Running volume in Masters plans

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    Hello, I’m a newbie to 80/20. I’m a 49 y.o. female aiming to run my first marathon on my 50th bday in January. Started out with the 10k 80/20 level 1 plan. Got to week three and realized that perhaps a masters program would be better for me.

    Well I started looking at the plan for the 10k and the marathon (thinking ahead). I’m absolutely aghast at how low the running volume is. Am I reading the charts right? In the level 0 marathon plan, the longest run appears to be 3 hours before the race taper. I expect to take at least 4h30 to finish, if I’m going strong.

    How does one build the mental and physical strength to finish with such low mileage?



    I have the Masters plans as well (level 1) and yes, the longest run is only 3 hours. First, leading research suggests that running beyond 3 hours has diminishing returns and increases the risks for injury. This is especially true for masters runners.

    In exchange, the Masters Plans do two things. Spread the volume out over 9 days. Second, most of the longs runs add some moderate intensity at the end to mentally prepare you for running on tired legs. Also, there aren’t many (maybe none, I can’t remember) rest days immediately before those long runs as well. That means, you will be doing those long runs on tired legs. This too will mentally prepare you for the last 10K of the marathon.

    Gerald Collins
    80/20 Certified Coach


    Hi, Coach! Thanks for the explanation. I’ve been spending the last couple days digesting the info you shared. Makes rational sense, and I am indeed reading quite a bit that supports your position (not to say that I don’t trust you :-0). I’m going to give the Masters 10k Level 1 program a go to see if it’s right for me.

    That said, for the marathon, the FEAR of hitting the wall at mile 20 or. so is deathly real! I can see how this approach works for people who’ve run this distance before. But for a newbie, can you help direct me to resources, tips, tactics to gain that confidence?



    Glad to see you verified the advice. That’s good work.

    I totally get the fear. I still remember my first 10 years ago. My tips, 1) remember back to when you did the fast Finish runs. They are a LOT like what you will be going through. Picking up the speed at the end of a workouts prepares you to run on tired legs.

    2) Fueling is one major component of success. Practice your fueling strategy in your long runs. When people talk about hitting the wall it’s usually because they ran our of fuel.

    3) If racing, carb loading is critical to a successful race. Again, lack of fuel is a big key to marathon failures.

    4) Taper! That ‘rest’ period allows you to fully absorb your training and reach peak fitness.

    Finally, for fueling check out Matt’s book The Endurance Diet and Featherstone Nutrition. Those are two great resources.

    You’ve done the training, the body will do the distance. Now, you need to learn to focus the mind.


    In addition to Gerald’s recommendation, Matt’s book titled “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond “the Wall”” is a great resource specifically tailored to marathon and half marathon nutrition during training and the race.

    The fear of the wall is real, and I hit the wall in my first marathon. You’ll have the right training but as Gerald says, you’ll need the right nutrition as well. And the nutrition piece starts during the training.


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