This Workout has a Purpose! My First Week on The Run SMART Project’s Dr. Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan

Dr. Jack Daniels says that the most important training principle is to know the purpose of each workout (see link at the end of this post).  Before starting The Run SMART Project’s Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan, I couldn’t have told you the purpose for any of my workouts.

All of my runs ran to type.  And the type was neither hard nor easy.  I would start at 12:00 minute mile pace for a half mile and then gradually work my way down to 8:30 mile pace, ending up with a total of five or six miles.

What I’ve learned from using The Run SMART Project’s VDOT O2 App and my 15-Week Marathon Plan is that 8:30 pace is not my easy run pace (too fast), it’s not my marathon pace (too slow), and it’s not my threshold pace (way too slow).  What was the purpose of running all those miles at 8:30 pace?  Dunno.

The difference now is that easy is easy, hard is hard, and there is a purpose for every workout. That’s the best way I can describe the difference between what I was doing before I started my 15-Week Marathon Plan with The Run SMART Project and what I have done during my first week of the plan.

I am doing harder workouts, increasing my mileage, and taking more days off.  Workouts are workouts and rest is rest.  I started on March 4th with an easy run, and then I did 400’s on the treadmill this past Wednesday.  Today the schedule called for two intervals of two miles each plus warm-up, cool-down, and striders at the end of the run.  Here’s what my March training plan in the VDOT O2 App looks like:

March VDOT O2 Schedule

The details for today’s threshold workout are shown at the top of the page.  I recorded the workout using Runkeeper on my iPhone and set audible cues to tell me when to start each of the intervals.

Here’s the course I ran at Valley Forge National Park from Runkeeper:

2x2 LT Route

And here are the graphs of elevation and pace from Runkeeper:

2x2 LT

I put the red bars in to show the two 2-mile threshold intervals.  The thing that amazed me about this workout was that the VDOT O2 App projected my threshold pace at 7:42 based on the data I entered when I started the 15-Week Marathon Plan.  When I ran today by feel, using my perceived current one-hour race pace as the target, I hit 7:42 on the money for the second interval.  There were more rolling hills during the first interval and I did not hit the 7:42 average, but I still believe I got the intended benefit out of the first interval as my threshold effort would result in a slower pace on an incline.

Here’s the page in the VDOT O2 App for today’s workout:

2x2 LT Workout Detail

Here’s the complete entry in the notes section:

“Did this workout on rolling hills on loop around Valley Forge Park.  The first 2 mile interval had several uphill stretches and average pace was slower than the 7:42 called for by the plan, but I tried to maintain the LT pace feeling of one hour race pace. The second interval was right on pace and did not have as many hills.  Good workout without feeling like I totally killed myself.”

So far I feel like I’m making good progress following my Run SMART Project’s Dr. Jack Daniels 15-Week Marathon Plan with the VDOT O2 App.  The marathon is never predictable, but I’ll try to stay consistent and hope to continue to report good success in weeks to come!

9 MAR Workout

(Follow this link,, and scroll down to this heading, Coach Jack Daniels: Most Important Training Principle, and then play the video.  You’ll hear Dr. Jack Daniels say that the single most important training principle is to be able to answer the question, “What is the purpose of this workout?”)

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