Training Zones

by Rick

Training zones and "zone 1" training.

"Marius - Your explanation of the 5 zones is much appreciated. Zone 3 can be used for the quality sessions, but one to avoid as a "gray area zone" for the recovery days , which should remain below the 70% of MHR level, correct?"

AnswerHi Rick, you are correct. One of the biggest mistakes runners do is to run too hard on the easy days.

Problem with going between 70 and 80 % of max HR is that you'll have the same type of impact on your muscular system as harder runs, while at the same time very little training effect. The result is lack of recovery from the hard runs and too little impact from the runs itself for a good training effect that needs adaption.

IF you are in poor shape/a beginner, you can stretch this a little, maybe up to 73-74 % HR on your easy runs for a few weeks just to get your form going abit without having to walk too much (especially uphill) - but this is the general "rule".

I've tested this quite abit on all-level runners and together with "hard day-easy day-hard day" focus and progressive work mostly within Effort 3 on the hard days is the core for most to run faster - say 80 % of it. The remaining 20 % is type periodization, intensity and interval variation - all those things you can see in the 100 day marathon plan.

I wish you all the best with your training zones and your heart rate training.


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Progressive running

by Kreso
(Zagreb, Croatia)

How to go about sessions where you feel like the pace is dropping towards the end - always go for progressive running in your sessions.

"Hello Marius
I use your 3:30 plan for marathon, in hard workout like 7x4min (3min in eff 3 and 1 min in eff 4, rec 1 min) my speed drops significantly after 3-4 intervals.I can't sustain same speed when i am in eff 4 like in few first intervals. Is it sign of accumulated lactic acid in my muscles? Almost all recovery time(1 min in this case)is spent in effort 3, maybe at end of recovery is 80% heart rate. Is it ok training for me and should I change something?
Best regards"

Answer: Hi Kreso, the main reason for this is that you are not fit enough yet to sustain the pace all through the session. This is a combination of muscular and cardiovascular aspects of training.

What I would do is to start off your sessions at the very lower end of Effort 3 (around 80 % of max HR) and build the pace up gradually. In the Effort 4 part of the runs, go right at the lower end of this (at around 87-88 %) in the first intervalls, then at the end you'll be able to go that little bit harder/faster. You want to aim for some progression in the session if possible, at least keep the same pace going. So you want to start a bit slower and build up.

Wish you all the best with your training,

best regards,

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Long threshold sessions

Longer threshold than 40 minutes :

"Hi Marius,

Just wanted to ask why there isn't any longer threshold runs than approx 40mins in the 2.45 plan?

I know you mentioned threshold runs can be anywhere from 36mins to 1hour.

In articles iv read on lydiards training methods he uses 10mile threshold runs at around 80-85% of max (approx) in his base period.

Also I've read other top runners do 15miles threshold runs in their marathon training.

Just wanted to know your views on this?


Answer Hi Paul, the answer to this is simple : it is a matter of what level you are at. In my own personal career, at the most I would do 26km threshold (1:20-30) pace at altitude (as part of a normal training week of 70-100 km threshold at the most) - but most runners that are not as well trained and light as elite ones would break doing this. I would even break down myself myself if I did those workouts early in the training year.

The point is that if you do too long threshold work when the base is not good enough, the effect is just marginally better than the shorter ones (30-35 min) but the stress increases dramatically.

Which is why I've focused a bit more on shorter threshold work combined with longer duration variation of pace in the 100 day plan. For 90% of the runners doing marathons from 2:20-30 and upwards this is the best approach in my opinion. For faster ones, you can certainly adjust this in a much more personal way.

I hope this answered your question.

All the best,

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Hard days - easy days running

by Andres
(MEdellin, Colombia)

When to do what sessions in the 100 day plan :

"Hi Marius,

I´m planning to follow the 4:00 schedule with 4 workouts per week, can you orientate me on wich days of the week each sesion??? like for sesion 1 Tuesday, Sesion 2 Wednesday, etc.


Answer: Hi Andres, it it quite simple and I talk about this a bit in the 100 day plan as well.

You can pretty much do the hard sessions at any day of the week BUT you must have either 1 easy run in between OR a total rest day.

So if you run hard on Monday, you have have to rest or easy jogging (one of the Effort 1 sessions) Tuesday, then hard Wednesday, easy jogging/rest Thursday etc. Other than that you can mix around the sessions as it best suits your weekly schedule.

All the best,


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Effort 5 running

by Paul
(The Netherlands)

Why is there so little Effort 5 in the 100 day plan ?

"Hi Marius,

Just a question out of interest in the philosophy of your program.

