Jack Daniels' Running Formula

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Jack Daniels introduced his training plans in 1998, and he has been called "the world's greatest coach" by runner's world. Jack Daniels introduced the concept of specifying training paces based on fitness, and measuring fitness based on race performance, something other plans, including FIRST have built on. The book provides a series of plans for various distances, various abilities and ways of calculating the correct pace for each workout. The book is well written, and Jack Daniels is one of the most respected coaches; Runner's World famously called him "The world's best running coach". However, the plans require some hard work to interpret and analyze, as they can involve multiple segments at different paces. This article should be read in conjunction with my Comparison of Marathon Training Plans.

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1 VDOT and the Formula

The 'formula' in the title of the book refers to the calculation of the various training paces that he used. The book includes tables to calculate "VDOT", which is a measure of fitness and running ability. The term comes from V̇O2max which is a measure of aerobic capacity, and if you look closely you'll notice that the 'V̇' actually has a small dot above it, hence 'V dot' or 'VDOT'. Typically the value for VDOT is a looked up from a race performance, and the resulting value is usually fairly close to the runners actual V̇O2max.

2 The Training Paces

The running formula has tables of training paces for each VDOT. These paces are:

  • Easy. The E pace is for easy running. It is typically used for recovery between intervals, the bulk of many long runs, and "non-quality workouts". In the third edition, this is a range of paces rather than a single specific pace.
  • Marathon. This is a runners predicted or actual marathon pace, and is used as a component of a number of marathon training runs.
  • Threshold. Sometimes referred to as Tempo Runs, this is intended to be around the Lactate Threshold. In the second edition, there is a table (7.1) that provides modifications to the T pace for longer tempo runs, but this has been dropped in the 3rd edition. (Science indicates Tempo Runs should be avoided in favor of other training paces.)
  • Hard. The third edition introduced the idea of hard running that is based on subjective effort rather than a specified pace.
  • Interval. This is the primary pace used for intervals, and is intended to maximize V̇O2max by running at the pace that corresponds with V̇O2max. (This is known as 'velocity at V̇O2max', or simply 'vV̇O2max'.) You can read more about this at Aerobic Interval Training 101.
  • Repetition. This pace is a higher intensity than the I pace and is anaerobic, but is generally longer and slower than true High Intensity Interval Training.

3 Downsides of Jack Daniels

While I'm a fan of Jack Daniels there are some caveats to his approach.

  • The book requires some effort on the part of the runner. You need to look up your VDOT, look up your training paces, and then work out the specifics of the sometimes complex training runs. For instance, a workout such as "2E + 3T + 40 min E + 2T + 1E" requires you to work out how far you'd run at your Easy pace in 40 minutes, and add that to the 3 easy miles and 5 tempo miles.
  • For many of the plans, the book does not give a simple, fixed weekly plan, but instead specifies the quality workouts you should do, and you decide what days you run them on.
  • You need to have run a race so that you can use the result to determine your training paces. Jack Daniels does have other approaches, but this is the most reliable. I believe this is better than programs that give no guidance on training pace, or use the target pace for training paces, but it is a limitation.
  • The training paces that Jack Daniels provides assumes you are training on reasonably level ground. If you are training in a very hilly environment, Jack Daniel's approach is harder to implement. You can use a Heart Rate Monitor, but that is tricky as you need to have tested your Maximum Heart Rate.
  • There is no half marathon training program, with the intention to use the 10K or the marathon programs depending on your pace.
  • For many programs, only the quality days are provided for most of the training programs, with the intention that the runner works out how to make up the rest of the mileage. I like this as it allows for running fewer days per week, with more recovery.
  • I do not believe that Tempo Runs are the most effective use of training time, and prefer interval training. I would prefer a training plan that avoids tempo runs, and the science backs this up.

4 Marathon Training Plans

Main article: A Comparison of Marathon Training Plans

Most of the training books here include more than plan, but they are normally variations on a single underlying plan. However, the second edition of Jack Daniels' book includes three plans ("Plan A", "Elite", and "To Finish Plan") that are so different I have considered them separately. The third edition contains 6 plans; novice, 2Q, 4 week, 5 week, 18 week and 12 week. The novice, 2Q, 4 week and 12 week plans are fully specified while the 5 week and 18 week plans are loose templates on which a plan can be built. (Note that the first edition of Jack Daniels book had three marathon training plans, simply called A, B, and C which were quite similar.)

  • 2Q. The 2Q plan is so called because it specifies two quality workouts per week, with all other (easy) running is left up to the individual. The long runs mostly involve variable pace rather than steady easy running. For instance, week 9 of the 41-55 miles/week plan has a 15 mile long run as 2 Easy + 6 Marathon + 1 Easy + 4 Marathon + 1 Tempo + 1 Easy, and a second 14 mile run of 5 Easy + 3x (2 Tempo + 2 min rest) + 1 Tempo + 2 Easy. The workouts change between each of the different plans based on weekly distances. Also, the plans for the lower weekly distances only specify time, not a distance limit, so be cautious about using these plans if you are a faster runner. There are sub-plans for up to 40 miles/64 Km, 41-55 miles/66-89 Km, 56-70 miles/90-113 Km, 71-85 miles/114-137 Km, 86-100 miles/138-161 Km, 101-120 miles/163-194 Km, over 120 miles/194 Km.
  • 4-Week Cycle. The 4-week cycle is a 26 week plan with two quality workouts per week for three weeks, but only easy running on the fourth week. It is somewhat similar to the 2Q plan above. There are sub-plans for up to 40 miles/64 Km, 41-55 miles/66-89 Km, 56-70 miles/90-113 Km, 71-85 miles/114-137 Km, 86-100 miles/138-161 Km, 101-120 miles/163-194 Km, over 120 miles/194 Km. The general pattern of the four weeks is:
    • No-quality run
    • A steady long easy run
    • An easy segment followed by a longer marathon paced segment (e.g. 30 min Easy, 15 miles Marathon).
    • An interval workout, such as 3 miles E, 3x (3 miles T + 3 min rest), 2x (2 miles T + 2 min rest), 2 miles easy for a total of 18 miles, 13 at tempo pace.
  • Plan A. The second edition's Plan A is very similar to 2Q above, but it does not include the variations for weekly mileage.
  • 12 Week Plan/Elite Plan. This plan is a tough program intended for elite or highly trained athletes with a goal marathon time of 2:10 or less. It is possible to scale this for slower runners, but things get even more complex to comprehend. The third editions "12 Week Plan" is actually the last 12 weeks of the second edition's Elite Plan, so if you want to follow this plan you may want to get a copy of the earlier book to have the full 18 weeks.
  • Novice/To Finish. The novice plan is intended for beginners, and uses a run/walk approach for the first half of the plan. The plan is 18 weeks long and specifies 2 to 5 workouts per week. The first 9 weeks have 5 workouts with 2 of them optional. The next 8 weeks have two quality workouts specified, with the recommendation to run 5 days/week, and the last week is a taper. The plan specifies time rather than distance for most the Long Runs, so the length of the run will depend on your speed. The longest run is 2:30, plus two 2:15 and a 2:00 long run. While this sounds great, the marathon requires you to run a set distance, not for a set time. For slower runners, the longest long run may be less than half the final distance, which I consider completely inadequate. (The Novice plan is called "To Finish" in the second edition.)
  • Five Week Cycle Outline. The a five week cycle provides the workouts for five weeks of training, with the intention that this is repeated as many times as required prior to the race. There, some simple instructions for converting the five week cycle to the last three weeks of tapering before the marathon. This plan is more of a general outline than the other plans, giving rough guidance of what to do rather than a specific workout. For instance, this plan might say Thursday is "R session", and that our sessions should total no more than the lessor of 5% of your weekly mileage or 5 miles, and that of recovery should be 2 to 3 times the length of the interval. Other than that guidance there is a lot of flexibility. This is the only marathon plan that includes I and R paced interval training.
  • 18 Week Outline. There are three 18 week programs; two by distance and one by time. The two distance programs are equivalent, one being in miles and the other kilometers. These programs have a quality workout every fourth or fifth day, which may make it tricky if you only have time for your long runs at the weekend. I consider this to be an outline which you can use to create your own plan rather than a true plan.

