Marathon Training - Part 4, Peak Phase

Time to run fast! Repetition and interval training! We discussed the BASE and BUILD phases of our running program utilizing endurance periodization. Next, let’s talk about is PEAK phase. Here, we increase the intensity of running, defined by adding interval or repetition training. Hill training can fall into either category. With an increased workload, adding rest breaks to the run is essential. This peak phase of running should finish one to three weeks before the race. Peak training is completed at an above-threshold rate. The heart rate variability (HRV) should be between 90-99% (ZONE 4-5) or “hard!”. PEAK training improves speed and maximizes aerobic power and running economy. Aerobic capacity is defined as how much blood (carrying oxygen) can be delivered to the muscles and how well that oxygen can be converted into energy. Otherwise known as VO2 Max.

We can reach our goals in the peak phase by incorporating interval and repetition training.

Interval runs: intervals should be HARD running for 1-5 minutes (max of 5 minutes), and the speed should be about the max speed you could race at for 10-12 minutes. If you’re more comfortable picking a distance versus time, start with 800 meters and progress to 1200 meters. Rest in between and repeat. Rests should be no longer than the time you spent running. Interval training targets aerobic power.

Repetition training: short duration than intervals (never more than 2 minutes) at even higher speeds. The speed should be comparable to your current max one-mile time. The rest should be longer – about two to three times the time spent running. Again, if you’d rather distance versus time, start with 200 meters and progress to 400 meters. Elite runners can progress to 600 or 800 meters. Repetition training targets improving the speed and economy of running. Typically, interval training is perceived as “harder” than repetition training. Look for my next post to discuss what tapering for races looks like and the goal of rests.

Marathon Training - Part 3

Increase the workload! I am adding threshold runs for my mid-distance (6-mile) run. Previously, we discussed the first period (BASE) and its main goal of increasing volume. So, let’s talk about the next stage – BUILD.

This phase typically occurs 1-2 months before approaching our priority event, race, or competition. The running volume should change to a slow build or decrease the total volume. During this stage, the focus is on improving the performance of running. We increase intensity during this phase by focusing on increasing our threshold runs. The importance of threshold run training focuses on blood lactate. Lactate is a byproduct of normal metabolism and exercise. At rest and with “easy runs,” our ability to clear lactate is nearly the same speed at which it is produced. With increased intensity of exercise and running, the number of lactate climbs. Your “threshold” is the speed/intensity of running in which the body can keep a steady state of lactate. “Above threshold” means the body cannot clear lactate at the same rate it is being produced.

To increase performance/speed – we need to move where our current threshold is. This improves our ENDURANCE. What does threshold running training look like? To improve at something physiologically, like lactate threshold, we need to stress the system physiologically. Ideally, we want to stress the system at the lowest intensity that causes a change – TRAIN AT THE THRESHOLD. The heart rate variability (HRV) should be between 80 and 90% (ZONE 3-4) or “comfortably hard.” There are two types of threshold workouts: tempo runs and cruise intervals. Tempo runs are steady pace at the goal HRV. Cruise intervals are run at a threshold pace for 5-6 minutes with a short break (1 minute) and then repeated multiple times. If you are having difficulty determining a threshold run pace, an excellent question to ask yourself is: could I keep this pace up for 30 minutes?

If you’re looking for a way to relieve muscle pain and improve overall performance, you might consider physical therapy dry needling. This treatment method is becoming increasingly popular among physical therapists as an effective way to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, from neck and shoulder pain to tennis elbow. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of physical therapy dry needling and how it can help you.


is a technique used to treat muscle pain and improve performance. It involves inserting tiny, thin needles into trigger points, or areas of muscle tension, to stimulate and release muscle tension. This can help improve range of motion, reduce pain, and improve overall mobility.

Types of Needles

The needles used in physical therapy dry needling are typically sterile, disposable needles that are inserted into the skin. The needles are inserted to a depth that is specific to the patient’s condition, and the area is then manipulated to stimulate the muscles. This can help to relieve pain and improve range of motion.


The dry needling treatment is typically done in a series of sessions that last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. During each session, the physical therapist will assess the patient’s condition and response to the treatment before moving forward. The number of sessions depends on the individual patient and the condition being treated.


Physical therapy dry needling can be beneficial for a variety of conditions and injuries, such as tmj/tmd, neck and shoulder pain, tennis elbow, low back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also help improve athletic performance by releasing tension in tight muscles and increasing range of motion. If you’re looking for a way to reduce muscle pain and improve performance, physical therapy dry needling may be an option for you. Talk to your physical therapist to find out if this treatment is right for you.

Marathon Training, Part 2

The miles are building! In a good marathon training plan, there should be four focus items for endurance running – we call this Endurance Periodization. Each period has a specific goal and targets a different need for long-term running success. The four periods are BASE, BUILD, PEAK, and TAPER. I built my training plan based on these periods, and my next several blog posts will discuss them and their purpose.

The BASE period in marathon training is where the emphasis is on increasing your volume of running and building anaerobic capacity. This should be your marathon training plan's first several weeks to months based on the goal distance. Most of the running of this phase (about 80% of total mileage) is "easy running" or zone 2 if using heart rate variability.

10% of the mileage is done at the threshold "tempo pace" or zone 3, and the final 10% is done above the threshold "sprint pace" or zone 4. So what is easy running? This run can maintain a zone 2 heart rate and is considered a conversational pace. Breathing should be relatively normal. This type of running strengthens the heart muscle tremendously. It improves the heart's stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with one beat or contraction of the heart). It allows for improvement without overstressing the system. Easy running also improves muscle fibers. They are shown to have an increase in number and size. The mitochondria (power powerhouse of the cell) move to the periphery of the cell, which is closer to the oxygen supply that comes into the cell. This helps the body exchange fuel for energy and complete oxygen exchange more effectively. These changes in our cardiovascular system and muscle fibers occur with time spent running in this space. Not speed.

We must remember that success with marathon training occurs with consistency - not speed or pace. As my mileage increases, I am cautious about monitoring my heart rate and how I feel. Items such as stress, sleep deprivation, water intake, and dietary changes all impact our heart rate variability and rate of perceived exertion. Now that you are familiar with heart rate variability attempt to monitor your "easy long runs" maintaining zone 2 measures. Check in for the next marathon training post to discuss threshold and above-threshold training changes.

If you missed my first post on max heart rate and tracking exertion.

Part. 1 Marathon Training

Today begins the first week of my marathon training. I am reminded the number one factor for running success is consistency. We measure consistency with the volume or duration of running. Often, the intensity of the running ( pace or speed) becomes the primary focus erroneously. Grossly 60% of running-related injuries are due to this.

Understanding the difference between volume and intensity is essential to maintain running consistency and decreasing injury risk. The volume of running is our total time or mileage. Intensity is effort. We measure this effort through heart rate variability and perceived exertion (RPE) rate. Heart rate is the measure of how HARD we are ACTUALLY working. RPE is self-feedback about how HARD we FEEL we are working. RPE is rated on a 1-10 scale. See the chart for examples.

Using our max heart rate, we can place ourselves into one of five zones that correlate with heart rate variability. The easiest way to find your max heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220. Each zone correlates to a percentage of the max heart rate. 75% of our total running volume should only be in zone 2 or 3. Use the chart below to determine your heart rate and RPE in each zone.

In the next few posts, we’ll talk about each of these zones in relation to running and what kind of cross-training is good to do during these times. Look at your training plan to determine which zone you spend most of your running time in. Are you at risk for overtraining? Or, if you need to recover now, learn more about running injuries here