[Follow Along] Week 1 Training – Foot Traffic Flat Marathon July 4th

[Follow Along] Week 1 Training – Foot Traffic Flat Marathon July 4th

How would you like to watch my workouts as I train for my next Marathon?

The 2018 Foot Traffic Flat Marathon will be held on July 4th on Sauvie Island, OR (just outside of Portland, OR). I have a goal of trying to break 3:00 hours

I chose this marathon for 2 reasons:

1) It’s a flat course and the weather is typically not hot, so I think I have a good shot at achieving my goal time.
2) It’s close to where I live, so no overnight travel required (I can sleep in my own bed the night before the race).

I encourage you to follow my training as I will post my weekly workouts from now until the day of the race.

I want readers to see how I prepare myself and manage around my busy schedule. I’ll share all of my workouts, times, paces and conditioning exercises. I have Polar M400 watch and I upload to Polar Flow and Sync to Strava, so everything’s easy to track. I’ll take screen shots of certain workouts so you can see details. I’ll also discuss some of meals & recovery strategy and I’ll occasionally post some videos.

I don’t typically document everything I do, but I thought if I’m going to share my training, I should get into as much detail as possible and be fully transparent. The goal is to give you all the details so you can follow along.

This is a 12 week program. I’ve actually been training since the beginning of March and I’m always running, so I have a good base before the program started. I tell you this, because it’s important to understand that I didn’t start from 0 and suddenly complete 25-30+ miles/week.

In subsequent posts I’ll detail how I determine workouts and paces.

Here’s my Strava link. If you’re a member, you can view my training.

I encourage comments, questions & any feedback.

If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.

Week 1 – Week of April 8th

April 8th – 6.6 miles in Washington DC along Rock Creek Bike Trail (near National Zoo).
After a week of low mileage (we were visiting colleges in PA, DC and VA), I just wanted to get in a smooth run outside (as opposed to treadmills). This was a relatively easy run, but I did try to pick up the pace in miles 4 & 5 (7:19 & 7:15). There was a big hill down to the trail from the hotel, so my heart rate became very elevated at the end of the run.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6.61 miles, 51:01 & 7:42

Overall I felt good. This was my first run outside since Monday April 2nd (all other runs during this first week in April were on a hotel gym treadmill).

April 9th – returned from Washington DC (long plane ride). 8.85 miles on Heritage trail in Camas, WA
Since I would be traveling again for much of this week, I wanted to get in a speed workout.

I completed a modified Fartlek with a 1.5 mile warm-up and then a mix of 1 mile @ slightly slower than marathon race pace (6:50/mile) & 800m @ slighter slower than 1/2 marathon race pace (6:35/mile). My rest in between intervals was approx 1/4 mile at easy pace.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 8.8 miles, 1:04 & 7:16

April 10th – 5.5 miles at easy pace in Allen, TX (right outside Dallas).
Finally some nice temperatures that allowed me to run in t-shirt and shorts. I started this run late, so I only had about 45 minutes before sunset. This was an easy run at an easy pace. Just trying to recover from the previous days’ hard run and plane trips from East to West Coast and then to Dallas the next morning.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 5.5 miles, 42:58 & 7:45

April 11th & April 12th – No activity. Sometimes I get up early to run in the hotel gym, but I was too tired on the 11th. I had a business dinner with clients and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 900pm, so I decided to take the day off. I typically don’t take 2 days off in a week, but on April 12th, we had to start early (leave hotel prior to 700am). I flew back to Portland later in the afternoon. I took the 2nd day off because I felt tired and didn’t think that jumping on treadmill or stationary bike at 800pm would be beneficial.

Sometimes life happens. Don’t let it get you down and don’t try to make it up on the next day you exercise. I’m a believer in staying with the plan and if I miss, modify if possible, otherwise, don’t worry about it.

April 13th – Crossfit training at gym. Typically my Fridays include a crossfit workout with a group of middle age athletes. We’re lead by a very fit an energetic woman.
The workout is called “Bike Blast” it’s 45 minutes alternating 1 minute on a stationary bike with 1 minute of conditioning exercises. This is a hard workout and really helps to build strength, while burning calories. On this day, most of the conditioning workouts were with barbells. We did overhead presses, arm curls, tricep curls, squats and also a lot of core work. Overall it was a great workout, especially after a few days off.