4.1 Jack Daniels 4Week

The 4Week plan uses cycles of four weeks, with one week having no Long Run or speedwork. Within the 4Week plan there are seven sub-plans for different weekly mileage, and the details of each sub-plan vary with fitness levels, creating a bewildering array of options. You can get a sense of the options by looking at the table below. The variation based on fitness and mileage makes it hard to generalize about this plan. Depending on your fitness and mileage, I think the 4Week is well worth considering. The 4Week plan is the longest of Jack Daniels' plans.

  • Key Characteristics
    • Training pace based on fitness.
    • Two key workouts; speedwork and Long Run for three of the four weeks.
    • Except for the two key workouts, all other running is left open, so it's possible to run as many or as few days per week as you choose.
    • Many Long Runs include speedwork which requires a high degree of fortitude.
    • The 4Week plan has far less longer Long Runs than the 2Q regardless of fitness or mileage. Compared with Plan A things are a little more complex as the number and distance of the Long Runs varies more with fitness and mileage than Plan A, so some variants have more and longer Long Runs while other variants don't. For lowest mileage plans, there are no 16+ mile runs, so I'd avoid those variants.
    • The Initial Ramp (mileage increase/week from start to 16) is generally quite gentle.
    • Core Ramp (mileage increase/week from 16 to max): The core ramp up is again quite gentle.
  • Modifications
    • I believe that you should use this training plan with three or four days a week of running. To do this, you will probably need to ignore some of Jack Daniels advice, and configure the plan as if you were running more miles per week than you actually will.
    • I would recommend using the quality workouts from a higher mileage version of the plan, without doing the extra miles.
  • Overtraining risk
    • If you only run three or four days per week, they should be a low to moderate risk of Overtraining.
    • The forth week with no quality training will help prevent overtraining and provide a useful recovery time.
    • It is critical that you select training paces based on your actual fitness measured by a previous race. Using training paces based on your target finish time will increase the risk of Overtraining and likely reduce the effectiveness of your training.
  • Pros
    • Precise training paces and distances provided for quality runs.
  • Cons
    • Working out the details of the plan for each individual is horribly complicated, though my Running Calculator will generate each workout based on your fitness and mileage goals.
    • There is no obvious way of adjusting the training paces for hilly terrain.
  • Good For::
    • Beginner: 1. This plan probably has too much speed work for a beginner, and adding speed work to the requirements of the Long Run is likely to be excessive. Look at Galloway or Higdon instead.
    • Novice: 3. Because you're used to speedwork, this could be a great plan to build up to the marathon distance. The build-up of the Long Run distance is gentle, thought I'd prefer some runs over 20 miles which you'll miss unless you're a faster runner.
    • Ringger: 3. If you use the middle of the mileage options, this could work well for you, but the lower mileage is probably not going to give you the best results.
    • Maintenance: 3. While this plan has some speedwork, I can see the cut back weeks and the lower mileage Long Runs working okay.
    • Improver: 3. I think you'd be better with the Plan A or 2Q, but this plan would work okay. If you're not running higher mileage, then I'd strongly suggest using the quality workouts as if you are.
    • Enthusiast: 3. While this is a reasonable plan for the enthusiast, I'd recommend the Plan A, 2Q, FIRST, or maybe a modified Elite plan.
    • Elite: 1. This is a vague possibility for elites, but you're almost certainly better off looking elsewhere.
    • Limited Training Time: 5. You can do this plan on three days per week and the midweek session is not overly long. The forth week without a quality workout can also help.
    • Traditionalist: 3. This plan differs a little bit from the traditional marathon training plan by including speed work in the Long Run.
    • Triathlete/Multisport: 5. It would be possible to do this plan on just the two quality workouts, and use the other days for your other sport specific training.
    • Prior Overtraining: 5. By reducing your running to three days per week and including a week without quality training, the added rest should be good at preventing Overtraining while leveraging your prior fitness.
    • Sub 3:00: 4. This plan works well to fast runners, but I think you'll need to select a mid-high end mileage variant regardless of actual mileage.
    • 3:00-4:30: 5. Mid-pack runners are probably the sweet spot for this plan.
    • 4:30-5:30: 2. This plan might work, but I think you're better off with Galloway.
    • 5:30+: 0. Use Galloway.
    • Speedwork. You have to be prepared to do speed work with this plan.
Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (First To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 0 0 0 11 - - - 8 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.15
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 4 0 1 11 13 4 12 8 0.18 1.10 0.17
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 8 2 17 12 9 12 16 4 0.16 0.46 0.28
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 10 0 21 12 8 9 17 8 (0.14) 0.11 0.32
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 13 2 30 15 4 13 21 8 (1.13) 0.14 0.21
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 14 2 33 15 1 16 24 8 1.40 0.23 0.17
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 17 5 45 15 1 13 24 11 2.70 0.50 0.41
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 0 0 0 8 - - - 8 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.15
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 1 0 0 8 13 0 12 12 0.21 0.00 0.21
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 5 1 10 9 9 12 16 4 0.23 0.32 0.27
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 5 0 9 9 13 4 12 8 0.37 0.05 0.32
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 7 0 12 11 9 8 16 8 0.25 0.23 0.21
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 7 0 16 11 5 12 20 8 0.16 0.14 0.17
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 10 1 26 11 2 12 23 11 2.45 0.71 0.45
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 0 0 0 7 - - - 8 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.14
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 1 0 0 7 13 0 12 12 0.23 0.00 0.23
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 5 0 8 8 9 12 16 4 0.26 0.25 0.26
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 5 0 7 8 13 4 12 8 0.37 (0.29) 0.32
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 7 0 9 9 9 8 16 8 0.25 0.15 0.21
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 6 0 13 9 9 8 16 8 0.22 0.07 0.17
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 9 1 23 9 2 12 23 11 3.40 0.69 0.47

