Originally Posted by JohnDozer
Could I ask you to expand on this particular aspect if you don't mind?
What are the factors that a person should look at when trying to choose the right plan? Since the post the other night where I gave a very brief overview of my marathon experiences, I've had a little bit of time to have a look at Strava (not in a great amount of detail mind), but enough to give me a few pointers about what may have gone wrong...
From my own perspective, if I'm honest I probably do have a bit of difficulty in sticking rigidly to plans. That is reflected in the Strava record of my other experiences. That is also reflective of my approach to life in general. I see these things more as guidelines, rather than things that are exactly followed. I do understand that there is science and experiences of many others underpinning all these plans. I do also believe that there is many different ways to skin a cat.
Sometimes my job is settled and I can wrap all the other parts of my life around it neatly. It also has the potential to go bat crazy for a couple of months or weeks, and everything else has to be wrapped around that. It can't be predicted, but the likelihood of getting through a full marathon cycle without some bit of interruption is unlikely.
I guess I'm now angling away from P&D following on from your question. I've had a look at all the different options that the OP kindly put up in Excel format. The one that immediately catches my eye is the Meno modified plan. My instinct looks at it and goes:- long runs... tick, lots of MP work... tick and then sees sufficient scope for me to add in an extra workout if I feel like it on a particular day when the body feels good, the mind is up for it and the route is one that lends itself to having a good running day.... but the plan says not to....
This is the thing that will ultimately defeat me. As an example, we were on for a club run last night of 10 miles, in two halves of 5 miles each with a few minutes in between. I really wanted to take it easy enough in the 8:00 to 8:30 pace. Other were in agreement, but no-one stuck to it, myself included. We ended up doing the 10 mile (hilly) route in 77 minutes on a hot evening. I could have done without that after the weekend efforts ( a tough half marathon), but just couldn't help myself.
I guess that's it. I lack the discipline to put the plan as the foremost priority, rather than prioritising my enjoyment of the run that is currently happening... So maybe I need to work on my discipline before embarking on an ambitious plan. The marathon requires discipline, so how do I train myself to be disciplined. Is it to keep making mistakes?
Maybe I should pick a plan that should give me some scope, but will also gauge how well I can stick to a plan with less elements than most.
So Meno for DCM 17, P&D for Spring 18 and Hanson for October 18 :-)
I included that comment because I think a lot of people jump into P&D a little early in their marathon careers, and may not make it through the plan, never mind the marathon itself. It's not that it's particularly difficult, more that it assumes a certain level of base mileage and experience. The clue is in the title. It is not a beginners plan. It could be an improvers plan, but not until they have two or three successful marathon cycles behind them, in my opinion.
I was going to suggest the meno plan for you, but I see you've already come around to that way of thinking yourself. The flexibility is good for people with odd schedules. And it has some great sessions that, in my experience for marathons 2, 3 and 4, really helped me to understand what marathon training is all about - something you can then take into a plan like P&D. Meno designed the plan specifically for improvers and it's worked for a lot of people around here - in my case helping me get down to sub 3:30 from a 4-hour-plus debut.
Re doing stuff like 10-mile training runs at close to 10-mile race pace - this is the kind of thing that destroys a good marthon cycle. Getting sucked into tooo-fast club sessions and overtraining is something till simply have to be disciplined about, if there's no sane voice at your club reeling you in. I see it every year at my own club, lads blistering through track and tempo sessions at the wrong pace, and having poor marathons as a result. Some of them get so disheartened you never see them again.
Departing from the plan - any plan - is fine as long as you know what you are doing. But if you don't, you risk wasting four months of hard work, as you've probably found out already. You always need things to go your way on the day anyway if you're going to run a good marathon - stacking the odds against yourself with poor training never works. Which is why it's important, as stated elsewhere here, to read the logic behind the sessions. If you understand the purpose of easy and recovery runs, you should be less likely to replace them with additional sessions that just add stress and lead you towards increased risk of burnout and injury.
You're no novice as you have a good few marathons done, but yet to get to grip with it and get the result you're capable of. Time for a more sensible approach!