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Almost time to start training!

by Meghann on June 17, 2010

Some mornings I just feel like walking.

I grabbed the new Runner’s World this morning and did a couple of walking loops around my neighborhood. It was quiet and very peaceful. I really enjoy reading a good magazine while I’m walking, too bad I haven’t mastered the whole reading while running conundrum yet. 😉

The July issue of Runner’s World has a great marathon training section for the upcoming season. The section offers great tips on breaking your PR and even has a plan for those wanting to break 4:00 hours! I took it all in and made mental notes on what I want to contribute to my own plan.

According to Runner’s World, if I want to get a full 16 weeks of training in before the Chicago Marathon in October, I need to start training on June 21 – errr next Monday! Yikes!

My original plan from the start has been to start training in July and I’m still comfortable with that decision, but this means I need to start finalizing my plan ASAP, especially if I’m still hoping to BQ! My goal now is to have a final plan up and ready by next week. I REALLY want to focus on speed work this time around, so expect a lot of track sessions. I also plan to bring my number of days running a week to 4 in order into eliminate any ‘junk’ miles and bring focus to cross training so that I may build my strength while building my speed. This plan is going to be a tricky one, but I’m looking forward to piecing it together.

Anyone have any further advice on what makes a great BQ training plan before I dive in to creating it?

My breakfast was the perfect post-walk re-fueler.


I cut up an entire mango and mixed it with plain yogurt before topping the combo with blueberries, granola, and a dollop of Naturally Nutty Vanilla Almond Butter


A bowl of cold fresh fruit is just sooo appealing right now.


With a defrosted chocolate chunk cherry scone



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Congrats Adena! Send me an e-mail at to collect your prize!

1 Brie @ Brie Fit June 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

I’m not BQ-ing by any means, but I started training for Chicago two weeks ago. It’s my first, so I’m working on an 18 week plan. Scary!

2 Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete June 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Runners World Smart Coach. It is individualized, motivating, and best of all: it is FREE. It helped me hit 3:48 for my first marathon ever. I completely trust it!!

3 britchickruns June 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hooray for marathon training! Mine starts next week too 😀 I can’t wait!

4 Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep June 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

How exciting to start marathon training next week! I just started for mine, and mine’s not until January! But it’s my first, and I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Cute bowl, by the way!

5 Marilou @ Mostly Healthy June 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

Reading while running? Damn, I don’t even know how you can master the art of reading and walking. Just reading/walking on the treadmill is a dangerous adventure for me 🙂

6 susie June 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

I BQ’d in my 1st “real” marathon attempt (injured for my 1st one). anyways, i would highly recommend Pfitzinger’s 18/55 plan. (google it). the tempo runs, marathon pace runs, and intervals made it relatively easy to BQ, in my opinion. it is a lot of weekly miles, but i think they really prepare you to run the pace you want come marathon day. if there is one piece of advice i could give you it is to include a tempo and interval run each week…and if you want 4 days per week then you have your recovery run, and long run. 4 critical workouts, in my opinion. i’ve run 5 marathons: 2 nyc, 1 boston and 2 others. enjoy it and good luck. ps. i love your blog.

7 Runningwriter June 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

Ooo, I can’t read and walk, I meander too much 🙂 I followed a Hal Higden, tweaking it to add in a lot more speed sessions. Got a half PR of 1.44 and then did a full marathon of 3.53 after disasterous tapering (think 2 marathons in 4 weeks but hardly any quality runs in between).

In short – good quality speed and hill sessions are the way forward!
BQ, so I can live vicarously through you 🙂

8 runnerstrials June 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

Good luck making you’re training plan Meghann! I’m hoping to BQ in an October marathon as well, and need to get started making my training schedule this weekend. I am definitely focusing on speed. Can’t wait to see your plan 🙂

9 Melissa June 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

How cool that so many of your readers’ goals is a BQ! Mine, too, actually! I plan on running Steamtown on 10/10/10. I’ve run 6 marathons in my 20s/early 30s and am now attempting to BQ at 41. Luckily, my goal time is now 3:50, so I need to shave 6 minutes off my PR. I think I can finally do it!