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
26
week
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week
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week
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week
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week
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week
1
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 11 9.7 8 0 11 11.7 8 0 14 13 4 0 14.7 14.5 6 0 15 15.7 9.7 0 15 14.5 14.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 11 10.7 9 0 11 12.7 9 0 12.3 13 8 0 14.7 16 6 0 16 16.5 12 0 16 15.2 14.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 12.3 11.7 10 0 12.9 13.7 7 0 14.7 16 8 0 16 17 14 0 17.2 18.7 14 0 17.2 22.1 20.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 12.3 12.9 9 0 14.7 13.7 10 0 16 16.9 14 0 18.4 18 15 0 18.4 19.7 16 0 18.4 19.7 19.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 14.7 13.9 12 0 16 17.1 13 0 18.4 17.9 14 0 18.4 18.7 16 0 18.4 20.9 17 0 18.4 20.9 19.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 14.7 16.1 14 0 16 18.1 15 0 18.4 18.9 15 0 18.4 19.9 18 0 18.4 20.9 18 0 18.4 20.9 16.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 14.7 17.4 16 0 16.6 18.1 16 0 18.4 20.1 17 0 18.4 21.1 25 0 18.4 20.9 18 0 18.4 20.9 16.4 0 11 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 8.3 8.8 8 0 8.3 10.8 8 0 11.1 13 4 0 11.1 13.8 6 0 12 14.8 8.8 0 12 13.8 12.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 8.3 9.8 9 0 8.3 11.8 9 0 9.2 13 8 0 11.1 16 6 0 12.9 15.8 12 0 12.9 14.9 12.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 9.2 10.8 10 0 9.7 12.8 7 0 11.1 16 8 0 12 17 14 0 12.9 17.8 14 0 12.9 20.6 18.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 9.2 11.7 9 0 11.1 12.8 10 0 12 15.7 14 0 13.9 18 15 0 13.9 18.8 16 0 13.9 18.8 17.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 11.1 12.7 12 0 12 15.6 13 0 13.9 16.7 14 0 13.9 17.8 16 0 13.9 19.7 17 0 13.9 19.7 17.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 11.1 14.6 14 0 12 16.6 15 0 13.9 17.7 15 0 13.9 18.7 18 0 13.9 19.7 18 0 13.9 19.7 14.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 11.1 15.5 16 0 12.5 16.6 16 0 13.9 18.6 17 0 13.9 19.6 25 0 13.9 19.7 18 0 13.9 19.7 14.5 0 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 6.9 8.3 8 0 6.9 10.3 8 0 9.2 13 4 0 9.2 13.5 6 0 9.9 14.3 8.3 0 9.9 13.5 11.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 6.9 9.3 9 0 6.9 11.3 9 0 7.6 13 8 0 9.2 16 6 0 10.7 15.5 12 0 10.7 14.8 11.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 7.6 10.3 10 0 8 12.3 7 0 9.2 16 8 0 9.9 17 14 0 10.7 17.3 14 0 10.7 19.8 17.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 7.6 11.1 9 0 9.2 12.3 10 0 9.9 15.1 14 0 11.5 18 15 0 11.5 18.3 16 0 11.5 18.3 16.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 9.2 12.1 12 0 9.9 14.8 13 0 11.5 16.1 14 0 11.5 17.3 16 0 11.5 19.1 17 0 11.5 19.1 16.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 9.2 13.8 14 0 9.9 15.8 15 0 11.5 17.1 15 0 11.5 18.1 18 0 11.5 19.1 18 0 11.5 19.1 13.6 0 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 4Week (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 9.2 14.6 16 0 10.3 15.8 16 0 11.5 17.8 17 0 11.5 18.8 25 0 11.5 19.1 18 0 11.5 19.1 13.6 0 6.9 race

4.2 Jack Daniels 2Q

There are seven sub-plans under the 2Q plan for different weekly mileage, and the details of each sub-plan vary with fitness levels, creating a bewildering array of options. The table below should help you sift through some of the options to get a sense of what the plan would look like for your weekly mileage and fitness level. The variation based on fitness and mileage makes it hard to generalize about this plan. Depending on your fitness and mileage, the 2Q plan would work well. The 2Q is the shortest of Jack Daniels' non-novice plans.

