Marathon Training - Women

An examination of the some of the world's best female marathon runners' - Lorraine Moller, Grete Waitz, Joan Benoit, Rosa Mota, Uta Pippig, Ingrid Kristiansen, Priscilla Welch, Sonia O'Sullivan and Linda Somers Smith - base training (see outlines below) provides insight into how one may develop a sensible training plan for the marathon.

Common patterns within their training plans
  • all included some type of tempo run / fartlek
  • all included a weekly very long run (exception Rosa who did a faster 90 min run). so a constant menu of medium distance runs to make up the miles was was not standard. 
  • all included a weekly medium long run
  • all included a repetition session (usually one) - Priscilla added hers in a later training phase
  • long repetitions (miles / 1kms) seemed to be preferred to short repeats
  • there was a lack of the super session normally associated with track runners. training was controlled
  • a few included weekly strides (Uta, Ingrid, Priscilla, Sonia)
  • the top woman did a little less volume than the top men. 100 - 110 miles was about the average a couple did more and a couple did fewer
  • the vast majority or training runs were a 40 to 60 mins. most of Joan's 6-13 miles runs were likely 10 miles if you do the maths.
  • there was a lack of designated hill sessions (no doubt covered in hilly runs)
  • former track runners were more inclined to include track sessions and easy recovery days, and do less total mileage under 100 miles (Lorraine, Grete (according to "Lore of Running"), Sonia, Linda)
  • those who only specialised in the marathon (eg Rosa, Joan, Uta) ran more miles (around 120) and had more focus on overall faster steady longer running. Uta and Ingrid used more of a hard/easy approach. 
  • some cross training (Ingrid with CC skiing), Lorraine. Priscilla (swimming / water running) and Linda (cycling) 

  • Sources of the training plans are from an excellent book - Running With Legends by Michael Sandrock, Irish Runner Magazine (Sonia O'Sullivan) and runningtimes.com (Linda Somers Smith).

    Below are the training plans of the stars followed by generic training plans incorporating the ideas within tihs article
Womens Marathon Training Summary

 

Grete Waitz

Joan Benoit

Rosa Mota

Uta Pippig

Ingrid Kristiansen

Priscilla Welch

Sonia O'Sullivan

Linda Somers Smith

Lorraine Moller

Long Run

1 long run - 2 hours easy

1 very long run - 2 hours

1 or 2 medium long run - 90 mins max (good pace)

1 long run - 20 miles

2.5 hours of cross country skiing

1 long run 2-2.5 hours

1 long run - nearly 2 hours

1 long run

1 strong very long run up to 2 hr 45

Number of Runs

many runs of less than one hour

1 long run - 15 miles

runs usually an hour or less

1 medium long run strong pace - 15 miles

Lots of cross training / treadmill running

2 x medium long runs

runs usually an easy hour or less

1 medium long run

1 easy long run - 15 miles

Doubles

many doubles

many doubles

many doubles - usually at a good pace 6 min mile pace or better

many doubles - most runs around an hour or less

many doubles 40 to 60 mins

many doubles, mainly steady pace

many doubles, easy medium length runs

easy days are very slow

many doubles with 3 doubles of shorter runs

Reps

2 rep sessions (long and 300s)

1 rep session

2 fartlek sessions (1 to 5 min efforts) on the road

1 rep session (mile reps), when training for track 15-20 x 400m

1 session of strides, in summer did three rep sessions like 1 km reps, 60 sec efforts

1 session of strides

1 rep session (miles and 200s), 1 strong hill session

has a background of many years of running

1 rep session (400s or 1000s)

 Runs

1 fartlek/tempo run

. Many runs were hard.

Raced Regularly

1 tempo run

2 x 15 min temp runs (one session), 1 x pickup run

a couple of steady state runs per week

1 hard tempo run

includes 1 rep session, a long run, medium long run with steady efforts

1 tempo run

 Mileage

a little under 100 miles a week when training for marathon, 60 miles per week when focussing on track events. Most runs were at a steady pace.

120 miles per week

100-110 miles per week, never missed a day, took one afternoon per week off (sometimes two)

120-130 miles per week, sometimes hit 170 miles per week

Focus on long slow efforts, ran very easy on recovery days, hard days were hard (Tuesday/Thursday). 110-120 miles per week. Foucus on many shorter runs than long runs. Nature of hard workouts did vary.

3 long runs at 70-80 % MHR and a third at 60 %. Major focus on aerobic running, did rep work for three months of the year. had three weeks off per year.

This training is from when Sonia was training for the 5000, cross country and not the marathon

70 miles per week

3 recovery days, regularly less than 100 miles per week










Grete Waitz's training on lower mileage - http://sciencenordic.com/how-become-world-beater

Womens Marathon Training

 

Grete Waitz

Joan Benoit

Rosa Mota

Uta Pippig

Ingrid Kristiansen

Priscilla Welch

Sonia O'Sullivan

Linda Somers Smith

Lorraine Moller

 

 

World Gold� 1983

Olympic Gold 1984

Olympic Gold 1988

Winner 3 majors 2.21

WR 1984

Age 42 - 2.26

World CC Champ 2.29

Age� 49 - 2.36

Olympic Bronze� 1992

 

Monday am

45 mins, 4 min per km pace

6-13 miles

No weekly outline

10 miles - 4.23 per km pace

50 mins (6 mins per mile) on treadmill

45 min at 70-80 % MHR

 

 

Recovery day 10 km

Monday am

Monday pm

55 mins

6 miles

 

6 miles 4.23 per km pace, 15 strides, 45 mins calisthenics

2 hours cross country skiing

30 min easy

69 min easy

very slow run

10 km (rarely slower than 7.00 mile pace) or swim

Monday pm

Tuesday am

45 mins

15-16 miles

Always a one hour morning run

6 x 1 mile in 5.15 (2 mins)

1 hour on treadmill at 6 min per mile or faster

60-90 mins at 70-80% MHR on hilly course

45 min easy

 

 

Tuesday am

Tuesday pm

6 x 1000m in 2.55 with 60 sec rest (or 5 x 1 mile (400 recovery)� or 5 x 2000m)

 

100 -110 miles per week. 2 runs per day.