I am adding in speedwork and hills for the first time in my marathon training and I am much more focused now than I ever was. Not sure why….

Anyway, good luck!

10 Amy June 17, 2010 at 10:30 am

Oh wow, thanks for the reminder…I need to get my training plan going for my October marathon! My goal is to improve my 2009 time by actually following a plan. I’m excited to see how that changes things!

11 Elizabeth June 17, 2010 at 10:44 am

I am also running the chicago marathon! I am using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate II plan, which is 5 days of running ,1 day of cross train and 1 day of rest. So far, so good. I make one on my medium distance runs a “pace run” and I am hoping to incorporate more track workouts this time around. this is my second marathon, and I would love to break the 4 hour mark. Even though chicagos flat, it will be a crowded course. we’ll see!
can’t wait to see your training plan!

12 Kelly June 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

So weird to think about it’s time to start making those training plans for fall races!

13 Jenny June 17, 2010 at 10:50 am

It’s good to take a break every now and then! Good for you for listening to your body!

14 Carolyn @ June 17, 2010 at 10:52 am

Bobbi over at n’hershoes had a book recommendation for people wanting to improve their pace and get to Boston:

15 mindy June 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

Ah, that reminds me that my training plan for my half in October starts really soon! I need to look into that. I’ll have to check out the new RW.

16 Jessica June 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

I’m on week 2 of my 18 week fall marathon training, and am using a combination of Pfitzinger’s up to 55 mile/week plan and the FIRST plan for a 3:30/3:40. This is my second marathon (and 2nd BQ attempt), with my first being a disastrous 3:51 due to poor pacing and heat, so I’m confident that I can get it this time around.

Anyways, I’d recommend FIRST for getting faster on 3 key runs and 2-3 cross training workouts a week. It focuses on speedwork, tempo runs, and closer to goal-pace long runs. You could always add in a 4th run to up your mileage as well.

Good luck!

17 adrienmelaine June 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

I think you’re gonna need a lot of speed work; I actually am looking to qualify for boston as well this year and have done quite a bit of research. Emily at the front burner has a great plan done with a lot of cross training, I think you need to keep in mind having two days of speed work and one long run minimally, that way you build your muscle while working on speed and get the miles in.

Good luck!

18 Stephanie June 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

As someone who has done Boston a few times, I would NOT suggest more than one speed session a week. That sounds like a recipe for injuries. I think its fine to add in some goal paced miles but legit speedwork (aka faster than pace) should not be done too frequently.

19 Bobbi June 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

I think you should pick up the book Run Less, Run Faster!!! I will for sure help pace you 😉

20 Kellie June 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

It sucks that all the training runs for fall marathons are in Summer heat. I guess it just makes us stronger, right!

21 Whitney June 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

I just got the runners world as well. Its such an inspirational read! I love reading your blog, I was bulimic for much of high school and college. In college ironically I majored in nutrition(obsessed) and since have been able to get on a healthy track. I love reading your blog for dinner ideas. We have much in common! Cheers

22 ellaroo88 June 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

Ohhh yep ran Chicago last fall. Training is in the summer which can be a steam bath. Good luck

23 hogeruns June 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

I’ve heard great things about the Runner’s World Run Less Run Faster plan! I think Bobbie at N Her Shoes used that to BQ!

24 Jessica June 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

I think the best workouts for bringing marathon pace down are tempos. The sustained effort over longer distances prepares your body better for the fatigue of marathoning at less comfortable paces. I BQed on max 45 miles per week with lots of crosstraining. I dropped the track work after the first 6 weeks and focused on tempos and long runs.

Chicago is flat. Hills won’t help your training for that specific race.

I think an 16-18 week plan would be helpful if you really want to drop 32 minutes from your PR.

25 Dawn June 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Speedwork and tempo runs are two huge things that will help get you to a BQ. I think someone recommended Pfitzinger’s 18/55 plan above (found in his book Advanced Marathoning), and I’d second using that as a place to start. I’ve had a lot of friends that have had really good results with his plans.