  • Key Characteristics
    • Training pace based on fitness.
    • Two key workouts; speedwork and Long Run.
    • Except for the two key workouts, all other running is left open, so it's possible to run as many or as few days per week as you choose.
    • Many Long Runs include speedwork which requires a high degree of fortitude.
    • For most runners there are plenty of longer Long Runs. For higher mileage runners, pretty much every long run will be over 16 miles, many of them over 20.
    • The 2Q has more Long Runs than the 4Week plan, but the number and length scale more with weekly mileage than Plan A.
    • The Initial Ramp (mileage increase/week from start to 16) is non-existent for all but the lowest mileage runners. This is good for runners getting back to training quickly after a prior marathon, but it's not going to work for newbies.
    • Core Ramp (mileage increase/week from 16 to max): This again varies with mileage, as lower mileage plans can ramp up gently, but rather strangely the higher mileage plans put the longest runs near the beginning of the plan.
  • Modifications
    • I believe that you should use this training plan with three or four days a week of running. To do this, you will probably need to ignore some of Jack Daniels advice, and configure the plan as if you were running more miles per week than you actually will.
  • Overtraining risk
    • If you only run three or four days per week, they should be a low to moderate risk of Overtraining.
    • It is critical that you select training paces based on your actual fitness measured by a previous race. Using training paces based on your target finish time will increase the risk of Overtraining and likely reduce the effectiveness of your training.
  • Pros
    • Precise training paces and distances provided for quality runs.
  • Cons
    • Working out the details of the plan for each individual is horribly complicated, though my Running Calculator will generate each workout based on your fitness and mileage goals.
    • There is no obvious way of adjusting the training paces for hilly terrain.
  • Good For::
    • Beginner: 1. This plan probably has too much speed work for a beginner, and adding speed work to the requirements of the Long Run is likely to be excessive. Look at Galloway or Higdon instead.
    • Novice: 1. If you're intending to do lower mileage version of this plan, then the ramp-up is pretty good, but you have to be trained up for a half marathon distance before starting this plan.
    • Ringger: 3. If you're an experienced half-marathoner that's comfortable with Long Runs slightly beyond the 13.1 distance, this might work for you.
    • Maintenance: 2. This plan is typically for someone wanting to improve, and is more work than you need for simple maintenance.
    • Improver: 4. This is a great plan someone looking to improve, with the combination of speed work, Long Runs, and speed work in the Long Runs. Be sure you're ready for the 14-21 mile long Long Runs that the plan will start you off with.
    • Enthusiast: 5. This is one of the top plans for an enthusiast. Consider the FIRST plan if you think you can handle two speed work sessions per week, and you don't want to do much easy running. The speed work in the Long Runs gives this plan advantage over FIRST. However, you're going to have to be in marathon condition so you can handle the 14-21 mile long Long Runs that the plan will start you off with.
    • Elite: 3. This is a possibility for elites, but you're probably better off with the elite plan.
    • Limited Training Time: 5. You can do this plan on three days per week and the midweek session is not overly long.
    • Traditionalist: 3. This plan differs a little bit from the traditional marathon training plan by including speed work in the Long Run.
    • Triathlete/Multisport: 5. It would be possible to do this plan on just the two quality workouts, and use the other days for your other sport specific training.
    • Prior Overtraining: 4. By reducing your running to three days per week, the added rest should be good at preventing Overtraining while leveraging your prior fitness. There are a reasonable number of cut-back weeks for the lower mileage plans. (For high mileage, it's just not practical, as running 100 miles/week requires fairly long running every day.)
    • Sub 3:00: 5. This plan adapts well to fast runners.
    • 3:00-4:30: 4. This plan adapts well to mid-pack runners.
    • 4:30-5:30: 2. This plan might work, but I think you're better off with Galloway.
    • 5:30+: 0. Use Galloway.
    • Speedwork. You have to be prepared to do speed work with this plan.
Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (Rirst To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 6 0 6 11 8 3 10 7 0.41 0.82 0.55
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 8 0 8 14 6 5 12 7 0.33 0.39 0.30
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 11 0 9 16 0 11 18 7 0.00 0.17 0.17
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 17 2 34 18 0 8 18 10 0.00 0.33 0.33
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 17 10 66 20 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 17 12 74 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 17 12 74 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 3 0 1 11 10 5 8 3 0.48 0.07 0.39
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 4 0 2 14 6 6 12 6 0.22 0.08 0.25
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 8 0 4 16 0 6 18 12 0.00 0.09 0.09
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 15 2 31 18 0 8 18 10 0.00 0.43 0.43
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 17 10 62 20 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 17 12 70 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 17 12 70 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 3 0 1 11 10 5 8 3 0.49 0.05 0.36
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 4 0 2 14 6 6 12 6 0.16 (0.06) 0.22
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 8 0 4 16 0 6 18 12 0.00 0.06 0.06
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 15 2 31 18 0 8 18 10 0.00 0.47 0.47
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 16 10 61 20 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 16 12 69 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 16 12 69 21 0 2 18 16 0.00 1.00 1.00

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
19
week
18
week
17
week
16
week
15
week
14
week
13
week
12
week
11
week
10
week
9
week
8
week
7
week
6
week
5
week
4
week
3
week
2
week
1
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 11 11.7 13.5 11 11.7 14.7 12 13 16 15 16 18.4 16 15.4 18.4 17 12.4 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 14 12.9 14.7 15 14.4 14.7 16 16 14.7 15 16.4 18.4 17 16.4 18.4 17 14.4 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 16 14.4 14.7 16 15.4 14.7 17 16 16 16 15.4 18.4 17 17 18.4 17 15 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 18 17.4 16 18 17.4 19 19 19 20 18 18 20 18 16 18 18 16 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 20 19.4 22 20 18.4 21 21 22 21 18 21 22 19 18 20 19 16 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 21 19.4 23 21 18.4 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 21 19.4 23 21 18.4 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 11 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 11 10.8 10.2 11 10.8 11.1 12 13 12 15 16 13.9 16 13.5 13.9 17 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 14 11.7 11.1 15 12.5 11.1 16 16 11.1 15 14.5 13.9 17 14.5 13.9 17 12.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 16 12.5 11.1 16 13.5 11.1 17 16 12 16 13.5 13.9 17 17 13.9 17 15 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 18 15.5 16 18 15.5 19 19 19 20 18 18 20 18 16 18 18 16 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 20 17.5 22 20 16.5 21 21 22 21 18 21 22 19 18 20 19 16 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 21 17.5 23 21 16.5 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 21 17.5 23 21 16.5 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 8.3 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 11 10.3 8.4 11 10.3 9.2 12 13 9.9 15 16 11.5 16 12.6 11.5 17 9.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 14 11.1 9.2 15 11.6 9.2 16 16 9.2 15 13.6 11.5 17 13.6 11.5 17 11.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 16 11.6 9.2 16 12.6 9.2 17 16 9.9 16 12.6 11.5 17 17 11.5 17 15 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 18 14.6 16 18 14.6 19 19 19 20 18 18 20 18 16 18 18 16 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 20 16.6 22 20 15.6 21 21 22 21 18 21 22 19 18 20 19 16 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 21 16.6 23 21 15.6 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 6.9 race
Jack Daniels 2Q (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 21 16.6 23 21 15.6 20 22 22 21 19 21 22 20 20 21 19 16 6.9 race

4.3 Jack Daniels Plan A

The "Plan A" varies with the runner's fitness and weekly mileage. It generally has quite a long build up to the longer runs unless you are a fast runner doing high mileage. Plan A includes some significant speed work as part of the Long Run. I think that the Plan A is an excellent approach for an experience runner looking to improve their performance.

