“Marathon Training”

I’ve never been one to follow a certain training plan, and that holds true for marathon training. I don’t like saying that I’m going to run a certain pace or distance weeks or months from now without knowing what I’m going to feel like. I progress in a way which feels natural to me, which is fine at this point since I don’t have super solid, specific goals. I just want to get faster, and what I’m doing now works for me. I do have a very specific goal for the Philadelphia Marathon though: <3:35:00, aka a Boston qualifying time.

Training plans online seem to last a minimum of 12 weeks, with some stretching to 16 or 18, but the time I got back from China (August 25) to the Philadelphia Marathon (November 17) was only 11 weeks. Since I essentially took two weeks off in China, and classes/homework/stress would be starting as soon as I got back to Penn, I was prepared for training to have a slow start.

Three weeks after getting back from China, I unexpectedly PRed by 1 minute 17 seconds at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. (I truly believe I haven’t raced enough to know how fast I can really run.) This was a huge confidence booster.

In the time since the beginning of the semester (in this sense, “marathon training”), I’ve done:

  • High-mileage (for me) weeks consistently at ~40 mpw, peaking at 49 and 53 miles.
  • 4 cross country 6k races (including a PR of 27:51)
  • Many double days (run in the morning and again in the afternoon)
  • 5 hard track sessions, many as the second run of the day
  • A handful of long runs – sometimes the day after XC races, meaning very tired legs
  • One straight up 20 miler, solo, with the last 3.5 miles slightly faster than marathon goal pace (8:12 min/mile)
  • One split 21 miler – 13.7 in the morning, 7.3 in the evening
  • CrossFit workouts 1-2 times a week including lots of deadlifts and squats
  • Miles of walking to classes/errands everyday
  • Foam rolling & icing to keep my plantar fasciitis in check

Although my “training” isn’t what you’d typically think of with regards to marathon training, I feel pretty good about it. I’ve done well in races and my mental discipline is strong. I know online race prediction calculators aren’t perfectly accurate, but it’s reassuring to me that all the ones I’ve seen suggest I am capable of running <3:35. Regardless of the time I run, I’ll be happy to finish, but it would be really sweet to meet that goal. 

Today is about 2.5 weeks out from the marathon. I plan to do about 40 miles this week and then cut back to 20-25 next week. The week of the marathon I’ll probably just run once or twice, then run the NIRCA Nationals XC meet very very slowly on Saturday, and finally marathon Sunday. It’s coming fast.

Have you ever followed a training plan to train for a marathon? Which one?

2 thoughts on ““Marathon Training”

  1. I didn’t follow a training plan for NY. I just ran high mileage and I’m hoping that gets me there. We shall see come Sunday. I’m incredibly nervous but the only way not to be is to run the marathon and be done with it. ha ha.

  2. I think you’ll do awesome. I didn’t follow a conventional plan either and didn’t even run what you did, I stayed between 35-40 but do a lot of cross training with yoga and BodyPump. My marathon time wasn’t so hot, but I finished and I don’t think running more would have made much of a difference in my time (I feel like I was slower due to the heat/conditions of my race rather than lack of training).

    I run with a girl who does one long run per week, every Saturday with us. That’s it. Her other days are spin, pump, and various cardio classes at the gym, maybe a treadmill run in there but not running 4-6 days a week like one would think a marathoner would be. She’s a teacher and has a baby and that’s really what she can do with her schedule. All of her marathons have been 4:30 or below, her goal is to break 4 in this one, she almost did it with the last one.

    I’m really excited for you to see where you are, I can’t wait to read about it. Good luck qualifying for Boston. The fast finish long run is a good sign!

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