Blue Collar Legend—Dual Citizen Runner Steve Chu/ Part 5 Personal Samples and Discussion

Article, Pictures/ Steve Chu
Interview, Translate/ Bigfish

    My  Personal Training Schedules: I know people are curious, so I have selected two training blocks where I followed a more structured schedule  for over 10 weeks and set two marathon PRs. The first one is where I ran 2:37:22 at the 2012 Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon (previous PB was 2:42:49). The second race is the Hamburg marathon buildup where I ran my PR of 2:21:52 this year. By the 2012 schedule I have pretty much adopted a standard “two quality days a week” approach. Also, by this time I have developed a routine of running two runs a day, with my main run or workout in the morning and a shorter 30-45 minute run in the afternoon. Sometimes I will run 50-60 minutes in the afternoon if I finish work early and feel good.

    2012 Rock n’ Roll Arizona (13-week buildup after taking 1 week off following the 2011 Portland Marathon)






    82mi / 131 km

    Monday – 2x2mi Goal HMP with 2min rest (10:58, 10:58)

    Saturday – 10mi Goal MP (58:24)


    81mi / 129 km

    Monday – 4mi tempo at Goal HMP (21:55)

    Saturday – 10.5mi GMP (62:30)


    89mi / 142 km

    Tuesday – 3mi tempo, 4min rest, 2mi tempo (16:30, 11:18)

    Saturday – 12mi GMP (70:36) – 5:53/mi (3:39/km)


    92mi / 148 km

    Tuesday – 5mi tempo @ Goal HMP (27:28)

    5:29/mi (3:25/km)

    Saturday – 3mi MP@5:59/mi, (3-4min bathroom break, haha) 7.5mi MP@5:57/mi


    100mi / 160 km

    Tuesday – 6mi tempo (32:34) – 5:30/mi (3:22/km)

    Saturday – 3mi (16:09), 2mi (10:28). (~20 min jog/rest)

    For the Saturday session above, I think the original workout was 2x3 miles. I ran the first 3 miles too fast and actually stopped after 800m into the 2nd interval due to a severe stomach cramp. I started my cool down but after 2 miles I felt good enough to try to finish the workout and started out too fast again. This is a good example of why it’s better to start out too slow in workouts. Also another lesson on stopping workouts early instead of running too hard coming in the following week.


    72mi / 115 km

    Thursday – Failed workout (1.5mi in 7:58)

    Saturday – 3mi (16:08), 1mi jog, 2mi (10:49)

    Due to running too hard the week before, I was only able to hold my goal pace for a scheduled time trial on Thursday for 1.5 miles. On Saturday I attempted another 2x3mi workout and couldn’t finish it either. This time I stopped early before I pushed myself too hard again. It was an easier decision with a half-marathon race in a week.


    62mi / 99 km

    Tuesday – 3mi “tempo” in 15:55 – 5:18/mi (3:18/km)

    Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas Half – 72:52. (Also 8K PB 26:20, 10K PB 33:25, 10mi PB 54:55). Old PB was 74:42.


    53mi / 85 km

    Saturday – 6mi MP (35:50) – 5:58/mi (3:43/km)


    101mi / 162 km

    Tuesday – 2mi tempo (10:59) – 10min rest – 5mi tempo (27:18) – 5:27/mi (3:24/km)

    Sunday – 7mi@MP+1@LT + 7mi@MP+1@ LT. (7mi@3:36/K,1mi@3:24/k, 7mi@3:35/K,1mi@3:23/k)

    Week 8 required a few days of rest after a hard half-marathon before I could run hard again. The original plan on Tuesday was 3x2mi, which I had to do on a treadmill at home due to having to a busy day at work that day and not having enough time to drive to the gym. (It was about -40 degrees Celsius outside at this point). My treadmill motor shut off after the first 2 mile repeat and I had to spend about 10 minutes fixing it. (by fix I mean mainly kicking it a couple of times, plugging the machine back in and trying to start it again). By the time it was working I was running low on time so I just ran the rest of the workout without stopping, and ran an extra mile by accident. Sunday was a great Jack Daniels workout where I ran 16 miles without stopping, with the 8th and 16th mile faster at approximately lactate threshold pace before settling back down. It was easier to control the pace change because I ran this on my treadmill again.