  • Key Characteristics
    • Training pace based on fitness.
    • Two key workouts; speedwork and Long Run.
    • Except for the two key workouts, all other running is left open, so it's possible to run as many or as few days per week as you choose.
    • Many Long Runs include speedwork which requires a high degree of fortitude.
    • The Long Runs vary in length with fitness and mileage. For 5 hour marathoners, you only have one run over 16 miles (17.2), but for 3 hour marathoners running high mileage you can have 14 runs over 16 miles in length.
    • Initial Ramp (mileage increase/week from start to 16): Generally quite low at around 0.6-0.75, but watch out as the plans for higher mileage, faster runners jump into longer runs quickly. (This is good for runners getting back to training quickly after a prior marathon.)
    • Core Ramp (mileage increase/week from 16 to max): Lower than most at 0.3 to 0.5.
    • This plan is longer than the 2Q plan, but shorter than the 4Week plan.
  • Modifications
    • I believe that you should use this training plan with three or four days a week of running. To do this, you will probably need to ignore some of Jack Daniels advice, and configure the plan as if you were running more miles per week than you actually will.
  • Overtraining risk
    • If you only run three or four days per week, they should be a low to moderate risk of Overtraining.
    • It is critical that you select training paces based on your actual fitness measured by a previous race. Using training paces based on your target finish time will increase the risk of Overtraining and likely reduce the effectiveness of your training.
  • Pros
    • Precise training paces and distances provided for quality runs.
  • Cons
    • Working out the details of the plan for each individual is complicated, though my Running Calculator will generate each workout based on your fitness and mileage goals.
    • There is no obvious way of adjusting the training paces for hilly terrain.
  • Good For::
    • Beginner: 1. This plan probably has too much speed work for a beginner, and adding speed work to the requirements of the Long Run is likely to be excessive. Look at Galloway or Higdon instead.
    • Novice: 2. This plan can have a very gentle ramp-up, and you probably only have to be trained up for a 10K distance before starting this plan.
    • Ringger: 4. This plan can have a very gentle ramp-up, and this plan can also make good use of the runners existing performance.
    • Maintenance: 2. This plan is typically for someone wanting to improve, and is more work than you need for simple maintenance.
    • Improver: 4. This is a great plan someone looking to improve, with the combination of speed work, Long Runs, and speed work in the Long Runs.
    • Enthusiast: 5. This is one of the top plans for an enthusiast. Consider the FIRST plan if you think you can handle two speed work sessions per week, and you don't want to do much easy running. However, the speed work in the Long Runs gives this plan advantage over FIRST.
    • Elite: 3. This is a possibility for elites, but you're probably better off with the elite plan.
    • Limited Training Time: 5. You can do this plan on three days per week and the midweek session is not overly long.
    • Traditionalist: 3. This plan differs a little bit from the traditional marathon training plan by including speed work in the Long Run.
    • Triathlete/Multisport: 5. It would be possible to do this plan on just the two quality workouts, and use the other days for your other sport specific training.
    • Prior Overtraining: 4. By reducing your running to three days per week, the added rest should be good at preventing Overtraining while leveraging your prior fitness. However, there are few shorter Long Runs towards the end of the program for faster runners, but you could modify the plan to reduce one or two of them accordingly. For the ~4 hour runners there are some cut-back weeks with shorter Long Runs built in.
    • Sub 3:00: 5. This plan adapts well to fast runners.
    • 3:00-4:30: 5. This plan adapts well to mid-pack runners.
    • 4:30-5:30: 3. This plan could work, but you're probably better off with Galloway.
    • 5:30+: 0. Use Galloway.
    • Speedwork. You have to be prepared to do speed work with this plan
Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (First To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 8 2 23 4 13 6 10 4 0.93 0.77 0.91
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 8 2 23 4 13 6 10 4 0.97 0.64 0.87
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 10 2 24 4 12 7 11 4 0.99 0.53 0.83
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 11 2 30 4 9 10 14 4 1.36 0.49 0.78
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 14 2 32 4 3 16 20 4 3.87 0.36 0.72
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 14 2 38 4 3 16 20 4 4.41 0.27 0.67
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 14 2 38 4 3 16 20 4 4.41 0.27 0.67
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.74 0.19 0.71
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.75 0.19 0.66
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.72 0.19 0.60
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.64 0.19 0.55
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.64 0.19 0.55
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.64 0.19 0.55
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 4 0 5 3 16 5 7 2 0.64 0.19 0.55
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.61 0.00 0.61
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.55 0.00 0.55
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.49 0.00 0.49
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.49 0.00 0.49
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.49 0.00 0.49
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.49 0.00 0.49
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 1 0 1 2 21 0 2 2 0.49 0.00 0.49

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
24
week
23
week
22
week
21
week
20
week
19
week
18
week
17
week
16
week
15
week
14
week
13
week
12
week
11
week
10
week
9
week
8
week
7
week
6
week
5
week
4
week
3
week
2
week
1
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 6.1 6.1 6.1 7 8.1 13.9 7.9 13 14.8 8.8 18.1 17 8.8 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 8.8 8.8 8.8 10 8.1 13.9 11.3 13 14.8 12.5 18.1 17 12.5 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 11.4 11.4 11.4 13 8.1 13.9 14.6 13 14.8 16.3 18.1 17 16.3 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 14 14 14 14.7 8.1 13.9 18 13 14.8 18.4 18.1 17 18.4 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 16.6 16.6 16.6 14.7 8.1 13.9 18.4 13 14.8 18.4 18.1 17 18.4 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 14.7 8.1 13.9 18.4 13 14.8 18.4 18.1 17 18.4 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 14.7 8.1 13.9 18.4 13 14.8 18.4 18.1 17 18.4 20.5 19 18.4 21 18.4 19 12.1 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 6.1 6.1 6.1 7 5.9 11 7.9 10.3 11.7 8.8 14.6 14.7 8.8 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 8.8 8.8 8.8 10 5.9 11 11.3 10.3 11.7 12.5 14.6 14.7 12.5 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 11.4 11.4 11.4 11.1 5.9 11 13.9 10.3 11.7 13.9 14.6 14.7 13.9 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 11.1 5.9 11 13.9 10.3 11.7 13.9 14.6 14.7 13.9 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 11.1 5.9 11 13.9 10.3 11.7 13.9 14.6 14.7 13.9 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 11.1 5.9 11 13.9 10.3 11.7 13.9 14.6 14.7 13.9 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 11.1 5.9 11 13.9 10.3 11.7 13.9 14.6 14.7 13.9 16.5 16.9 13.9 17 13.9 19 9.6 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 6.1 6.1 6.1 7 4.9 9.6 7.9 8.8 10.2 8.8 12.9 12.8 8.8 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 8.8 8.8 8.8 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.3 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.4 11.4 11.4 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.5 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.5 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.5 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.5 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race
Jack Daniels Plan A (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 9.2 4.9 9.6 11.5 8.8 10.2 11.5 12.9 12.8 11.5 14.2 14.5 11.5 14.9 11.5 17.2 8.2 race

4.4 Jack Daniels Elite Plan (12 Week Plan)

The 'Elite' plan is one of the few I've seen that focuses on high performing runners who are prepared to put in a lot of effort. This plan is intended for elite marathon runners with a race time of 2:10 or less (VDOT 77+), but it is possible to scale it down for lesser runners. The plan includes a lot more Long Runs than Plan A, and more than any other except the high mileage versions of Pfitzinger. As noted above, the 12 week plan in the third edition is the last 12 weeks of the elite plan in the second edition. If you're thinking of using this plan, find a copy of the second edition (still available used at price not listed at Amazon.com.)

