How to Plan a Marathon Breakthrough (A Case Study Approach)

It’s easy to fall into the same routine with your running, week after week and year after year. But when performance stagnates and you’re looking for a breakthrough, it’s essential to step outside your comfort zone and mix things up a bit!

Once runners discover a favorite racing distance, they may continue to return to it year after year. Marathoners may be particularly susceptible to this. After moving up through shorter race distances like the 5k, 10k and half-marathon, they often settle into a similar path of marathon training each year.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with training for a race distance you enjoy, reaching a new goal may require shaking up your routine. If you want to challenge yourself with a a marathon breakthrough goal, it’s time to revamp your training to tap into greater speed and endurance.

But what’s the best way to change up your training to get faster and stay injury free?

Matthew Boyd & Jason on how to plan a marathon breakthrough

This week’s episode is a repost from the Adaptive Zone Podcast, hosted by Matthew Boyd. Matt is a physiotherapist and running coach who specializes in helping runners overcome injury while setting new PRs. His podcast addresses runners and triathletes to help them move from injury and rehabilitation into performance.

On the podcast Matt gives me a hypothetical case study for “Carrie”, a marathoner with a 3:48 PR who is looking for a marathon breakthrough to go sub-3:45 but can’t quite seem to get there. She runs 2 marathons each year and averages between 40 and 60 km (25-37 miles) each week.

As we discuss this hypothetical case, Matthew and I look at how Carrie’s training can change moving forward to help her earn a new personal best in the marathon. While we focus on two possible overarching changes in training, we also dive into the details, including:

  • Why time away from the marathon can make you faster
  • The difference between fast and hard running
  • How both mental and physical recovery can help you improve
  • The principle of specificity in race training
  • Why hill workouts prepare you to run faster on the flats
  • Treating racing as a skill that can be improved

Our case study is applicable to the training of so many runners – you’re bound to learn something that helps you improve!

Subscribe to the podcast in Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeartRadio, or Google Play.

Links & Resources from the Show:

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