How to make changes to your marathon planThis was a busy week for me as I departed Monday morning for a week of business travel. This week I was in Denver, which is at altitude, where it can hard to run. The key during these weeks where you’re pressed for time and not always feeling fresh, is to try to plan your workouts in advance. Sometimes, flexibility requires that you run early or simply get in anything you can.

IMPORTANT – Following is a key point for any runner following a plan.

It’s important to be disciplined and do your best to follow a plan, but sometimes you also have to use common sense. I believe that to ensure success for a 1/2 or full marathon, it’s important to have a plan, but it’s not written in stone. There should be room for adjustments. At this point in my training (with the race about 6 weeks out), I sometimes feel the effects of what’s called, “accumulated fatigue.” It’s essential to be attentive to how you feel and how your body is responding to your training. We can’t just think of the plan and it’s workouts as a bunch of boxes to check. It’s important to speak with your coach regularly to provide him or her with feedback during your training.

In order to prevent over training, I like to plan some recovery weeks into my schedules. I’m also open to adjusting the schedules of my athletes when it makes sense (due to life getting really busy, fatigue, etc).

This doesn’t mean that you take the week off (unless you’re injured). Instead, you may cut back on the distance and/or intensity of your workouts. In my case, with a week at altitude, I completed a few more runs at an easy pace and simply accepted the effort and stimulus, while not being concerned about the pace of every run.

During this week, because of commitments most evenings and 85+ degree temps in Denver, I completed my runs early. I did a modified strength run, some 7-8 mile runs at easy pace and a short tempo run. Also, as you can see below, my available time on the weekend was minimized due to some family commitments. In summary, my weekly distance was slightly less than each of the last 4 weeks, but I completed some quality runs and set myself up for a good long run to begin Week 8.

Here’s the link to my Strava Dashboard so you can see the details of each of the workouts that I’ve completed as I train for my July 4th Marathon.

Monday May 21st – strength run

I had to get out the door early to complete this workout. By 6:45am I was running along the Columbia river on a crushed rock/flat trail. In this workout, I completed 2 x 2 miles at 6:30 (10k pace). Ideally this workout should be 3 x 2m, but I didn’t get started early enough so I could get to the airport for a 1000am flight. As with other strength running workouts, the purpose of this workout was to improve endurance (by running at a faster (than Marathon) pace) and improve lactate tolerance (running fast with heavy legs). Although this workout can be run on a track, I find that running it on marked trail is far more appealing.

My pace was a little slow the first 2 mile. I did run faster (more on target) the 2nd 2 mile interval.

1 mile warm-up at easy pace
2 miles at 13:20 + 6 minutes recovery jog
2 miles at 12:50
1 mile cool down at easy pace.

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 7.2 miles, 56:50 minutes, ave pace 7:52

Tuesday May 22nd – brisk run

My first full day in Denver. I got out early and ran around Washington Park (one of the bigger parks on the south side of Denver). Even though I had run a strength workout the day before, I felt fresh throughout this run and actually ran a number of miles near 7 min pace. I wasn’t consciously trying to pick up the pace, I just felt good and moved a little faster. I doubt the effects of the altitude had hit me. After the run, I completed 10 minutes of conditioning exercises (push-ups, mountain climbers, planks, etc). The purpose of today’s workout was to recover from the previous days’ strength run and just get some miles on my legs.

Brisk run for marathon training

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 8.8 miles, 1:06:45 & 7:33/mile

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Wednesday May 23rd – Easy Run

Today was an example of why it’s important to keep easy runs, easy. After 2 relatively difficult runs (strength & then medium distance at a brisk pace), I did not feel strong or well rested. It could have been the altitude catching up to me or maybe that I was just tired, I’m not sure, but as I ran alongside my sister (who was biking), from the beginning of the run to the end, my legs felt heavy. So, I decided to keep things easy, not elevate my heart rate too much, not worry the pace and just get easy miles on my legs. The purpose of this workout was recovery and build my aerobic fitness.

Run Distance, Time & Overall Pace: 7.0 miles, 55:58 & 7:54/mile

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Thursday May 24th – Off Day

Business meetings all day and dinner with family at night. Rest & Recovery Day

Friday May 25th – Another easy run

I just wasn’t feeling it again today. My guess is that poor sleep and the travel to/from Denver caught up to me. So, I completed another easy run, although this run included a big hill near the end.

Instead of getting in the planned long (9 mile) tempo run, I decide to just adjust the schedule and make it more of a recovery week. With 6 weeks until the marathon and more business travel each of the next few weeks, it’s better to listen to my body with these 7 mile runs at relatively easy pace, than to push through with tired legs. I’ll push the tempo to the next day.

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 7.1 miles, 54:45, 7:37

Saturday May 26th – Shorter Tempo

I’m finally at sea level. However, I was out of the house early for a 2 hour drive up to the Tacoma area, so I could watch the Washington State High School Track Championships. This is an all day event, but I came prepared with my running gear, with the hope of getting in any kind of run. When a gap in the events opened up, I took opportunity to run and was able to get out for an hour.
Remarkably, after an easy mile, I felt really fresh, so I decided to gradually pick up the pace and turn the workout into a Tempo run at Marathon Pace. Below are my splits. I was able to get in quite a few miles below 7 minutes/mile without any strain.
I knew that the next day I would not have much time to run, so getting in a 5+ mile tempo was perfect. Although I would have been happy with just getting in about 5 miles easy (to continue my rest week), this run was another marathon specific workout. The more of these that you can get in with proper rest, the better.

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 7.0 miles, 50:02, 7:07

Sunday May 27th– Easy Run + Strides

Family commitments today. With only an hour after Church, I completed 5 miles at an easy pace + strides right in front of my house. I felt good. It was important to go easy because tomorrow will be a 17.5 mile long run.

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 5.0 miles, 43:26, 8:38

Weekly total = 42.3 Miles