Your Marathon Speedwork Plan for Success

Example: 60 minutes as 15 minute warm up, 3 x 8 minutes @ Half Marathon Pace (2 minutes recovery), Remainder of time steady @ Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) + 30 seconds/mile.

The Speed Run: In the second phase this workout changes to a quality interval session compressed into no more than 45 minutes.You'll do four to six repeats of three minutes at 30 seconds faster per mile of your 5K pace, each with two minutes of rest. Be sure to warm up well and build across each repeat so your last one is your fastest one.

Example: 45 minutes as 15 minute warm up, 4 x 3 minutes @ 5K Pace minus 30 seconds/mile (2 minutes recovery), Remainder of time steady @ Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) + 30 seconds/mile.

More: 4 Steps to Your Perfect Pace

Weeks 13 to 16: The Final Push & Rest

Things are very focused now with our key race looming. The first week is all about resting up and getting in a great final long run. You should follow whatever long run protocol your training plan calls for, but we do encourage you not chase your goal race time in this training session—that would remove any hope you might have had to race well on the big day. We also know it's important to not run longer than three hours, so be sure to plan carefully.

More: Re-Thinking the Long Run

The Long Run: After your long run push, it's important that you recover and keep the rest of your long runs progressively shorter and all easy. You'll ideally finish each long run wishing you could doanother hour, maybe even at a harder pace.

Example: 90 minutes as 15 minute warm up, then 60 minutes steady @Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) + 30 seconds/mile, push the last 15 minutes at Half Marathon Pace. Easy jogging and walking to cool down.

The Tempo Run: This workout returns to prominence for weeks 14 and 15 as your long run starts to chill out. Ideally these sessions will top out at 90 minutes maximum, with about half of the time spent at Half Marathon Pace. Interval length is between 15 and 20 minutes, with 50 percent rest.

Example: 90 minutes as 15 minute warm up, 2 x 20 minutes at Half Marathon Pace (10 minutes of rest after each). Easy jogging and walking to cool down.

The Speed Run: Returns to a Strides session.With the need for recovery high as the race is approaching, your best option isto drop in a strides session once even twice a week. Keep them short, no more than 40 minutes, and have all the running be easy save for the 6 to 8 stride repeats.  As always, perfect form. 

Example: 40 minutes as 30 minute warm up @ GMP + 30 seconds/mile, then a set of 6 strides.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to watch your paces closely as you move through this progression. Do your best to avoid over achieving with speed, especially on the longer distance runs that call for Goal Marathon Pace + 30 seconds per mile.Save that energy for the interval sessions instead. Focus on managing the details of your final few weeks such that you can keep the speed up as you add the long runs and you'll be on your way to a personal-best marathon. Good luck.

More: The Ultimate Marathon Race Plan

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