How to draw up a training plan. Algorithm for the book “From 800 meters to the marathon” + personal experience

Renat Shagabutdinov sent us a great material on how to prepare for running competitions. We can not not share this priceless information with you!

In the previous article, Renat presented an overview of the sources of information that will help to make your training plan and prepare well for your first marathon or other important running competitions. And in this post, he will talk about the step-by-step algorithm for creating a training plan, based on the book “From 800 meters to the marathon” and his own experience.

This is a simple step-by-step plan for preparing your training schedule, for which it is enough to have at least one competitive race at any distance from 800 meters and a sports clock with a heart rate monitor.

draw up a training plan

Determine the pulse zones

This item is optional. It will be great if you pass the testing on the treadmill in the sports clinic and find out your pulse zones (by the way, in this case you will know your MPC – the level of maximum oxygen consumption – and execute at once two points of the algorithm).

This is especially important if you are a beginner runner, do not have any sports experience or you are not 20-25 years old. In other cases, you can limit yourself to the classical (very approximate) formula “220 – age”, which means your maximum pulse, or use the online calculator of pulse zones and use the value obtained (I have a limiter on the clock, and I try to reach this value only at interval run in the hill). The rest of the pulse zones can be determined by yourself in terms of percentages (100-90% is the fifth zone for interval training, 90-80% is the fourth, 80-70% is the third aerobic zone, and so on) or use automatic calculation if your clock have such a function.

Try to conduct light training in the second and third zones, and interval – in the fourth and fifth. Warm-up and hitch can be carried out in the first zone.

What is it for? To avoid overtraining, running on a high pulse only individual segments, but at the same time to raise your level without conducting the whole workout on the middle or low pulse.

Example. You are 28 years old and your pulse is at rest – 60. You enter this data into any online calculator and get the following limits: 161-187 beats per minute for intervals (this is the fourth and fifth zones) and 136-161 beats per minute for easy training (second and third). For workouts, the range is 123-136 (the first zone).

Define the IPC

IPC – maximum oxygen consumption – one of the key physiological parameters, characterizing the shape of the runner (namely, his aerobic performance). It can be calculated with the help of special tests on the treadmill or at the stadium, during which the samples of exhaled air are collected at the maximum transported loads. You can calculate the approximate level of the IPC and according to your competitive results – for this, in the book “From 800 meters to the marathon” there is a special table of correspondences of the IPC and results at the competitions. Another way to calculate the IPC is to use the Garmin clock (as long as such a function exists in the Forerunner 620 and Fenix ​​2 models), which calculate the approximate value based on the pace of your workouts and the observed heart rate (pulse) during them.

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Consider the important questions that the reader may have:

  • Does the MPC characterize my form uniquely? That is, can I be sure that with the IPC = 55 overtaking runner, whose IPK = 52?
    Answer: not necessarily, since all runners have different efficiency of using oxygen, psychological attitudes and other factors that influence the outcome.
  • Is it possible to predict the results of the competition knowing the IPC?
    Answer: yes, but the accuracy will not be very high (see above – there are other factors). My own experience shows a good forecast at distances of 5 and 10 kilometers according to the calculated (that is, calculated with the help of Garmin watches, without taking air samples) of the IPC. But knowledge of the IPC is enough to understand what pace to use in training.

Algorithm for determining the IPC from the book

  1. Find the value of the IPC (Jack Daniels refers to it as VDOT, indicating by another name that this is a calculated indicator, “pseudo-IPC”) corresponding to your results at the competitions, in the table “Values ​​of VDOT for the results of the competition”. For example, you ran 5,000 meters in competition in 22 minutes. The most close to this MPC is 44. In addition, you finished in the half marathon for 1:45:02 – this corresponds to the MPK = 43. As a result, you have two values ​​(they can be as many as you have traveled in competitive mode , some may coincide).
  2. Select the maximum of the received VDOTs. In our example this is max {43, 44} = 44. This is the value you will use to calculate the pace of training.
  3. You can predict your result at the competition with the help of the received value. For example, if you determine the IPC = 44 and without a marathon experience, you can expect that run the marathon for 3:32:23 (corresponding to VDOT = 44 value) with proper training volumes.

