marathon training thread

Welcome! Forums Running Forum marathon training thread

This topic contains 28 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  tomo 9 years, 11 months ago.

  • Author
  • #11249


    Looking for some more tried and true wisdom from the hillrunner community (double, ryan!).  Back story, have run 5 marathons, each faster than the one before, but died in the last two (hoping for sub 3 and ended up 3:09 & 3:06).  Have not run a marathon in 5+ years, but am pretty fit (16:34 5k last weekend).  averaging about 70-80 a week with some tempos and MP runs.  Given the mileage, more experience, and fitness level, am looking for a big pr (2:40-2:45).  I know it is asking a lot, but my shorter distances tell me I should be capable.  I live in Duluth, and actually ran the whole course a few weeks ago in 3:07, feeling pretty comfortable (having run 10 miles the day before, and 12 w/7 at pace the day before that).

    I always seem to run out of fuel and am reduced to a shuffle by the end, despite not going out too fast.  Of course, I didn't put in this sort of mileage before either.  Any fueling/mental advice about how to stay 'topped off' during the race and deal with the rollercoaster of emotions/feelings?  Also, for others gearing up, post training and goals; it's nice to have folks to provide motivation!

    I plan on a 10 mile race at the end of may and a 5k early june…Ryan, I used to (and am still trying to) run with coach conway…

  • #27454


    It sounds like there may need to be some changes in some of the core things you do fundamentally.  What are you doing for stretching, nutrition, hydrating, etc…?  You clearly have a good base, but can you build a better one?  I would take a step back and evaluate how you have been doing things and adjust one or two of these things.  For example, are stretching dynamically before every run?  Are you stretching statically after?  Are you eating after every run?

    After evaluating the fundamentals, I would design a training that would allow you to be strong in the end.  This means lots of threshold training and speed play.  Do train on hills often?  Adding more hills may give you strength.  Adding hills into the end of your long run could help.

    Good luck.

  • #27455


    after a few marathons (one in particular where I collapsed in the chute) of death marching the last few miles, I began to actually sit down and account for my caloric intake the day before.  I've always been a nervous Nellie the day before, but I was shocked at how few calories I was getting in with regular meals.  I felt like I was at my kitchen table all day long eating and I'm lucky to get 2000-2400 calories in, which is hardly a problem when I'm not in a taper.

    your training sounds good, I think you need to be more aware of what you are doing the days before and of the race…..probably nutritionally.  7-8 ounces every 15 minutes is about average.  On your next long run weigh yourself before and after and note the difference.  this might be enlightening also.  I've read that you need to not lose more than 3% of your body weight…..that really isn't much.  And during a race, are you someone that doesn't slow down for water?  sometime actually try and estimate how much of each cup you actually get in your mouth.  Say it's an 8 ounce cup, it's probably filled to the 6 oz mark and then you spill another 2 ounces.  If you're average, you need to get 2 of these every 15 minutes, if you're a heavy sweater, maybe more and might even have to consider electrolytes (salt).

  • #27456



    On your next long run weigh yourself before and after and note the difference.  this might be enlightening also.  I've read that you need to not lose more than 3% of your body weight…..that really isn't much.  And during a race, are you someone that doesn't slow down for water?  sometime actually try and estimate how much of each cup you actually get in your mouth.  Say it's an 8 ounce cup, it's probably filled to the 6 oz mark and then you spill another 2 ounces.  If you're average, you need to get 2 of these every 15 minutes, if you're a heavy sweater, maybe more and might even have to consider electrolytes (salt).

    more miles per week and not getting most of the on course fluids up my nose helped me a lot… I had to practice drinking from those little cups… and I was also amazed at the weight I lose when I weighed myself before & after a long run

  • #27457


    First, don't double the value of my advice. There are others here whose advice I'd put ahead of mine. Anyway, that's not the advice you were looking for but some that I think might serve you well.

