My Marathon Training

For whatever reason, I didn’t bother to do weekly running recaps of my training for the Chicago Marathon, which is unlike me.  I’m going to guess it’s because I want to keep some balance in my life.  It takes me about two hours on average from start to finish to compile a blog post so adding a a weekly recap on top of my rapidly increasing training demand to talk more about running wasn’t number one (two or three) on my To-Do List.  But now, my running has settled down and I have a lot of downtime thanks to Dunkin’s separation anxiety.

I guess you could say I technically started training for the marathon before I even knew it was happening because I wasn’t running much before last fall.  I spent September through May working towards getting comfortable with the half marathon distance again and finishing without an injury.  I found out about being involved in the Saucony 26 Strong program in April and that’s when my focus turned.  After the Buffalo Half Marathon and the down-time to rest my hip, marathon training started.

Here’s a look at my weekly training according to my RunningAHEAD log.  [Side note: I’m a big fan of syncing my RA profile with Garmin and using RA to keep track of my sneakers, workouts, and mileage.  There is so much functionality and tracking mechanisms.  It’s a RunNerd’s dream.]


I set the time frame based on when I started running after two weeks of recovery after my half marathon.  The graph is also noted in duration as opposed to miles, so you can see the cross-training that wasn’t distance specific (CrossFit).  Looking at the above, I spent 18 weeks leading into race day, which is pretty standard for a first time marathoner.

At first glance, the biggest things you can see would be that I averaged probably 5 hours of training per week including my cross-training.  I wasn’t a high mileage marathoner and I definitely kept the balance in my life with training.  I like to think one day my body can handle a higher distance/duration, but that wasn’t what this training cycle was about.  The outlier of 8/10/15 was during my vacation in Maine which involved a lot of walking and hiking.  And other than CrossFit, I didn’t do much other cross-training.  The walking referenced above, aside from a couple hikes, was largely due to walking my half mile or so cool-down at the end of each run.

graph 2

Here’s the details to my training for running only, in miles.  Like I said, it was a low mileage training plan for me.  We factored in the key workouts but the easy runs each week were not set to specific mileage.  Of course, I had a weekly goal that I was trying to obtain and that’s how I adjusted my 2-3 easy runs each week, but there was never a specific distance on those days.

It’s pretty clear where my hip became a big issue for me in September when you look at it on paper.  It’s kind of amazing that you can run a marathon rather successfully when your training each week was definitely under the full race distance.  Do I recommend that?  It depends on your goals.  It worked for me for now but I would never expect to succeed time-wise.  I wanted to start and finish the longest race of my life without going back to physical therapy.  I accomplished that.  Would I have broken my four hour goal with higher mileage training?  Probably.  But the risk of not starting, not finishing, or being unable to run after the race was a really big consideration if I did.  I’m happy with my training because it’s the most consistent and highest mileage I’ve maintained in a single training cycle.  I have a lot to be proud of from how far I’ve come in 18 months.

Chicago Marathon training by the numbers:
 * I ran 371.5 miles over 59 hours, 54 minutes, and 22 seconds.
 * My average pace was 9:26 per mile.
 * I ran 3 races: St. Gregory the Great 5k, Run Jimmy Run 5k, and the Chicago Marathon
 * My highest mileage week was race week at 32.4 miles, but in training it was 31.5 miles
 * I averaged 20.7 miles per week (in fact, my average for the first 9 weeks was the same as the last 9 weeks!)
 * I averaged 10:00 pace flat for all my long runs, 10:18 pace for anything over half marathon distance.
 * I took two rest days per week.  These were complete, total rest.
* I took one CrossFit class each week on average.
* My favorite workouts of the cycle were easily my track sessions.  We worked up to 5 x 800m at 5k pace, and had a few ladders from 400m to 1600m with paces ranging from 5k – half marathon.
* My strongest run of the cycle was my first and only 20 mile run in the rain.

I always like to reflect in one way or another on previous training cycles before embarking on a new plan or goal race.  After the emotions of the goal race, it’s a good way to see your training for whatever it’s worth with a clear head.  I know that if I had reviewed my training a week or two after the marathon, I would have a different outlook.  Today, I’m able to look at my training and see where things went really well but also what I could improve on, honestly.  I see that I put together a solid stretch of running and am proud of it.  I’m also able to see that despite thinking I was cross-training a significant amount, I wasn’t.

20884736_sSo while somebody out there might be interested in my average numbers and how it equates to my personal experience, this is 95% solely for me.  I’m a numbers nerd and even though I love to have 1,937 spreadsheets to review, ultimately somewhere I need a matter of fact, this is what it is, overview of the 4 months of work I put in.  You bet that for every 10 views this post gets after posting, 8 will probably be mine, looking back as I tweak the plan I’ve created for my goal race(s) next year!


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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

5 thoughts on “My Marathon Training”

  1. Hashtag all the data? I’ve never been able to get into Running Ahead. It’s exciting to see you getting ready for another training cycle. I know you are going to rock your half marathons.


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