In this week’s post, I review some of the best workouts to prepare you for marathon training. The marathon specific finish fast long run and strength workouts are essential if you want reach your goal time, but these workouts must be completed at the appropriate time during a marathon training plan in order to receive the max benefit.
My weekly mileage continues to stay in the mid 40s. Due to professional commitments, including business travel, I complete the most essential workouts in my plan as best as possible and on other days I only have time for a 5-6 mile easy run. In my experience, the marathon specific (harder) workouts, in between these easy runs, adequately prepare me to reach my goals. The easy runs build my aerobic capacity and help me recover and most important, avoid injury.
Here’s the link to my Strava Dashboard so you can see the details of each of my workouts.
Monday May 7th – Easy run + strides
The purpose of this workout was to recover from the previous day’s 12 mile long run. The previous day was actually pretty tough on legs due to the warmer temps and long hill at the end. The goal of running easy + including strides in this workout will help me recover and be ready for the next days’ planned track workout.
The key to this workout is to go easy. Even the strides are not too fast. I also include a little extra rest between each stride. This workout is not meant to be hard in any way.
Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 5.0 miles, 44:14 minutes, 8:48
Tuesday May 8th – Track/Mini Strength workout
1 mile (or 10 minute warm-up @ easy pace) + strides
4 x 1600m w/ 3 minute rest
10 minute c/d
We’re continuing with weekly track workouts. This week I’m increasing the distance of the interval and keeping the rest at approximately half the time of the interval. This workout is boarding on what’s called a strength workout or a marathon specific adaptation. The primary goal of these workouts is to prepare the body to handle the fatigue that’s associated with marathon running. This portion of the training is truly marathon preparation.
Some of the benefits of these workouts include:
1) Improve running economy
2) Improve endurance at faster paces
3) Improve lactate tolerance – by forcing the runner to adapt to running longer distances with some lactate accumulation.
Ultimately, we want to train our body to work through this lactic acid accumulation.
My times for each 1600m ranged from 6:14 to 6:20, so I was right on target. I incorporated short rest.
To make this workout a true strength workout, we would run a little slower for each interval (10 seconds below Marathon Pace) & increase the number of intervals from 4 to 6. I will start that work next week.
Run Distance: 7.3 miles
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.
Wednesday May 9th – Easy Run + Conditioning Exercises
6.2 mile easy run. The purpose of this workout was to recover from yesterday’s track workout. With 2 challenging workouts in the last 3 days, it’s really important to get in an easy run. I also completed some conditioning exercises at the gym (push-ups, planks, dips, squats with a 16lb medicine ball & lunges with a 20lb kettle bell).
Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 6.2 miles, 48:42 & 7:50
Thursday May10th – Off Day
Business travel & meetings today. I planned the day off to coincide with my busy day.
Friday May 11th – Easy Run
I was on business in Scottsdale, AZ where it’s extremely hot at this time of year. I got up at 5:30am to beat the heat (and also prior to my business meetings) and completed a 6 mile run at an easy pace. Since I planned for a long run the next day, it was important to simply get an easy run in.
This run was also good practice for my early race (the July 4th marathon start time is 630am). Also, I ran without having anything to eat, so this will help my body adapt to running without carbs. I have found some benefits to training your body to use stored fats instead of always having a lot of carbs right before you workout.
Run Distance, Time, Pace: 6 miles, 48:13, 7:55
Saturday May 12th – Long Run
16 miles at easy pace with last 3 miles at goal race pace. Today’s run serves a dual purpose. Obviously because of it’s length, I’m getting plenty of time on my legs which is essential for marathon preparation. You must include long runs in your marathon training. Also, I finish the last 3 miles at harder (Marathon Race) pace in order to start get my body acclimated to running race pace, when my legs are tired. Coupled with my Tempo & Strength runs, these finish fast runs are some of the best ways to prepare your body to complete your marathon at your goal pace.
The idea behind these runs is that physiologically we’re training the body to work more efficiently at marathon pace. Also, mentally, it’s tough because you’re already experiencing some fatigue (tiredness) and then you just add to it during the final few miles. Also, the distance for finishing fast should increase as you progress through the plan. So with my next 2 long runs, I will be finishing the last 6-7 miles at a fast pace.
There’s a lot of debate as to the length of the longest runs in marathon training. I typically get 3-4 runs in the 16-18 mile range. I have also previously included 20 – 21 mile runs in my plans. However, I know that one of the drawbacks to these longer 20 + mile runs is the damage they can cause to your legs (specifically capillaries & mitochondria (responsible for producing energy). The other challenge for me is that with weekly mileage in the mid 40s to low 50s, it’s generally discouraged to include long runs at a distance that make up 40%+ of my weekly mileage.
I have found that as long as I have numerous longer Tempos (8-12 miles) and the repeat 1, 2 & 3 mile workouts, I don’t need to complete 20 mile runs in my plan. As a general rule, if I’m targeting a 3:00 hr marathon, I don’t have any runs longer than approximately 2 hr 15-20 minutes in my marathon training. The key is, my runs of 15+ miles need to include finishing fast (anywhere between 20 – 40 minutes at race pace).
Run Distance, Time, Pace: 16 miles, 2:01:41, 7:36
Sunday May 13th– Easy Run + Strides
5 miles at easy pace + strides
The purpose of this run was to recover from the previous day’s long run. Instead of taking days off after my long runs, I like to either run or get on the elliptical. The pace is easy. I also allow plenty of time between strides and keep them at a controlled, but quick pace.
Run Distance, Time, Pace: 5.0 miles, 44:48, 8:55
Weekly total = 6 days of workouts, 6 with running – 45 Miles