Athlete Orcan Ogetbil Went from a 3:58 to a 3:10 Marathon

Orcan Ogetbil went from running a 3:58 marathon (his first Brooklyn Marathon) to a 3:10 marathon (his sixth marathon this past Sunday running in the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Marathon) in 3.5 years. 

Backstory

What is currently your biggest challenge preventing you from achieving your goals?

Above is one of the questions I asked Runwithalli®️ coached athlete Orcan Ogetbil before I began working with him. 

Orcan’s response: In early April 2020, while I was on a running streak of 40+ days, I noticed pain in my right foot. It turned out that I had a stress fracture on the lateral sesamoid bone of the right foot. This setback kept me from running for four months. I resumed running on August 9, with low mileage and one leisurely tempo. I’ve been self-coaching myself for three years. I might benefit from professional help.

Orcan finished his first marathon in 2018 in Brooklyn at 03:58 by the age of 39. In his second Marathon, Paris April 2019 he finished at 03:38. The third self-coached marathon Orcan completed was in Philadelphia in 2019 at a time of 03:27. He explained he typically used to pick an A race/marathon and train for it for 3 months. Each of the three cycles he trained, he pushed it harder.

He picked several NYRR or NYCRUNS races during the training period. During the last training season for Philadelphia, he was running 50-55 miles a week (with occasional surges to 70 miles). Before the lockdown due to the global pandemic, he was training for the NYC Half, with a goal of beating 7 minutes a mile on average. He was running around 60 miles per week. After the lockdown began, he reduced his weekly volume to 45-50 miles per week.

Self-Coaching

Below was his training program right before the injury he described above.

His warmups were usually 1-2 miles. Cooldowns were similar, maybe slightly shorter.

March 28: Easy 10 miles at 8:20 min/mi

March 29: Easy 4 miles at 8 min/mi

March 30: Warmup. Hill loops in Astoria Park. 1 lap = 0.33 miles. 10 laps at 7:20 min/mi. Cooldown

March 31: 2 mi warmup. 12 minutes at 7 min/mi pace. 2 mins easy. 12 minutes at 7 min/mi pace. 2 mi cooldown

April 1: 4 miles at 7:30 min/mi. Weight/resistance training in the evening, 1 hour

April 2: Warmup. Hill loops in Astoria Park. 1 lap = 0.33 miles. 10 laps at 6:30 min/mi. Cooldown

April 3: Easy 4 miles at 8 min/mi

April 4: 7 miles at 8:30 min/mi. 3 miles at 8:00 min/mi

April 5: 400m 10 repeats at 6 min/mi, with 1 min rest. With warmup and cooldown, a total of 7 miles

April 6: Warmup. Hill loops in Astoria Park. 1 lap = 0.33 miles. 10 laps at 6:45 min/mi. Cooldown

April 7: Warmup. 1k 6 repeats at 6:30 min/mi, with 1:45 rest. Cooldown. 8 miles total with warmup/cooldown

April 8: Easy 4 miles at 8 min/mi. Weight/resistance training in the evening, 1 hour. First time I notice the pain from the injury was while doing lunges with weights

April 9: 7 miles at 8 min/mi

April 10: 4.5 miles at 8 min/mi

April 11: 4 miles at 8 min/mi. End of the streak, 42 or so days. Stopped running

April 30 – May 5: Tried the foot for short runs. Still hurts. I go to the doctor and find out about the fracture

You see, it was a mix and match of various exercises with no real structure with a goal. It was the beginning of the lockdown, and races were being canceled left and right. So he was going kind of pointlessly experimental.

Coaching

I couldn’t be more grateful that he reached out to me for coaching! I started working with Orcan in Nov 2020, having self-coached himself through 3 marathons from a 03:58 to a 03:27 marathon. His A goal: run a faster marathon injury-free, B goal: is to get a BQ (3:10:00 Marathon), C goal: run a sub-3-hour race.

We began by focusing on the shorter distances and speed work instead of solely on marathon training. 

Training Method

We used reversed linear periodization, focusing on the shorter repetitions and higher effort training, speed work with less mileage before heavying up on the endurance work, and volume of weekly miles during each marathon build-up.

