Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Marathon Training Plan Unpacked

After announcing my fall marathon goal last week, I've received quite a few folks reaching out to ask me about the training plan I'll be using. I figured it'd be easier to do a single post instead of send the same thing multiple times, so here goes.

I will be using the Hal Higdon Advanced 1 Marathon Training Program while training for the Ventura Marathon later this fall. Please keep in mind - this will be my NINETEENTH marathon, with goals to better my time, which is why I selected this specific plan. I am in no way recommending this for you and your running, just explaining how and why I will be using it. Edits will be made (especially since I have a full marathon scheduled on what would technically be Week 6 of this plan), but for the most part I will try to stick with the current program. {FYI: If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you know I'm definitely a Type A kind of gal. That means if it's on the plan, I do my best to complete it... but I do allow for wiggle room when it comes to listening to my body or when life happens and adjustments need to be made.}


Because I know I will also receive questions on the specific workouts, I figured I'd do a quick breakdown of the types of workouts, along with the paces for each run I will be shooting for while attempting to chase down my next BIG goal.

Easy Runs

The runs scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays will be "easy" runs. This does not mean I'll be lollygagging, but that I don't have specific time goals. I plan to take my easy days EASY so I make sure I have the strength and speed to run my hard days STRONG! I'm hoping I can do these runs with the hubby, since running with him helps keep my pace in check.

800 Intervals

My game plan for these workouts is to get in a 1-2 mile warm-up (depending on whether I am running or driving to the track) and cool-down for these repeats. My goal pace is derived from Yasso 800s. Since I will be shooting for a sub-3:25 full marathon, I will attempt to run the 800s faster than 3:25 (with a 2:00 rest between each set). Although I prefer to do these on a track, I have been known to do them on my regular running routes if the track isn't an option on that day.

Tempo Runs

I don't run my tempos based on pace, but rather feel. I normally shoot for say 75-80% of my max effort. This is definitely not a conversational pace, but I also don't want to be sucking a ton of air either. If I were to be talking to a running partner during this workout, I would expect to be able to spit out a few words before having to catch my breath (but obviously is a pace I can hold for a longer period of time). Also, I plan to get in a 1-2 mile warm-up and cool-down with these workouts.

Hill Repeats

One may think Southern California is flat, but it's not. And thankfully, for the purpose of these workouts, we live near a pretty great hill to run. I won't have a goal pace for these workouts, but will shoot to run all of it. (The hill I run is approx. .25 mile from top to bottom with approximately 200 feet of elevation change.) If you do live somewhere flat, I've heard folks doing everything from running on treadmills to training in parking garages or on bridges to get in some hill work.

Pace Runs

The pace for these runs will be my marathon goal pace. If I want to be sub 3:25, I will need to be running sub 7:49/mile pace (for the entire 26.2 miles). I am definitely someone who tends to find running at marathon pace difficult during training, but I know that these workouts are uber importante because they help your body get acclimated to what that pace should feel like, as well as gets you confident knowing you can stick with it when push comes to shove.

Long Runs

The long run is the bread and butter of a marathon training plan (or so I've heard). Although you can get away with cutting out a shorter workout every so often, long runs are often the focus when it comes to distance running. It won't mean a whole lot if you can run at your marathon goal pace but don't have the endurance to complete the race. My plan this go-around will be to do my long runs between 60 and 90 seconds slower than my marathon goal pace. If I have extra energy towards the end, I'd love to pick up the speed within the last fourth of the distance, but that will be on a per run basis.


Often times runners will overlook the importance of rest, but let me remind you - it is part of the program! We need to allow our bodies time to recoup, rebuild and recover. Resting means you are taking time off from the constant pounding and allowing your body to absorb the training. If you can't take a day off completely (for some of us it can feel like torture), active recovery like going on family walks, riding your bike around the block, doing light yoga, etc is a great alternative.

Like I mentioned, I'm in no way prescribing this is the proper program for YOU, just that it'll be the one I'm be using. You need to find what works for you, with your lifestyle and into your life. I'm not a running coach, nor do I play one of TV (but I would recommend you consider working with one if you're struggling with chasing down your goals or knowing what to do when it comes to your training), but would say that when it comes to running - consistency is key. Find what works for you and RUN AFTER YOUR GOALS - whether that may be tackling your very first 5K or chasing down your 100th BQ!

What are you currently training for?


Kelsey G said...

I'm using a Hal Higdon plan as well for my fall marathon! I love his plans, they're straight forward and well planned out imo! However, I am struggling a bit to understand Hal's definition of a tempo run- he seems to say it is just a run with 5 minutes of faster pace in the middle, but that doesn't seem much like a real tempo run to me. Will you be doing the entire run at an accelerated pace? How does that differ from a "pace run" (which is also part of his plan)?

Sandra D Laflamme said...

I need to pick a big goal race. The Ventura marathon sounds so cool! I would love to come out and run that one. It's been awhile since I ran a marathon and I am starting to get the itch a little bit. The training plan you chose sounds great!

Carlee McDot said...

Kelsey - When I run tempo runs, I run them based on feel. That means, some weeks that tempo pace may be a 7:45/mile (which would be more of a pace run) and some weeks that pace may be a 8:30/mile. Pace runs are run at my goal marathon pace (and normally a longer distance) whereas the tempo runs are effort based (approx 75-80% of max effort) for a shorter time period with a warm-up and cool-down. I run the entire tempo workout at that 75-80% effort. Hope that helps!

Kelsey G said...

Thank you so much! That definitely helps!