In June of 2013, I accomplished my life-long goal of breaking 2:40 for a full marathon by running 2:39:08 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. In the interest of helping others to further their goals, I have decided to share my training in the weeks preceding this race. The reason is two-fold. One, it might give one of you some ideas on how to structure your marathon training plan, and two, it shows that even a less-than-stellar training cycle can still result in a good performance.
The prior fall, I had attempted to break 2:40 at the Philadelphia Marathon, where I failed by 59 seconds. This chart starts the week immediately following. My plan was as follows:
Spend two weeks doing low mileage to recover from Philadelphia, then gradually increase the miles and long runs until the end of February, where I ran the New Orleans Marathon as a long run. After that, I had a steady diet of long runs, tempo runs, and interval workouts, with some other races sprinkled in.
This all went to plan, and I even felt good enough at New Orleans to dip under 3 hours without feeling too taxed. However, in the middle of April, I nailed a tough 4x 2 mile at Tempo workout, and then immediately felt extremely fatigued and worn down. I struggled for the next three weeks, feeling awful and unable to run faster than 6:30 pace, even during races. Then my doctor gave me some antibiotics, and I felt back to normal within days. Still, I missed three solid weeks of training, and was very nervous about how Grandma’s would go.
As you can see, after my illness, I jumped back into workouts pretty quickly as I still had a lot of residual fitness, and I really concentrated on doing longer, Tempo-pace intervals to get a lot of volume without a ton of stress. I also made sure that all of my long runs had some Marathon Pace work in them, to get my body used to running that pace, especially when tired.
Despite hitting some good workouts in the 5 weeks preceding the race, I was still nervous. My hamstrings became extremely tight, to the point that I even skipped my final workout and was worried that I might have to DNF at Grandma’s. Luckily, they loosened up in the final days and I was able to execute my race plan perfectly to run a nearly two-minute PR and average 6:05 per mile. Without further adieu, here you go!
|Week||Total Mileage||Workout #1||Workout #2||Workout #3||Notes|
|11/19/2012 – 11/25/2012||Recovery from Philadelphia – 2:40:58|
|Johnny’s Running o’ the Green – 27:17||1 second away from my PR|
|90.4||ROC City Classic 10,000m – 34:21||10K PR|
|Grandma’s Marathon – 2:39:08|