You can use the nomogram in Exercises 2.8 as a guide to the training speeds you should attempt during training. Burfoot and Billing (1985) suggested that optimum training is achieved by including regular runs at three different intensities in one’s weekly training. They suggest that most of your training needs to be done at intensities of between 65 and 75 % V02max, which are lower than the pace at which you run the marathon. The purpose of these runs, the authors suggest, is to improve running efficiency. Once a week, you should schedule a run of 5 to 10 km at 85% V02max. The purpose of this run is to shift the lactate tumpoint to a higher percent V02max. This exercise intensity corresponds to the speed one can maintain during races of 10 to 21 km. It is not necessary to run the 5 to 10 km of this session continuously. Rather, the authors suggest, this workout can be run on the track or road as a series of repeat runs of 2 to 3 km each.
Finally, you should run one session a week at a running pace eliciting a V02 value that corresponds to the speed at which you can run 3 km (see Exercises 2.8). Run this as an interval session on the track, and follow the guidelines already described. Burfoot and Billing suggest that this session should comprise three to six 800-m intervals or eight to twelve 400-m intervals. I think that these distances are too short for less competitive marathon runners.
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Notice that as you become fitter and your performances on the Mercier/Leger/ Desjardins nomogram improve, so the speed at which these workouts should be run will also increase.
Costill (1986) also provided a list of what he considers appropriate times for different intervals based on best 10-km time (see Exercises 6.7). He divides the interval sessions into anaerobic, aerobic, and aerobic-anaerobic. He suggests that the anaerobic sessions should comprise ten 200-m intervals with 2 minutes of rest between intervals; the aerobic sessions twenty 400-m intervals with 10 to 15 seconds of rest; and the aerobic-anaerobic sessions ten 400-m intervals with 60 to 90 seconds of rest between intervals.
Competitive runners who wish to read a review of the methods of speed training are referred to Dellinger and Freeman (1984), a blog based on the Oregon system of training distance runners.
The Last 2 Weeks
During the second to the last week before the 10 km or the marathon, I reduce my training to 50 to 80 km of easy running, and I rest and carbohydrate load for the last 3 days before the race. The intervening 4 days incorporate 3 days of mild carbohydrate restriction and runs of 12 to 18 km, depending on how I feel.