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Marathon Training Starts…Now! August’s Training, Shoes, and More

It’s game time.

The Philadelphia Marathon is on November 20, only 76 short days away. This is week seven of my 17 week training plan.

Marathon Training Starts Now

I’ve already had to alter my schedule based on my original program, which highlights the importance of flexibility and changing things on the fly. Even though you’re supposed to “plan your run and then run your plan,” that rarely happens. Improvisation is key!

I ran 311 miles in August or about 70 miles per week on average. Here are my weekly totals:

  • 68
  • 70
  • 74
  • 79
  • 20 (last 3 days of the month)

These weeks had some great long runs and workouts. My four long runs were 17, 17, 18, 18 (how predictable) in the four full weeks of August. September will likely see me reach 21 miles for my longest run. My workouts were:

  • 4 x 2′ fartlek workout during the second half of a 12 miler
  • 5k tempo in 17:26 in the middle of a 13 miler
  • 8 x 2′ fartlek workout during a 13 miler
  • 20 minute tempo during the second half of a 13 miler
  • 2 miles at Marathon Pace on the track (12:17) then 4 x 200m in 31, 32, 31, 31

There were a lot of other mini-workouts that I don’t really count as official workouts: hill sprints, strides, and 20-30 second surges.  These short sprinting sessions help make the other fast work possible. I wouldn’t have been able to run those 200m intervals that fast if I hadn’t been doing consistent strides and hill sprints.

Even during a base phase of training, I think it’s very important to work on your ability to run very fast. Brad Hudson’s book Run Faster illustrates this very well when it describes running as a spectrum. You have easy running on one end and 100% maximum effort sprinting on the other.

Training should focus on both ends of the spectrum during the base phase. As you’re building your aerobic and neuromuscular fitness (easy vs. sprint), you gradually move toward the middle of the spectrum which is your race-specific fitness. That’s when you do harder interval workouts or long marathon-specific runs.

The Fall Racing Schedule

I have more on my schedule than just the Philly Marathon this November. In just a few short weeks I’m running the Run! Geek! Run! 8k in Washington, DC. I did this race last year and ran very well – just 15 seconds off my personal best. Considering I wasn’t training for it, I’ll take it!

The cooler temps, plummeting humidity, and increased efficiency from summer training will hopefully bring me to another fast time. I don’t have any high goals for this race except to make it hurt. Yes, that’s right. I want to hurt a lot. Matt Fitzgerald’s Brain Training for Runners has an interesting section on becoming desensitized to pain. Every runner who pushes the pace in a race will experience pain, but only those who habituate themselves to it will they be able to suffer less.

Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s a fascinating concept and one that I’ll be practicing this fall. The relationship of the brain and body is intriguing – definitely give Brain Training a read if you’re into the nerdy side of running.

If that works out, my next race will hopefully go even better: the Run for the Hills Half-Marathon outside Chicago. I’m visiting my sister-in-law and her boyfriend so Meaghan and I decided to make a destination race a part of the trip! I rarely race when I travel, so this should be an exciting adventure.

My best time over 13.1 miles is 73:39 and I’ll be trying to run significantly faster. The race is exactly four weeks before the marathon and will serve as one of my key fitness tests. If the next 7 weeks go well I’ll try to run at least a minute faster. Giddy up!

Learning From Mistakes and My Love of Shoe Variety

Sore arches and lower legs have been a common theme after many of my races in the past year. One of my sub-goals during this marathon training cycle is to recover quickly from races. Preventing excessive soreness requires a few training adjustments.

First, I need to spend more time in my racing flats. I’ve been wearing my Adidas Adizero Rockets for my hill sprints and also the 200’s I ran on the track. These are very light and flexible and are perfect for a runner with neutral form who wants a very minimalist shoe. Unfortunately, that’s not me. I over-pronate a bit more than I should so I need a little more support.

While I think the Rockets are an amazing training tool, I won’t be racing in them for my upcoming 8k. Their flexibility and thin sole would be a liability for me on the roads when I’m trying to run about 5:11 mile pace. My feet and legs aren’t ready for that (yet).

Instead, I’ll be wearing my ASICS Hyper Speeds. They have a more substantial sole and are more supportive for road racing. I’ve worn them for a lot of distances – from 5k to 10 miles – and have loved every step of the way. I’m very familiar with how they feel, fit, and perform so I’m comfortable in them. They also just make me feel fast – crucial on race day!

Interestingly enough, the Hyper Speeds weigh almost a full ounce less than the Adidas Rockets per the Road Runner Sports website. The Hyper Speed sole is thicker than the Rocket’s based on my measurements which is probably why I like them more. The weight difference is likely because the Rocket’s sole has more rubber, which is heavier.

You can read a full review of the Hyper Speeds here.

The other shoes that I’m training in include the Saucony Fastwitch and the ASICS DS-Racer. The bulk of my mileage is done in the Fastwitch with 2-3 shorter runs per week done in the DS-Racers. I’ll typically wear three pairs of trainers throughout the week for different workouts depending on how fast I’m running and how tired I am.

By constantly stressing the foot and lower legs in different ways, you’re less likely to get an injury. Variety should be a hallmark of your training and this is one way that I switch things up.

I also wear my New Balance MT 101‘s regularly but I haven’t been running in them recently. In August I just wore them to the gym to do my weekly lifting routine. I love them but when I’m running a lot I can’t wear them for my longer runs. They don’t have the support I need and prevent me from recovering from my longer, faster workouts.

September is off to a great start already and I’m looking forward to racing in a few weeks. Are there any DC area runners racing the Run! Geek! Run! 8k on 9/17? I’d love to hang out after the race so let me know!

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