How to improve the next race

by Bjarne

Improving after the first 100 day plan race :

"Hello Marius,

I just completed Berlin marathon after having followed your plan from start to end. I am very grateful that it worked out fine as it was my first marathon ever, and I had no idea how the plan would fit.

I chose to follow the HR approach the entire way after having adjusted the numbers to my max HR. I ended up with a time of 4:04, which matched the half marathon time pretty well. I even completed with no problems, enjoyed a cold bath and had it great few hours after the race!

So, thank you very much making this to a wonderful experience, -it was just great turning into the last few kilometers in Berlin and passing the gate!

Now, before starting all over again, I have some questions puzzling me a bit.

I used the 3:30 plan even though I did not expect to end up in that range. But how should I improve the next race: Following the same plan again or switch to time based effort zones?

I know you several times have suggested using the HR zones, but I was surprised to find out that the zones was identical from plan to plan - and that the difference between the 3:30 and the 4:00 plan was very small! Can I really gain around half an hour just repeating the same 3:30 plan one or more times?

Looking at the time based zones, you have adjusted the speed for the different plans and I can easier image to achieve better results following these as they appear adjusted to the time desired time results for the marathon.

Another small issue: Starting all over again, I surely may want to run more that the suggested sessions in in the first weeks. Would it be fine to put in easy run sessions as desired to add some more sessions? Or even extend hard runs with some extra minutes of easy runs to make the interval / hard run sessions a bit longer?

Last thing: When doing recovery in interval runs, what is best: To stop entirely or to jog slowly? Or does it not matter? In the Smart Strides I noticed a big difference when stopping entirely - it felt more powerful, but I jogged for the other recovery parts.

Thanks again for your effort and help. I felt in good hands all along the way and I am looking forward to use the plan again for the next race!

Bjarne Maschoreck

Answer: Hi Bjarne and congrats on finishing the Berlin with style !

To go straight to your questions :

1. If you look at the "how to pick the schedule" part of the 100 day plan you notice that I talk about picking the "approximate" correct schedule to go by.

This is difficult when you are a first time marathoner though, which makes it a little more inaccurate.

So one of the "conditions" to running with success on say the 3:30 plan with heart rate is knowing that this is within the range of what you realistically can run. The zones are the same from one schedule to the other simply because it is the relative intensity we are talking about which is the same from elite to beginners from my experience. Which is why heart rate (or even better lactate testing) always "works" in terms of finding out how hard to run.

I would suggest for the next time around to run even faster - now that you have used the 3:30 plan to either do another round of the 3:30 plan but add in there a few more runs (ONLY easy runs, no addition to the hard ones ! Say 1-3 runs of 40-50 minutes in Effort 1) OR pick the 3:15 plan just for the variation of it. And run with heart rate.

It is hard to say how much you can improve when doing this. Later, when you have more experience as a runner you'll find this much more easy.

2. As for recovery between intervals, I personally prefer to just stand still, but it is just a matter of what you personally prefer. Nothing set.

I wish you all the best for the second time around,

kind regards,

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