    80mi / 128 km

    Wednesday – 8mi tempo (43:52) – 5:29/mi (3:24/km)

    Sunday – 20 miles in 2:17 (middle 6 miles @ 5:48/mi 3:37/km)


    88mi / 141 km

    Thursday - 10x800 on 200m indoor track. (2:32 avg, rest was 200m/55-60s)

    Saturday – 15mi with 10mi @ 56:57 (5:42/mi, 3:32/km)


    66mi / 106 km

    Saturday – 12.5mi (20km) run with 7mi (11km) @ 5:43/mi (3:33/km)


    60mi / 96 km

    Tuesday – 2mi @ 5:39/mi (3:30/km)

    Sunday – Rock n’ Roll Arizona – 2:37:22. (6:00/mi, 3:44/km)

    2016 Hamburg Marathon

    By this time, I am pretty much set in the “2 workouts/quality days per week” approach. The only exception is that if I have a light workout or race on Saturday I will sometimes do a “depletion run” long run on Sunday. This is usually done at my normal easy running pace with the last 30-60 minutes slightly faster. The goal of a “depletion run” is to run these without taking in calories (i.e. gels or sports drinks), and this teaches your body to use fat as an energy source more, which is important in marathons. Also, I live in Colorado Springs now, which is at about 6,200 feet (1,900 meters) elevation so all my workouts are usually 10s/mi (6s/km) slower than they would be at sea level. I added the label (SL) for sessions that are done at sea level when I am on vacation or when I have traveled somewhere to race.







    73mi / 117km

    Easy running all week


    123mi / 197km

    Wednesday – 4mi progression – 5:50/mi (3:37/km)

    Sunday – Half-Marathon Race – 75:49. 5:47/mi (3:35/km)


    113mi / 182km

    Wednesday – 3mi progression – 5:50/mi (3:37/km)

    Saturday – 3mi (16:04) – 3min rest – 2mi (10:31) (SL)


    138mi / 221km

    Wednesday – 4x3200 – 10:52, 10:46, 10:43, 10:47 (3min rest)

    Saturday – 10mi race @ 90-95% effort (55:17) – (3:26/km)

    Sunday –

    20mi Easy Depletion



    151mi / 242km

    Wednesday – 

    1600 (5:09) – 400 (1:10)

    1600 (5:02) – 400 (1:10)

    1600 (4:59) – 400 (1:11)

    1600 (4:58) – 400 (1:15)

    1600 (5:06) – 800 (2:29)

    400 (1:12) – 400 (1:07) – 

    Average Rest ~ 2:30

    Saturday –

    2x5 miles (1st 5 miles = 60m elevation gain, 2nd 5 miles = 60m elevation loss) – 5min rest

    27:45 – 27:03. 

    (3:27/km, 3:21/km) Effort = 100-105% MP.

    Sunday - 25.5mi (41km) Easy Depletion run – 7:15/mi (4:30/km) 


    131mi / 210km

    Wednesday – 3x(2mi,1mi) – 3min rest after every interval




    Sunday – 10mi race (53:04).  

    Overall Pace – 5:18/mi (3:18/km)

    Last 5K in 16:02. (5:09/mi, 3:12/km)


    150mi / 240km

    Wednesday – Fartlek –

    1min-2min-3min-4min-5min-4min-3min-2min-1min (Rest=Interval, 1min rest after 1min interval, etc…) ~5:10/mi (3:12/km)

    Saturday – Rock n Roll DC Marathon – 2:34:10 - ~90% of Goal Marathon Pace Effort (SL)

    After the “marathon workout”, I knew I was going to need to run easy for a few days. My training run paces were about 30-40s/mi (20-25s/km) slower than usual for the next 2-3 days before gradually returning to a more normal pace. I also knew from reading about Canova’s training for his runners that I need to really listen to my body and only try to run fast again after I know it was ready. For this reason, I planned a progression run as my first workout after I was ready, so I can run based on how my body feels instead of having to force myself to hit certain paces. I actually tried to do this progression run on the Thursday after the marathon but I was feeling tired from a long day at work, so I stopped about 10 minutes into it and did the workout the following day.


    134mi / 214km

    Friday – 12mi progression 68:38 –5:59-5:22/mi.(3:43-3:22/km)

    Sunday – 22mile (35km) depletion run. (no gel/water) – 7:17/mi (4:31/km)


    136mi / 218km

    Tuesday – 4x2mi (2:30 rest) – 10:28, 10:23, 10:28, 10:29

    Saturday – 21 miles with 15 miles @ Goal Marathon Pace (5:26/mi, 3:23/km)


    127mi / 204km

    Wednesday – 3mi (16:19), 2mi (10:29), 1mi (5:02). 4min rest

    Sunday – 10mile race (51:50) (SL)


    106mi / 170km

    Wednesday – 2x3mi (16:44, 16:30) – 4min rest.

    Saturday – 5mi tempo run – First 4 miles (5:25/mi, 3:22/km) + 1 mile (5:09/mi, 3:12/km)


    87mi / 139km

    Wednesday – 10x(1min fast, 1min easy) (SL)

    Hamburg Marathon – 2:21:52 (SL)

    Comparisons of the schedules and benefits of each one:



      Benefits / Other Points

      Hansons’ 18-week “Advanced” 

      Weekly – 1 interval or strength, 1 MP, 1 long run.

