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June 19, 2012 / fionarwbl

My Marathon Training Plan

As the weekly emails keep reminding me, we are in the countdown to ING NYC Marathon Training Season. Training for most people starts in the middle of July. Being the freaky geeky that I am, I actually put together my training plan right after the Brooklyn Half Marathon in the middle of May. What can I say? I was depressed about that race and ready to tackle my goals in a hardcore way

Firstly, I should put right up there, up front, that I am in no way any kind of smart, experienced running person. I’ve only run one marathon, so have so, so, much to learn, and many more mistakes to make. So, you know, don’t do as I do, etc.

Last year I followed a Runners World SmartCoach marathon training program that had me running three times a week, at a maximum of 30 miles a week. I also did a fair amount of CoreFusion for strength, and yoga at least twice a week. I started training early (in June), and did at least five 18 miles plus runs. Each week had a recovery run, either a speedwork or tempo run, and a long run. I didn’t have any injuries, and I beat my marathon expectations. However, the training plan was pretty monotonous, and I was a little worried about burnout if I was to follow it again

This year, I decided I wanted my training plan to have more miles in general, and greater variety of runs. I would read about all these great variations on speedwork or different types of tempo run on blogs or in Runner’s World, and feel trapped that I was not able to try them out. This time around, I created a base training plan from SmartCoach. I wanted to keep the same base as it gave me great data around what sort of paces I should be hitting.

I then added a speedwork, hills, or tempo session to each week, depending on what was in the training plan already, so that I’m now running four times a week. I adjusted some of the long runs to include some time at marathon goal pace. The training plan was pretty long, and originally had seven runs longer than 18 miles. I have cut these to five, with the other runs being around the 14-16 mile mark and with some MGP miles in there. I also pushed my longest run from 20 miles to 22. This worked well for me last year in terms of confidence building.

My highest mileage week tops out at 49 miles (yes, I’ll probably try and add a single mile somewhere), and every fourth week is a cut-back week where I don’t have any tempos, speedwork, or long runs.  I have a rest day every single week, and am free to do Refine, spinning, or yoga any other days. Yoga is allowed any day, really. I do not have specific days scheduled for these activities, because I need to maintain a high degree of flexibility in my schedule. However, I will be doing Refine and yoga at least once a week.

Yes, there are color coded for easy reference

Because I am adding more miles to my training plan, I started it early, and Weeks 1-8 are really base-building. I wanted to have a longer training cycle in case I had to miss a long run here or there. It happens. My biggest concern in my training plan are the weeks that have 7, 8, and 10 mile mid-week runs. I usually try to run before work, and the thought of running for over an hour before starting my day freaks me out a little. We’ll also have to see how nicely my work schedule plays with those weeks.

Maintaining flexibility is a key part of my running schedule, as my work can sometimes be unpredictable. That’s why I have multiple days for yoga, spinning, and Refine, but realistically, I’ll only be doing one of each a week, if at all when it comes to spinning. Ideally, I’d really like to spin the day after a long run to get any lactic acid out, but it all really depends. I’ll be working in Jersey City for most of the summer, so I should be able to do most of my runs in the mornings. Running in the evening is completely possible. I’ll admit that running in the morning is preferable because then I get to work on my run-tan.

Are you training for a marathon or another big race? Do you have a training plan or are you working on one?




Leave a Comment
  1. Amber / Jun 19 2012 6:49 pm

    First of all, your spreadsheet is beautiful. Second of all, I am curious how you choose your goal times for certain workouts? Do you use a formula (like… 10% faster than your last PR or something like that) or is it more arbitrary?

    • fionarwbl / Jun 19 2012 7:13 pm

      SmartCoach creates times for you based on your previous race times. Other people use the McMillan Running Calculator to figure out pace times.

      Thank you for your spreadsheet appreciation!

  2. Loren / Jun 20 2012 3:36 pm

    Since you asked, I am!! 🙂 And I’m sure you’ll be hearing ALL about it along the way! Good luck – I already know you’ll be a superstar!

    • fionarwbl / Jun 20 2012 5:06 pm

      OHMIGOD are you running the marathon?????!!!!

  3. Jocelyn / Jun 20 2012 4:15 pm

    Yeah the middle of the week high mileage is kind of annoying. I remember waking up at 4 am to get in a 10 miler before work. (however my job starts earlier than most)….and its actually not that bad! If you need a buddy for those early morning runs – let me know!

    • fionarwbl / Jun 20 2012 5:06 pm

      Yes, we will have do some run buddying to keep ourselves accountable. My work can start as early as 7am, although this morning I didn’t get to the office until 9.30 which is late for me

  4. fityourlifedaily / Jul 19 2012 1:44 pm

    I’m training for NYC as well! My boyfriend works with NYRR so we’re collaborating with Coach John for our training plans. I agree with you on the importance of flexibility and accountability. I start work at 8am in Queens, and am living in Hoboken, so during this brutal summer heat I guess it’s going to be 4am runs for me as well…

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