1). The long, slow run, of course! Do one 24 mile long run at an easy aerobic pace, which should be about 80-85% of marathon pace. It is very important to not push the pace on this run.
Why long, slow distance? It enables the body to be more efficient at using energy sources, such as glycogen and fat. Long, slow distance will use more fat as a fuel source and will boost the bodies storage capacity for glycogen. It increases blood capillaries and muscle endurance. To enhance this fuel burning efficiency, it is recommended you limit your sugar consumption and drink mostly (NOTE: mostly, NOT all) water and electrolyte tablets during this workout.
2). Marathon Pace Run. 20 miles run with the first 10 miles at an easy pace (80-85% of marathon pace) and the last 13 miles run at marathon race pace. This run teaches your body to run at marathon pace when you are tired.
This workout should be a staple in all marathon programs. During this run, it is important to practice race day nutrition, including breakfast! Try this session 3-4 weeks out from your race day.
3). Steady State Running. Do 3 or 4 steady state runs mid-week, totaling 12-15 miles depending on goals and experience.
For example: 2×5 miles or 3×3 miles at slightly faster than half marathon race pace.
Another great steady state run is a 10 miler at between half marathon and marathon race pace. These runs will boost your lactate threshold, enabling you to run faster at a lower heart rate. Simply speaking, they will make you a faster marathon runner.
4). Long Build Runs. Run a long run of 18-20 miles and include a gradual progression over the course of the last 6-7 miles. In this run, we start at slightly slower than goal marathon pace and build in speed so the last half mile is very hard and close to 10k race pace. This will seem very fast, and it is important to note that a proper cool down is absolutely necessary.
This workout enhances aerobic efficiency. This will make your MP seem easier and you will gain confidence by incorporating 2-4 of these sessions in to your training schedule.
5). Mile Repeats (on the flats). 5-6 x 1 mile at close to a 10k race pace with 1-2 minutes rest.
This workout improves the bodies aerobic capacity as well as it ability to process and get rid of lactate. Your heart gets stronger and delivers more oxygen and your leg muscles get better at using the oxygen. The more oxygen to working muscles, the faster you will run!
6). Strides. Never underestimate the power of a stride! Many marathon runners get the “dead leg” feeling. Strides are short 15-30 seconds and are fast but are not all out sprints. Do 8-10 x15-30” strides at least once a week. Your legs will feel alive again! Start slow and progress throughout as your legs loosen up. Never force it. Focus on your form during strides. Use it as a technique drill.