Summer Vacation

Lucie Mays-Sulewski & Kristina Tabor speeding to the finish of the women’s masters Monumental Mile.

Lucie Mays-Sulewski & Kristina Tabor speeding to the finish of the women’s masters Monumental Mile.

Many of you are wrapping up your marathon & half marathon season and are beginning to think about your plans for fall and exceeding your successes of spring. Before you launch back into training for 26.2 or 13.1, I want to encourage you to take a vacation. No, not that kind. While I do like runners to take a post season week or two of greatly reduced running for mental and physical refreshment, I am not talking about taking the summer off. Rather, I want my runners to get out of a perpetual marathon training mindset for a few months and focus on raising their economy and speed ceilings. Then when they do return to focus on the longer fall races, they are beginning with better high intensity fitness that will translate into faster more marathon specific endurance and stamina training. Perhaps it is counter intuitive to think training at intensity over threshold and faster than 5K pace will help your marathon. Think of it this way. If you are more comfortable at harder and faster running, the demand of marathon pace becomes easier for longer, allowing you to maintain a faster pace for 26.2.

As a refresher from earlier posts, economy is the physiological cost of running a given pace. The higher your economy the easier it is to run faster translating to great options. Run longer at the same pace or run faster for the same distance. Economy benefits can be had from all kinds of running, but the most specific way to push up your running economy is to run shorter harder sustained efforts (~5K-10K racing) or fast intervals (generally 400m to mile repeats). Speed is the ability to go faster for short periods through the conditioning of the neuromuscular system and fast twitch muscle fibers. Aerobic and anaerobic intervals as well as hill repeats can help with speed improvement. Keep in mind, when the hard days get harder, the easy day need to get easier. Maintain your stress and rest balance.

How this looks for you may vary with a number of factors, most importantly when you are done with long racing in the spring and target dates for PR assaults in the fall. Generally, I like to plan a year something like this, though I am all for keeping the races shorter for a full season and not being married to a marathon or even half marathon every spring and fall.

Spring Racing Season ending with your most important marathon or half marathon around May followed with a break of little and light running for 1-2 weeks.

Late Spring and Summer emphasis on economy and speed while maintaining reasonable mileage and long runs to ease the transition back into marathon training. This should also include a schedule of shorter races to show off your new fitness, but also for the training effect itself.

Mid to late Summer be aware of how many weeks to go until marathon day to ensure you have enough time to get in the weekly and long run mileage needed to perform at your best. I overlap workout types in this transition period and have found it results in lining up at the start line with the full bag of tricks and some great racing. Of course, some lingering hot and humid days may hide your new and improved fitness level, but it’s there.

Here are five steps to get you started with this summer vacation from the marathon grind. Step One: Get recovered from your spring races. Step Two: Work back towards your normal training level. Step Three: Add quality with economy and speed workouts in balance with easier mileage and moderate length long runs. Step Four: Join in the fun of the Monumental Mile on June 6th. If you are not close enough to Indy for the Mile, then find up to a 5K race in your area. This will give you an immediate target and checkpoint. Step Five: Join me for the Personal Best Training Speed Sessions on Tuesday nights and get a plan for the rest of the week. These sessions will include a mix of workouts to improve your economy and speed, but also have you ready for a great marathon or half in the fall. Send me an email at for details.