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Lee Troop knows a few things about the marathon. The 47-year-old Boulder resident was a three-time Olympian for Australia and holds a personal best of 2:09:49 for the distance. He now coaches some of the best runners in the United States, including Jake Riley, who placed second in the 2020 Olympic Trials marathon.
One of Troop’s key marathon-specific workouts is a progressive long run, done twice during the last two months before the race. Here are the key details:
WHAT: An 18-mile long run that starts off easy and gets faster every 3 miles. The last 6 miles are completed at goal marathon pace.
For example: If your goal marathon pace is 7:30 per mile, begin the run with 3 miles at an easy training pace. Then run miles 4-6 at 8:15 per mile, miles 7-9 at 8:00 per mile, miles 10-12 at 7:45 per mile, and the last 6 miles at your goal marathon pace of 7:30 per mile.
WHY: “It gives me a really good indication of what they’ll be able to hit [on race day],” Troop says. “If they hit it, we can go into the last couple weeks [of training] with a lot of confidence.”
WHEN AND HOW: Troop has his athletes complete this challenging workout eight weeks out from their goal race, then again four weeks out. They use this workout to also practice their fluid and fuel intake: taking a water bottle every three miles.
“This is one of the last hard workouts we do,” explains Troop. “And it’s done off a fairly heavy block of training leading into it, so it’s just the right amount of stress.”