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Tara Disy Allden

This entry would be very good for Boston bound marathoners to read well before training begins. As an introverted runner whose strength is steady, strong effort, that course and race brought way too many surprises.

Thank you for your work.
Tara Disy Allden


With regard to duration, how do you suggest handling a series of races? One race per day for x days, or x races in one day, or x races over y days?

Joe Friel



How do you suggest training for a series of races over one or more days?

I can make a good guess at how long an individual race may take, but with a series, we may do several races on a day and several days of racing. Weather conditions play a large role in this.

Let me draw two parallels to the cycling world - a stage race, or a series of daily races over several days or multiple crit races in a day.

Do you simply plan for a maximum number of races per day, say 4, and multiply that by the expected race duration?

Joe Friel

Brian--Determine what the stressors of the race will be (durations, intensities, frequencies, etc) and then design workouts that simulate those stressors to some extent.

Joe Friel

Ian--Some tell me that works better for them.


Hi Joe, and thanks for your continued insight.

Question: I'm doing my first IM this year in Florida, and didn't I go and sign up for an Ironman very far from what I experience in day-to-day training.

I live in a hilly area, whereas that course is flat. I have a lake and pool to swim in, but no ocean, and since I'm in a cold climate I won't even be in the lake for at least a month before the race.

I feel like all my hill training will be a benefit, but is that actually true? And how do you train for ocean currents when you don't have any?


General question- A world class runner can do a marathon in just over 2 hrs while I struggle to run one in 4 1/2 hrs. I suspect that not only is he faster but that he uses significantly less energy than I do. This vast chasm appears unbridgeable with training and represents a marked difference in efficiency. I presume that this is genetic in basis.
Does this efficiency lie in the biomechanics (muscles, tendons, leverage) or at a biochemical or cellular level (actin, myosin etc.). The differential appears too great to be accounted for by energy utilization (VO2 max).
Thanks, Bob

Joe Friel

Bob--Physiologists generally accept 3 things as determining endurance fitness: aerobic capacity (VO2max), lactate/anaerobic threshold as a % of VO2max, and economy of movement. 2+hr marathoners have got all of these at world class levels.

Joe Friel

Wendy--Better to train in hills and race flat than the other way around. Not much you can do about ocean currents, etc when you don't have one. Just do the best you can. Good luck!

Mike MacLellan

Long time reader, first time commenting. I'm a marathoner/ultra-marathoner who's currently at a fitness level that will definitely allow me to go sub-3 next time I hit the roads, but I want to do as much as I can to go even lower; what's the point in training for a race if you know ahead of time that the goal is "easily" within reach?
My limiters are essentially any paces above LT. My 10k PR is definitely soft, and I don't even bother racing 5k's because I hate red-line efforts. Would this fall into the category of "general limiters" and therefore be better addressed early on in my training cycle?
I'm not overly concerned with race-specific limiters, since MP runs as well as hill work are both "easy" and enjoyable for me, and my ultra-running training is taking care of my aerobic endurance more than sufficiently.
Thanks in advance!

Joe Friel

Mike--If the race doesn't demand an ability/aspect of fitness (e.g., going above LT in a marathon) then it isn't a limiter. It's a weakness. These are the sorts of things I have athletes work on late in the Base period as they help to make them more _generally_ fit.

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