6 miles

2 x 15 mins at 5.00 - 5.15 mile pace (4.00 min rec) 12.5 to 15 miles

30 min easy plus flexibility drills

Track session - 1 mile 5.00 min pace, 8x200m (34), 1 mile 5.00, 8 x 200m (34), 1 mile 4.55, 2.5 miles w/u, w/d and strides

very slow run

5 km steady state

Tuesday pm

Wednesday am

45 mins

6-13 miles

2 sessions per week and 1 or 2 long runs of 13-15 miles per week

10 miles - 4.23 per km pace

50 mins on treadmill at 6 min mile pace

10 x 100m with 300m jog with coordination drills

45 min easy

 

 

Wednesday am

Wednesday pm

55 mins

6 miles

Runs are never more than 90 mins

6 miles 4.23 per km pace, 45 mins calisthenics

60-90 mins cross country skiing

30 min easy plus flexibility drills

60 min easy

Medium Long Run (12 miles fast fish, 10 miles fast last miles, 13 steady) rotate

15 miles (6.30 to 7.00 mile pace)

Wednesday pm

Thursday am

45 mins

6-13 miles

Runs usually at 6 min mile pace (sometimes 5.45)

15 miles - 4 min km pace

60 mins on treadmill - 1st 30 min 6.10-6.30 mile pace, 2nd 30 min 5.20 mile pace

60-90 mins at 70-80% with last 20 mins at 90% MHR

42 min easy

 

Recovery day 10 km

Thursday am

Thursday pm

fartlek 6-4-3-2-1 mins (2 min rec), or 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 mins. Or , 20 min tempo run

track session or fartlek

Examples of hard sessions - 10 x 1 min (1 min) or 10 x 2 mins (2 min) or 3, 4, 5 min repeats

6 miles, strides

60-90 mins cross country skiing, 15 mins of jumping exercises

50 mins

12 x hills 57/58 secs each

very slow run

10 km (rarely slower than 7.00 mile pace) or swim

Thursday pm

Friday am

45 mins

6-13 miles

Raced regularly, most runs were of quick pace, did not do very long runs.

10 miles - 4.23 per km pace

55 min on treadmill at 6.00 min mile pace and 5 x 100 m strides

45 min at 70-80 % MHR on treadmill

64 min easy

 

Recovery day 10 km

Friday am

Friday pm

55 mins

6 miles

 

6 miles 4.23 per km pace, 15 strides, 45 mins calisthenics

60-90 mins cross country skiing, 15 mins of jumping exercises

30 min easy

50 min easy

Intervals (alternate mile / 1000m / 400m) rotate over three weeks

10 km (rarely slower than 7.00 mile pace) or swim

Friday pm

Saturday am

50 mins

20 miles

 

6 miles - 3.28 per km pace

2.5 hours of easy cross country skiing

Maximum aerobic pace test

76 min total running including fast last lap Bushy Park 38.30 (approx 7 miles)

 

 

Saturday am

Saturday pm

2 x 10 x 300 (100m jog rec) 5 min jog b/w sets

 

 

6 miles - 4.30 per km pace

 

5 miles at 80% MHR with coordination drills

 

very slow run

High quality intervals or race eg 20 x 400 in 74 sec, or 10 x 1000m (400 rec)

Saturday pm

Sunday am

2 hour run

6-13 miles

 

20 miles 4.15 km pace

10 km (40 mins) on treadmill

30 min running in water, flexibility drills

1 hr 50 mins good steady long run

Long Run (20 steady, 16 with a fast finish, 18 with a steady last 10 mile) rotate.

long run up to 2 hr 45 mins, as fast as 6.0 mile pace

Sunday am

Sunday pm

 

6 miles

 

 

10 miles (60 mins) on treadmill

2-2.5 hrs at 60-70 % MHR

 

 

 

Sunday pm











 A standard weekly training plan incorporating training ideas of these elite athletes may look something like this.
 ampm
Mon10 km easy14 km easy
Tues10 km easyReps (eg 5 x 1 mile (rec 2 mins) or 12 x 400 (rec 60 sec)) 14 km total
Wed10 km easy14 km easy (including strides)
Thur23 km good pace 
Fri10 km easy10 km easy
Sat

Warm up, hard effort (5 to 12 km) (eg hilly run or tempo run or 2 x 15 mins) or race, warm down 
16 km total

 
Sun28-32 km easy 
A plan, with the same principles, for a serious club runner who may only be be able to run 100 km (60 miles) per week may be
Mon12 km easy
TuesReps (eg 5 x 1000 (90 sec) or 8 x 400 (60 sec)), 12 km total distance
Wed15 km easy (including strides)
Thur18 km good pace
Fri10 km easy
SatHilly or Tempo Run (30 mins) 12 km total distance
Sun20-25 km easy
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