  • Key Characteristics
    • Training pace based on fitness.
    • Two key workouts; speedwork and Long Run
    • Except for the two key workouts, all other running is left open, so it's possible to run as many or as few days per week as you choose.
    • Nearly all of the Long Runs include speedwork. Consider this 18 mile Long Run for a 3 hour marathon runner: 6@8:09, 6@ 6:56, 1 @ 6:32, 3 @ 6:56, 1 6:32, 1 @ 6:56. That's a brutal training run, but one that will build a lot of endurance and confidence if you can do it.
    • There are a lot of longer Long Runs; typically 16 or more runs of 16+ miles and 11 runs of 20+ miles.
    • Initial Ramp (mileage increase/week from start to 16): You need to be doing 16+ mile plans regularly before considering this plan.
    • Core Ramp (mileage increase/week from 16 to max): Moderate at around 0.5.
  • Pros
    • Precise training paces and distances provided for quality runs.
  • Cons
    • Working out the details of the plan for each individual is complicated, though my VDOT Calculator will generate each workout based on your fitness and mileage goals.
    • There is no obvious way of adjusting the training paces for hilly terrain.
  • Modifications
    • I believe that you should use this training plan with four days a week of running. To do this, you will probably need to ignore some of Jack Daniels advice, and configure the plan as if you were running more miles per week than you actually will.
  • Overtraining risk
    • If you only run four days per week, they should be a moderate risk of Overtraining. However, running more days per week may dramatically increase the risk of Overtraining.
    • It is critical that you select training paces based on your actual fitness measured by a previous race. Using training paces based on your target finish time will increase the risk of Overtraining and likely reduce the effectiveness of your training.
  • Good For::
    • Beginner: 0. This is an elite plan that is unsuitable for newbies. Look at Galloway or Higdon instead.
    • Novice: 0. This is an elite plan that is unsuitable for newbies.
    • Ringger: 1. If you really are an elite level runner at shorter distances, then this plan might work for you, otherwise avoid it.
    • Maintenance: 0. This plan is an elite plan.
    • Improver: 3. This is likely to be too intense, but depending on your level of fitness and commitment it might work for you. However, you're probably better off with Plan A/2Q/4W, or FIRST.
    • Enthusiast: 4. This is may be too intense, but it's worth considering. Evaluate your level of fitness and commitment carefully, and compare this plan with Plan A/2Q/4W and FIRST.
    • Elite: 4. This is my pick of training plans for elite runners, though any true elite will have their own coach. It is demanding with significant speed work, including speed work on the Long Run. However, when combined with plenty of rest and recovery this plan could deliver great results.
    • Limited Training Time: 4. You can do this plan on four days per week and the midweek session is not overly long.
    • Traditionalist: 3. This plan differs a little bit from the traditional marathon training plan by including speed work in the Long Run.
    • Triathlete/Multisport: 3. It would be possible to do this plan on just the two quality workouts, but the level of training intensity required by this plan may make it tricky to do any meaningful training on your other sport.
    • Prior Overtraining: 0. If you have a history of Overtraining, then this plan is likely to be too intense.
    • Sub 3:00: 5. This plan focuses on fast runners.
    • 3:00-4:30: 3. This plan is not really designed for mid-pack runners, but it may be viable depending on your level of endurance and commitment.
    • 4:30-5:30: 0. Avoid this plan and look at Galloway.
    • 5:30+: 0. Use Galloway.
    • Speedwork. You have to be prepared to do speed work with this plan.
Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (First To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 17 12 77 4 6 12 18 6 1.79 0.44 1.22
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 17 12 77 4 6 12 18 6 2.08 0.44 1.15
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 17 12 77 4 6 12 18 6 2.36 0.44 1.08
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 17 12 77 4 6 12 18 6 2.64 0.44 1.01
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 20 12 79 4 3 15 21 6 3.87 0.45 0.94
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 20 12 85 4 3 15 21 6 4.41 0.35 0.89
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 20 12 85 4 3 15 21 6 4.41 0.35 0.89
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 1.98 0.51 1.26
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.27 0.51 1.19
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.55 0.51 1.12
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.82 0.51 1.05
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.82 0.51 1.05
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.82 0.51 1.05
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 16 12 74 3 6 12 18 6 2.82 0.51 1.05
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.09 0.55 1.28
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.38 0.55 1.21
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.66 0.55 1.14
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.67 0.55 1.14
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.67 0.55 1.14
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.67 0.55 1.14
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 15 12 74 2 6 12 18 6 2.67 0.55 1.14

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
25
week
24
week
23
week
22
week
21
week
20
week
19
week
18
week
17
week
16
week
15
week
14
week
13
week
12
week
11
week
10
week
9
week
8
week
7
week
6
week
5
week
4
week
3
week
2
week
1
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 6.1 6.1 6.1 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 8.8 8.8 8.8 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 11.4 11.4 11.4 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 14 14 14 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 16.6 16.6 16.6 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 18 17.4 18 20 18.4 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 11 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 6.1 6.1 6.1 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 8.8 8.8 8.8 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 11.4 11.4 11.4 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 18 15.5 18 20 16.5 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 6.1 6.1 6.1 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 8.8 8.8 8.8 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.4 11.4 11.4 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Elite (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 18 14.6 18 20 15.6 20 22 22 20 22 22 22 23 22 22 22 18.6 6.9 race

4.5 Jack Daniels Scaled Elite Plan

While the Elite plan focuses on the fastest runners, the second edition includes instructions for scaling the workouts for the rest of the running community. Realistically, the Elite Plan only scales down to about the 3 hour mark. If you're slower than 3 hours then the long runs become too short, with 4 hour runners peaking at 14 miles and 5 hour runners peaking at only 12 miles.

