Marine Corps Marathon Training Plan.

Finally, as promised – my marathon training plan!  Thanks to those of you who suggested using Google Documents.  Why didn’t I think of that?  :)  Here is the schedule – click to see the details…

MCM Schedule Snip

This plan was put together as a hybrid of ideas from Hal Higdon, Runner World, and my husband’s brilliant advice.  In the past, I have done Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 and 2, as well as Intermediate 1 training schedules.  For all 5 of the marathons I’ve run, I have trained by running 4 days a week, and just focused on mileage – no speed work.

Between the 2008 Chicago Marathon and the 2009 Flying Pig Marathon, I got a LOT faster.  I credit it to two things:

  1. Over the freezing Ohio winter, I did the first half of my training exclusively on a treadmill.  By combining the monotony of the treadmill with the desire to get my runs over with, I found myself upping my speed little by little.  When I finally moved back to the sidewalk after almost 2 months on the ‘mill, I was naturally much faster.
  2. I lost weight – the combination of consistent cardio (running) with weight lifting 3 days a week helped me shed my final ten pounds.  While I was by no means fat when I started, ten extra pounds is a lot to carry when you’re running.  I could literally feel the weight coming off as it became easier and easier to pick up my pace.

While I did get faster, and set a great marathon PR, I never really did any formal speed work or advanced training.  This time around, I’m going to try something different.  My schedule is set up to include the following:


Tempo runs – these are continuous runs with a buildup to a fast pace in the middle, and a gradual slow down after you’ve hit your peak pace.  Runner’s World defines them as “comfortably hard”" runs that are critical to training.  My tempo runs will be on Wednesdays, and I will build up to a speed that is actually faster than my marathon goal pace.  Hopefully these don’t kill me!

Yasso 800’s – created by Running expert, and fellow-vegetarian, Bart Yasso.  Rather than listen to me try to explain these in my own poor wording, I’m going to refer you to Runner’s World again because they’ve already done a really good job of it.  These will be done less often – every three weeks, alternating with the tempo runs (above).

“Easy”  and Long Runs – You will notice that my running pace starts out around a 9:30 minute mile.  The idea is to get used to logging the mileage and time spent on my feet – and gradually increase speed week to week through tempo runs and yasso 800’s.  (I feel like it is important to note that while my schedule has me starting at a 9:30 pace, my natural pace is actually closer to 8:30.  I am intentionally starting out slower, and gradually building up endurance and speed as the weeks progress.  If you’re natural pace is closer to the 9:30 starting point, you would want to slow these early weeks down beyond that.)


Strength training – now this one is something I’ve done before.  I’ve said it a million times, but I will say it again.  I firmly believe that you cannot run at your maximum potential without incorporating strength training.  Cardio is great, but weights are equally (if not more) important.  Cardio helps you build your endurance, and weights build the muscles that you need to carry you through the tough final miles.  I will be doing weights 2-3 times per week, alternating with yoga.


Hot Yoga – yoga is a new love that I discovered since moving to Charlotte, so I’ve never really incorporated it fully into a marathon training plan.  For me, yoga is another form of strength training, so I will be alternating it with weight lifting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  I find yoga to be relaxing and calming, while also giving me a killer strength workout that works a lot of different muscles.

Sooooooooooo…that is my very long-winded training plan!  You may have noticed that my marathon goal pace is 8:23, which is a 3:40 finishing time.  Yes, 3:40 happens to be the Boston Qualifying time for my age group, but that’s actually not the main thing I’m aiming for.  My previous PR is a 3:50, and that was achieved with good training, but no speed work.  I’m hoping to gain 10 minutes this year – we’ll see.  I actually hate making my goals public, but I want to be honest with you guys in what I’m trying to achieve, so that the training and schedule make sense relative to the goal.  Promise you’ll still love me if I’m not fast enough?  :)

You also may have noticed that I don’t have any rest days scheduled.  I’m just going to be honest – I’m not really a “rest” person.  I like to move and walk, and I feel my best when I am going and active.  Also, while I find yoga to be incredibly challenging, it is also very relaxing, so I consider my yoga days to be a fun treat in the middle of my week.  And of course I am also human – if I feel like I really need to rest, I will.

There you have it!  Twenty weeks of running, yoga, and weight training – hopefully with a celebration at the finish line!


I’m also scheduled to run 16 miles the weekend of the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago.  Any other attendees want to run a few with me?  I need a team!  :)