Viktor Rothlin was the top non-african at the 2008 Olympic Marathon where he placed 5th. A very interesting athlete who had his first success in the marathon and never had much success in the shorter distances but who steadily improved over the 2000's and eventually won the Tokyo Marathon in a then course record of 2:07:23 and won a bronze Medal at the 2007 World Championships. A look at his PR's also high lights why he appealed to a guy like me who lacks speed. Viktor's bests 3000m-8:00, 5000m 13:40, 10000m 28:22, half marathon 1:02:15. All good times for sure but none that would have come close to ranked in the top 10 in the USA last year. In fact the 3k and 5k times would generally not rate in the top 30 or 40 in the USA. Yet he pretty routinely ran under 2:09 in the marathon and medaled at a world championship.
Vicktor was also one of the early athletes to be pretty active in posting some of his training and information online and it was striking even early on before he was a world class player to see how it was different from what the people I had read about before or knew personally or by connection were doing. Like Canova's stuff it was more involved. There were tons of specific workouts and longer workouts. It seemed in comparison the athletes I was aware of were just running a lot and hopping it worked out. Rothlin and the athletes coached by Canova seemed to me to be TRAINING not just running.
This particular workout is one that appeared very regularly in Rothlin's training. It is usable in the base or specific phase of marathon prep and is also a great workout for anyone who is looking to get very strong for 5k to half marathon. I generally use it as base phase marathon workout.
What it is. This is a long run in two parts. First you run 20 to 25 miles. Rothlin generally did 40 kilometers, which is just shy of 25 miles. You run this part at about 80% of marathon pace, for non-marathoners that is about 60% of 5k pace. To find this pace you find percent increase on pace. For example if your marathon pace is 6:00 per mile you find out how many seconds that is (6x60=360) and multiply that number by 1.2 to find a pace 20% slower than marathon pace (360x1.2=432) Then convert back to minutes and seconds by dividing by 60, no calculators on this last step because you want the remainder that is the number of seconds a decimal answer will just be confusing as shit. (432/60= 7:12 per mile). A person using their 5k time would go through the same system just using 1.4 in place of 1.2 and 5k pace in place of marathon pace.
You will find this pace is not very hard. It is basically on the quick end of what your normal training pace is if you run high mileage and middle range for low mileage runners.
The second part of this session is where you get tough. You do either 10x1k repeats with 2mins rest. Or 5x2k with 3 mins rest. The rest is nice and long but honestly it isn't your breathing you'll have trouble with at this point, it is your exhausted legs and the kind of rest you need for them involves a good nights sleep. You run these repeats at half marathon to marathon goal pace so they are not very fast but it is 10k of volume after you have already run in excess of 20 miles so you will end up with over 30 miles for the session and you will be doing some very fast running at the end.
What is does. This session will teach your body that you want and expect it to produce fast running after it is very exhausted and after it has expended a huge amount of glycogen. It is likely your body will learn to burn less glycogen at your rep speed as it will be in a bit of a crisis state after the long run part and will be naturally trying to conserve as much as possible. It also builds great aerobic strength. When you are as tired as you are after a 20 to 25 mile run at a decent pace you are basically not able to push your body to a super anaerobic state so you end up having to run these reps with aerobic power. This is GREAT because you can't 'force through a session that is too fast by leaving the target range of effort and getting super anaerobic.
Can you do this with a shorter run before the reps or with less reps. Say 5x1k or 3x2k? Yes to both. Particularly as a half marathon workout or a tough long run for college runners targeting a cross country 10k. Running 10 to 15 miles and then doing the reps can be great. Is the session going to help you for the marathon in that form? Not directly but certainly it could be done like that early in a phase to build to a full session and other marathon specific sessions.
Obviously this workout isn't for everybody, it is pretty rough, but it is a great session and a nice build up to the Kenny Moore long run that I'll write a post on in the future. So if you are fit enough to do this and would like to be fitter be bold and give this one a go.