When I signed up for the Route 66 Marathon back in March I had no idea what type of training plan I would be interested in tackling. For my first marathon I used a Jeff Galloway runDisney plan (since I did it as part of the Goofy Challenge) and for my second, I used the Run Less, Run Faster plan. I felt that the Galloway plan really did prepare me to simply finish my first 26.2, and the RLRF plan helped me to feel stronger and a little bit more comfortable for my second. But for my third I really wanted to get a lot faster, and wanted the race to become less about finishing and more about conquering. I looked at all the usual marathon plans provided by Hidgeon, Coach Jenny, Galloway’s non-runDisney plans, and looked at a more advanced RLRF plan. They would get the job done but none of them made me excited to train.
Then I received Runner’s World’s July 2016 issue and noticed they were advertising a 16-week marathon training plan, and immediately turned to that page.
“A plan for the modern marathoner” – designed for someone who runs 20 miles over 4 days of running. It incoporates aspects of training recommended by McMillan, Coach Jenny, Bart Yasso and a few others and sounded PERFECT. Enough mileage and work to feel strong for race day, but not enough to cause burn out or feel like I lost my whole life to training.
The plan is structured as follows:
- 4 runs per week, 16 weeks total
- 2 easy runs per week, that start around 4 miles each and peak at 6.
- 1 hill/speed workout per week, that I adjusted to fit my schedule (I’ll talk about this more in a bit)
- 1 long run that starts at 8 miles, builds by 2 miles per week (and cuts back every 4 weeks), and includes 2 16-milers, 1 18-miler and 2 20-milers. The week before the race is a 10-miler.
- Weekly mileage starts at 20 miles, and goes to 30+ miles per week starting in week 6. From there it continues to build, and peaks at 40 miles per week at week 13, before tapering.
- Overall, I loved this plan and enjoyed it.
- It 10000% improved my marathon performance, helping me to cut at least an hour from my last marathon time and finish in under 6 hours.
- I did not feel burnt out until around week 12 & 13, the last two peak weeks of the plan. I was ready to be done, but the mileage was high. I am very thankful I had friends to run with during this time. Looking back, it is understandable that my body felt tired and ready to taper – I was running the highest weekly mileage I had ever run.
- I enjoyed that this plan was “only” 4 runs per week – for me, that seems to be the sweet spot that prevents me from getting injured and is enough to build fitness.
- For the first half of the plan I stuck with the speedwork and hill work. After that, I traded in speedwork for tempo runs where I ran with some faster runners. This worked well for me, but meant I didn’t follow the plan to a T.
- I incoporated races whenever it made sense:
- Week 6 I ran the Harrisburg Half Marathon in place of a planned 14-miler.
- Week 13 I ran the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon with a 7 mile run beforehad to cover my second 20 miler. I managed to PR the half marathon so this strategy seemed to work for me. It also made that last 20 miler feel much less daunting.
- Week 14 I ran the D&L Heritage Half Marathon in place of a planned 14-miler. Again, I PRed, so this really worked well for me and gave me confidence going into the marathon.
- I traveled a LOT during training – I only ran maybe one long run on an actual weekend! This plan offered enough flexibility for me to move things around and still fit everything in.
- For the most part, I continued core work, BodyPump and occasional spinning classes through training. I was able to fit them in when I could, and made sure I’d always have one complete rest day a week. This is something my body is used to so it worked fine. Though, if push came to shove I always priortized the planned run over cross training. In the end, I only missed 2 planned runs throughout the entire training plan. The flexibility this plan offered really helped with my consistency.
So there ya have it! Overall, I loved this plan and would absolutely use it again and recommend it to any “average” runner who runs 4xs a week, around 15-20 miles a week before starting!