon pace. Friday’s session is one I used to do as a 5,000 meter runner, and fast reps with short recoveries have always helped me to peak. The marathon was getting close and I wanted to be as sharp as possible. I ran poorly in the race because i couldn’t commit myself fully. My sub-conscious was saving everything for the one that mattered, and I knew from past experience that deep in my mind I was still a caterpillar waiting for the right day to transform. 98 miles for the week.
Mon 23rd: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Tues 24th: 28 miles in 2:55 (85F and humid – lost 9 lbs in fluid) felt strong
Wed 25th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 7 miles steady
Thur 26th: am. 5 miles steady, pm. Track – 10 x 400 with 90 sec jog, av 62 sec
Fri 27th: 7 miles steady
Sat 28th: 7 miles steady
Sun 29th: 8 miles easy, 18 miles interval session in 1:43. timed efforts of (mins) 4,1,2,4,1,2,4,1,2,4,1,2 all with 5 mins steady between, 10 min steady start and finish.
I think it is important to run further than the marathon on one occasion about three weeks prior. I gave myself two days of steady running to recover before doing another speed track session. I finished my intense training with another interval session, but reduced it slightly because I knew I was in good shape and didn’t want to over train. 104 miles for the week.
Mon 30th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. 6 miles steady
Tues 31st: am. 9 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Wed 1st Aug: am. 6 miles steady, pm. Track – 6 x 800 in 2:10 with 2:30 jog in 91F, 85% hum.
Thur 2nd: am. 5 miles steady, pm. 5 miles steady
Fri 3rd: 15 miles in 96 mins (85F) felt good
Sat 4th: am. 5 miles easy, pm. 5 miles steady
Sun 5th: Race – 5 miles 1st in 24:09 Felt strong
I reduced the mileage to 84. I felt sharp in my track session, and very fluent when winning a 5 mile race. I was getting nervous, but knew I had trained well.
Mon 6th: am. 9 miles Flew Boston to Los Angeles
Tues 7th: 6 miles steady
Wed 8th: am. 6 miles steady, pm. Track – 5 x 400 with lap jog av 60.9
Thur 9th: 5 miles steady
Fri 10th: 5 miles steady
Sat 11th: rest
Sun 12th: Olympic Marathon – 3rd in 2:09:58