  • Key Characteristics
    • Training pace based on fitness.
    • Two key workouts; speedwork and Long Run
    • Except for the two key workouts, all other running is left open, so it's possible to run as many or as few days per week as you choose.
    • Nearly all of the Long Runs include speedwork.
    • For a 3 hour runner there a lot of 15-17 mile runs, but nothing longer. For slower runners, the longest runs become rather too short.
    • The Initial Ramp (mileage increase/week from start to 16): It builds up slowly at first, but then jumps quickly.
    • Core Ramp (mileage increase/week from 16 to max): For 3 hour runners, the ramp is fairly gentle at 0.3 miles/week.
  • Pros
    • An elite plan for mortals?
  • Cons
    • Working out the details of the plan for each individual is complicated, though my Running Calculator will generate each workout based on your fitness and mileage goals.
    • Even scaled, this plan only works for faster runners.
    • There is no obvious way of adjusting the training paces for hilly terrain.
  • Modifications
    • Runners slower than 3 hours will probably need to try to look at both the raw Elite plan and the scaled plan to find some midground.
    • I believe that you should use this training plan with four days a week of running. To do this, you will probably need to ignore some of Jack Daniels advice, and configure the plan as if you were running more miles per week than you actually will.
  • Overtraining risk
    • If you only run four days per week, they should be a moderate risk of Overtraining. However, running more days per week may dramatically increase the risk of Overtraining.
    • It is critical that you select training paces based on your actual fitness measured by a previous race. Using training paces based on your target finish time will increase the risk of Overtraining and likely reduce the effectiveness of your training.
  • Good For::
    • Beginner: 0. Even when scaled this not a great plan for those without speedwork experiance. Look at Galloway or Higdon instead.
    • Novice: 0. This is going to be a poor choice for novices without some modifications that are probably be beyond your expertise.
    • Ringger: 1. An elite level runner at shorter distances is probably going to want to either use the raw or want to develop a plan between the raw and the scaled versions.
    • Maintenance: 0. This plan has far too much hard work for someone looking to just maintain.
    • Improver: 3. This might work well for you if you're a faster runner and prepared to put in the work.
    • Enthusiast: 3. I think an enthusiast is likely to need something that's less compromised than this plan.
    • Elite: 0. If you're elite, you won't need the scaling.
    • Limited Training Time: 4. You can do this plan on four days per week and the midweek session is not overly long.
    • Traditionalist: 3. This plan differs a little bit from the traditional marathon training plan by including speed work in the Long Run.
    • Triathlete/Multisport: 3. It would be possible to do this plan on just the two quality workouts, but the level of training intensity required by this plan may make it tricky to do any meaningful training on your other sport.
    • Prior Overtraining: 1. If you have a history of Overtraining, then this plan is likely to be a little too monotonous; look for a plan with more variation in the length of the long run.
    • Sub 3:00: 5. This plan can scale reasonably well down to 3 hour finishers.
    • 3:00-4:30: 2. This plan doesn't really scale well to slower than 3 hours, and by 4 hours the long runs are too short.
    • 4:30-5:30: 0. Avoid this plan and look at Galloway.
    • 5:30+: 0. Use Galloway.
    • Speedwork. You have to be prepared to do speed work with this plan.
Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (First To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 7 0 2 4 10 3 14 11 1.44 0.33 1.18
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 7 0 2 4 10 3 14 11 1.37 0.33 1.10
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 7 0 2 4 10 3 14 11 1.29 0.33 1.01
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 7 0 2 4 10 3 14 11 1.22 0.33 0.92
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 10 0 4 4 3 10 21 11 3.87 (0.01) 0.84
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 10 0 10 4 3 0 21 21 4.41 0.00 4.41
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 10 0 10 4 3 0 21 21 4.41 0.00 4.41
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 11 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.85
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 11 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.76
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 11 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.67
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 3.33
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 3.33
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 3.33
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 0 0 0 3 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 3.33
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 11 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.68
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 11 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.59
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 2.73
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 2.76
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 2.76
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 2.76
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 0 0 0 2 - - - 21 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 2.76

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
25
week
24
week
23
week
22
week
21
week
20
week
19
week
18
week
17
week
16
week
15
week
14
week
13
week
12
week
11
week
10
week
9
week
8
week
7
week
6
week
5
week
4
week
3
week
2
week
1
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 35miles/56Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 6.1 6.1 6.1 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 50miles/80Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 8.8 8.8 8.8 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 65miles/105Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 11.4 11.4 11.4 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 80miles/129Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 14 14 14 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 95miles/153Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 16.6 16.6 16.6 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 115miles/185Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (3hours, 125miles/201Km) 3.7 3.7 3.7 18.4 18.4 18.4 13 14.8 13.3 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.9 16.8 14.7 15.9 16.2 16.2 16.7 16.2 16.2 15.9 14 11 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 6.1 6.1 6.1 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 8.8 8.8 8.8 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 11.4 11.4 11.4 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (4hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.8 2.8 2.8 13.9 13.9 13.9 9.6 10.9 10 10.7 12.4 11.1 11.8 13 11.1 11.8 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.1 12.2 11.8 10.5 8.3 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 35miles/56Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 6.1 6.1 6.1 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 50miles/80Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 8.8 8.8 8.8 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 65miles/105Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.4 11.4 11.4 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 80miles/129Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 95miles/153Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 115miles/185Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race
Jack Daniels Scaled Elite (5hours, 125miles/201Km) 2.3 2.3 2.3 11.5 11.5 11.5 7.8 9 8.2 8.8 10.6 9.2 9.6 11.1 9.2 9.6 10 10.1 10.2 10 10.1 9.6 8.8 6.9 race

4.6 Jack Daniels "To Finish" Plan

I don't recommend the "To Finish" plans as they don't have sufficient Long Runs.

Plan name # Runs 16+ # Runs 20+ Total Miles Over 16 Starting Mileage Weeks To 16 Weeks 16 To Max 16 To Race Max To Race Initial Ramp (Rirst To 16) Core Ramp (16 To Max) Overall Ramp (first to max)
Jack Daniels To Complete (4hours, 50miles/week) 0 0 0 3 - - - 9 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 0.96
Jack Daniels To Complete (4hours, 90miles/week) 0 0 0 3 - - - 15 No 16+ miler No 16+ miler 3.30

Notes on the columns

  • # Runs 16+. I consider that the 16 mile mark defines the beginning of "the long run". While this is somewhat arbitrary on my part, I believe that counting the number of long runs that are 16 miles or more is a useful metric. The first run the diesel 16 miles or more is highlighted in green in the weekly section.
  • # Runs 20+. There is some limited evidence that suggests that runs over 20 miles provide important adaptations for marathon running, and help prevent "hitting the wall". This column gives account of the number of runs that of 20 miles or more.
  • Total Miles Over 16. Another way of evaluating a training plan is to look at the number of miles run in excess of 16 miles. For example an 18 mile long run would count as 2 miles in excess of the 16 mile Mark. This metric reveals some dramatic differences between some of the advanced plans.
  • Starting Mileage. This column shows the mileage of the first long run, and may be useful in selecting a plan based on your current fitness.
  • Weeks To 16. This is the number of weeks from the start of the plan to the first 16 mile long run. This section of the training plan I've called the "initial ramp up" that brings a runner from their initial level of fitness to what I consider the threshold of performing long runs.
  • Weeks 16 To Max. This is the number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the longest run in the plan. If the longest run is repeated more than once, I use the first instance, which is highlighted in red in the weekly section.
  • 16 To Race. The number of weeks from the first run of 16 miles or more to the race itself.
  • Max To Race. The number of weeks from the longest long run to the race itself.
  • Ramps. One key aspect of any marathon training plan is how quickly it increases the mileage. It seems likely that one of the biggest factors behind excessive fatigue and injury from the long run is at this rate of mileage increase. Therefore I have attempted to quantify this rate of increase as a "ramp", which is approximately the number of miles per week the long run is increased by. (For those interested in the details I use the least squares approach to calculate an approximate slope between the two points on the training plan. This approach has some obvious limitations when the training plans have cut back weeks.)
    • Initial Ramp (First To 16). This is the ramp from the first run to the first 16 mile or longer run.
    • Core Ramp (16 To Max).This is the ramp from the first 16 mile or longer run to the longest run.
    • Overall Ramp (first to max). The ramp from the first run to the longest run.
Plan name week
19
week
18
week
17
week
16
week
15
week
14
week
13
week
12
week
11
week
10
week
9
week
8
week
7
week
6
week
5
week
4
week
3
week
2
week
1
Jack Daniels To Complete (4hours, 50miles/week) 3 3 3 12 12 12 12 12 5 14 14 11 10 14 12 10 11 5 race
Jack Daniels To Complete (4hours, 90miles/week) 3 3 3 14 14 14 14 14 10 14 14 11 10 14 14 10 11 10 race

5 The Other Plans

Jack Daniels has a wide variety of plans beyond those for the Marathon. There are plans for Starting to run, for those wanting to train for general fitness, and race distance specific plans for the 800 meters, 1500 meters, 5K-15K, half marathon, as well as the marathon.

