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Marathon Training

Improve My Training: Work All Paces — Easy, Fast, and the Middle

This 54-year-old runner is shooting for a 4-hour marathon. He's got a solid start and great habits, but we think he can mix it up a bit more.

We’re offering Outside+ members and PodiumRunner subscribers the chance for a personal coaching consultation. Submit two weeks of your training and answer a few questions about your running history and goals, and we’ll publish selected logs along with suggestions from an expert coach for improving your training. To be eligible to submit your training, sign up for Outside+ or Podium Runner. If you’re already a member and would like your training evaluated by an expert running coach you can submit your training here.

Runner Profile

Name: Gregg Weber 

Age: 54

Goal: Run sub-4-hour marathon this fall 

Sample Two Week Training

Monday (5/3) REST DAY + Hip mobility exercises
Tuesday (5/4) 4.33 miles @ 10:20 pace + 20 minutes strength (planks/lunges/pushups/shoulder press/RDL)
Wednesday (5/5) 5-Minute Repeats: 15 min w/u + 4 X 5 min @ 8:18 pace (goal 10K) + 15 min c/d + 15 minutes core work (planks/side planks/slow bicycles)
Thursday (5/6) 4.53 miles @ 9:56 pace + 20 minutes strength (single leg extensions/press/curls, chest press, shoulder press)
Friday (5/7) REST DAY
Saturday (5/8) 5 miles @ 10:14 pace + Hip mobility exercises (bridges/donkey kicks/ hip circles)
Sunday (5/9) Progression Run: 5 min w/u, 30 min @ 9:55 pace, 10 min @ 8:30 pace, 5 min c/d
Monday (5/10) REST
Tuesday (5/11) 5 miles @ 9:59 pace + Hip mobility exercises
Wednesday (5/12) Longish run 8.6 miles @ 10:45 pace + 30 minutes strength (squats with 20lb dumbbells, RDLs, rows, presses)
Thursday (5/13) 5 miles @ 10:00 pace + Hip mobility exercises
Friday (5/14) REST DAY
Saturday (5/15) Stride Repeats 15 min w/u 12 X 20 sec strides @ 180 cadence 30 min c/d
Sunday (5/16) Goal pace repeats 15 min w/u 1 X 10 min @ 8:18 pace, 5 min recovery, 3 X 5 min @ 8:18 pace, 3 min recovery, 20 min c/d

Gregg has been running consistently since 1997, however, over the past few years he’s been dealing with some off-and-on nagging injuries. He feels he’s gotten the injuries under control and commits to doing mobility work after nearly every run and uses a foam roller or Theragun almost daily. In addition to the mobility work, he uses the Peloton “Strength for Runners” program 3 to 5 times per week. His ultimate goal is to return to the marathon distance this fall, which he hasn’t raced since 2016. He’s been working on his speed over the past few months, with a 10k time trial scheduled for July 4th weekend before starting his marathon training cycle. His goal is to run a sub-4-hour.

Photo: courtesy Gregg Weber

Training Evaluation

Let’s start off with two things Gregg is doing well.

Praise # 1 – Doing the Not-So-Sexy Stuff… Mobility Work

I’ll be the first say, mobility work is a pain in the – you know what. I totally get it: the last thing anyone wants to do after a run is to spend 20 minutes rolling around on the ground loosening up their joints. But doing regular mobility work not only reduces your chances of injury, it can also help you run faster. By ensuring you’re able to use the full range of motion of your hips and ankles you can help your running efficiency. I commend Gregg for doing a fantastic job of staying on top of his mobility work — as well as his impressive strength training consistency. 

Praise #2 – Weekly Structure

Gregg’s weekly structure is spot on. Pretty much all the runners I coach who run 5 days a week follow the same run/rest day schedule as Gregg where Monday and Fridays are rest days and Wednesday and Sunday are harder or longer run days. This is the perfect balance of work to rest while giving you space at the beginning and end of each week of take care of life and work tasks.  

Two tips to improve Gregg’s training

Tip #1 – Spend Some Time in The Middle

I’m a huge believer in the concept that every runner should touch every pace. A closer look at Gregg’s pacing over the sample two weeks shows that a majority of time is spent at and just over the 10-minute per mile pace range with speed work very clustered at 8:20 to 8:30. This leaves a gaping pace window from 8:30 to 10:00 that Gregg isn’t touching. 

He’s doing a great job spending a lot of time in the low aerobic zone, but is failing to spend time in the middle aerobic zone. It just so happens that Gregg’s goal marathon time of 4-hours, a 9:09 pace, happens to fall right in the middle of the pace range he’s not touching. I suggest Gregg takes one run a week where after an easy mile or two he spends the rest of the run in his middle aerobic zone of 8:40 to 9:20 pace. In small to medium doses, this still aerobic pace should not be too taxing for Gregg, and will also fill that pace gap. 

Tip #2 – Train Faster Too

I love that Gregg is focusing on a shorter distance before jumping into his marathon training. However, I would suggest he focuses on some faster paces than 10k. For those planning a fall marathon, summertime is a great opportunity to work your speed before focusing on longer, slower marathon-type running. I think Gregg would benefit from running a few 5ks before his 10k time trial. The 10k is a great event, but not exactly one I would classify as fast. I would aim for one or two 5ks before he runs his 10k. To prep for the 5ks, I would start to introduce some 5k workouts like this one from Dathan Ritzenhein. This faster work will also help Gregg run faster in the 10k.

I want to thank Gregg for submitting his training for PodiumRunner’s training evaluation. I wish him the best of luck breaking 4 hours in the marathon this fall. If you’re an Outside+ member or PodiumRunner subscriber and would like your training evaluated by expert running coach Cory Smith you can submit your training here.

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About the Coach

Cory Smith is the founder of Run Your Personal Best, an online running coaching business that has helped hundreds of runners achieve personal bests in distances ranging from 800 meters to 100 miles. He holds a USA Track & Field Level 1 and 2 Endurance Certification and was the former Head Cross Country/Track Coach at Penn State Brandywine. Over his running career Cory has held three Maryland state records, was a two-time National Championship qualifier while at Villanova University, and holds personal bests of 4:03 in the mile and an 8:05 3k.