After posting a bunch of articles on why we value speedwork for marathoners, how we value execution on race day and our guidance on improving your run form, one consistent question keeps popping up in my inbox: So how what does your training actually look like?
Training as Work
Before I dig too deeply into what we actually outline for training, I want to remind everyone of how we conceptualize of training inside Marathon Nation. Every single session we do is “work”, where work is defined as putting training stress on your body. The more stress you are able to place, the more stress your body will learn to handle. The more stress your body can handle, the fitter you are.
This view of training is very similar to how most people think of the weight room: a place to go, lift weights, then go home. Running is certainly a much more romantic and exciting enterprise. Regardless, every session whether it’s a long run, a hill workout, or just a light quick run to stretch your legs is just another form of “work” to your muscles. At the end of the day, your quads don’t experience joy (that I know of!). They simply do what’s required to handle the work you are asking of them.
We have to distinct training phases inside Marathon Nation: pre-training and race preparation. Both are twelve weeks in length, and combined they make a full six month marathon build up cycle. Outside of those areas, you are simply training for fun or perhaps you are taking some downtime.
The pre-training phase helps set the baseline for your fitness and makes sure you are physically ready to tackle the challenge of building to your marathon. At the end of this phase you’ll have the option of completing a half marathon or event of similar distance. The race preparation phase is all about focusing the requisite fitness on your race goals; long runs get quite long and your commitment to both running and recovery will have to be quite high for you to handle it all.
Monday: Day Off / Flexibility / Circuit Training
Almost every Monday of our plans are rest days. Sometimes there is flexibility or circuit training, but in general these are optional items. For most of us Mondays are the worst part of the part of our lives not associated with running (working, etc) so no need to put additional pressure here.
Tuesday: Tempo Session
Most Tuesdays are Tempo sessions where we do work anywhere from Marathon Pace (MP) up to Threshold Pace (TP). The level of work and volume of running depends on both the proximity of your event and your ability level.
Wednesday: Hill Session / Long Run
We are a huge fan of running hills; this is run-specific strength training at it’s best! You’ll do this type of work for most of the general prep phase and part of the race prep phase as well (at least until you begin incorporating a second longer run). Note that a hill of 2-4% grade is more than sufficient, and that we ask you to run steady up the hill but than sprint over the top.
Thursday: Interval Session
This is the really hard running we do to work on our speed and strength. It’s at the end of your mid-week block which means you’ll be a bit tired, but you get to work hard and then take an easy Friday.
Friday: Day Off / Flexibility / Core / Strides
Most Fridays are either Off or have optional stretching and/or core work. With Saturday’s big effort looming, there’s no need to dig too deep a hole here. Rest today to be your best tomorrow!
Saturday: Long Run
This is the real deal, a quality long run with different pace efforts and seriously hard work. They are the only workouts inside Marathon Nation with specific distances attached, but our goal is to get you to do the work portion of each run.
All of our marathon plans include 2 x 18 mile and 1 x 20 mile long runs, although you can work with the community & coaches to adjust the workload to fit your situation and race goals.
Sunday: Skill Session
This is the follow up workout to Saturday’s mega-effort. Our goal here is to get you to moving after your long run to facilitate recovery before you start the next week. This also makes for a great “switch” day if you need to swap with the Long Run.
You can learn more about the macro level view in the How We Train post on our blog. If you’d like to learn more about Marathon Nation firsthand, please visit our Join Page for more details. Every one of our memberships come with a 14-day free trial!