Running to Berlin, Week 1: Off We Go!

Last week, the 18 week marathon training block leading up to the 2022 Berlin Marathon began. That means we’re officially underway. We’re Running to Berlin!

Weekly Summary

  • Total Distance Run: 124 km (77 miles)
  • Long Run: 34 km (21 miles) @ 4:26/km (7:05/mile)
  • Medium Long Run: 20 km (12.5 miles) @ 4:15/km (6:50/mile)
  • Workout: 12 x 1000m @ 3:45-30/km (6:00-5:38/mile) with 60 sec recovery

A solid week of training. The plan was to keep mileage at the same level I’ve been at for the past two weeks, which was around 120 kilometres. I got it done without trouble, and I felt the best I’ve done for weeks while putting in the work.

The high training volume is definitely felt, however. Due to backloading last week’s training load, I ended up with a seven day total of 145 kilometres as I finished up my workout on Tuesday. And it was a big one! More on that below.

Recovering well is obviously the key point. And I certainly feel like I’m absorbing the training in a productive way right now. By Thursday, I felt great, and that lasted through the rest of the week.

Let’s dive into the details!


Details of training runs, Monday, 23rd May, 2022.

I kicked off the week with two unremarkable easy runs. The morning run was with my daughter in the stroller. Legs were heavy on account of the high rolling volume, but heart rate and perceived effort felt nice and controlled.

As always, I’m meticulous about keeping a close eye on my heart rate for easy runs. I want to make sure that it stays in zone 1, only perhaps drifting into zone 2 on steeper hills. My second run for the day was a short and easy trail loop.

Heart rate stats from two recovery runs

The article on recovery run intensity goes deep into the subject of recovery runs. Here you’ll learn how to properly identify your recovery intensity, as well as the benefits of these runs, and how they’ll make you a stronger runner.


Details of training runs, Tuesday, 24th May, 2022.

Tuesdays are for track workouts! I am a member of the local athletics club’s senior group. We meet up every Tuesday for a workout of some sort. I’ll write more in-depth about the general principles for these workouts in a later article.

On days with evening workouts, I like to do a short jog in the morning. My legs feel better at night, compared to doing nothing all day.

Because of illness and a weekend race, I actually ended up alone at the track this evening. The workout on tap was a solid 12 x 1000 meters, with 60 seconds of light jog recoveries. 

I won’t say it was easy. Legs were heavy, but overall I managed to execute the session with a perfect progression. That’s to say, no rep slower than the previous.

Workout stats.

With workouts that have significant distance of hard running—like this one with 12 kilometres—I like to start very controlled. This particular night, I wanted to keep the first eight reps controlled, and well within the moderate range. Then, I gave myself license to increase the perceived effort somewhat the last four.

I started by running the first 1000 metres in 3:44, and closed at 3:30. As the running pace calculator will tell you, that’s a progression from 6:00 to 5:38 pace per mile. I believe that my goal marathon pace will probably end up being somewhere in the slower end of this range. As of yet, however, I still think it’s a bit early to lock in a specific goal pace. I’ll be wiser in that regard a couple of weeks from now.


Details of training run, Wednesday, 25th May, 2022.

Recovery. That’s my number one priority most Wednesdays. To stimulate some adaptation without interrupting recovery any more than absolutely necessary. I only ran once—with the kid in the stroller—and it was very easy.


Details of training runs, Thursday, 26th May, 2022.

The past two years or so, I’ve generally done two workouts per week. Now that I’m doing everything I can to maximise my performance in the marathon, I’m doing things a bit differently.

Instead of a second workout, I make this a day with significant volume. Generally, I will do an easy run in the morning, followed by a moderately hard medium long run in the evening. Beyond the vital long run, I believe this is the optimal way of preparing your legs for the tolls of a marathon. In fact, in my experience, the training stimulus of a day like this, where you’re logging 20 miles and more, is very similar to a long run.

This week, however, it was more practical to get out for the medium long run in the morning. Although not ideal, compared to the other way around, I think you’ll achieve much the same training stimulus. And it is, after all, important to maintain some flexibility in how you structure your training. I’m sure that will be a recurring theme in these reports.

For the evening run, I got out on the local trail/dirt road loop. Whenever I can get out for easy runs without the stroller, I prefer to hit the trails. Although I think the surface variety is good for injury prevention, the main reason is that I find trails more relaxing. I always feel rejuvenated after a dead easy run in nature.


Details of training run, Friday, 27th May, 2022.

Friday, much like Wednesdays, are all about keeping it easy enough to facilitate recovery. Like the night before, I hit some local trails. Unfortunately, I was caught unaware by the winds and some cold rain. As I was a bit cold, I decided to cut the run a bit short.


Rest day! I generally don’t run on Saturdays. I’ll cover this subject thoroughly in an upcoming weekly report.


Details of training run, Sunday, 28th May, 2022.

If there’s a single constant in my training, it is that Sundays are for long runs. The first week of proper marathon training is certainly no exception to this. I got out in the morning, after watching a replay of Jakob Ingebrigtsen win the Bowerman Mile.

Unless I have a specific long run with a block of marathon pace on the plan, I usually go by feel on my long runs. This morning, I started out easy, and I ran the first half entirely by feel. Turning around, I decided to up the intensity a bit as I was feeling good, and moving well.

With about 10-12 kilometres to go, it became hard work. But I got it done without letting the intensity drop too much. Looking at the stats, it ended up being a very taxing run.

Heart rate stats from long run.

Spending 50 minutes in zone 3 is right at the limit of what is advisable within a “regular” week of training. As I mentioned on Twitter, you can only do your long runs at this kind of intensity by adjusting the rest of your week. I take the following precautions to allow my long runs to be this demanding:

  • Only one “workout” per week, and it must be controlled (moderate to threshold)
  • Easy runs easy (heart rate zone 1)
  • Keep every other long run easy by comparison (no zone 3 or above)

Although this might seem like an easy training week for someone used to another system, it’s assuredly not. To get marathon fit, you need to be pushing volume towards the edge of what you can handle. And you need to prioritise loading the systems that determine your marathon fitness.

If you try to combine this approach with more frequent, perhaps even harder workouts, you will overextend yourself to the point of breaking down. Or, at the very least, you won’t achieve the desired outcome because your training will be unproductive.

All in all, a very good week. And, most importantly, I’m healthy, fit, and ready to attack another week of training.

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July 27, 2023


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