April 14th – Long run. 14 miles. Since the terrain for Foot Traffic Flat is flat, I seek out long runs that don’t include hills. This differs from how I train for the Portland Marathon (which has a big hill (bridge) at mile 17) and Boston. Today’s run was at a relatively easy pace. However, in order to get the distance in, I completed about 3 total miles on high school and middle school tracks. There’s about 3-4 tracks on my long run loops, so I can get in some quicker miles in the middle of the run.

Below are the details of my run. Including course and pace. As you can see, I started easy and picked up the pace so miles 5 – 14 were around 7:20/mile pace. This is still :30 slower than marathon race pace, so it didn’t feel too fast. I could have gone a little slower, but I felt very comfortable and my breathing was easy throughout the run.

    Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 14.05 miles, 1:46:12 & 7:33

Week 1 Summary: 5 days with workouts, 4 with running – 35 miles

Treadmill Workouts For Winter Training

Treadmill Workouts For Winter Training

Marathon Training on a treadmillMany people don’t like treadmill running.  I have a number of friends & clients who claim they hate the treadmill and will go to almost any length to avoid them. However, as winter approaches, the days get shorter and outside conditions get worse, running on a treadmill provides a safe and convenient alternative from the worst of winter. I find treadmill training fits very nicely into my training during winter months when I’m pressed for time or it’s either early in the morning or later in the evening.  In the following video and below, I describe some treadmill workouts I use and recommend to runners whom I coach.

Treadmill running can be completed at your gym, hotel fitness center or in your own home, if you have the money and space for something as big a treadmill (see below for information on treadmill reviews)

Before you start any of these workouts, I recommend that you complete a brief warm-up of lunges and leg swings. Click the link to see a video where I show how to properly conduct this simple, yet important warm-up routine. Once complete, begin each workout with approximately 10 minutes on the treadmill as discussed below.

The first workout is a beginner’s stamina workout.

I recommend that you start here if you’re just beginning your training plan or if you don’t have much experience on a treadmill. The duration of this workout is 20 minutes. You can increase it to 30 minutes by adding 10 minutes to stressful running.

1) Start with a 10 minute warm-up at a comfortable/jogging pace
a) Next set the incline to 1% and keep it at this incline for the duration of the workout.
b) Increase the speed of the treadmill to 6.5, 7.0 or 7.5. Keep it at this speed for 2:30. If you can’t keep up with the fast speed you’ve set, then try a speed .3-.5 less, just make sure you are breathing hard (but not labored).
c) After 2 ½ minutes, decrease the speed by 1.0 and keep it there for 2 ½ minutes
d) After 2 ½ minutes at the lower speed, go ahead and increase the speed back up to where you were before for another 2 ½ minutes. You should now be at 17.5 minutes total and have completed 1 ½ circuits alternating hard/medium effort with 1% incline.
e) Finish your workout with 2 ½ – 5 minutes at your comfortable pace and 0% incline.

2) To increase the duration of this workout, simply continue rotating hard, then medium paced intervals for 2 ½ minutes each while keeping the incline at 1%.

3) To add variation to this workout, you can increase the incline by 1% for each hard/medium circuit. You’ll notice that it really starts to get hard when you exceed 5% incline.

The second workout is for speed.  You’re not going to have any incline, so you’ll keep it at 0%. The focus is on speed. Time to complete this workout is 25 minutes.

After completing lunges and leg swings, step on the treadmill and start with a 10 minute warm-up at a comfortable/jogging pace
a) Next increase the speed of the treadmill to 8 or 9 or whatever really fast pace you can handle for 30 seconds.
b) After 30 seconds decrease speed to 4.5 or 5.5. Whichever is slightly comfortable, but allows you to recover for 1 minute.
c) Next increase back up to your really fast speed for 30 seconds.
d) Continue to alternate fast/easy for 9 minutes (this means 6 hard circuits + 6 rest circuits)
e) Finish with 6 minutes at comfortable/jogging pace.

winter treadmill training for runners

biggest running challenge

The third workout is like a pyramid. We’re going to steadily increase the incline throughout the workout. This is a tough workout, so I recommend that you’re able to complete the 1st two treadmill workouts before you attempt this one.

