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Ritz marathon training

January 31, 2012

Ritz discusses his training leading up to his 2:09:55 4th place finish at the Olympic Trials marathon.  He’s coached by Alberto Salazar.

Although Ritz ran a few 5k’s in the buildup, he estimates he was in 61-minute half marathon shape.  If he were to slow 5-6%, I would expect Ritz to be capable of running something in the 2:08:06 to 2:09:19.

With a first 1/2 split of 1:03:25, the pace was about 3-6 sec/mi faster than optimal for Ritz’s fitness level.  Hanging on for a 2:09:55 is very, very respectable.

Here are some of his key marathon workouts:

(For the sake of argument, I’ll assume Ritz was in shape to run 2:08:45 in a perfectly pace race, or 72.3/lap.)

a half marathon tempo in 62:50 — about 7 sec/mi faster than marathon pace

a 15 mile tempo at 4:50 pace — about 5 sec/mi faster than marathon pace

some 20 milers at 5:00 pace — about 5 sec/mi slower than marathon pace

HT: Running Times

Nate Jenkins offers some comments:

Jon B- I haven’t seen the thread. Ritz is a very hard guy to train for the marathon because he can go so hard in workouts. This guy ran 10 miles at half marathon pace in a workout! That is beyond crazy. I mean you expect to do better in a race because of adrenaline, competition and because of tapering. In general most runners training at the type of volume a guy like Ritz does- ie 100 plus miles per week, can run 6 to 8 miles at half marathon pace in a workout.
So those three workouts, particularly the half and the 15 mile are good marathon workouts for a guy looking to run 2:05;30 to 2:06:30. Now the only thing that I see that is troubling about these is that the pace slows with each extension of distance. IE he did 13.1 miles at 2:05:40 pace, 15 miles at 2;06:30 pace and 20 miles at 2:11 pace.
The real story and question is what else did he do in the specific phase. If he was doing 10x1k and 8 mile tempo’s and 10x mile then that is no good for marathon prep. But if he was doing 6x5k at mp with 1k rests in 3:15 to 3:20 and 40k tempo’s at 5:15 pace then that is great mp work. My guess is the reality was some place in between. IE he did 10xmile, he did 1hr to 1:30 progression runs, he probably did 10x1k at hmp, 1k quick recovery so you average marathon pace- for a guy like ritz this would be like 1k in 2:50 with 1k recovery in 3:10.
For most runners just doing the three workouts above would be enough to expect a very good marathon. Then again Ritz ran a very good marathon, not a great one. For a guy like Ritz who has fuel issues and who is such a monster in workouts.
I think for a guy like him that he needs to do some very extensive marathon workouts. IE 40k at 90%mp- so instead of the 20 mile at 5min pace, or in addition, try running 25 miles at 5:05/5:10 pace. Try doing sessions like the kenny Moore- 30 miles at about 80% mp and then 6 miles at mp. Or 40k at 80% mp and then 10x1k or 5x2k reps. Perhaps even as crazy as 50k at 85 to 90% of mp.
In addition doing sessions of repeats at marathon pace instead of steady runs. So instead of 15 miles at 4:50 pace you do 5×3 miles at 4:50 but take 1 mile recovery’s at 5;10 to 5;20 pace. This workout may be a bit easier or the same effort but it is LONGER, So he ends up running 4:50 pace for the 17th, 18th and 19th miles. Because the rest miles are quickly run they burn a good bit of glycogen well allowing you to aerobically continue for that distance.

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