Marathon Training

Olympic Trials Training, 5 Weeks Out: Jared Ward’s Log

Olympic marathoner Jared Ward shares every mile, every split of a week in his training, plus his marathon training insights.

I have a new philosophy on marathon training. You ready? It might change, but currently I think it’s much more about how quickly I can recover from what I run than how long or fast I actually run. Eliud Kipchoge works out with other guys, but yet he’s been unbeaten for many years. And one of his workouts on its own isn’t nearly as impressive as his marathon results, but I think there is something impressive about his back-to-back-to-back workouts. So my sense of fitness pride this season has come much more from how I feel the 1–2 days following a session than the times I run during the session. I guess we’ll see how that pans out for me on Feb. 29.

Week Summary:

• 100 miles

• 2 workouts: Fatigued mile repeats and 800m fartlek

• 2.5 hours cross training

Jared Ward refueling from training
photo: courtesy Jared Ward

Monday, January 27

Mileage day: 

AM: 14 miles at 5:40 average

PM: 5 miles at 7:30 average

Saucony Triumph 17 all day. 

Last Saturday was a 25 mile run with 6 miles at marathon pace. I take Sundays off, but today is still a recovery day ahead of Tuesday’s workout. I do almost all my running on the asphalt. If I had access to more soft-surface in the winter I’d probably opt for it, but I always tell myself that this is the best way to prepare for races on the road anyways.

In the morning I ran almost 80 mins. I started around 6:30 min/mile pace, and finished around 5:30 min/mile pace. 14 miles.

Then in the afternoon I ran a chill 5 miles, the last of which was next to my kids biking home from school. 7:30 pace avg.

Tuesday, January 28

Workout: Fatigued miles.

10 miles at 5:50 average, then 3 by 1 mile at 4:27, 4:26, 4:25.

Saucony Triumph 17, then Endorphin Pro for the miles.

Lift: Squats, RDLs and Nordic Curls, Pull-ups and core.

Cross train: 45 mins biking HR 130-165 bpm

Another beautiful weather day. A Coach Eyestone favorite is fatigued miles. We begin with 10 miles at a decent, recovery-mileage clip, followed by mile repeats on the track. Connor McMillan and I averaged 5:50 for the 10 miles (first mile at 6:40, then 6:10 then working down to 5:40). Then we met Coach Eyestone at the outdoor track for 3 by 1 mile at 4:27, 4:26, 4:25 with 4 min rest in-between.

Jared Ward and training teammates
photo: courtesy Jared Ward

I went home regretting having not pushed the pace a bit more, I felt like I hadn’t hit this one hard enough because I was feeling too good. Before Rio I did this same workout but ran 4:19, 4:18, 4:16. But I reminded myself, it’s about how quickly I can recover. I ran relaxed, and the true test of how relaxed comes tomorrow.

I got in a good lift immediately following the workout. Short lifts are good. 4 sets of squats (4–5 reps) at 80 kg. I like to lower the weight over a 3–4 second count, pause for 1 second, then come up. Then I did 3 sets of 10 nordic curls and RDLs, and 4 sets of 6–8 pull-ups followed by a little core.

I bruised the ball of my foot last weekend, so Coach is having me cross train most of my doubles this week. I choose the exercise bike. 45 mins. I try and get my heart rate to at least 130 within 5 mins, and then see how high I can get it. I counted 165 bpm with 5 mins to go today, which is a bit higher than I typically get. Probably the morning workout in my legs.

Wednesday, January 29

Mileage day:

AM: 13 miles at 5:40 average

PM: 40 mins biking HR 130–160

Saucony Triumph 17 all day.

I was pleasantly surprised with how good I felt following the workout yesterday, and, 9 miles into the run, I looked down to see a 5:20. I was floating. I love this feeling. One of my favorite feelings is just floating at a good pace on recovery days late in a season when fitness is high. But I’ve never had recovery runs quite as consistently fast as I have this build, so they’ve been especially fun. That’s what today was. I don’t think it’s faster recovery days that make me fit, so much as the pace just gets faster as I get fit. These days are by feel for recovery day, but I love when the best feeling is floating fast.