1) After completing lunges, leg swings and a 10 minute warm-up, run at a steady pace (5-7 depending on your ability) for 1 minute each @ 4, 5 and 6% incline. After 3 minutes, bring the incline back down to 2% and complete a 2 ½ minute recovery jog at 4-6 pace.

2) After the 1st set, complete the next part of the pyramid by running for 1 minute each at 5,6 and then 7% incline. After 3 minutes, complete recovery jog as before for 2 ½ minutes.

3) Complete sets 3-5 as follows:
a) 1 minute each @ 6, 7 and 8% incline followed by 2 ½ minute recovery @ jog
b) 1 minute each @ 5, 6, and 7% incline followed by 2 ½ minute recovery @ jog
c) 1 minute each @ 4, 5, and 6% incline followed by 2 ½ minute recovery @ jog

4) Finish the workout with 5 minute recovery jog (added to the 2 ½ minutes for total of 7 minutes of recovery.

If you’re interested in purchasing your own treadmill, you may be wondering which one is best.  I think it really depends on your needs, budget, space available and how much you intend to use the machine. The people at reviews.com recently reached out to me and told me how they spent six weeks testing and evaluating 65 treadmills currently available. They consulted with various experts and ultimately compiled four stand out recommendations: best for walkers, training, runners, and best entertainment features. Their findings have been published. Click here to get details.

BONUS:  2 More Treadmill Workouts

1) Short Intervals (repeats) – following are 3 different workouts that can be combined in any way to make a longer workout. I would only combine the workouts, if can’t access the track or marked trails due to weather.  These workouts are short (time it takes to complete), so they’re perfect for busy people. The longer intervals will do a great job at building your stamina.

a) 10-15 minute warm up at an easy pace (5 – 6) – start with 10 x 1 minute at “ON” or 5-10K pace, then 1 minute at “OFF” (very easy) to add difficulty, increase to 15 x 1 minute intervals – finish with 10 minute cool down at an easy pace (5 – 6).
b) 10-15 minute warm up at an easy pace (5 – 6) – start with 8 x 400m or 1/4 mile at 5-10K pace with 400m or 1/4 mile at easy pace to add difficulty, add 4 more 400m for total of 12 – finish with 10 minute cool down at an easy pace (5 – 6).
c) 10-15 minute warm up at an easy pace (5 – 6) – start with 2 sets of 1 minute fast (half marathon pace) then 1 minute faster (10K pace) then 1 minute fastest (5K pace) with 1 minute between intervals and 3 minutes between sets to add difficulty, add 1 more set – finish with 10 minute cool down at an easy pace (5 – 6).

2) 34 Minute Ladder Workout – another short workout to build stamina.  I like this workout because you get to spend time at various race paces.  It’s a great workout for when you’re pressed for time.

a) After lunges and leg swings, get on treadmill for 10 minute warm up at an easy pace (5 – 6)
b) Complete alternating “hard/easy” intervals for total of 6 minutes as follows.
-5 minutes at your marathon pace + 1 minute recovery at easy pace
-4 minutes at your 1/2 marathon pace + 2 minutes recovery at easy pace
-3 minutes at 10k pace + 3 minutes recovery at easy pace
-2 minutes at 5k pace + 4 minutes recovery at easy pace

If you need a proven marathon training plan or affordable coaching to prepare you for your next race?
Train with me where I provide a CUSTOM EXPERIENCE based on your specific situation.

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix

Standing Glute Test – Right

Glutes are arguably the most important muscle group for runners. Unfortunately, they are also the most neglected in terms of maintenance and strength. Studies link glute weakness to achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and other common injuries.