In contradiction to a lot of other programs I have seen, there is very little running @ effort 5. In other programs, intervals or fartlek sessions are often performed at 5k pace (or slightly less) to build Speed / Aerobic Capacity (VO2max). You seem to focus more on effort 4 instead. What's the idea behind this.

thanks very much in advance!



Answer:Hi Paul, you are very right. Parts of the reason for this comes after my stays in Kenya as well as my two years of training with Peter Coe (father of Olympic Champ in the 800 m Sebastian Coe).

I personally did alot of experiment with the high Effort 4 - going into Effort 5 with Mr. Coe (though noted : on top of an aerobic base) but when I came to Kenya my first time I did hundreds of lactate acid tests in the Kenyan runners and found out that NONE of them were into Effort 5 in any of the sessions.

And with the Kenyans dominating the running scene you can pretty much guess why I would change my approach based on that. And it works much better on pretty much any runner in the aerobic events.

After my years in medical school I've strengthened that view. It is too long to get deep into here but it is a huge misunderstanding that just "breathing harder" will boost your Vo2 max. Think of it as a car : the lungs are just a component to take the fuel into the engine - which is normally not a limiting factor, but the engine itself is a longer and more complicated chain of factors. And it much better training (all those factors) with a different approach to training than the going all of type Effort 5 training.

I wish you all the best with your marathon work.


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5k and 10k training in the marathon plan

by Mike

5k and 10k training in the 100 day marathon plan

"Hi Marius,

Recently purchased your 100 day marathon training programme and its great!

I'm mainly focusing on the 2 week section (5k/10k training) which im repeating throughout my track season here in the Uk where I am running 5ks on the track.

I'll be doing this until August then I will carry on the programme in the build up to a marathon which i want to run in spring 2011. I hope to run 2.15, My current 10k time on the road is 30.22

I just wanted to ask seeing as I'm track running in the summer and running the 3 workouts a week on mon,wed,fri what would you suggest i do for the other days? (diagonals,striding??) I run 2xper day up to 100miles a week.
Any suggestions would be great

Thanks Mike"

Answer:Hi Mike, I have to be general on this, as you know I have my background in the 5k and I could write a book about how to do the best possible 5k training ;)

To relate it to the 100 day plan, I would also include sessions from the half marathon phase in your summer 5k/10k training. For example you have some great threshold runs in this phase that you can pick and place into your training - but you do not want to go above 35 minutes of threshold work during the summer 5k/10k training (so Effort 3 + 4 sessions where the effective time of running is 45-60 min, you want to cut down to 35 minutes, but you can keep the same overall structure of the session)

I also recommend using some of the sessions from the intro weeks (the 45 sec run 15 sec break - highly effective)

In terms of the general structure, 3 times a week of hard work is fine, the rest easy runs Effort 1 work and NO STRIDES on easy days (very important, you want nothing but Effort 1 on the easy days - the strides are only for the hard days)

A good way is to structure the hard runs into 2 threshold runs + one track work weekly. Some days you can also experiment with two threshold runs on one day - so that about each other week you'll have one day with Effort 3 (threshold) in the morning + afternoon, one day with 1 threshold and 1 with 1 race/1 track workout. On the double-day, make sure that one of these threshold sessions are short intervalls (type 30 x 1 min )and the other one longer (type 4-6 min x 6) for variation.

I wish you all the best with your training,

Kind regards,

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Zone 4 Effort and 3k training

by Anders

Zone 4 effort and 3k training :

"Hi marius and thank you much for sharing your
knowledge! 2 questions:)

I was wondering, zone 4 heartrate-wise is suppose to be appx. your 10k-21k speed according to your plan. However, to reach zone 4 on a normal session of 15* 45/15, I have to run way faster than my 10k to 21 k pace. It resembles more like my 3k pace.

Also comparing this pace to the track sessions e.g 6*1200 etc, the zone 4 pace differs again, since this session is more like 10k race pace.

Question is, the shorter intervals at 30-60 sec you will need to increase speed to get up to the desired heartrate, compared to the longer stuff in the same heartrate-zone or am I missing something?

Next question is: for the 3k and 1500m, you would need a whole new period with some faster track-sessions also touching into zone 5 right? I know this is a marathon-site, but can you give some general guidelines?

Hope your exams went well this spring!


Answer: Hi Anders and thanks for your question.

To question nr 1 : you are very right, it takes faster pace to get up to the given heart rate at this zone. In the longer intervalls you'll experience cardiac drift which makes the heart rate stay at a higher rate on a lower pace. In the shorter work, you'll find yourself maybe touch this zone only at the end of each interval. You are spot on in terms of this AND heart rate is more inaccurate for intervalls under 2-3 minutes. In that case, stick to pace if you can and/or have a bit more focus on subjective effort.