    Second, maybe not exactly what you were looking for but take advantage of knowing Coach Conway. I've met a lot of accomplished coaches and runners, I don't think anyone I have met knows more about running and knowing how to get more out of yourself and is willing to share everything he knows than Coach Conway. Heck, the man has set how many age group world records, he's run a 2:23 at Boston as a masters runner back when masters running didn't get much attention.

    As for more specific advice, I'm also one who has faded in my previous marathon attempts, though I believe due to 1) circumstances out of my control or 2) my own stupidity in race execution. However, I have learned something about trying not to fade in those attempts or at least limiting the fade (beyond control the weather and don't run the first 2 miles at 10K pace).

    First, it's all about the base you have. It sounds like you have a much better base this time around, which will take you a long way toward avoiding the fade.

    Second, I've been a big fan of what I call fast finish long runs. Take the last 2-5 miles of a long run and run them at a pace at or faster than marathon pace.

    Third, as already mentioned, think over your fueling, both pre-race and on course. I prefer only using sports drink on course but, depending on the drink offered and what you think your needs are, you may want to look into using gels. One piece of advice I'll offer here that may differ from others, you don't have to make race day fueling a zero sum equation. You're hopefully going to be going to the start line well fueled and hydrated. Don't worry if you're not replacing on the course every single calorie you're burning and every single drop of fluid you're losing. Especially when it comes to calories, plan to burn more than you take in. A lot of people try to make it a zero sum equation and end up turning the marathon into a 26.2 mile buffet line.

    By the way, if Coach Conway mentions de-fizzed Coke at about 20 miles, don't think he's crazy. Back when he was running marathons, that was a popular way to get a jolt late in the race and it isn't all that different than a strong sports drink or a gel to be honest.

  • #27458


    Thanks for the advice.  I do think fuel management during the race will be a big factor; one that I need to figure out.  Now that I've introduced quality workouts, I don't think I'm at the point where I can bump my mileage up any more (at least this time around).  Because I want to keep my recovery runs strictly recovery, and don't want to be too beat up so that I can't complete quality sessions.  As it stand my recovery runsa are 10-12 miles. I've done some 12 milers w/6 or 7 at pace, 7 runs of 20+ miles since Feb, with some finishing close to MP…I've done a session of mile repeats (5, averaging 5:35 w/400 recovery) and a 10k tempo in 36:13…I'm planning a 20 miler this weekend with the last 10 at pace…essentially my plan is a long run every weekend from here on out, one week will have some at pace, and the next week will be fairly casually but covering 22-24 miles.

    When do you guys start taking fluids/gels in the race?  And how often?  Do you use the sportsdrink, or opt for gu and water?

  • #27459


    I start taking fluids before the gun. To clear the bladder, I don't drink for an hour or so before race time (after loading up quite a bit). Then, about 5 minutes before the gun, I'll down 10-20 ounces. From that point on, I'll hit every aid station. If there are aid stations every mile, I might go for every second or third aid station, depending on how much I'm managing to get at each aid station.

    Over the final 20 minutes or so, I bypass the aid stations. I figure that, by then, it's not going to do much to help me before the finish line.

    Personally, I think most races have it backwards when they offer aid stations every third mile early on and every mile at the end. Refuel early and often but, at some point, it's not going to help you get to the finish line any faster.

  • #27460


    One big negative regarding Grandmas IMO is the fact that they serve Ultima as their sports drink.  It has no sugar and 10 calories per serving compared to Gatorade with 14 grams sugar and 50 cals per serving.  I'm sure Ultima is a fine beverage, but IMO it's not the best bet for a marathon. 

    So what's the solution to that?  Well if you are my wife you can be thankful that I'll be leap frogging the race for her with Gatorade….I hope I can keep up.  Otherwise I'd suggest carrying a few gels. 

    I completely agree with Ryan that you need to at least get something at every aid station.  I'll also add that I'm also experienced in the end of the race “death march.”  🙂 

    Lastly pray that you don't get 2006 / 2007 weather conditions! 

