My Training Plans

A lot of people have asked me what training plan I used while training for the Baltimore Marathon so I’m going to share it with you.  I’m also including my half marathon training plan that I followed for the MD Half Marathon and ZOOMA Half Marathon in the Spring.  The marathon training plan I came up with is based on the plan I used when I trained for my first marathon with Team in Training.  I made some modifications to their plan to make it work better for me.  I did not include speed work in my plan.  I’m not a speed work expert and when I tried to incorporate it into my first marathon training, I ended up injuring myself.  If you want to add speed work into the mix, you can swap out one of the weekday training runs and make it a speed work session.

I’ll also note that I only run 4 days a week (sometimes only 3 if that’s all I can make work with my schedule or if some kind of ache or pain is creeping up on me).  Running less is the only way I’ve been able to keep myself injury-free.  There is the highly successful FIRST Marathon training plan – a 3 day a week plan- from the Runner’s World Book Run Less, Run Faster.  There are studies that have shown the 3 to 4 day a week runner has less injuries.  Even though I only run 3 to 4 days a week, I’m still very active on my rest days.  We take lots of walks, plus I chase after a busy toddler all day!

“The primary reason to run only three times per week is to minimize injury risk. As we all know, running has a high injury rate, and the rate of injury increases with running volume. Many runners cannot run every day without getting injured. If you are such a runner, or if you simply fear getting injured if you run daily, then stick to a schedule of three to four purposeful runs plus a few cross-training workouts per week and feel confident that you are not sacrificing any of the performance you would get from running daily (presuming you actually could run daily without injury).” Running 101

 

My Marathon Training Schedule:

Mon          Tues           Wed       Thurs       Fri        Sat            Sun
Week 1     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest     8 miles      Rest
Week 2     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    8 miles       Rest
Week 3     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 4     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 5     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    12 miles     Rest
Week 6     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    12 miles     Rest
Week 7     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 8     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 9     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    16 miles      Rest
Week 10   5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    16 miles       Rest
Week 11    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    18 miles      Rest
Week 12    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 13    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    20 miles     Rest
Week 14    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 15    4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 16    3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    Marathon!  Rest

 

My Half Marathon Training Schedule:

Mon          Tues           Wed       Thurs       Fri        Sat              Sun
Week 1    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    4 miles        Rest
Week 2    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    4 miles        Rest
Week 3    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    6 miles        Rest
Week 4    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    6 miles        Rest
Week 5    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    5 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 6    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 7    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 8    5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 9    5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    12 miles       Rest
Week 10  5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    12 miles       Rest
Week 11   4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 12   3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    Half Marathon!   

[Note: I am not an expert.  These are the plans that have worked for me and gotten me to the finish line injury-free in my races this year.]

Why I love these training plans: they are incredibly flexible.  Want to do your long run on Sunday instead of Saturday? No problem.  Just swap your days around a bit – make Saturday and Monday rest days; do your weekday runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Can’t fit the longer weekday run on Wednesday into your schedule? Run on Tuesday instead and keep Wednesday as a rest or cross-training day.  You can move your runs around from week to week if you need to depending on your schedule.

The flexibility of this schedule was essential for me and hubby while training for the Baltimore Marathon.  I did most of my long runs on Saturdays and he did most of his on Sundays.  There would be a lot of days when just one of us needed to run.  That made it easier for us since obviously one of us needs to be home with Z (unless I took him running, of course, which was quite often).

I also changed things around when I felt I needed to.  I chose to do two 20 mile runs – one alone and one pushing Zain in the jogging stroller.  For my next marathon, I will consider adding in one more longer run – 22 miles.  I don’t feel like I needed to run 22 miles for the physical preparation as much as for my mental preparation.

I recommend trying to fit shorter races into your training schedule along the way if you can.  Races will help you prepare for the big race you’re training for and get you excited for the big day.  When I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon as my long run for Week 14.  It was great practice and got me pumped up for the MCM.  Since the MCM was my first marathon, it helped me know what to expect.

I would consider the plans I follow to be beginner running plans, but they can easily be made more challenging by adding speed work, more cross-training, strength training, etc.  They are a good starting point at the very least!

Other good resources (from the experts!) for training plans are Runner’s World, Active.com, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and Cool Running.  In addition to my training plans above, I also used the Runner’s World SmartCoach app on my iPhone.  I didn’t follow their plan, but I consulted with their schedule along the way and occasionally included ideas from their plan – specifically, I generally incorporated their idea of every 4th week being a recovery week with less mileage for the long run.

Whether you’re training for your first or fiftieth marathon or half marathon, I highly recommend training with a charity team.  Not only will you get the expert advice of a coach, but you can also make a difference with every mile you run.  Some great charity teams are Team in Training, Team Fight, DetermiNation, St. Jude Heroes, and many others! You can always check your race website for charity team recommendations.

Happy running and good luck to those of you racing this weekend! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of those of you running the Marine Corps Marathon.  Even though I’m only 2 weeks out from the Baltimore Marathon, I wish I was running the MCM!

Comments

  1. says

    I am using the FIRST plan for my first marathon – and I love it!! I’m only running 3 times a week right now – but I think I will bump it up to 4 times once half marathon season starts (after my full).

    I really need to run for Team in Training – my father in law passed away from Leukemia – thanks for the reminder!
    Michelle recently posted…Five for Friday: HalloweenMy Profile

    • kristen says

      I just started reading the Run Less, Run Faster book and I love it. I think I’ll probably use that plan for my next marathon. I love the emphasis on less quantity, but more quality in the runs. I’m so sorry about your father-in-law. TNT is a great organization to run with!

  2. says

    I’m training for a half now and using a plan (Jeff Galloway) that has three days of running a week. I can and have done four in the past but anymore than that and it really wipes me out mentally.

    The mental aspect can be so important because who wants to train if everyday you are to run is a fight with yourself to get out of the door.
    Dina recently posted…Half Marathon Training Week 12 In ReviewMy Profile

    • kristen says

      I completely agree with you! Running less is definitely better for me mentally as well. As great as my runs are for my overall well-being, they’re not doing me any good if I’m dreading them.

  3. says

    I used a half marathon training plan from Women’s Running magazine that was amazing–it helped me go from hitting the wall in one half marathon (I had to take a golf cart to the finish) to a pr at the same race a year later.

    Their 5K training plan is also amazing–it has pace recommendations for all runs for runners attempting to hit 30, 25, or 20 minute time goals in the 5K.
    emilyb recently posted…Race Results and a Week of Injury RecoveryMy Profile

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