If you glutes are so important and their weakness contributes to many injuries, why are they neglected.  Simply put, most athletes of all ages are unaware of the role their glutes play in their running performance. The goal of this article is to create a better awareness of the function of glutes for runners, what causes glute weakness or imbalance, how to identify if you have a problem and how to stretch & strengthen your glutes.


Your gluteus maximus is your butt, the two smaller, glute muscles (called glutes) are located on the side of your butt, near and slightly above your hip joint. When we run, the glutes’ job is to hold our pelvis level and steady. The gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, or raising your leg behind your thigh and knee behind you after pushing off with your foot. Good hip extension creates the energy of that leg swing into forward motion.

The problem is, without good hip extension you won’t have a powerful stride, which means your speed will be limited. The other key role of glutes for runners is providing stability for the pelvis and knees and keep our legs, pelvis and torso aligned. If you have strong glutes, side-to-side motion will be limited and you will be a more efficient runner because your energy is directed forward. Basically you can faster at the same effort level.

Also, when the glutes aren’t working properly, some of the impact forces are transmitted elsewhere down the legs. It’s common for many runners to have strong abs and back muscles but weak glutes.

How does this Glute dysfunction occur?

It’s common for the gluteal muscles to become inhibited which will prevent them from properly engaging and being able to perform their role.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities. This leads to your hamstrings, quads, and calves becoming disproportionately stronger (also called an imbalance).

This imbalance limits the effectiveness of the glutes. The end result is that if we aren’t aware of this imbalance and subsequently correct it, typical movement and habits will place increased emphasis on the stronger muscle groups such as the Quads, rather than allowing the glutes to contribute properly within the running motion.

This kind of strength imbalance can cause injury problems over time as the body learns not to use the glutes as it tries to favor the stronger quads. If not properly identified, a glute weakness/imbalance typically doesn’t get corrected on it’s own because most runners don’t perform strength training exercises that isolate and strengthen the glutes. Exercises you can complete to fix this problem are listed below.

Additionally, excessive sitting can cause tight muscles, in particular the hip flexors, which will then inhibit the glutes, making them weak and ultimately pulling your pelvis out of alignment.

Bottomline, you need to work the smaller glutes to stay injury-free. The following video helps to explain the issue.

Glute Strength Tests

To see if you have weak glutes, you’ll need to perform the following glute strength tests.

Standing Glute Test – Left

Standing Glute Test – Right

Stand with your hands over your head, palms together. Lift your right foot off the ground and balance. Watch the left side of your hips to see if it dips down. If it does, it’s a sign of glute weakness.

In these photos, I’ve inserted a YELLOW HORIZONTAL LINE, to help identify whether or not my hips are dipping.  You can have a friend take a photo while performing this test or you can complete the test while in front of a mirror to observe results yourself.

I recommend the photo, so you can look at the results more closely.

Try it on the other side, too. Next, do this: While in the same position, lean to the right of your body, checking to see if your left side dips. Move your hands to the left of your body and see if your right side dips. If your hips dip, it’s a sign that your glutes need work. Try this test also after a long or hard run to see how your glutes perform when fatigued.


Glute strengthening and stretching exercises

For each exercise start with 10 reps the first week and then progress to 15 reps (switch legs), rest for 30 seconds and complete 3 total sets.

Watch this video for a modified lunge stretch using a chair:


Tight hip flexors can inhibit the firing of your glutes. Complete this stretch after every workout (crossfit/conditioning or run)

Step forward and lower your back knee. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Glute & Hip Strengthening Exercises 

This video shows some exercises that are completed with a stretch cord.  Stretch cords may be available at your gym.  If you don’t have access to a stretch cord, you can complete the exercises below (see photos and descriptions).

Kick Backs – This exercise engages the middle-butt and low back.

Kick Back Glute Strength Exercise

glute strength exercise for runners

Start on all “4s” by placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

Extend your right knee and hip to even your right leg with your torso. Be sure your foot is flexed and your neck is neutral by looking down towards the ground. Hold momentarily. Return to starting position.