      Very structured, easiest schedule to understand and follow.  Works well for someone who can consistently find time to train twice during the week and their body recovers quickly enough between the workouts.

      Jack Daniels’ Marathon Training Plan for “non-elites”

      Weekly – 2 workouts. Usually 1 LT and 1 MP.

      The structure is pretty organized. The workouts are longer and generally harder than the Hanson’s schedules. Works well for someone who responds to longer workouts and/or someone who needs more time to recover between workouts.

      9-day cycle

      9 day cycle. 1 workout every 3 days. Rotate between interval/strength, MP, and Long Run.

      This is a good structure as well, but doesn’t work well unless someone can find enough time to train on any day of the week. Probably not great for someone with a full time job that has limited time to train during the week.

      Canova Training

      No specific cycle. Usually one workout every 3-4 days, sometimes 4 easy days between workouts. 

      This is a good schedule for someone who is experienced enough to listen to their body to know when they are ready to run hard again. It also requires someone who has a somewhat flexible schedule and can do workouts on any day of the week.

      How to incorporate components of the training or schedules introduced in this article:

        Chances are you already have a training system or schedule that you have been using for a few months or even a few years now. If you are seeing consistent improvements with your current training system, my recommendation is to stay with what you are doing. However, if you are looking to make minor changes to your schedule, here are some things I recommend doing:

        1. Increase your mileage – if you are handling your training fairly comfortably and haven’t had any major injuries in the last year or two, one of the easiest ways to increase your training load is to increase your mileage on your easy days. Run for an extra 5 minutes to one of your runs every other day (which adds about 15-20 minutes of running a week). If you are still feeling pretty good after 3-4 weeks at this new training mileage, repeat the process and add another  15-20 minutes of running to your weekly mileage. This may seem slow or overly conservative, but over a 12-15 week training cycle this will add an extra 60-80 minutes of running to your training load. For most runners this will be about an additional 7.5-10 miles (12-16 km /week). If you repeat this process 2-3 times a year you will find yourself going from a runner that trains 50-60 miles (80-100 km) a week to someone who runs 100 miles (160 km) a week.

        2. Training Structure – This is for people that don’t currently follow structured training. You may do some easy running during the week and show up for a weekend race. If you would like to have more of a structured running, I would try to decide between a “2 quality days a week” and a “3 quality days a week” approach depending on your life schedule, which is most likely dictated by your job schedule. You can try to run a short workout or tempo run in the middle of the week and a longer workout on the weekend or a race, or a long run and build up from there.

        3. Experimenting with harder workouts or long runs – This is for someone who has been doing the same training for a long time, can handle their training without getting injured, and have seen their race times stop improving but would like to try something new. I don’t think it’s necessary to completely revamp a training system if you are a fairly experienced runner. However, it wouldn’t hurt to experiment with some different workouts. While it’s hard to make recommendations without knowing each individual’s circumstances. I will use an example to show how small modifications can be gradually incorporated into a training schedule: 

          A runner who runs every day and does an interval workout every Tuesday, lactate threshold workout on Thursday, and long easy run on Sunday is trying to get faster in a marathon. The suggestion here would be to try to replace every the interval workout every other week with a marathon paced run, and instead of just a easy long run every week, to incorporate some faster running into the long runs. For example, if the runner has a PB of 2:40 marathon and wants to try to run 2:35, but has been doing a weekly 2-hour long run at 7:00/mi (4:20/km). The recommendation here would be to slowly introduce more running at goal marathon pace or close to goal marathon pace into the long run. I would suggest that this runner starts off by introducing 15 minutes of running at goal marathon pace (3:40/km) into long run every other week by running this pace for the last 15 minutes. Then after 2-3 weeks to run the last 20 minutes of his long run at goal marathon pace. Then after 2-3 more weeks to run the last 25 minutes of his long run at his goal marathon pace. Once he reaches about 30-40 minutes of MP running, I may suggest he switches to only doing these kind of long runs every other week since the intensity could become too much to handle on a weekly basis and instead try to lengthen his long runs.

          Old Schedule


          Tuesday – 10x800

          Thursday – 6x1600 T

          Sunday – 120min easy

          New Schedule:

          Week 1 & 3

          60min @ MP

          6x1600 T

          105min E + 15min MP

          Week 2 & 4


          3x3000 T

          100min E + 20min MP

          Week 5 & 7

          70min @ MP

          6x1600 T

          95min E + 25min MP

          Week 6 & 8


          2x5000 T

          90min E + 30min MP

          Week 9 & 11

          80min @ MP

          6x1600 T

          135-150min E

          Week 10 & 12


          4x3000 T

          100min E + 30min MP

          Week 13 & 15

           90min @ MP

          6x1600 T

          140-160min E

          Week 14 & 16


          3x4000 T

          110min E + 30min MP

          2-4 week taper