To your second question : yes, you are correct. For the 3k (also the 1500, but the 1500 training depends on if you are a 800/1500 meter runnner or a 1500/3k runner - it is a distance where training depends more on your type vs. the longer distancer) I would structure it differently. In that case it would be something like this :

1) first period, shorter type intervalls 45/15 combined with good aerobic volume.

2) second period, 10k - half marathon focus but at least once a week with faster work (touching high zone 4, into zone 5 but at the most 30 sec effort pr interval and longer recoveries, 2-4 min.)

3) Higher volume, loads of anaerobic treshold work - but with great variation.

4) back to second period again but a bit less volume.

5) pre-season work, faster - Effort 4-5, going down on the anaerobic trehshold work BUT monitoring this so that you are sure that it does not fall too much (have a certain limit you know you need to be above)

6) Tapering/competition.

I hope this helped a bit and I wish you all the best with your training,


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Easier Intervals?

by Paul M
(Michigan, USA)

Heart rate higher on the effort 3 long pace vs. effort 4 short pace.

"Hi Marius,

I am in week two of the lead up to starting the 3:15 training plan.
I am doing the speed workouts on a treadmill instead of a track because we have so much snow here (hope its ok?). Here's my question - the workout today called for 20 min effort 3 + 10x1 with 1 min rec. I took the monitor to track my HR.

What I saw was my HR was HIGHER by about 11 bpm for the 20 Min effort 3 while running 7:20 min/mile vs. the 10 1 minute repeats at effort 4 (6:41/mi). I thought my HR should be higher when running faster - does this tell me something about my fitness that I should be concerned about?
Thank You!"

Answer:Hi Paul, and thanks for the question. To make the answer a bit general so that others can relate as well : there is nothing to worry about. It is just because of the recoveries this happens. This is common for shorter intervals than 1 minute ; your heart rate does not have time to push itself really high vs. the actual pace in that time. It is a bit individual but in most cases (including my own) this is the case. It is the reason why heart rate for shorter intervals is not as accurate as a measurement tool vs longer more steady efforts.

I wish you all the best with you training,

kind regards,

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Marathon Effort

by Lisle L.
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)

What is the marathon effort / heart rate to run the marathon in ?

"I am two weeks away from my first marathon in 10 years (L.A.), and I am injury-free, which I attribute to your periodization techniques!

I noticed in your 100-day guide that you never directly say what effort level the marathon pace should be. However, you say that Effort 4 is your 10k to half-marathon pace, Effort 3 is in between marathon and half marathon pace, so I infer that marathon pace will be around an Effort 2. Is that correct, and is there a reason why you don't state that? Thanks for your advice. Lisle L."

Answer: Hi Lisle, and I'm glad you are injury free and getting ready for the marathon.

The general rule of thumb is that the marathon can be run at in "low Effort 3". The reason why I haven't said anything more specific in the 100 day plan about this is that the absolute best way to do this is based on the half marathon time - which again is based on your previous 10k time.

So I really want the runners on the plan to go with this type of paced approach.

This is MUCH more accurate than running by heart rate or any other predictor (or Effort) Do to it this way also makes it possible to "negative split" the marathon which is what you want to get a PR.

You simply stay in control with having a pace written down on your hand beforehand and check this for every mile marker.

So if you have a previous run under your belt, use the calculators in the 100 day plan and it will tell you what pace to run at. This is the best way to solve this.

I wish you all the best with your upcoming marathon.

Kind regards,

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Adding LT training

What is the way to add more LT training if one is on the 2:45 program - aiming for a faster time ?

"Hi Marius, im currently following your sub 2.45 marathon programme, its been great. Just wanted to ask about some more information on LT running (80-87% of max HR)

Iv read you used to cover 40miles+ in your overall weekly training running at just under your LT.
This is obviously running 2x per day, which i currently do also.
Would you recommend me adding any extra LT type runs to my training to boost performance and endurance like the kenyans?



Answer:Hi Mike, for a faster time than 2:45 and if one wants to add extra LT training (Effort 3 training), the way to do this is to add runs on the hard training days. That way you can still respect the easy-day then hard-day routine that I strongly recommend for muscular recovery.

You want to double the hard sessions on those LT days with say 25-30 minutes of LT in the morning and then the "normal" session of LT in the afternoon. You are right about my personal LT mileage - at the most I've been up to 70 miles a week only on Effort 3 (and a total of 140-150 miles) BUT you have to vary this abit - going 1-2 weeks higher in LT and then down to say 25-35 miles with a bit more faster work. Otherwise you'll wear yourself down.

In general though, stick to the 100 day plan and about every other week you can "test" what I explain to you above to see where your optimal LT mileage is.

Kind regards,

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