How Middle Age Runners Stay Injury Free



Leg lifts:

This exercise is a variation of kick backs. While your elbows and right knee are on the ground, lift your left leg until it is parallel with the ground. This is your starting position. Lift your left leg up about 6-12 inches while keeping it straight and then return to your starting position.

Fire Hydrants:

Glute Strengthening Exercise

This exercise strengthens the gluteus medius and minimus (smaller muscles in the butt).

Start on all “4s.” Next, make a 90 degree angle with your right leg and then lift your right leg up 6-12 inches while keeping your knee bent. Hold momentarily, then return to starting position.


Lie flat on the ground with your hands by your sides and your knees bent. Pushing up mainly with your heels, keep your back straight and raise your hips up off of the floor. Hold there at the top for a few seconds and then go back to where you started and repeat. For an added bonus, try this exercise with only one foot on the ground at a time!

Single Leg Squat:

Stand on your left leg. Lift your right out in front of you. Stand tall (don’t round your shoulders), and keep your left knee over your ankle as you lower down into a squat. Your hands can extend out for balance.

Modified Single Leg Squat:

Glute Strengthening Exercises for runnersGlute Strengthening Exercise for Runners

Stand on edge of curb as shown in image. Raise right leg slightly and squat slightly with left leg (note how right foot is higher in 1st photo, side view). Start with 8-10 squats/leg and after completing this exercise 3 times/week for 2 weeks, increase to 15 squats/leg.

How Middle Age Runners Stay Injury Free




4 Great Ways To Avoid Running Injuries

4 Great Ways To Avoid Running Injuries

Injury prevention for runnersLast year when I surveyed hundreds of runners who visit middleagemarathoner.com, to no surprise, I found that injuries were the biggest obstacle faced by middle age runners. Coach Greg McMillan is currently conducting his own survey and he shared with me that his initial results showed a similar finding.

The purpose of this article is to provide four different strategies to help you avoid injuries. These aren’t the only four strategies you should use and you may already be using a few of these strategies yourself, but hopefully I can share something new that you can try to further injury proof your body.

Background: For the longest time, I felt like I was a slave to nagging injuries. It was one of my biggest challenge that was preventing me from regularly racing 1/2 and full marathons. Being a busy professional, I simply didn’t have time to implement a comprehensive injury prevention routine. About 99%+ of the middle age runners whom I coach don’t have a lot of time either. However, it’s important for any runner to engage in some kind of program that involves some of the strategy that I discuss in this article.

Over the years, I worked with my primary physician, physical therapist, athletic trainers and running coaches in addition to completing a lot of my own research and trial/error to finally develop my own injury proofing regime. There’s not a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to middle age runners and injury avoidance.

Bottomline, I eventually “cracked the code” of injury-free running. Since 2012, I have been injury free.

Note, that I didn’t say I have been pain free. There’s a difference and it’s how you manage your pain that greatly contributes to remaining injury free. It’s remaining injury free that allows runners to build consistency and reach their goals.

Following are four of the strategies that I use in parallel to remain injury free.

1. 3 Too’s – I’ve read this from a few sources as the leading cause of running injuries.

a) Too much – mileage – depending on your base, athletic ability and running experience, running too much weekly mileage can lead to injuries.

b) Too soon – weekly increases should be limited to no more than 10% of the previous weeks’ total mileage. Increase your weekly and monthly running totals gradually.

c) Too much – change – although it’s important to vary your weekly workouts (discussed below), going from the couch to running every day and also completing heavy conditioning workouts will likely lead to injury. It’s important to gradually (over several months) increase the intensity of your training. Your body needs to be ready to increase mileage, run intervals or perform intense conditioning workouts.

How Middle Age Runners Stay Injury Free


2. Vary the intensity, mileage & route of your workouts. This is essential in my training plans. Changing pace, intensity and duration of runs will help ensure you improve. You can’t expect to improve if you run the same route at the same pace, day after day.  Simply varying the routes or running surfaces is one of the best ways to spread out the various forces on your lower body so that no one tissue or tendon gets overworked.