26 whitneyinchicago June 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I’m running Chicago as my first and plan to run it slow but I’m already 6 weeks into my training with Chicago Endurance Sports! Going to be fun.

27 madisonruns June 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Run less, Run Faster is my vote! The speed workouts for BQ pace are intense (i.e. mile repeats @7:02 with 60 second rest intervals!) but so awesome. My husband (who is already quite quick) dropped his PR by over 16 minutes! I got on board with the plan this time around. Best of luck!

28 Ingrid June 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I know this is a bit contrary to what the other commenters are saying, but I ran my first marathon about a month ago (3:28) and my coach (I was still running for my college team at the time) told us that the long runs are key. I only did a long run every other week and kept it at my marathon pace. He also made sure that I took proper recovery after every long run. Full recovery after a 20-miler is much more important than just trying to get in a set number of miles per week.

As far as speed work goes, the tempo run is my favorite for a high efficiency workout. Intervals may make you “faster” but the tempo run allows you to build endurance to maintain your speed. If you want to talk more about running/marathons/training I’d love to chat!

Good luck and I love your blog!

29 Lindsay (Summit Sandwiches) June 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I just started my marathon training yesterday! I’m using Hal Higdon’s novice program, and I’m so excited to begin…it’ll be my first marathon. It’s cool to think that so many people will be starting their training about the same time!

30 Melissa @ For the Love of Health June 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Hey Meghann! That’s so great you are running the full Marathon in Chicago! I was JUST in Chicago and ran the 13.1 Marathon last weekend! Check out my blog! I just posted on Monday about it!
What an AMAZING city! It was my first time there- loved it! Will this be your first time in the city?

31 Bria June 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Hi Meghann!! I have set the ambitious goal of trying to BQ at my first marathon this fall. I guess I really need to start putting together a training plan, too! My boyfriend has run Boston twice, and he used the Pfitz plan that another reader posted. We have his book “Advanced Marathoning” and use that to build our plans. I followed the half marathon plan for a sub-1:47 half, missed a few medium long runs due to law school exams, but I still PR’d with a 1:50 on a tough course. I recently did my first IM 70.3 as well, and comfortably ran a 2:09 on a brutally hilly and hot course. I felt fine the next day. I attribute this to the solid training from Pfitz. He uses a good mix of tempo, interval, and long runs, like Susie said. I liked that he through intervals and tempo into long runs- makes them more interesting!

Good luck, and can’t wait to hear about your training…

32 allisonisactive June 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Reading while running = download mp3 books! I haven’t tried it, but I do listen to books on long car trips and it’s great.

33 Tyler June 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Can’t wait to see your training plan … my first marathon EVER is the week after yours, and I’m a little anxious about it 🙂 and ps – your food looks AMAZING.

34 Kati June 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Walking and reading is quite the talent! Although I really want to try the audio books for my ipod. I am hoping to do my first 1/2 marathon in October so I don’t have much advice for training plans, but I will be checking in to see the advice others readers give you and hopefully I can get some help too!

35 Monica C. June 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

For everything you ever wanted to know about marathon training, hang out here:

Most of these folks are smart, fast and they know their running stuff!

36 Mary June 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

So exciting you’re running chicago! that’ll be my first marathon this year! we’ll have to have a bloggie meet up there!

37 Matt June 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I’d recommend incorporating some marathon pace segments into your long runs. That will help quite a bit!

38 Wendy June 17, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I’ve never run a full marathon, so I don’t have any advice there. But the solution to your running + reading conundrum is simple = audiobooks!

39 Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] June 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm

peaches + blueberries = story of my [summer] life.

40 Marissa June 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

I have to say, even though I love running and biking and swimming and everything else, my favorite activity might just be walking. I love being able to focus on other things or nothing at all in a way that I just can’t do while running (requires too much focus, lol.) I think that’s probably why I love hiking so much.

I can’t wait to read your blog as you go through another round of marathon training! You’re a running MACHINE; great dedication!

41 Kath June 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Yeah walking + reading is the best!

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