  • #27461


    I have read, although it cannot site where, that consuming calorie rich foods and beverages within two hours before the gun, does more harm than good.  Referring to the fact that your body is burning energy to begin digestion instead of fuel muscle contraction.  (or something like that)  Stick with bread and water, and save the calorie boosts for the late miles when you need the quick burn of some simple sugars.  However, if you've got time to experiment on your long runs before race day, the best advice anyone can give you is to find out what works for you.  Try three or four combinations of fueling techniques and pay close attention to how it affects the run.  Go into race day with the best result and the confidence that it worked for you in the past.  Manage the conditions within your control (rest, shoes, clothes, fuel) because there are always plenty outside your control.  Have confidence in your training and give it hell!

  • #27462


    Rob, I wonder if what you heard has to do with the spike and later drop in blood sugar levels caused by eating sugary foods. This could be lessened by not having sugary foods for a couple of hours before the race until right before the race starts, which I have found to be an effective hydrating plan (one I believe I first heard from Zeke, who used to be a frequent poster here) and you can accomplish with a sports drink.

  • #27463


    I'll have to do some looking around old magazines to see if I can find the article to which I referred……  I need to start cataloging articles that peak my interest.

  • #27464


    Yeah, I know what it's like. I can recall at least partial details on so many things but I have a heck of a time trying to find the sources back. It can be frustrating at times.

  • #27465


    The increase in training mileage to the 70-80 mpw range should serve you well. I don't know what your mileage was prior to your previous marathons. But, if mileage in this cycle has been 20% or more greater than before, then that should make a significant difference in the late miles….unless your goal and pace plan are overly ambitious.

    If you plan your marathon for 2:40-2:45, but are realistically capable of 2:50-2:55, then, although elevated training/fitness and careful pre-race and in-race fueling might minimize a late race fade, they won't prevent it entirely. Optimal performance for a given level of fitness and preparation depends more on realistic goal setting, pace planning, and associated race execution than anything else, including fueling. Anytime I hear someone complain about a significant late race fade, the first three things I think of are:

    (1) Overly ambitious race goal.
    (2) Too aggressive pacing (trying to bank time).
    (3) Failure to adjust (1) to account for poor race day conditions, such as a hot day.

    Fueling and hydration, although important to attend to, are somewhere further down a list in most cases, especially for those who have been through one or more marathons before. With all the information available today, we learn quickly to heed the need for and methods of fueling and hydrating. But, it is always easy to overestimate our capability and let ourselves be seduced into making one or more of the “big three” mistakes.

    Concerning in-race fueling/hydration, I concur with those who emphasize drinking water early and often….and that it is less important in the late miles. You might also use a Geetah straw for more efficient drinking on the run and to minimizing/eliminating spillage.

  • #27466


    Thanks for the thoughts…I think 2:40-2:45 is not unreasonable as a goal, based on mileage and my 5k time.  I am running a ten miler in a few weeks which should give me a better gauge.  Ran 20 on the course today, with the last 10 at 'MP': Ten (1:13:07), then 10 at MP 1:01:53 (6:09, 5:57, 5:58, 6:03, 6:00, 6:16, 6:20, 6:23, 6:24, 6:21–last 5 into the wind).  But I think I will need to adjust to what the 10 miler tells me, and what the weather is on the day.  Am I the only one training for a marathon?  Post your training if you are to (or even if your not, it's fun to read that stuff).

  • #27467


    Come on double!  I'm not looking necessarily for nuts and bolts, but for some of your hard earned wisdom and inspiration!  Something to stoke the fire, fan the flames, etc.  Your average run of the mill zen wisdom.  Eye of the Tiger stuff, ya know?  Do you remember me?  I am in Duluth now, but posted frequently years ago when I was in da burgh…What are you guys training for?  Hijack this thread, let's get it rolling.

  • #27468


    Tomo, I went into 2006 Grandmas in 2:40 shape.  I had run many race distances from 5K to the half suggesting I was in good enough shape to run a 2:40. 

    The summer of 2005 I trained specifically for shorter races and ran many PR's from 5K to the half.  Low 16's and low 1:15 half.  While training for the marathon I believe I ran about 27 even for a 5 miler and 34:25 for 10K. 

