The Marathon Training Approach that I have attempted to Adopt is Hadd's training approach. I combine it with my inability to run 7 days a week and will be observing what results I get and what I can indeed do. His advice is available here and here. I have seen the strong, muscular, hard and tough legs our long distance runners have and I think Hadd's training approach explains why I have ordinary legs and why I am relegated to an admirer of people who run fast marathons whilst not running fast myself.
I would highlight what Hadd says regarding LT VO2Max and how more pain more gain doesn't work below.
Everything in the text below is excerpted from Hadd's write-up, none of it is mine (yes, I am lazy sometimes). [Emphasis is mine]
"VO2max (essentially the stroke volume of your heart) is NOT the same training as that required to raise your LT (increase capillaries, mitochondria and aerobic enzymes in your muscles). The speeds required are totally different. LT training is one case in which faster is NOT better.
Your LT is dependent on adaptations in your leg muscles caused by training.
Since your LT measures at what pace you change over from aerobic to (increasingly more) anaerobically-fueled running, it is also a measure of when you stop being economical and become more and more uneconomical. So, we can also say that a low (poor) LT also means poor fuel economy.
Many of you will be able to give examples of guys (I know at least two) who can crank out 20 mile long runs at 6.00m/m and yet not finish a marathon at that pace. Why? Because, due to their precise fuel economy (or lack thereof) they cannot store enough CHO to get them through the final 6.2 miles. Their fuel economy, and therefore their LT, is too low.
Time to exhaustion is directly related to mitochondria development (which itself was directly related to time spent training).
We need to train slow enough for our slow twitch fibres to become stimulated to build huge amounts of mitochondria.
To improve your LT (which will have a direct impact on your race performances), you must increase the motochondria in your running muscles (in a neat move, the optimal training to improve mitochondria is also the optimal training to improve capillary density).
The more mitochondria, the less lactate at every running pace. But mitochondrial adaptation in each fibre type is training-intensity dependent. If you want to maximise the number of mitochondria in each fibre type, you must rain at the correct pace for that type. (remember; the more mitochondria, the less lactate; the less lactate, the faster the racing pace and the more economical you are at any pace, meaning you can keep that pace up for longer.)
There is a huge improvement in performance that can be made from purely aerobic training, if you get it right. A huge improvement wayyy before any faster work is done.
A prime function of your heart is to deliver oxygen to your active muscles. Your muscles then use this oxygen combined with glycogen or fat to create energy to run. If your muscles are inefficient at doing this, you will not get as much running energy per unit of oxygen as you could.
Think of your heart as a pump that is told what to do by the muscles. "We need more oxygen!" say the muscles and the heart beats faster. "We have enough", they say and the heart rate stays low.
To break one unit of glucose down into energy anaerobically (WITHOUT oxygen) you get two units of energy (let’s say that you get 2 paces/strides up the road before you need more energy). If you break that self-same unit of glucose down into energy aerobically (WITH oxygen) you get 36 paces up the road before you need more energy. Obviously this is much better. So if you can make what used to be an anaerobic pace into an aerobic pace, you are a much superior runner and can keep this pace up for much further.
But even better, if you were so efficient that you could break down one unit of fat into energy (instead of glucose) you would get 460 paces up the road before needing more energy. And your HR would be wayyyyy low at the same time.
Working just at the optimal pace/effort to stimulate his muscles to become better at providing energy at this rate. This would cause the effort at that pace to drop, to become easier and the HR at that pace to fall (and usually the pace at that HR to improve/drop). He would then slowly be ably to work at higher and higher HR's while still remaining fully aerobic and working under his LT.
A ~6 week period is required for mitochondrial growth."
I think I have all the knowledge I need. Now I need to get to work. And something else: Presdnt Obama said in his ASU speech some days ago, Obama said youth entails "a willingness to follow your passion, regardless of whether they lead to fame and fortune"