Marine Corps Marathon training update

I picked up this airy Lululemon tank at the Lululemon Outlet in Rehoboth Beach over Labor Day weekend and wore it for my 12-mile run along the boardwalk and around Gordon's Pond. This could be my MCM race-day shirt.

I picked up this airy Lululemon tank at the Lululemon Outlet in Rehoboth Beach over Labor Day weekend and wore it for my 12-mile run along the boardwalk and around Gordon's Pond. This could be my MCM race-day shirt.

JSYK I'm 6 weeks away from the Marines Corps Marathon (MCM) on October 22. This will be my second marathon ever and my first MCM.

Back at the 24-week mark I shared my proposed 20-week training plan with Kevin and Zach and both expressed the same perspective. Even though I've been running for 3 years, I chose a RunnersConnect training plan for beginners in order to ease in slowly.

Still, Kevin especially was worried about my committing to any training plan while I was still dealing with my typical issues - hamstring strain and glute pain. Both of these are overuse injuries, Kevin pointed out, so diving into even a mildly rigorous running schedule before these are completely healed just didn't make sense to him. Zach, too, worried about this. Remember I have hamstring and glute soreness after simple body-weight squats. Forget about kettle balls.

Kevin also expressed his concern that I was not building in enough rest days, and he asked me if I'd thought to factor in additional sleep needs.

So ok.

I get the message.

I put the training calendar aside, added an additional rest day, slept in on my rest days in order to get more sleep, and skipped any significant strength training on my lower body and focused on getting back to the basics. I did shorter runs - mostly 3-4 miles but nothing longer than 5-8 miles - and set my MapMyRun app for a 1 min / 30 sec run-walk intervals after a 1-mile warm up for all of my runs. I did some bike rides - nothing longer than 20 miles - with Neile, and was emphatic about taking stand or walk breaks while sitting at my desk at work and walking from 20 - 40 minutes at lunchtime or after work.

It took nearly 2 months for me to feel 100 percent, which was 4 weeks longer than I thought I'd need. I wanted to run MCM but, really, can I still do this? I thought.

I'd listened to a Run to the Top Extra Kick podcast - 10-15 minute daily segments answering runners' questions - that focused on minimal and optimal weekly mileage to finish a marathon and realized I could do 20-25 miles per week and still finish the race.

I can do that.

Yet the big question is whether I can finish before the race cut-off, which enforces a 14-minute per mile pace throughout the 26 miles, and still enjoy the experience. That means no pit stops at a minimum and minimal stretch breaks.

So after building up to 20 miles per week, on 8/27 I did 14 miles using the run-walk strategy and maintained a 12:39 pace. I simulated the race-day experience by planning my route from Bethesda to Georgetown on the Capital Crescent Trail where I knew if I went out and back there would be a water fountain at 3.5 miles, 9 miles, and 12 miles. I stopped at the fountains to drink and fill my water bottle but did not take any bathroom breaks. I fueled during my 30-second walk breaks - using Swedish fish and S-caps.

What a confidence builder. I'm still feeling good, so looking forward, my plan is to stick to my Sunday long runs, increase both my sleep and my rest days during the week, depending on how I feel, and continue to experiment with fueling. On MCM race day I'll have my squad standing by with cold bananas, etc., but I'm not so fortunate during my training runs.

8/27 14 miles - out and back on the Capital Crescent Trail

9/3 12 miles - I did this in Rehoboth Beach over Labor Day weekend. There were no water fountains and I only brought 12 ounces of water with me. I went out the boardwalk to Gordons Pond Trail and turned around at 6 and wasn't able to get more water until 9 miles in. GU Energy Gels are so convenient and although I've had problems with them in the past, I wanted to try to make them work. Mostly because of the water situation, I refueled with the single gel, making it last over multiple 30 sec walk breaks, and did fine. I'm happy about that.

9/10 16 miles - My plan is to do 14 out and back on the Capital Crescent Trail and add 2 in Bethesda, finishing up at the Bethesda Central Farm Market. I'll take plenty of GU gels and Swedish fish with me and 1 S-cap and use the water fountains to refill my water bottle.

9/17 14 miles 

9/24 18 miles

10/1 16 miles

10/8 20 miles

10/15 5 miles

10/22 MCM


I'm carefully logging my food and ensuring I've got enough carbs and protein as I know from experience that I do better when I'm carb loading before long runs. By now I'm comfortable with fasted workouts in the mornings during easy runs, and I'm very careful on my rest days so I haven't seen any significant weight gain. I use MyFitnessPal to log my nutrition and can't say enough good things about this app, which links to my Health app on my iPhone and MapMyRun.

I'll keep you posted - see you next time!