Base Results

Training for the this year's tilt at the Melbourne Marathon officially started back on the 14th April. The last three and a bit months have been all base training. For me that isn't as simple as covering lots of low intensity miles. I still go by the following definition of base training:

To develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

To achieve this, there is a bit more required to be well balanced. Trying to keep things close to simple, as I am tending to do lately, has meant I include running at different paces (easy, moderate, race paces and some faster work), some extended runs, different terrain work and a bit of complementary work with weights, flexibility, cycling and the occasional swim. Hopefully I have developed a foundation in structural, musculoskeletal integrity, efficient running form, development in the range of muscle fibres and their recruitment, good central physiology and efficient substrate utilisation.

Really I want to be fit and healthy enough to handle some consistent hard and heavy training over the next 2 and a bit months.

To be more specific I was hoping to have achieved the following by the end of the three Base training phases:

  • A sustained threshold running pace for 60min faster than 4:05/km
  • A MAF running pace of 4:20/km
  • 400m Time Trial of about 68 seconds
  • The ability to run for 3 hours comfortably

Having run at 4:05/km pace for 70min last week has me ticking off the first point with some confidence.

I've used this week as a test week.

Maximal Aerobic Function

With a MAF pace of 4:28/km recorded back in May, I was thinking 4:20/km quite doable this week. Waking up, my legs were feeling flat and stiff, but this is often the case after a few forced easy days. Simple solution- start the warm up very, very easily and only pick the pace up when my body feels like doing so. Seemed to work by the time I hit the start of my usual 8.4km course.

The wind was pretty strong this morning, with the headwind being on the return trip of the out and back course. Without knowing my splits at the time, I considered the conditions were likely to rob me of about 3-4 seconds per kilometre compared with a still day.

In the end I recorded a pace of 4:38/km. Much slower than I was hoping. That opens up a few areas to think about.

400m Time Trial

My last trial had been completed in a tad over 70 seconds. Since then I have run up plenty of steep hills, but haven't included much flat, leg speed work. Would the extra strength development translate into a faster 400m?

The previous day's MAF test seemed to re-energise my legs to some extent. It had been quite a while since I'd run a session on the track. I was actually very happy to return to the rubber coated surface and lace up a light pair of racing flats. My mindset was good. These are the trials that set up the real training.

One lap. Seemed okay. A little forced, but generally I held things together for a time of 1:09.4. A tad slower than I was hoping for, but still 0.8 of second faster than last time.

Where does that leave me?

Not getting the numbers across the board of trials that I had decided on a few months ago probably isn't that bad. At first I quite disappointed with the MAF test, but if I take stock of other indicators I probably do have the fitness I need at this stage in training. Plus I have shown improvement in all indicators except for the MAF test.

My sustained threshold pace has increased from a tough 4:20/km being held for 45min to feeling comfortable with 4:05/km over 75min. The pace of my aerobic conditioning and long runs has increased from a range of 6:50-5:15/km to 5:30-4:45/km over the last couple of weeks. In general, most runs just feel more natural too. If that isn't good improvement, then I don't know what is.

So I am ready to start the next phase of training. A few weeks focusing on raising my threshold paces even further before a really zeroing in on the marathon specifics. Of course I will still be aiming to increase my general endurance as well. To make sure I am really on track and to get an idea on what I may need to alter, I'll be using this Sunday's 30km race as marathon time trial. I won't be racing to in the true sense, instead I will treat as the upcoming marathon. Same pre-race food and routine. Same nutrition and hydration plan during the race. Same pacing strategy. The exception is it will suddenly end 12.195km short. Should tell me a lot about how ready I really am.


  1. Maybe the MAF test was just a 'bad hair day'. That seems way out of wack if you're doing 4:05s for a sustained run.

    Good luck on Sunday. HR and splits for each 5k segment would be interesting - esp 25-30k to see if there's much HR drift.

  2. wow....that's some nice improvement! I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results of you "non race" race coming up.


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