Fortunate enough to slip off for a weekend in Hong Kong. And the not-too-long 3+ hours flight was just nice to allow some reading pleasure which was otherwise very much lacking of late. So, what else do runners do on their day off? Read more on running....of course!

So, I brought along my second edition Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. Not that I am that advanced as a marathoner. Don't misconstrue my intention. You can read anything on marathon...but it doesn't make you a marathoner. Likewise, reading this doesn't automatically make me an advance marathoner....Far from it! I am just curious about what this book can offer compared to so many other books out there.

It was a surprisingly pleasant read. Easy to understand and not too overdone on marathoner's jargon. And the scientific facts appeal to me too. It is conservative, tactful and flexible in many ways. Works for all different stages of marathoners, be it the 'mid packers' up to the more elite runners. There is a different schedule for those doing up to 88km/week, 88-113km/week, 113-137km/week and beyond 137km/week. And it explains rather plainly the alternatives from choosing your carbo-loading to setting race strategies in a very scientific/logical approach. I like that.

It also slots in abstracts on world class runners from the likes of Paula Radcliffe to (the late) Sammy Wanjiru, Ryan Hall, Haile Gebrselassie etc....giving an account of their training, strength (even blunders) and strategies. Aside from being awed and inspired by these heroes of marathon, I feel that the book allows you to discover that these heroes are also human beings (though some may disagree with me on this) complete with their flaws and struggles. That almost makes you think that your dream of that elusive marathon target time is somehow attainable.......


And when you finally snap out of that day dreaming, there is a very detail schedule corresponding to your weekly mileage. There are 8 types of runs, ranging from long runs to the recovery runs. Each designed with the set pace specific for building endurance, increasing lactate threshold or VO2max.....It is, in short, very practical and concise.

If I have to sum the book up in one word, then it would have to be: Adaptation. Whatever your philosophy or religion, you may agree with me that our life on earth is a constant cycle of adaptation. Regardless of whether we like it or not.

The essence of marathon training is all about adaptation. Through different stresses (or stimuli) we impose upon ourselves i.e. Long runs, LT/Tempo runs, VO2max runs etc, we accustom our body to different kinds of physiological adaptation. The body copes with the demand, learns and adapt.

A successful adaptation process is a culmination of striking a delicate balance of quantity vs quality training (and of course with special emphasis on nutrition and recovery too). The end result: We become more efficient in utilizing our glycogen storage; Our lactate threshold increases to allow heighten endurance; Our VO2max improves to enhance our performance. We become more efficient running machines.....

Sounds good but it ain't easy. When you are forced to adapt to a new working environment, drive 45min-1hr to reach your work place (I know, KL folks would say: Hey, I do that everyday...What's the big deal?), be on call half the month, (and don't get to go home during the calls), learn to speak Penang Hokkien, and on top of that, still train for marathons, adaptation takes on a whole new meaning.....

That was me a few months ago. However, four months later, I am quite astonished to find that I have actually adapted to all of the above. (Well, with the exception of the Penang Hokkien...more work required...)

My point is, the same goes for training. It has to be a constant adaptive process. Expect pain and discomfort. Literally No Pain No Gain. Or if you like: No 'Pia' No Gain. But a little caution: Recognizing the right stimuli (with the right training) will be crucial to get your body into a productive physiological adaptation. Otherwise, it could well be counterproductive. And learn to do it in stages too by setting realistic goals. All 'Pia' and No Brain means No Gain.....

With PBIM just 16 weeks to go, it is time to quickly get into the "adaptive" mode by implimenting the suggested training schedule. I have no other races coming up (except a few that I have opted out i.e. Osaka and River Jungle). Schedule's easy to understand. But however good it looks on paper, to be able to work around it despite the oncalls and work commitment etc, THAT will be a challenge in itself....*Sigh!* Another adaptation process....


  1. Hi "Sifu"... what about the FIRST program of RUNLESS RUNFASTER mentioned in your earlier post at http://francisyeng.blogspot.com/2010/12/back-to-drawing-board.html. Running 3 days a week worked for you?

  2. Hi YS,
    With all the on call and work, by the time I get around to train, it will eventually be 3 running days per week. So, in this aspect, it is no different than FIRST. I hv compared both schedules. The FIRST program places slightly more emphasis on interval/VO2max training while this one seems more focus on long and tempo runs (which I think I lack). But as a whole, they are not very different. I doubt that I can follow strictly on either one anyway though I would love to...the only way to do that is to work part time or quit my job!...Hahahahaha!


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