Weekly Workout #4

Coach John Reich of the Sonoran Distance Project discusses marathon pace long runs and gives us several ways to incorporate them into our training.

Marathon Pace Long Runs

Any marathon runner training for a specific finishing time can benefit from this workout.

The Workout

Including marathon pace running in your long runs is a great way to build strength, speed endurance and confidence in your goal pace. There are lots of ways to incorporate marathon pace into long runs. A couple ways I use often are:

  • 8 x 1 mile at marathon pace with 1:00 recovery
  • 4 x 2 miles at marathon pace with 3:00 recovery
  • 2 x 5 miles at marathon pace from miles 5-10 and 15-20
  • 20 miler with the last 10 miles at goal marathon pace

Workout Usage

I decide which workout to use based primarily on how far away the goal race is and the weather. Early in a marathon cycle an athlete will do less volume at marathon pace then build the amount of mileage at goal pace and the duration they hold goal pace. Weather is also a big factor. My teams are in Phoenix, AZ so for early fall a long run of 20 miles with the last 10 at goal marathon pace is impossible. Daily low temps of 85-90 degrees force us to use short breaks to try to keep core temperature down a little.

Workout Benefits

Training at goal marathon pace prepares you for what you intend to do on race day. Some of this preparation is mental and some is physical. By gradually increasing the amount of time you hold marathon pace you are training yourself to succeed on race day. It is very possible to have too much of a good thing though so alternate marathon pace long runs with easier long runs done at 60-90 seconds/mile slower than goal pace to minimize your risk of injury and over training.

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