New Marathon Workout

August 14, 2012

Usually when it comes to speed workouts in preparation for the marathon, I’ve done relatively short intervals on the track—anything from 400s – 1600s. And while I still think these are good and helpful for training for the marathon, I don’t know that they are the best way to get faster—and endure the length of the marathon?? (I am only speaking from experience and trying to figure out what is best, as I learn myself.)

Instead of doing shorter intervals on the track today (for example Yasso’s 800s), I chose to do a workout similar to what Kara Goucher and Nichole have done—who are both way faster than me.

Kara Goucher was quoted in the most recent Runner’s World magazine (September 2012) on a workout she did in preparation for the Olympic marathon.

5 mile tempo run on the road (marathon pace)

5 x 1 mile on the track (half-marathon pace)

5 mile tempo (marathon pace)

Nichole has done a similar workout:

4 miles at marathon pace

1 mile at tempo

4 miles at marathon pace

1 mile at tempo

(You can see details of her workout here.)

But since I am no where near the shape these girls are, I modified my workout. Here’s what I ended up doing:

3 mile warm-up* (7:31–>I was feeling good and excited to run after a day off!, 7:49, 7:55)

2 miles at goal marathon pace (7:28, 7:24)

1 mile at half-marathon or tempo pace (7:01)

2 miles at goal marathon pace (7:26, 7:23)

1 mile at half-marathon or tempo pace (6:56)

1 mile cool-down

Total: 10 miles

Time: 1:15

Average pace: 7:33 minutes/mile

*Note: I started out by running 3 miles for a warm-up. Usually, I would have done only two miles but Craig forgot to bring a belt for his pants to work. (He dropped his car off to get an oil change and then rode his bike to work.) So I (literally) run a belt to him. I cinched the belt as tight as it would go and wore it around my waist while I ran. I’m curious to know what people thought when they saw me with a belt around my waist. I’m hoping they thought it was just a fuel belt. Or maybe they thought I would potentially use it as a means of defense if necessary.


I wasn’t sure if your half-marathon pace is equivalent with your tempo pace, so I did a little research online.

Some sources said your tempo pace is:

10-20 seconds slower than 10K pace (This would make mine: 6:54 – 7:04.)

While others said it is:

25-30 seconds slower than 5K pace (Mine would be: 6:53 – 6:58.)

And my half-marathon pace is 7 minutes/mile, so it is all very close.


Advice needed. . . . .

I’m trying to decide whether to run a half-marathon or not this Sunday.

After racing a 10K two Saturdays ago, it took me a full week to recover. [It probably didn’t help that I ran 80 miles that week (my first time ever) and then ran 90 miles the following week (the first time ever) without any breaks.] Since it took me so long to recover, I am a little apprehensive to race again because I don’t want to jeopardize my training for the marathon, which is October 7.

Reasons I should run the half-marathon:

– It will help me prepare for the marathon.

– I enjoy racing and the opportunities to race are dwindling.

Reasons not to run the half-marathon:

– It would jeopardize my training for the marathon?? (Although, maybe if I take the next day off—instead of continuing to push myself like I did last time, I would be able to recover more quickly. But I also wanted to do some high mileage next week.)

– I would go yet another week with a broken-up long run—or a long run split into two or three parts. (Last week I split my long run into a morning and evening run, the week before that I ran a race and then finished up the mileage afterward, and the week prior I had a lot of stops throughout my run.)

Thoughts? Advice?


Well, today is my last day of “freedom” because tomorrow I start my new job. I am excited but also a little more scared/nervous than usual because I’m worried it is going to be something I don’t like. On paper it sounds great but it is so hard to know exactly what the job will be like until you get into it.

Nonetheless, I am excited to get back to more of a routine (but I have also loved my summer of independence!) and feel a little more worthwhile now that I will be a workin’ women again. But sadly for the first time since Craig and I have been married, he will actually be making more money than me. Boo hoo!

    1. Woah, that speed workout is on a totally different level than mine. I’m pretty sure it would kill me. I’m still new to speed work, so the shorter stuff still benefits me a LOT.

      I’d race the half. I mean, really, how many half marathons does Alaska have each year? You could use the miles toward your long run, but do your marathon race pace or tempo run as easy miles for the week. Have your cake and eat it too, right?

      What marathon are you training for?

    1. I read an article in Running Times a few months (years?) ago about tempo workouts. The author said you can run in three different tempo “zones.” You can do longer tempo runs around your marathon pace, medium ones around your 1/2 marathon pace, and “tempo intervals” around your 10k pace. You can also do workouts that incorporate more than one of these paces (a la Kara’s workout), and even ones that throw in some 5k pace too.

      You can also check out the McMillan calculator. I find it very helpful when I’m wondering what paces I should shoot for in workouts.

      Today I did a 3 mile w/u, then 2 X 5k starting at MP and going down to 10k pace (during the same interval) with a 1/2 mile recovery between reps.

      Run the 1/2. Your racing season is short.

      1. I kind of got that from the “research” I did online too. The definition of tempo seems like it can mean a lot of different things/paces.

        I’ll have to check out that calculator next time–thanks!

        I was thinking about running the HM but my quads were burning when I was trying to do squats at the gym today, so I’m thinking they are still healing. 🙁

    1. Fun that you used a workout like mine!! Workouts like that have honestly made the biggest difference in my marathon racing ability (i.e. 3:00 to 2:44). As you learn your paces and zones, and get stronger in general, you’ll be able to lengthen

      Do you have a copy of Daniels’ running formula? That’s what I base my training on (and he has a nice pacing formula/chart as well – my general rule of thumb is that tempo up to 20 minutes in length is about 20 sec/mile faster than goal MP – although, your body likely won’t be able to hold that pace at first, as you get stronger you’ll find your times getting closer to that. There’s a formula he also uses for tempo work over 20 minutes in length). I’m doing a hybrid of the general plan and the elite plan, since I’m still not strong enough to handle his elite plan. Take a look, let me know what you think!! And good luck with the half if that’s what you decide to do!

      1. That’s so good to know that these type of workouts have made the biggest difference in being able to cut time–probably that and increasing your mileage to 100+??

        I keep hearing about this Daniels’ running formula; I think I need to check it out more–thanks!!

    1. No advice to give on the half, but wow, you are an inspiration! I ran my first half marathon last May (and not very fast either) and now I’m trying to get back into running after having my son this April. I love reading your blog to get motivated!

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