    So I think your fitness shows you are real close to 2:40.  I also like all your long tempos with the M pace stuff mixed in.  I did lots of that also. 

    Now 2006 Grandmas was HOT HOT HOT.  I started the race knowing that 2:40 pace was really going to be rolling the dice, but after all my hard work was not willing to “settle” for a 2:45 pace run.  Therefore I went out like any other day and ran 2:40 pace.  I actually ran with the pack of women's elites for the first half.  Me and the ladies 🙂 

    At half I could already tell I was toast.  We went from a pack of 8 to immediately breaking up.  Everyone strung out right then.  I believe 1-2 of the women went on to finish at 2:40ish.  A couple more DNF'd.  I finished in a 2:47 low.  I ran the last 10K the slowest I'd ever ran any 10K even a easy run in 8th grade.  It was like 47 minutes or something crazy.  I was probably on the verge of heat exhaustion if not worse. 

    So the question is then do you lock onto the 2:40 like I did or do you compensate if necessary?  I don't wish I'd have done anything different.  I would have been asking “what if” had I gone conservative in 2:45 pace from the gun. 

    Check out the above link.  It explains very well why I added 7 minutes to my time on that hot day in 2006.  Something for you to consider. 

    I think you are where you need to be.  Go for it.  I'll be there cheering 🙂 

  • #27469

  • #27471

  • #27472


    Nice links…Ran 70 this week on five days of running (life got in the way the other two days)…highlights: 13.5 mid-long run, 6 x 1600 (5:29-5:30 avg. w/2:00-2:30 rest) & marathon course run in 3:07:50.  1:36 first half & 1:31 second.  Hopefully a day or two of real easy running and I'll be mostly recovered…have never done the full 26 in training before, but this is my second one…it gives me some mental confidence, but does beat me up some.  Nice to mix things up from what I've done in the past.  Running a 10 mile race next Monday.  Thanks for all the feedback and links.  And as I've said before, post your training–I'd love to see it.

  • #27473


    Sorry bud, I missed this thread somehow.

    This was Boston 2002 training if it's not too late:

    Weeks of 50.1, 67.3, 70.5, 25.0, 2.2, and 66.7 then…

    2/11 AM 7.0 (7:46)  PM 4.7 (7:04)
    2/12 AM 6.2 (8:14)
    2/13 AM 5.0 (8:00)  PM 9.6 w/ 8 x 800m (2:42,40,37,36,35,34,34,33)
    2/14 AM 7.4 (8:06)  PM 8.7 1:10
    2/15 OFF
    2/16 AM 20.0 (7:11)
    2/17 AM 5.2 (8:08)  PM 6.2 (7:55)
    Week 80.0

    2/18 AM 6.2 (7:45)  PM 5.2 (6:47)
    2/19 AM 4.7 (8:22)  PM 8.7 w/ 7.0 (6:06)
    2/20 AM 8.6 (8:07)  PM 6.5 (7:27)
    2/21 AM 6.5 (7:47)  PM 6.0 w/ 4.0 (6:03)
    2/22 PM 4.1 (8:41)
    2/23 AM 20.0 (6:55)
    2/24 AM 9.7 (7:57)  PM 4.4 (7:27)
    Week 90.6

    2/25 AM 7.7 (7:50)
    2/26 AM 5.5 (8:31)  PM 10.9 w/ 5 x 1 mile (5:22,21,16,14,15)
    2/27 AM 5.5 (8:30)  PM 5.6 (8:39)
    2/28 OFF
    3/1  AM 15.4 (7:03)
    3/2  AM 16.0 (7:25)
    3/3  AM 4.5 (9:05)  PM 12.6 w/ 10.066 in 59:29 (5:54)
    Week 83.7

    3/4  AM 6.3 (9:06)  PM 4.3 (9:13)
    3/5  PM 9.2 w/ 7.0 (6:19)
    3/6  AM 6.2 (8:39)  PM 7.0 (7:11)
    3/7  OFF
    3/8  AM 12.0 (7:15)
    3/9  AM 12.0 (8:24)
    3/10 OFF
    Week 57.0

