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Spring Marathon Training: Keeping Myself Honest

VCM 2-finishI wrote a few weeks ago about how my training for my Spring marathon (VT City) has been pretty lousy. A combo of time constraints, awful weather, and a string of low-grade illnesses had whittled away at my motivation to log in the miles.

After returning from vacation in Florida last Saturday, I finally managed a decent long run of 13.1 miles on Sunday, and started the week off strongly with two easy runs and a decent long interval workout. As always seems to happen though, I started feeling feverish on Thursday afternoon, and promptly crashed on the couch for 14 hours after arriving home from work. Seems I had caught the stomach bug my 9yo son brought home from FL, and my planned runs for Friday and Saturday had to be scrapped.

I woke up this morning feeling better, and when I checked my email my coach (Caleb Masland) had an email waiting for me in my inbox. Because I’ve received a lot of questions about what my training plans look like, Caleb and I had been talking about sharing my weekly workout plan here on the blog on the weekend. I’d then follow up the next weekend with how things went, and post the next schedule of workouts. The idea was that it would keep me accountable to getting the workouts in, and it would give those who might have an interest an idea of what getting a weekly marathon training plan from an on-line coach is like.

Our intent was to start with this coming week’s workouts, but Caleb’s plan started with the following: “…if you can get out for an aerobic 14 mile run tomorrow (Sunday), that will be huge.” I can tell you that after the past two days, the last thing I felt like doing today was running 14 miles. And to make matters worse, it was cold outside, and the wind was whipping.

Three weeks ago I would have bagged this run, but impending races have a way of making you suck it up when you might otherwise choose to bail. I also knew I’d be writing this post later in the evening, and it would not have looked particularly good if I ignored the first run on Caleb’s schedule, especially one he referred to as “huge.” The experienced marathoner in me also new that skipping another long run would be just plain stupid with just over two months until race day.

So suck it up I did. I bundled up, wore a balaclava for the first time this winter, and ran about 14.3 miles (my Garmin died around mile 11.2, but thankfully I had my iPhone tracking as a backup – I’m using the Saucony Run4Good app to log miles for their charity). My pace was about 8:35 min/mile, so right about where I wanted to be for an easy long run. The run was overall good, and I didn’t feel any fallout from the illness I’ve been dealing with. It’s amazing how much better I feel now having completed this run, and I’m incredibly happy that I didn’t skip out on it.

So on to the new week, and the workouts that Caleb has in store for me. First, a couple of notes.

1. My conservative marathon goal is 3:30, which would be a ~6 minute PR on the Vermont City Marathon course – it’s a bit of a personal nemesis. My Fall Half Marathon time (1:27) would predict a much faster marathon, but my mileage is my limitation for translating that up to the marathon. We’ll see.

2. Caleb also includes strength routines in his workout plans. I’m going to omit those here since I typically sub in Taekwondo workouts in their place. I need to get back to that on a regular basis as well…my kids are putting me to shame on that front!

Here is Caleb’s plan for me for the coming week:

Here are the general pace targets we will use for a marathon goal of just under 3:30

5k: 6:55
8k: 7:05
10k: 7:10
10-mile: 7:30
Half: 7:35
Full: 7:55

For next week (March 18-24):

Easy Miles: 6 total (1 or 2 runs)

Workout 1 (Tuesday/Wednesday): 7 miles total; 1.5 warm-up, 4 x mile descending from MP to HMP, 1.5 cool; rest intervals 2:00 (standing/walking) between mile repeats.

Workout 2 (Thursday/Friday): 7 miles total; 2 warm-up, 3 miles of fartlek (3 mins MP, 1 min recovery, 2 mins HMP, 1 min recovery, 1 min 10-mile pace, 3 recovery, repeat), 2 cool-down.

Long (Saturday/Sunday): 15, steady easy effort throughout

I’ll be back next weekend with an update on how things went, and the next training plan.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Glad to see you made it out the door. Personally, I feel better after a run whenever I’m sick. I’m usually frowned upon for doing that but I know I will not feel easy if I don’t give it a shot.

  2. Hi Peter,

    I’m presently training for the Ottawa marathon which happen to fall on the same date of your Vermont marathon and I’m also shooting for about 3h30 although unlike you this would be my ideal time instead of a conservative time. My BQ is 3h40 so that is my conservative and must meet time. My PB is 3h44 ran at the Vermont GMAA, so I feel it’s an attainable goal.

    If you publish your weekly plan, I’ll try to follow it as best as I can and adjut it for a few races I’ll run before the marathon (a 10K next Sunday, another 10K 2 weeks after and a half marathon end of April).

    This morning I ran 14K (about 9 miles) at 8:50 so I’m behind but not that much. From your advice I run with the GoBionic for the 5K, the GoRun2 for the 10K up to 21K and the GoRunRide for the long runs and the marathon. I love those shoes so much!
    I hope I’ll stay uninjured this time around contrary to last year but my form is completely different after a long transition to a more natural running form which started when I attended your conference last summer.
    Thanks for your initiative of publishing your training progress to your marathon and good luck to us!

  3. Barry Wright, III says:

    I love the subtle motivation in Caleb’s note – “if you do X, that will be huge” – it would have gotten me out the door as well.

  4. Sun Recruiting, Inc. says:

    Way to get that run in despite not feeling up to it – you mentioned how impending races have a way of providing their own motivation and I couldn’t agree more. Good luck in your training and I have no doubts that you’ll achieve your goal.

  5. Rachel Caine says:

    I’m shooting for a sub-4 at Vermont City this May, also under Caleb’s guidance! This winter has been tough with the weather and illness, for sure — I think I’ve gotten a new cold or stomach bug every week for the past 2 months!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Awesome, we’ll have to meet up somewhere! Have you run VT before? Awesome race, but a tough course.
      Sent from my iPad

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