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The Physicians Committee



No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap

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Veg Run Marathon training plan




Marathon Plan

This marathon plan is from vegan marathoner and ultrarunner Matt Frazier. He's also the founder of the popular blog No Meat Athlete, where he shares recipes, nutrition and training articles, and other tools for fueling an active lifestyle with a plant-based diet.

The numbers in the table refer to the number of miles to run that day. Some days call for cross-training (X-Train) or stretching as an option. Cross-training options include swimming, cycling, elliptical machines, rowing machines, body weight exercises and plyometrics, and weight training with light weight and high repetitions. Here's a video describing a short dynamic stretching routine.

Week  Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
1 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 3 Rest 3 3
2 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 3 Rest 3 4
3 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 4 Rest 3 4
4 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 3 Rest 4 4
5 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 4 Rest 4 4
6 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Rest 4 Rest 4 5
7 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Interval A 3/Rest Tempo A  Rest  6
8 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Interval A 3/Rest Hill A  Rest  4
9 X-Train/
Stretch
3 Interval A 3/Rest Tempo A  Rest  8
10 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Hill A  Rest  6
11 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Tempo A  Rest  10
12 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Hill A  Rest 6
13 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Tempo A Rest 12
14 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Hill A Rest 6
15 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval A 3-4/Rest Tempo A Rest 14
16 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4  Rest/X-Train 3-4/Rest Rest/X-Train Rest 8
17 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Tempo B Rest 16
18 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Hill B Rest 8
19 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Tempo B Rest 18
20 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Hill B Rest 10
21 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Tempo B Rest 20
22 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Hill B Rest 13
23 X-Train/
Stretch
3-4 Interval B 3-4/Rest Tempo B Rest 10
24 X-Train/
Stretch
 3  4  3  1-2 Rest 26.2

Notes:

The First Six Weeks

The first six weeks of easy running are designed to get your body accustomed to running 12-15 miles per week. If you've never run this amount before, or if by the end of six weeks these miles (which are to be done at Easy pace) feel difficult, I urge you to extend this base-building period even longer until this amount of mileage is nearly stress-free on your body. If, on the other hand, you've been maintaining this volume or greater for a few months prior to starting the program, this initial six-week period could be shortened or omitted entirely.

Note: The workouts of the first six weeks, which are meant to be easier and less stressful than the workouts in the main part of the program, assume you can run three miles without difficulty. If you can't run (or run/walk) three miles at Easy pace without difficulty yet, you are not ready for this program, and attempting it will put you at increased risk for injury. In such a case, I'd recommend starting with something like the Runner's World 8-Week Beginning Runner's Training Program and running several 5K's (and ideally, longer races) before beginning a marathon training program.

Weeks 7-24

After the six-week introductory phase, the training program shifts to incorporate five types of workouts for the remainder of the 24 weeks. These workouts are Long, Easy, Tempo, Hill, and Interval.

Of these five workouts, the long run is by far the most important for reaching your goal of eventually running 26.2 miles. This is especially true in weeks where the long run increases in distance: If you're unable to complete it then, you'll fall behind in the training and have trouble two weeks later when the long run distance increases again.

While the other workouts all serve their own unique purpose, none is as important as the long run. If you have to miss one of the shorter workouts due to a minor injury, a scheduling issue, or simply not feeling up to it on a given day, I wouldn't recommend trying to rework your schedule to make it up. Enjoy the day off and move onto the next scheduled workout when it's time.

If, on the other hand, you miss a long run – for any reason other than injury – on a week where the distance increases, I'd recommend reworking the training schedule to make up that run before you try increasing the distance again. (We'll talk about what to do if you get injured later on.)

Finally, make sure that the shorter workouts are not overly stressful on your body. They should be mildly difficult and invigorating, but recovering in time for the next run should not be an issue. If it is, lower the intensity at which you perform these workouts, or even replace them with Easy runs, if that's what it takes to be ready for the next long run.

The Workouts

Easy – Easy miles should be exactly that. The purpose of Easy running is to build your aerobic base with only the most minimal stress on your body while you recover from the previous workout. You should be able to easily carry on a conversation during your Easy run. If you'd like a more objective measure of the intensity, use a heart rate monitor and keep your heart rate below 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Most people run their Easy miles too hard. Easy pace should feel really slow. If you're worried about running into someone you know, for fear that they'll make fun of you, you're probably doing Easy pace just right.

Note: Feel free to substitute another low-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling, for the same amount of time as it would take you to do the prescribed easy run.

Easy miles appear simply as numbers on the training schedule without a specified workout type.

Interval A – A “repeat” in this workout is defined as running relatively hard for 1 minute, then running at Easy pace (or walking, if necessary to fully recover) for 2 minutes.

“Running relatively hard” definitely does not mean sprinting, but speaking full sentences at this pace should be difficult. Your pace should be just slightly slower than the fastest pace you could smoothly maintain for the entire work interval. (It may take you a workout or two before you find the right pace that allows you to complete the workout.)

