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Can you help this runner who’s getting slower during marathon training?

Anybody who’s training for a marathon knows how difficult it can be: the long runs never end, the mileage keeps creeping up, and those tempo runs are grueling!

I’m thrilled to be running right now… More at

Fatigue is a normal part of marathon training – there’s no way around it. But should you be getting slower? Should you be more and more tired as you train?

I don’t think so. And while everyone is going to be fatigued to a certain extent during any training cycle (this guy, for example, is delusional), it shouldn’t be severe or debilitating.

With a properly planned season, getting ready for a marathon should be fatiguing, but also rewarding, challenging, and make you feel like you’re a stronger runner.

Today, I want your advice about how to make marathon training a little bit easier.

David is a talented runner but he’s been struggling with putting together a good marathon. Can you help?

How should David change his marathon training?

David is a 44-year old who ran competitively from a young age. In 1990, he started triathlon training with other multi-sport and adventure races (but running was always his strongest sport).

He has PR’s of 16:05 in the 5k and 34:45 in the 10k. His best (and only) marathon was in 2013 where he ran 2:50:13.

Using a Runner’s World sub-3 program, he was gearing up for another marathon last year but was having issues.

This is what he sent me:

The problem that I’m having is that I get an initial spike in fitness and post some good times in races following the start (3 weeks) and lose weight but I find that I seem to be getting slower at races. It’s like I just don’t feel sharp and cannot get out of 4th gear and find races very hard work.

I feel good in training and even went sub-5 on the road for the mile recently which is a first for me – ever. I wonder am I leaving my races in training and pushing too hard?

For this particular question, it will be very helpful to look at his training plan.

Click here to see the modified RW program he’s using.

It also includes pace ranges:

Long run: 7:16 – 9:00 per mile

Easy: 7:15 per mile

Marathon: 6:09 per mile

Tempo: 5:50 per mile

Now, some questions!

  1. Why does David race well in the early part of his season, but then fizzle out later in the cycle?
  2. What (if any) red flags do you see in his training plan?
  3. Is his pacing appropriate?

Leave your response in the comments below and I’ll choose my favorite response on Friday night. The winner will get free access to any Strength Running product of their choice.

Good luck!

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