I skipped strides, on account of my bruised foot, but spent some time doing hip mobility drills, rolling out, and core where I emphasis keeping my pelvis tucked.

I spent some of today in my Rapid Reboot “hockey boots,” and tried to keep my foot and hips loose with my MyoStorm Meteor.

In the afternoon I got on the exercise bike and sweated out a puddle for 40 mins, while listening to a “Fancy Nancy” audiobook with my 5 year old.

Jared Ward cross training
photo: courtesy Jared Ward

Thursday, January 30

Workout: Grass Fartlek.

AM: 7 miles, 6:15 average.

PM: 5 by 800m on / 800m off on the grass. 2:24, 2:22, 2:21, 2:19, 2:17. Offs 3:15–3:23.

Triumph 17’s in the morning, Kinvara 10’s for the fartlek.

Easy running in the morning. Spending lots of time warming up my foot. I thought it was a bruise, but it’s feeling the same and I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse. 7 miles.

Then I meet Danny Carney and Connor McMillan for the grass 800s. We planned to run them on a big field near BYU. The snow melted in the morning, so the grass is pretty sloppy. However coach just wants a little turnover, so this will be fine. We typically hit one workout each week, then float one, then get in a long run. Today is a float day. I stay in my training shoes for the sake of my foot.

My watch beeps that our loop is a few seconds long, but it’s hard to say on a grass loop. We run 2:24, 2:22, 2:21, 2:19, 2:17, with our off’s ranging from 3:15-3:23. Felt great. 11 miles total.

Friday, January 31

Mileage Day:

AM: 12 miles, 6:00 min/mile avg.

PM: 35 mins bike, HR 125–150 bpm

Saucony Triumph 17 all day.

I decided to go into BYU to run on the Alter-G (an anti-gravity treadmill, you get to designate what percentage of your weight to run on) for the sake of my foot. Then I decide to go see my old trainer Judd Franson (with baseball now) to see if he has an idea on my foot. I’ve cut a hole in my insert where the “bruise” was to try and lower the pressure on that spot, but Judd says I actually might want to pad that area up, and disperse the weight away from the spot. He pads it a couple different ways with a teardrop pad, and we find one in which I can’t even feel the hot spot.

I’m so happy with my new pad that I just run outside. 12 miles in 71 mins up Provo Canyon and back. I’m pretty jazzed my foot feels so good.

I still cross-train the afternoon, on account of the long run tomorrow. So back to the bike. 35 mins, HR 125–150 bpm.

Jared Ward long run
Long run GPS data

Saturday, February 1

Long Run:

AM: 20 miles, progressively faster. 3 at 6:15 average, 6 at 5:45, 6 at 5:15, 3 at 4:46.

PM: 30 mins bike, short lift

Saucony Triumph 17 all day.

I have a 6 mile “hilly loop” that goes past my house that we have been using during Boston/NYC/Trials prep. The first mile is flat, then 2.5 miles are uphill, then 1.5 down, and 1 more flat. My watch says around 330 feet of elevation gain in each loop—which I figure without the flat miles is about what to expect in Atlanta.

Coach drew up this workout and I wanted to run faster. I think he is loving that I want more and he is forcing me to “save it.” But he did commit to a faster long tempo next week that I’m already looking forward to.

Connor McMillan and I run the long run stride for stride. 3 miles “warm-up” then 6 miles at 5:45, 6 miles at 5:15, and 3 miles fast. We hit the paces pretty right on (averaged through the hills), and then ran 4:46 average for the last 3 miles, then a 2 mile cool-down. The long run had no stops and we fueled 3 times (each time we passed my house). And best of all, I couldn’t feel my foot at all with the new pad.

I felt good in the evening, so I biked another 30 mins easy (130 HR) and got in a short hamstring specific lift and core workout at home. I don’t lift every Saturday after long runs, and make the call based on how I feel. Today felt really smooth, so I was excited to get in a little lift.

See you in Atlanta in a few weeks!

— Jared