The 100 Day Marathon Plan Review with Marius Bakken
This is a marathon plan review of the 100 Day Marathon Program. Late in 2009, Marius Bakken, and Olympic Distance runner, sent me an advanced copy of his marathon program. I loved what he had put together so I began promoting it at tips4running.com. Now that the The 100 Day Marathon Plan has been available for over a year, we interviewed him to hear how it has been working for marathon runners.
David Tiefenthaler – I have been selling your marathon program for over a year now, and have heard nothing but great things from these people. You probably get a lot more feed back than I do though. What are three of the main reasons why they like the The 100 Day Marathon Plan?
Marius Bakken – The three main reasons that I also get feedback on are:
1) Improved results. This is a biggie – the 100 day plan has a much more structured approach than most other programs out there and the periodization of the Kenyan and Italian top marathoners (as far as I’ve seen) has not been used in other of the main programs out there for the mass runners. So in the course of just a few weeks most will experience a nice improvement in training times and race times which is extremely motivating.
2) Motivation. All the sessions in the 100 day plan are structured individually – so you find practically no similar sessions out there, at the same time each session is based on improving specific strengths needed for that particular period.
3) Feedback/adjustments. The plan, despite being structured, is also very flexible. All the plans are parallel planned, which means you can switch between them if you like (say you are on the 4:00 plan, you can go over to the 3:30 plan on the way if results say so) You can also choose to run them either by time, Effort or by pace. So it is very flexible.
DT – A marathon is difficult no matter what. I imagine some people still fail as they try to achieve their goals using this plan? What advice do you have for people who don’t succeed with this plan on their first marathon attempt?
MB – The main reason why people run into problems with their marathon (especially the first one) is over-estimating their race times. I try and avoid this by pushing a half marathon 4 weeks before the marathon in all the marathon plans – and I’ve built in a automatic calculator that my runners can use to punch in that time and get their predicted marathon finishing time, including their splits (that should be negative, meaning running faster towards the end) That way, most will have a very good idea of what level they are at. Some will just need a little bit more training under their belt, though, and in that case – it will be a matter of repeating the cycle a couple of times and the body will adjust easier. It is worth noting that almost none of the top marathoners succeed in their first marathon (even the world record holder Gebrselassie struggled for almost two years before breaking through in the marathon), so the marathon is a special distance in that regard. But a good, structured approach will certainly help you get there much faster, no matter what level you’re at.
DT – We both were lucky to have great running coaches when we were younger, and I don’t think a lot of runners experience this. Many people pick up running later in life and don’t really have background knowledge about the sport. In fact, a lot of people that run a marathon follow their own plan, which is basically run one long run a week, and do some shorter runs in between. Is this really all someone has to do to prepare for 26.2 miles, or should they be following a program developed by a runner or coach?
MB – Great question. Most will be surprised on how much faster they can run from a more structured plan vs. just going out on some runs. You HAVE to have variation and going into the correct effort zones at the right time if you want maximum results. This also goes by more experience runners by the way. This example of a email excerpt. from one of the runners on the 100 day plan, who is 69 years Per Oscar Holm Olsen – with almost 200 marathons is quite typical: “I am a 69 year old marathon runner who has run 186 marathons including 3:14:45 as a 55 year old. In the fall of 2009 I purchased the 100 day marathon plan and this is my experience: I noticed already in the three introductory weeks of the program how my legs got lighter and the times pr km started to go down. For example the Zone 1 easy runs to my job was at that time 6.15-6.25 pr km. Now, ten weeks later, that same effort is down to 5.20 pr km. Because I write a daily training diary and have done so since 1978 I can clearly see how my training times are radically faster then they have been in many, many years since starting the 100 day marathon plan.”
DT – There are a lot of marathon training plans out there. What makes yours different from the rest?
MB – The structured approach and the very clear Italian periodization with 5k, 10k, half, marathon and tapering phase – combined with a Kenyan type intensity training right in the “optimal” training zone. DT – I’ve read the plan, and incorporated a lot of the training concepts into my own running, even for shorter races like a 5K or a 10K. Do some people purchase this plan for general training information?
MB – Sure, and in the Q and A section I’ve answered over 250 questions, among them questions concerning how to adjust the schedule.
DT – A real popular distance lately is the half marathon. Can you use the The 100 Day Marathon Plan to train effectively for a 13.1 mile race?
MB – Yes, quite a few runners use it for that purpose and it is all outlined how to use it for that purpose in the Q and A section that all the runners get access to.
DT – Enough about your product, how are you doing? You are now a certified Doctor. Where are you practicing medicine, and what field are you going into?
MB – I’m doing well, thank you. At the moment I’m working as a doctor in the surgical department in a hospital north-west in Norway. We will see what the future brings, but I really enjoy my job and it is a fantastic profession ; you get to meet people every day and give them your help, and it is at the same time very challenging from a knowledge standpoint – taking the right decisions, weighing scientific knowledge vs. clinical practice and trying to meet the correct end point for the patients needs.
DT – How has being a doctor influenced your views and ideas on running?
MB – It has helped my understand why the principles I used in my own career worked quite well for me – I came from being a fair, but not top class junior runner to being an Olympian and at one point the second fastest non –African runner. And it has sharpened what I present in the 100 day plan – to give the runners on it fast but also injury-safe, long term results.
DT – Have you been doing any running lately?
MB – Yes, I’m still running quite a bit – less than before, but I use the principles in the 100 day plan and the workouts from the plan almost every day.
DT – I know you have retired from professional running, but do you ever get the itch to enter into a local 5k race?
MB – I get that feeling only when there are big races going on, like the World Champs or the Olympics. Luckily it only lasts for a short period of time, each year. 🙂
DT – One last question. Does anyone ever contact you to be a personal coach for say running track or road racing, or want you to make a plan for them for other races?
MB – Yes, on a regular basis. But a heavy work schedule plus following all the runners on the 100 day plan does not allow that. I would much rather help out the 100 day plan runners and do that well vs. go half way with it. Which is why 100 % of the questions asked in the Q and A section is answered within 3-5 days, several hundred pages by now – and I will continue to keep it that way to ensure the best customer service for those that choose to follow the plan.
DT – Thanks for your time Marius. I’m going to keep spreading the word about your program after this marathon plan review. Good luck in the future Dr. Bakken!
To purchase this plan, visit The 100 Day Marathon Plan at Marius Bakken’s Marathon Training Schedule Website.