Marathon Training, The Slightly Lazy Plan

Don’t worry, this is not going to become a running blog. Food and wine will continue to be the central focus, but throughout my marathon training there may be a running post here or there. Bear with me.

Boston Marathon finish

As you all probably know by now, I am registered for my 5th marathon,  the Napa Valley Marathon on March 6. I am also patiently waiting to find out the status of The ALLY Foundation’s Boston Marathon numbers. In a perfect scenario, I will run two marathons on two coasts for one cause this spring.

Whether I get a Boston Marathon number or not, my training had to kick into high gear when I registered for the Napa Marathon just three months before race day.

If you are active in the blog world, you have probably seen many different marathon training plans; everyone is different, and my plan certainly isn’t for everyone but it is one that has developed from 16 plus years of distance running. When you are new to something, it is easy to get carried away and to go all out. I’ve been there, done that. I spent years running every single day, injuries, illness, no matter. Then I “cut back” and thought that to run a successful race, five days a week were a must.

Finally, I  have a marathon training plan that doesn’t make my life all about marathon training. People in your life will thank you for this. Smile 

My plan consists of three workouts a week:

1) The long run: there is no substitute for the long run in marathon training, anyway you look at it. For me, the long run isn’t as much the physical act of running but the ability to train my mind to focus on something for hours without quitting. Because I started my training late this year, I started my long runs at 10 miles and have been increasing by two miles per week in order to hit 21 miles before the Napa Marathon.

2) The spinning class: I tried spinning for the first time last year while training for the Boston Marathon, and I credit it with making the hills much easier for me than in past marathons.

3) The hill or speed workout: Once a week, I lace up my running shoes and either head outside or on to the elliptical to do some hill repeats or sprint intervals. These workouts are tough, fun, and relatively short compared to the long run. They never last more than an hour and for me typically consist of a 10 minute warm-up, 30 minutes of running up and down a variety of hills right off of the South Boston waterfront, and then a 10 minute run/walk home.

On an average week, I throw in another workout or two, generally another spinning class or a 60-75 minute power yoga practice, but I firmly believe that the above workouts, done consistently and with intention, are all you need to train for a marathon. And my finishing times generally prove that.

The added bonus is that you get to keep your social life, aren’t always exhausted or starving, and look fit without losing (or, surprisingly, gaining too much weight!)

And for me, the rest days between each workout are perhaps the most important part of training, for the body, the mind, and for living a balanced life.

Most of all, once you commit, trust your training and be happy. A happy runner is less tense and wastes less energy on worry, stress, or judgment. After all, it’s a hobby, not a job, and it’s supposed to be fun!  Last year’s Boston Marathon changed my running life forever, and since then, I have never felt such running ease.

Hopefully this post is helpful to those of you interested in running a race of any distance. Running is a great sport that doesn’t have to become an obsession, and you certainly don’t have to give everything else up to have a satisfying experience!

  1. Kerstin’s avatar

    I’m a fan of your running posts, being a new runner myself – they’re inspiring! Good luck with your training and I’m looking forward to your updates :)


  2. Raija’s avatar

    I’m uber-impressed with this post. You have come a long way. This is really well-written, and when you say “been there, done that”, I can vouch for the fact that you mean it. I am so happy to imagine you running in wine country! What a perfect mix of the things you love :).


  3. Lizzy’s avatar

    Great post… totally agree. I ran NY this past fall wit only 2-3 days of running a week. Agree the long run is the most important part and you can’t miss that. Good luck with your training- let me know if you ever want a running partner!


  4. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    Great post, Meghan! I love how you pointed out that running doesn’t have to be an obsession, and that you can still have a life while training for a marathon. One day I want to train for a marathon too and I will definitely keep this post in mind!


  5. Simply Life’s avatar

    Oh I love to hear this is what you do – I’ve been thinking about running another marathon but the training is so time-consuming that i really want to make sure it’s a commitment I’m up for!


  6. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    I’m impressed you’ve ran that many marathons! You’re training sounds very realistic and not obsessive. Not something I’ve seen before on a blog. Good luck!


  7. Kim’s avatar

    I have a long way to go before I can ever get where you are at with running. I admire you for doing so much and having the ability to do it. Definitely inspiring for someone like me who is making baby steps.

    My friend called me this evening and said we are going to walk together by phone and I am not allowed to argue. So walk I did. And it felt good. Now if only I could run.

    Good luck to you with both of your marathons! I’m sure you’ll do a great job.


  8. Michelle’s avatar

    I have never run a race (post high school track) before but I’m hoping to run a 5K in 2011. I’m looking forward to reading your running posts to give me motivation!


  9. Justin’s avatar

    Sounds like a good strategy. It makes me think I should add a spin class or two to my plan.


  10. Jolene (’s avatar

    Your training plan seems very reasonable!


  11. Elizabeth’s avatar

    At first marathon training felt like a part-time job. Now it feels like a full-time job that doesn’t pay overtime. ;-) I’m hitting the homestretch, though, so if you need someone to to cheer you up the G Street hill or hold out water and Gu for you, I’m your girl!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      You are doing so great! Very exciting!
      I tackled the G Street hill a few times today before the weather turned bad again. I have a love/hate relationship with that hill, that’s for sure!


    2. Matt’s avatar

      Your training plan is quite similar with mine. Its simple and practical.I also do a long run, spinning class and hill or speed training once a week. I’ve ran 6 marathons and two 50k ultras. I am happy with my improving PR. I achieved my best marathon PR last month. I am supposed to run my 3rd 50k Ultra tomorrow, but pondering of withdrawing from the race, and help with typhoon-related relief operations here in the Philippines instead. Nevertheless, I’ll still do my regular training and prepare for another 50k Ultra next month.

      Looking forward for more running tips from you.


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