3. Practice proactive recovery – along with the 3 too’s, you should regularly use a foam roller and an occasional ice bath. I use compression socks to help me recover from both hard and long runs. However, to truly be proactive, you need to complete workouts at a level where your body is ready. This means scheduling workouts based on other workouts you will or have already completed that same week or in previous weeks. Coach Jay Johnson says, “keep the hard days hard and easy days easy.” I also recommend taking at least 1 day off (no exercise) per week.

4. Listen to your body – along with being proactive you need to also be reactive with your recovery. If something you’re doing is resulting in pain that forces you to alter your running form, I strongly recommend stopping that particular activity, identifying the root cause of the pain and seeking professional medical advice to eliminate the issue. If the rigors of training for a particular race like a full or half marathon become too painful, you may need to postpone the race or simply run a shorter race like a 5 or 10k.

BONUS: 5. Use a coach – A good running coach can provide you with a training plan that meets your athletic ability, goals and helps to prevent injury. Sometimes I adjust scheduled long runs, speed work and some of the scheduled high-intensity training. This allows more time to rid yourselft of the pain and get healthy so you can get back to your training.

If you need a proven marathon training plan or affordable coaching to prepare you for your next race?
Train with me where I provide a CUSTOM EXPERIENCE based on your specific situation.

If you’re not doing so already, implementing these strategies will make a big difference to your performances over time. Although each strategy isn’t a “cure-all.” If after working these strategies into your plan and you still are fighting the injury bug, then I would replace one of the days you run with a cross-fit/aerobic (eliptical, stationary bike or swimming) and conditioning workout. If after making this change you still continue to get hurt, then I would visit with a medical professional and if you’re not with one already, I would speak with a coach who can take a look at your training and suggest some alternative workouts that may help you train injury free.

Essential Training Runs For Middle Age Marathoners

Essential Training Runs For Middle Age Marathoners

Marathon Training Workouts

To improve your time in the marathon, you need to include at least one weekly workout that helps you build both endurance and speed. The key to improving is to vary your workouts. This means intensity and distance must both change throughout the plan, so you can gain both the physiological and psychological benefits from completing these workouts.

Following are 7 different types of runs that you can plug into your training plan. As best as possible, I’ve tried to recommend pacing and at what point in your schedule you should be running each type of workout.


8 – 16 X 1-2 min with 1-min recovery. Start reps at 10k pace and progress to 5k pace.

FARTLEK workouts are a great way to build your speed.  I like to schedule these at the beginning of my training plan, but I also have 1 longer workout with 16 x 2 minute bursts about 3 weeks out from the race. The benefit of running this workout is that not only does it make you faster, it also makes marathon pace seem easier. The result is that this will help to ensure you can run at an easy effort during the early stages of the marathon. After completing a 10-15 minute warm-up, start the fartleks at 10K pace, then about 1/4 way through increase to 8k pace and then at halfway point to finish, run the repeats at 5K effort.


Typically 4-12 miles at MARATHON PACE.

These runs are the best practice for your race. Including marathon goal pace runs throughout your marathon training plan is vital. These workouts will help you with your race-day pacing, but more important, they help you become more economical at marathon pace. This means you become more efficient at burning carbs, which will help you later in your race. I like to build up the distance of workouts  throughout my plans.  The 12 mile run is typically 2 weeks before the race.  I also complete a 7 miler 1 week before and a 4 miler about 4-5 days before.

YASSO 800s


First developed by RunnersWorld’s Bart Yasso.  Yasso 800s are included in many training plans, because they work. They build stamina and really give a great indication of your fitness. After your warm-up and strides, run the 800s at the minutes and seconds of your goal marathon time.  Take an equal time for recovery between each 800. For example, if you want to run 3 hours, 25 minutes for the marathon, then run your 800s in 3 minutes, 25 seconds, taking a 3:25 jog between each rep. I recommend completing this workout twice during your marathon training. About half way through your plan complete at least 6 reps.  About 5 weeks out from your race complete 9-10 x 800s.

Ensure you pace yourself evenly.  This workout is only a good predictor of your race time if you complete a minimum of 8 x 800s. For example, if you’re running the 800s in 3:30, this then translates to a 3:30 marathon. Sometimes people think the recovery is too long at first, but trust me, you’ll be glad later in the workout that you took the additional seconds to stay on pace and to complete the workout.