Below is what each 4-6 week cycle building up to each marathon looked like more or less, applying personalization and adjusting his training to meet him where he was during his training to properly align Orcan’s fitness needs with his running goals.

Cycles 1 & 2 – Worked up from 15 miles to 23 miles per week with one tempo run, one long run, and easy miles ending w/ strides. Cycle 1 was more focused on 5K training, taking the volume down and increasing the focus on intensity and speed work.

Cycle 3 – switched to endurance and half-marathon-specific training, an average of around 28 miles during his recovery week, and 36 miles during his peak week of this training block.

Cycle 4 – 6 – aerobic power, working to maximize the blood delivered to his running muscles while running and with training, working on training his body to allow more oxygen to convert fuel into energy while running. We did this through VO2 Max workouts, running at 85% of his maximum heart rate on the track during his Tuesday sessions with me. We had one long run on Sundays, and one tempo runs on Fridays. The overall recovery week mileage and peak week mileage during his build-up was around the same mileage as Cycle 3.

Cycle 7 – we kept working on his endurance and aerobic power, bringing his highest weekly mileage for this four-week training block to 47 miles per week.

Cycle 8– 33 week 1 of this cycle to prepare for a fitness assessment race on 6/6, a 10K. After the race, we went back to 44-49 miles per week, with 49 being the highest during the peak week of this building block.

Cycle 9– we moved from VO2 Max to Threshold work (your threshold is the pace you can hold for slightly longer than 45 minutes, but less than an hour in higher trained runners). We did this by including mile repeats, one longer tempo run at Orcan’s threshold pace since he was fresh out of a 10K from 6/6. The data tells it all. We went up to 51 miles per week during this training block. This was approaching mid-July 2021.

Cycle 10 – after Orcan saw a doctor, we diverted to cross-training with one quality session a week starting 7/26/21. His ankle was bothersome, which is why we did this. Better safe than sorry. Slowly, we eased back into the running, topping 20-25 miles running per week + cross-training for the week of August 9th, and August 16th.

Cycle 11 –  we continued to ease back into building up Orcan’s mileage. 50 up to 57 mph for the third week with the cycle beginning on 8/23/21

Cycle 12 – before the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Orcan ran 33-38 taper week starting 9/27 and down to 18-23 miles during race week, where you can see his Stats below!

2021 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Results

In early August, Orcan had a minor injury. We switched most to low-impact cross-training, applying interval training to some of his workouts on the bike, and building his endurance through longer bike rides for a longer duration, at a low intensity. The focus: getting Orcan to the starting line of Chicago Injury-free, and we did it! 03:25.40.

Spicy 03:25:40 PR!

Cycle 13 – we gave his training an added mental strategy approach while conquering the longer tempo runs. We focused on helping Orcan fuel properly before, during, and after his race. TCS 2021 NYC Marathon complete in 03:17:15.

Spicy 03:17:15 PR!

Cycle 14 – after NYC, we continued to fine-tune Orcan’s strengths. We worked on his aerobic threshold (his pace for a little longer than his 10K race pace) for his build-up for this past Sunday’s race. Orcan ran a 7-minute personal best at 03:10:38 at the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Marathon on April 24th. Quite often leading into the Brooklyn Marathon, Orcan and I bounced ideas back and forth for what his workouts should look like, meeting 1x/week at the track, with a more hands-off coaching approach before this race.

Spicy 03:10:38 PR!

I am grateful that I am currently able to guide his progress and train him towards his spicy sub-3 marathon goal next! 

Conclusion

There are many ways to improve your paces while running. The proven methods described in this blog post are what I applied to Orcan’s marathon training, given his personalized fitness goals to adapt and adjust his training to meet where he was during his fitness journey. There’s something for everyone and everything for you at Runwithalli Coaching.

I’m not saying what others do works for you, but if you don’t include variety in your training and tailor these concepts to meet you where you are in your training, you’ll never know!

Training for your next marathon, but unsure of where to begin?

Email me at hello@runwithallicoaching.us! Let’s connect and fine-tune your training program in a way that works best for you.

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