Coaches note: You do have to be relatively fit before attempting these workouts, as a guide you should be able to run comfortably for 26-30km before attempting the workouts featured below. Completing these workouts on similar courses to your marathon is also ideal.
Workout One: 3 x 5km with 1km float between
When: 8 – 10 weeks out from your marathon.
Pace: 5km reps at your goal marathon pace with the 1km float between 30 seconds per km slower than your marathon pace.
This is a great workout to test your fitness 8 weeks out from a marathon and it gives you a good feel if your marathon pace is realistic or not. This workout is 17km in total with 15km of it at your goal marathon pace. The idea of this workout is that the first two 5km reps should feel easy and then the third one it gets a bit harder with the accumulated fatigue. At the end of this workout you should walk away from it knowing that there was one more 5km rep to get out if you had to. If that’s not the case you need to reassess your marathon pace goals. When I race a marathon I break the race into 5km sections. I do this to help me mentally and it works well as the drink stations are roughly spaced 5km apart, this is also great practice for race day.
Coaches note: You do have to be relatively fit before attempting these workouts, as a guide you should be able to run comfortably for 26-30km before attempting the workouts featured below.
Workout Two: 3 x 6km with 1.5km float between
When: 5 – 6 weeks out from your marathon
Pace: 6km reps at your goal marathon pace with the 1.5km float between 30 seconds per km slower than your marathon pace. The term float is used throughout these workouts and is best described as a moderate pace quicker than your jogging pace.
This is an extension of the 3 x 5km and should be completed 2 to 3 weeks after the 3 x 5km with the same mentality. This workout will have you covering 21km. It is an ideal workout to use in a half marathon where you can also practice going through drink stations, race day routines and wearing the same thing you will on race day. Just remember you’re there to train and don’t get caught up in the race, your chance to race will be in the weeks to come! The 6km reps add extra minutes working at marathon pace and you’ll get a great indication of how your body will feel through the first half of a marathon at your goal marathon pace. As mentioned with the 3 x 5km reps, you should be feeling like if you had to get another 6km out at the end of the workout you could. This isn’t a workout where you finish being bent over and fully exhausted. If that’s the case the pace you are running is too quick for goal marathon pace on race day.
Workout Three: 2 x 11km with 2km float
When: 3 – 4 weeks out from your marathon
Pace: 11km reps at goal marathon pace with the 3km float 25-35 seconds slower per km than goal MP
This workout is one where you get close to the fire of what marathon day will feel like without getting burned! The 11km goal marathon pace efforts test your concentration and give you a great insight of what the first 11km of race day will feel like. If you’re doing this workout correctly at the 1.5km mark of the 2km float you should be feeling ready to get into the next 11km effort. In total it’s 24km with 22km of it at marathon pace. It is also a great workout to practice your race-day nutrition and routines. After completing this workout it is important to ensure you have adequate recovery time. If you can complete this workout this will give you a lot of confidence for race day.