One of the keys to success in any race is teaching your body how to run faster on tired legs, late into the race. One of the best ways to do this, is to complete what Greg McMillan calls “finish fast long runs.”

When you get to near the end of your race, whether it be 10 miles or 22 miles, you’ll have the confidence gained from completing your finish fast long runs to push hard and keep increasing the effort. The reason this workout helps, is you train your body to burn fat more efficiently while running at marathon pace or faster.  I like to schedule a finish fast long run every other long run starting about halfway through the plan or once my clients have established a good running base.  Typically we start on 14 mile runs.  The first 10 miles are at easy pace and then the next 3 are at race pace.  The last mile can be at easy as a cool down.

When we get up to 18-20 miles, the first 10-12 are at easy and the last 6-8 are at race pace.  Again, leave some room at the end of the run to cool down at easy pace.


6-9 miles with Progressive Pacing

Tempos are included in every marathon training plan, because they work so well. Near the beginning of each plan, I start these runs at 4 miles.  Later in the plan we extend the workout to 8 miles.  There’s many variations to tempos. My favorite is to divide the workout into thirds.  Start the tempo run at 20-30 seconds/mile slower than marathon pace and progress in the second third to marathon pace and then finally to 20-30 seconds/mile faster than marathon pace during the last third. 

As a general rule, I instruct those that I coach to go slower at the beginning of the workout so they can finish at the prescribed faster pace and finish the entire workout. Depending on the ability of the runner, when these workouts are included later in a plan, we call for the longer distance (9 miles) and faster pacing (1/2 marathon pace and slightly faster).


Time based ladder. Run at 5K race pace. 

After completing warm ups and strides, run 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 minute reps. Recovery is half the time for the preceding rep between intervals. For example, jog 30 seconds after the one minute interval and jog one minute after the two minute interval, all the way until the end. Then complete your cool down.

Descending distance ladder

1600m (1/2 time recovery), 1200m (2 min recovery), 800m (90 second recovery) 400m (1 minute recovery) 200m (30 sec recovery).

This workout is typically completed near the end of your marathon training when we’re trying to put a little speed and leg turnover into our workouts. It will test your fitness as the recovery gets shorter after each interval.  The goal is to concentrate on form and running smooth and quick, but under control, even as you tire with the decreasing rest. After your warm-up and strides, start the intervals at 15k pace, light jogging for recovery between each repeat. Increase pace slightly with each interval, finishing the last 400m and 200m strong, but controlled (not an all out sprint).

LONG INTERVALS also known as strength runs

As with Tempo Runs, Strength Runs develop your anaerobic threshold. We are improving our endurance with these workouts and teaching our muscles to work through the discomfort of lactic acid build-up. These runs are in the last 4-5 weeks of my plan.  At this point we’re really in marathon or 1/2 marathon race preparation mode and getting our bodies ready to handle the fatigue associated with completing the long race by training our bodies to use less oxygen at the same effort. In other words, hold the optimal marathon pace longer.

3 x 2 miles and 2 x 3 miles run at progressively faster pace.  Start at marathon pace for the first set, then complete the 2nd (& 3rd) set at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace.  

To get the best benefit, it’s really important to run each set at the correct pace and not too fast.  Especially not too fast on the first set, because it may cause you to go too slow on the last set. Also, the recovery is 1/2 mile between sets at easy pace.  I typically run strength runs on marked bike paths.  It’s much less monotonous than running countless circles on a track.

In summary, I have identified 7 different types of runs that you should incorporate into your marathon or 1/2 marathon training.  As discussed above, training with variety is essential to your success as a runner, so you need to incorporate all of these workouts into your plan.  Each workout not only has a specific purpose and position within a 16-20 week plan, but each should be run at a specified pace.  How to determine which pace is dependent on your goal time and specific athletic ability.  

I can help with identifying proper pacing and putting together a personalized training plan. If you’re interested or have questions, please contact me.