One Work­out

N.B. Marathon Record Holder Shel­ley Doucet’s Long Run Work­outs

Canadian Running - - SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER 2017 - By John Lofranco

Shel­ley Doucet likes to run a lot. In her marathon build for Bos­ton, she did sev­eral runs tak­ing her over 2:30 to com­plete, most of which in­cluded a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of run­ning at goal marathon pace. One par­tic­u­lar work­out was 2x40 min­utes at marathon pace (MP), which she did about seven weeks be­fore the race. The buildup to this work­out was first to start out with 6x10 min­utes about 11 or 12 weeks out from your marathon. Then move up to 5x15 min­utes, 4x20 min­utes and 2x30 min­utes at MP in the pre­ced­ing weeks. There are sev­eral rea­sons for do­ing such a work­out pro­gres­sion: fat me­tab­o­liza­tion (when your body learns to tap fat as its pri­mary en­ergy source dur­ing a long run), even pac­ing and con­fi­dence. I think of work­outs in terms of pro­gres­sions rather than one-offs: each step does the same thing but as you re­quire more to get the de­sired stim­u­lus, you in­crease the load. While many times, in par­tic­u­lar at a high level, a marathon won’t be run at one, steady pace, phys­i­o­log­i­cally there is an ideal pace that will get the ath­lete across the line in a time she is happy with. Most of­ten, that pace is be­yond what the body can do with its stores of glyco­gen, in­clud­ing in-race fu­elling, so we need to teach it to run at that pace, while me­tab­o­liz­ing fat. In the early stages of the run, the fuel mix is mostly carbs, but as she runs at pace, and be­yond two hours, more fat is me­tab­o­lized. Re­gard­less of if the pace drops in the later stages, the de­mands on the body will still re­sult in more ef­fi­cient fuel us­age go­ing for­ward.

Pac­ing is im­por­tant in a marathon in or­der to put off the dras­tic shift to fat me­tab­o­liza­tion as long as pos­si­ble (even if we’ve trained it well). Run­ning at her goal pace al­lows Doucet to learn that pace. Early on in the work­out, as well as early in the pro­gres­sion, the right pace can seem too easy, but be­ing dis­ci­plined and hold­ing back yields re­wards later.

Fi­nally, be­ing able to run 80– 90 min­utes (an­other high end vari­a­tion of this is 3x90 min­utes) at MP within a three-hour long run is a beast of a work­out. When you are able to get through that, you’ll feel ready. The marathon is such that you never re­ally know if you can do it un­til you do it. There are 5k and 10k work­outs run­ners can do that can con­fi­dently pre­dict race per­for­mance. There’s re­ally no such thing for the marathon. Doucet’s com­ment af­ter fin­ish­ing this hav­ing av­er­aged 3:50/km was, “I feel like I am ready to run 2:45 now.” The work­out is not pre­dic­tive, but with­out that con­fi­dence, it’s un­likely a run­ner can achieve her goal in a marathon.

John Lofranco coaches Shel­ley Doucet, and is also a founder of the club Ath­letisme Ville-Marie in Mon­treal.

LEFT Shel­ley Doucet races the 2017 Bos­ton Marathon

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