    3/11 Bike machine 21.0 and Ellyptical 3.5
    3/12 Bike machine 13.0, Ellyptical 5.2, Bike machine 18.0
    3/13 OFF
    3/14 OFF
    3/15 OFF
    3/16 AM 13.2 w/ 10k 36:36 (5:54)
    3/17 AM 16.0 w/ 10.2 (6:49)
    Week 29.2 running

    3/18 AM 5.2 (8:37)  PM 3.5 (8:34)
    3/19 AM 12.0 (7:50)
    3/20 AM 3.7 (8:48)  PM 7.5 (8:01)
    3/21 OFF
    3/22 AM 4.7 (7:35)
    3/23 AM 18.8 w/ half marathon 1:15:46 (5:47)
    3/24 OFF
    Week 55.4

    3/25 PM 9.3 (7:57)
    3/26 PM 8.0 (8:15)
    3/27 AM 3.4 (8:14)  PM 10.7 w/ 3.0 (6:00)
    3/28 OFF
    3/29 AM 19.4 trails (8:48)
    3/30 AM 7.2 w/ 12 x 100 strides and 8k (6:05)
    3/31 OFF
    Week 58.0

    4/1  AM 4.7 (7:28)
    4/2  AM 8.0 (6:41)
    4/3  AM 4.7 (8:07)
    4/4  PM 10.1 w/ 5k (5:29)
    4/5  AM 6.0 (8:05)
    4/6  AM 13.1 (7:23)
    4/7  OFF
    Week 46.6

    4/8  AM 6.2 (6:39)
    4/9  AM 5.2 (7:35)
    4/10 PM 6.0 w/ 2.0 (5:37)
    4/11 AM 5.3 (8:00)
    4/12 OFF
    4/13 AM 5.0 (8:00)
    4/14 AM 2.8 in 29:19
    Week 30.5

    4/15 Boston Marathon Chip 2:40:56 Splits of 1:20:34 / 1:20:22

    Good luck TOMO!

  • #27474


    Thanks for the training stuff double.  good amount of pace work (and faster) in that snippet.  Ran a 10 mile race today…interesting….Was hoping to run high 55's…first mile (5:38) with about 25 people in front of me–WHY DO PEOPLE GO OUT SO HARD WHEN THEY HAVE NO CHANCE OF MAINTAINING?  I should be careful though, as I might on marathon day…anyway, mile two the whole lot of folks, myself included, had to stop for a train!  So everyone caught the leaders and waited around…I'm guessing it cost me about 30+ seconds…I stopped my watch though….surreal moment as we all started running again. 

    first five miles were into a moderate wind.  I found myself at the front of a pack of four guys.  After a mile or so of this, I motioned for someone to take a turn, but nobody did.  At this point I was a bit perturbed and wanted to try to run away from them, but I was afraid of going too early.  At one point I slowed down so somebody would have to pass me.  I settled in behind him, but we went through the next mile in 5:50, so I again struck out in front.  If I had to do it again I think I would have stayed at the front and tried to press–though I may have paid for it in the end….at the turn (28:30) I got away from the group (5:31 6th mile) and was on my own (top three leaders long gone).  A guy named Jim (everyone was calling his name) was behind me, probably 10-15 yards.  Ran mile 7 in 5:38, then struggled a bit for 8 and 9 (5:42, 5:43).

    At the  nine mile mark (headwind again–how is that possible?) Jim passed me, and I fought to keep the distance down to 10 yards…With maybe 400 to go I had managed to draw even with him.  As we approached the line I tried to press, and gained a few yards…then he shot by me and I had no response 🙁

    Ended up in 5th place…ran 5:34 for my last mile…my watch read 26:42, but I had stopped it for the train, so my clock time (results aren't up yet) was maybe 27:20 or so….

