How to PR in the Marathon

By Team RunRun Coach Brant Stachel

Achieving a personal record in a marathon is a blend of meticulous planning, adaptable training, and understanding the nuances of marathon running. A 12-16 week training period is generally recommended, but it’s the approach within these weeks that makes all the difference. This “How to PR in the Marathon” guide provides an in-depth look at how to strategically prepare by highlighting the importance of personalized coaching, training hierarchy, and race day strategies.

The Role of a Personal Coach in Your Marathon Journey

Adaptable Training Plans: Unlike static training schedules, a personal coach tailors your 12-16 week plan to adapt to your life’s unpredictabilities – illness, soreness, or personal commitments. This flexibility is key in ensuring consistent progress without overtraining or undertraining.

Human-Centric Approach: You’re not just a spreadsheet entry. A good coach recognizes your unique needs, strengths, and limitations, offering a humanized approach to training that respects your individuality.

Marathon Training Hierarchy Explained

Total Easy Aerobic Volume: The foundation of marathon training is building aerobic endurance. A coach can determine the right volume for you, considering your capacity and suitable cross-training activities.

Marathon-Paced Long Runs: These are crucial for simulating race conditions. Alternating these every two weeks with regular long runs helps in familiarizing yourself with the marathon effort.

Tempo Runs for Metabolic Efficiency: Positioned a level above marathon pace, tempo runs are integrated every two weeks to boost your metabolic efficiency, preparing your body for the sustained effort of marathon running.

Faster-Paced Intervals: Though beneficial, intervals at 5K pace or faster come with increased injury risk. They should be incorporated judiciously to enhance, not hinder, your marathon training.

Coach Rez Nguyen rockin’ the New York City Marathon 2023!

Long Runs as Dress Rehearsals

Simulating Race Conditions: Treat every long run or marathon-paced run as a trial run for race day. This includes testing your gear, pre-race meals, hydration strategy, and even your bathroom routine.

Building Confidence and Familiarity: Repeatedly practicing these elements reduces race day surprises and builds confidence, making you well-acquainted with what to expect.

Mastering Marathon Pacing

Course and Condition Considerations: Take into account the course profile, weather conditions, and available pacing groups. These factors will influence your pacing strategy.

Starting Conservatively: Aim to start at or slightly slower than your marathon pace. Remember, the most successful marathon strategies often involve even or negative splits – rushing at the start seldom leads to a PR.

Controlling the Controllables for Marathon Success

The marathon is as unpredictable as it is rewarding. By focusing on what you can control – training, pacing, nutrition, and gear – you set the stage for a successful race. And with the right weather and a strategic approach, you might not only hit your PR but surpass it significantly.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun and a Registered Psychotherapist. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.