5.1 Half Marathon Plan

The half marathon plan has recommendations for a buildup phase of general running, followed by workouts for 18 weeks in three further phases. Phase 2 has three quality workouts; long, R intervals, and a combined Tempo/R interval session. Phase 3 also has three quality workouts; long, I or H intervals, and the combined Tempo/R interval session. In phase 3 the two interval workouts are on back to back days, making it tougher. Phase 4 has two quality sessions; a long run and tempo intervals.

5.2 Cross Country

The cross country training is more what I would consider a set of building blocks and ideas that you can turn into a specific plan rather than a concrete set of workouts.

5.3 5K to 10K Plans

These plans are 18 weeks long and specify all workouts in detail. There are two plans based on weekly distance; one for 40-50 miles/64-80 Km per week and the other for 60-70 miles/97-112 Km miles per week. These plans generally have three quality workouts per week, including a long run and two interval training sessions. One of the interval sessions is R paced, the other a mixture of R and T.

5.4 1500 meters to 2 mile Plans

There are three plans for these distances based on weekly distance; 30 miles/45 Km, 40 miles/64 Km, and 60 miles/97 Km. These plans are 24 weeks long and specify all workouts in detail. The plans have three quality workouts for most of their length; a long run and two R interval sessions. For the second phase of the plans, the long run is dropped.

5.5 800 Meter Plans

There are three plans based on weekly mileage; 20-30 miles/32-48 Km, 40 miles/64 Km, and 50-60 miles/80-97 Km, each specifying all workouts for 24 weeks. Training paces are giving for runners focused on 400/800 meters and those focused on 800/1600 meters. There are three quality workouts per week; a long or tempo run, and two interval runs using mostly R pace.

5.6 Fitness Plans

There are four plans designed for general fitness rather than racing, each 16 weeks long. There is a white plan for learning to run using a run/walk approach, then a red intermediate plan, blue advanced plan and gold elite plan. Each of the red/blue/gold adds increasing levels of difficulty and interval training. The plans are also structured so that you can progress through white-red-blue-gold, building your fitness as you go.

6 Third Edition Changes

The third edition of the book includes numerous changes.

  • The table of race performance to VDOT has not changed at all, but there is now a table for those with slower performances. This covers VDOT values of 20 to 30, mile race times of 9:10 to 12:55 and marathon times of 4:57 to 6:44. However, I don't believe the book provides adequate plans for these slower times as only the novice plan include a run/walk approach.
  • The Easy pace is now a range of paces roughly centered on the second edition's single Easy pace. The range is 76 seconds/mile wide for VDOT of 30 down to 42 seconds for a VDOT of 85. The second edition used about 74% of V̇O2max, and the third edition uses 70% to 79%.
  • Paces for T, I, and R have not changed, nor obviously has the M pace.
  • There is now the idea of Hard running which is based on subjective feel rather than a specified pace.
  • There is no longer a table for longer Tempo runs and the T pace is now only used for interval training.
  • An approach to measuring overall training stress has been added, assigning points to various paces. This approach is similar to TRIMP, but would require far more effort to track and calculate without some type of software.
  • Where the second edition directed half marathon runners to use either a marathon plan (if they were slow or fast), or a 10K plan (if they were faster), the third edition actually includes a half marathon specific training plan. This plan is 24 weeks long and includes easy, tempo, hard, marathon, long, and repetition training.
  • The marathon training plans have been expanded; see above for details.
    • The novice plan is somewhat similar to the second edition but the specific workouts have changed.
    • The 2Q plan resembles Plan A from the second edition, but there are now seven different plans depending on your weekly mileage. There are plans for up to 40 miles/week, 41-55, 56-70, 71-85, 86-100, 101-120, and over 120 miles/week. Some workouts are based on time rather than distance, so the details will vary with both weekly mileage and fitness level.
    • The 12 week plan is actually the last 12 weeks of the elite plan in the second edition.
    • There is a new plan called the 4-week cycle that is a 26 week plan and is somewhat similar to the old Plan A but every fourth week has no quality workouts.
    • There are two sets of plans that are more rough outlines than fully specified plans. The five weeks plan gives five weeks that can be repeated and there are three 18 week programs; two by distance and one by time.

7 Comparison With Other Plans

Main article: A Comparison of Marathon Training Plans

  FIRST
Marathon
FIRST

Novice

Jeff Galloway's
You Can Do It!
Hanson's
Marathon Method
Just Finish
Hanson's
Marathon Method
Beginner/Advanced
Hanson's
Marathon Method
Elite
Jack Daniels
4Week
Jack Daniels
2Q
Jack Daniels
Plan A
Jack Daniels
Elite (AKA 12 Week)
Pfitzinger's
Advanced Marathoning
Hal Higdon's
Ultimate Training Guide
Waitz's Run
your first marathon
Running With Lydiard
Beginner 0 2 5 2 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 3 2 0
Novice 1 3 4 1 1 0 3 1 2 0 0 3 1 0
Ringger 2 4 2 0 2 2 3 3 4 1 1 2 0 2
Maintenance 2 2 3 2 2 0 3 2 2 0 0 4 0 0
Improver 4 3 3 0 3 0 3 4 4 3 3 2 0 1
Enthusiast 4 2 3 0 2 1 3 5 5 4 3 2 0 2
Elite 3 0 1 0 1 3 1 3 3 4 3 0 0 3
Limited Training Time 4 4 0 3 2 0 5 5 5 4 0 2 2 0
Traditionalist 2 2 2 0 0 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 1
Triathlete/Multisport 5 5 4 0 0 0 5 5 5 3 0 2 3 0
Prior Overtraining 3 3 4 1 4 1 5 4 4 0 0 0 0 0
Sub 3:00 5 5 2 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 4 2 0 3
3:00-4:30 5 5 4 2 3 0 5 4 5 3 3 3 2 1
4:30-5:30 3 3 5 1 2 0 2 2 3 0 0 2 2 0
5:30+ 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Like Speedwork 5 5 0 0 3 3 5 5 5 5 3 1 0 5
Hate Speedwork 0 0 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 5 0