After a 5-minute warmup, do 6 repeats, followed by a 3-5 minute cooldown. If after any work interval you do not recover to the point of being able to easily carry on a conversation before it's time to start the next, perform the cooldown and end the workout.

Interval B – Same as Interval A, but each repeat is now 1:30 (1minute, 30 seconds) of hard running followed by 2:30 of Easy recovery.

After a 5-minute warmup, do 6 repeats, followed by a 3-5 minute cooldown. If after any work interval you do not recover to the point of being able to easily carry on a conversation before it's time to start the next, perform the cooldown and end the workout.

Tempo A – After a 3-minute warmup, run 3 miles at a “comfortably hard” intensity. This should be significantly harder than Easy pace, but not so hard that your pace varies or you have trouble speaking in full sentences. (Tempo pace should be around 30 seconds per mile slower than your 5K race pace.) Finish with a 3-minute cooldown.

Tempo B – Same as Tempo A, but after the 3-minute warmup, run 5 miles, followed by the 3-minute cooldown.

Hill A – On a moderately-sloped hill that takes about 3 minutes to run up, run up the hill at an intensity somewhere between Tempo intensity and Interval intensity – a good indicator is that while you should be able to speak in short sentences, a conversation or even long sentences would be difficult while running up the hill. (Note that though the intensity you feel here should be greater than what you feel during a Tempo run, your actual speed will probably be slower because of the hill.)

Don't get hung up on the details: The e exact grade of the hill doesn't matter, nor does the exact intensity. The point of this workout is simply to get your body accustomed to running on hills.

Once you've reached the top of the hill, turn around and jog slowly and comfortably back down (this should take you the same amount of time or slightly longer than it took to run up the hill). Up-and-down counts as one repeat.

After a 5-minute warmup, do 3 repeats, followed by a 3-5 minute cooldown. If after any work interval you do not recover to the point of being able to easily carry on a conversation before it's time to start the next, perform the cooldown and end the workout.

Hill B – Same as Hill A, but choose a hill that takes 4 minutes to run up.

After a 5-minute warmup, do 4 repeats, followed by a 3-5 minute cooldown. If after any work interval you do not recover to the point of being able to easily carry on a conversation before it's time to start the next, perform the cooldown and end the workout.

Long – The long run each week should be done at a very low intensity (the same as Easy), one to two minutes slower per mile than you're capable of running the distance. Just as with Easy runs, aim to be able to carry on a conversation without difficulty during long runs. See below for much more about where to do your long runs and the long run mindset.

X-Train/Stretch – Any of the cross-training exercises recommended here, or any other activity that isn't too stressful on your body. Intensity should be mild, as your focus today should be on relaxation and recovery. If you're not feeling up to it or just need an additional day off, this workout can occasionally be skipped. Light stretching and foam rolling help speed recovery.

Aim for “Peaks and Valleys” of Intensity During Interval and Hill Workouts

During interval and hill workouts, you want your work intervals to be very distinct, in terms of intensity, from your rest intervals. At first, if you haven't yet developed your anaerobic system or if you simply overestimate the proper intensity (as many people do), you'll find that you tire quickly after the first few sets. This leads to inadequate recovery during rest intervals, making subsequent work intervals slower, and causing work and rest intervals to blend together.

Once you've found the proper pace and improved your fitness, you should find that your work intervals can be fairly intense (peaks), followed by recovery intervals during which your heart rate drops and your breathing becomes less labored very shortly after you complete the work interval, and in plenty of time for the next one (valleys). This quicker recovery is a sign of improved fitness.

Tapering

You'll notice that the mileage drops off significantly after the 20-mile long run. This is standard in almost all training programs and gives your body time to recover before the race, so that you show up to the start line feeling fresh, rather than worn down. The tapering period is notorious for driving nervous, addicted runners crazy with the urge to run.

If this is you, resist that urge. It's very important that you do this tapering. If injury earlier in the training program requires you to shift the long run schedule around, you can probably get away with one less week of tapering, but definitely don't try to do a long run on the weekend before the marathon. It won't do you any good to run long that close to the race, and it will leave you significantly less fresh on race day.

Remember: This is the Map, Adjust It as Needed

If at any time the training feels too intense, or if you have an injury or even sense that one is coming on, by all means make an adjustment to the plan before it gets worse. There are plenty of options for adjustment, including:

  • Doing an alternative, lower-impact aerobic activity in place of Easy runs or even in place of workouts.
  • Replacing “B” workouts with corresponding “A” workouts, or reducing the number of repeats in any workout.
  • Skipping workouts entirely when you just need a break.
  • Shuffling around the long runs if minor aches and pains or unexpected events prevent you from following the plan exactly. The format of increasing long run distance only every two weeks provides some flexibility, if you're willing to put increases in back-to-back weeks from time to time.
  • Skipping a long run or an entire week and simply moving the remaining long runs back by a week or two. If you do this, you then have the option of either skipping the 20-miler or running it during the first taper week. I've run marathons under both circumstances without problems.

 



5K PLAN

10K PLAN

HALF-MARATHON PLAN

MARATHON PLAN

COACHES

FIT FACTS

RECIPES

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