    I was bummed I didn't get Jim at the end (although he did collapse past the finish line and needed to be helped up, so he definitely earned it) and a bit bummed about my time…The wind was a bit of a factor, but I think I just hung back a bit too much in the early going–though who knows, as my 8th and 9th miles weren't stellar.

    All and all a good day, I guess.  Good to get a bit of a longer race in.  Winner ran 52 something, with the train stop! 

  • #27475

  • #27476


    Tomo, you are ready.  Make us proud.

  • #27477


    Ran my final long run today, 21 miles, with 10 at MP…have been laying low for a week or so with a nasty  bug…mileage has dropped considerably, but I'm hoping the fitness is in the bank.  Finally came around mid-week and figured to have a go for one last long/hard effort.  Ran 10 in 1:13, then 10 at MP (6:22, 6:10, 6:10, 5:59, 6:11, 5:57, 6:01, 6:09, 6:08, 6:08).  Jogged a mile back to my car.  Interestingly, in the beginning of the MP stuff I felt like I was overstriding and working pretty hard to keep my legs turning over…then I sort of switched to a more 'shuffling stride' and had an easier time keeping pace…my hammies were blasted by the end, though…never really experienced that–a stride change mid-workout.  Don't know what to think about it.

    All in all, I was pretty pleased.  Though, like usual in training, it's hard to fathom running that speed for the whole shebang!

  • #27478


    Well, well, well…thought I might as well provide the grim details.  It was ugly,  but I'm damn proud to have gutted it out…Ran 2:58 and suffered like a dog.  I took things out in what I thought was a conservative manner, given the weather. Ran 1:24 through the half, but knew by 15 that it was just a matter of trying to finish….17 was a low point…A 7:40 mile (water over the head, pondering life)…rallied a bit, and ran 7:00-7:15 to the finish…eeked under 3, but at that point I was almost past caring–well, not quite.  I fought hard to get under three….spent a bit of time in a wheelchair getting things sorted out, but after a stint under the hose, some strawberries and OJ, and some shade time under a tree, I came back around….today I feel like I was taken into a back alley and whupped on….

    live a learn….weather like that provides you with a lotta time and space for post-race speculation…what could I have run under ideal conditions, etc…but it doesn't really matter.  As double has probably said, you've got to play the hand you are dealt and go down swinging (mixing metaphors, I know)…I'm very pleased I didn't throw in the towel, and I felt like the miles under my belt (including the two course runs) mitigated the damage those last six miles.  I came, I suffered, I finished, and I did what I could on the day.  That's all I could ask for…

    Thanks for the words of wisdom/support.

  • #27479


    I was actually out running a race Saturday morning also and the heat and especially humidity were tough for just a 5 miler. I know this was a pretty good distance away but it sounds like Grandma's had another tough weather day. Good job keeping it together when I'm sure it would have been easy to let it all fall apart. All things considered, 2:58 is a pretty solid run.

  • #27480


    Saturday was tough.  My wife ran a debut of 3:36 with a 3:30 goal.  That had to be one of the “better” performances in the event.  Everyone I knew that ran the race somewhat competitively was around 20 mins++ off their goal time.  I was told but cannot confirm they had the most DNF's in history.  That's with a field of about 2000 less than last year. 

    I sat at the 5 mile mark for an hour in a t shirt waiting for runners.  The blazing sun was killer.  My shirt was drenched when I left.  At 12 miles the lead pack was cut in half.  Some had already decided to drop.  A few Kenyans walked past me at 12 miles.  At 19 miles I talked to a guy I ran with in college.  Oh yeah…he was part of the race, but we talked as he walked by!  He wasn't happy.  He's a 2:30's guy and finished over 3 hours. 

    The worst part of that course I swear is about 15-18 miles.  That stretch is no man's land and is thin in spectators and is BLAZING sun if there are no clouds. 

    Been there done that in 2006.  It's not fun and I feel for everyone that had to deal with it Saturday. 

  • #27481


    Great run.  I'd have been proud as hell to break 3 in those conditions.  What was your overall finish position?  It must have been pretty high.

  • #27482


    78 overall….

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.