Using online calculators IPC

You can use one of the IPC online calculators. Enter into it your result at one of the competitions and get your level of the IPC, the forecast for all distances and your training pace. It looks like this:

draw up a training plan

Determine your easy and interval rate

You got the estimated value of the IPC at the previous step (or passed the test and found out the real value – they may coincide or slightly differ). Now you can find your tempo in the table “Intensity of training depending on the current VDOT value”. For the MPC = 44, calculated in our example, these are the following indicators:

  • L-rate (light, the pace of long runs, warm-up and hitching) – 5:52 per kilometer.
  • M-pace (marathon – in it you run a marathon and spend long preparatory workouts on the way to this goal) – 5:02 per kilometer.
  • And-rate (interval, for fast and short stretches) – 4:21 per kilometer.
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Choose a training plan

What kind of training plan to take as a basis is up to you. You can make a plan for your goal on the site or use the literature – I took as a basis the plan from the book Daniels, correcting it for myself. There are four types of plans: starting, intermediate, advanced and elite, which is suitable if you want to keep fit and run for health or participate in different competitions. If you are preparing for one key event, for example, a marathon, then it’s worth taking a plan, imprisoned specifically for it. A sample list of sources for creating a plan is below:

draw up a training plan

If you plan independently, consider several principles:

  • Balance of long, light and interval training. The approximate ratio is 1: 2: 2. The exact interest can be taken on any site with a calculator VDOT.
  • Weekly volume increase by 3-5% every week, making every 4-6th week of unloading.
  • Do at least one day off.
  • A week before important competitive races, reduce training volumes, give yourself additional days of rest.
  • If possible, add hills to the plan – either to the end of some workouts, or as a separate workout.

Adjust the finished plan, taking into account its features:

  • Perhaps you only have 3-5 days a week for training.
  • You visit the pool or ride a bicycle and want to reduce the running load on the relevant days.
  • The resulting light tempo at the previous step seems too simple for you, or the interval tempo is too heavy (for example, the heart rate is above the maximum value). Adjust the pace in the classroom. For example, I sometimes run 5-10 seconds faster than my easy tempo, determined by VDOT.

Above, I recommend to add running on the hills. You can do a separate training on the hills one day, as I did, or include small rises at the end of two or three workouts a week. What are the advantages of training with a set of heights:

  • They are less traumatic (but you have to take into account that running down is a serious shock load, it’s good if you can climb a big angle and go down a gentle road).
  • They are more intense and develop aerobic performance and leg power in a shorter time compared to conventional workouts.
  • In competitions with climbing, you will have an advantage over many runners. I already several times got the opportunity to win several positions in the protocol on the races with a small set of heights, since constant training allows to overtake the others in the hilly areas.

I’ll give you an example of a plan obtained from the calculated VDOT based on the blue plan from the book (this is an advanced plan for preparing for different competitions, he approached me, as I participate in the races at different distances) and adjusted to my specifics:

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draw up a training plan

* Note: the segment is 20-30 seconds of running at the limit of strength with a minute of rest at an easy pace.

Such a plan can be done in Excel and there you can also keep track of training. This is an example of one training week, which can be repeated for one month. Next, you need to adjust the plan by increasing the volume. As a rule, in all books with training plans, templates for several months are immediately given.

Separately make a table of your own pace and look into it before training. It will come in handy until you remember that your light pace is 5:52, and the interval is 4:42, for example.

It can look very simple:


Participate in competitions and adjust the plan

Of course, you can keep your shape and run for health only, refusing to participate in competitions. But if you not only jog, but also have a desire to improve and improve their results, then you should participate in competitions for the following reasons:

  • This is a goal with a fixed time and distance, which can be frightening or motivating, but in any case it will not let you relax and skip training for disrespectful reasons.
  • At the competitions you work at the level of the IPC, and it is competitions (along with interval training) – a sure way to raise it and reach a new level. “Competitions are the best training”.
  • Running with thousands of other runners with the support of fans – it’s easier and more fun than running in the park. They make your running experience diverse.

After the regular competitions, check your result on the VDOT table or using the online calculator – it may be time for you to adjust your training pace, as your level has grown.

As we said before, it is possible to compare IPCs of different runners incorrectly due to other physiological and psychological factors, but you can and should look at the dynamics of your IPC – it reflects your development. I note that it allows you to understand the dynamics of development by comparing different competitions: you can translate the results of the successive races by 10 kilometers and 21 kilometers into VDOT values ​​and evaluate your progress.


Briefly, we repeat the algorithm: we determine the pulse zones to prevent overtraining and conduct training with the appropriate load; determine your tempo for different types of training (using the IPC value); we form a plan that takes into account our capabilities and goals; enjoy the competition and adjust the plan if necessary.

In the end – the standard wish: listen to your body, consult the trainer, if he is, regularly visit a doctor and, most importantly, do not be afraid to make yourself an extra day of rest from running, if you feel tired, or if you have a high pulse in a calm state.