Tried It Tuesday – New York City Training Plan

Exciting news. It’s officially (since I’m writing this on Monday) two weeks out from the start of New York City Marathon training! NYCM is my goal race for this year. I don’t race marathon’s often, but I’m pretty excited to leave it all out on the streets of New York. I have some lofty goals, but I’m hoping that with an 18-week training cycle, I can hit them, and have an absolutely spectacular race.

My mom ran NYC a little over 10 years ago, and still claims it as being one of her favorite races. Pretty impressive since she’s run the Paris Marathon. But the same goes for all of my friends who have run through the five boroughs – there’s no race like it. The energy is incredible, the spirit, the excitement… there’s nothing like New York.

So today I am linking up with Sara from Lake Shore Runner for her Tried it Tuesday!LSR-Tried-it-Tuesday-500x499

You may wonder why I constitute this post to be a “Tried it Tuesday”. Mainly because I try to create my own marathon plans. This will be my six marathon, but my third where I have focused on what works best for me. I followed a Hal Higdon training plan for my first marathon to the absolute T, and I was totally elated when I finished under 4 hours. For my second marathon, I thought I knew it all and raced completely undertrained, underprepared, and finished walking the last 6 miles injured. #NeverAgain

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First marathon. Hollaaaaaa. Also – Hi Mayor Nutter (man in red)

For my third marathon, Hartford, I again used a Hal Higdon plan but a more aggressive version. It focused on higher milage, but again only running 4 times a week. I had incorporated strength training, and while it was my first BQ (3:32:XX), I knew I could be a bit faster.

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Two weeks into a relationship asking someone to come watch you run 26.2 miles with your parents. Probably not the move. But he’s a keeper.

By the time my fourth marathon came around, Chicago in 2014, I started dabbling with what type of training made me feel best. I kept strength/cross training once a week, but focused on my weaknesses. My legs felt dead after 3+ hours of running. I needed to teach my body how to adapt. I started to run for longer on tired legs. And more importantly, I needed to adjust the pacing of my runs. I added in pace work, and for my long runs, I kept them roughly 30-45 seconds slower per mile than my marathon goal pace. I started running 40+ mile weeks consistently, truncating my long runs for Fridays and Saturdays.

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Yikes. Stolen. Sorryyyy

Unlike Hartford where I ran 5 Tuesday, 10 Wednesday, 5 Thursday, 20 Saturday, for Chicago I ran 5 Tuesday, 5 Tempo Wednesday, 5 Thursday, 10 Friday, 20 Saturday. My body learned to work through the lactic acid buildup, and more importantly, it learned to run tired. I believe a big reason I stayed and still stay injury free is I no longer push myself on my runs when I am not focusing on pace. I see no reason to work harder to run 5 miles in 36 miles, than to run the same distance in 40. Added bonus being that again, my legs were adjusting to being worked for longer.

I raced a 3:18 in Chicago which was one of the best races I’ve had in a long time. Following the same principle with my half marathon, I dropped down from a PR of 1:36 to a 1:30 in 4 months.

So pretty much that was a super long winded way to say, I don’t follow a set training plan. I make my own. #IndependentWoman And I absolutely love it. It leaves me the flexibility to feel less confined, and also allows me to adapt to what works best for me.

So as we can see, my tentative training plan is as follows…

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I will still be incorporating tempo workouts once a week. I also will be focusing on hills. I will not be running hill repeats (totally not disciplined enough, and would absolutely stop after like… one) but I will be focusing on running my mid week distance runs on a hillier course. I still want to keep a focus on cross training, as I think that too will help me in New York. One of the toughest aspects of my training plan will be the rest days. I always feel like I NEED to be doing something, but incorporating COMPLETE rest days into my plan really helps me relax and feel pressured to rest.

Like I said before, I do have some big goals, but I’m not ready to put them out there yet. I want to get a feel of how this summer training is going before I publicly post something.

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Oh hey there. Just hanging out super excited for my run! 🙂

So there you have it. In a mere 20 weeks (minus one day) I will be totally finished with this overly obsessive Excel spreadsheet. It’s about to get serious in here. : )


Have you or someone you known run New York?

Any tips for NYCM?? I will hopefully be staying in the city the night before so logistically it won’t be too tough (fingers crossed).

What’s your goal race this year? How long do you start training ahead of time? I usually focus on training 16 – 18 weeks out for a marathon. I usually keep a solid base, so it doesn’t seem like my training picks up until about 12 weeks out.

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87 thoughts on “Tried It Tuesday – New York City Training Plan

  1. This is getting me pumped! I’m thinking of doing a 16 week plan, I’ve also always created my own plans and it just seems to go better that way, since at first I would use something off the internet and completely change it. Plus, after a few marathons you know what you need! I’m not completely sure of my goals yet. My goal for philly last year was 3:25 and I didn’t meet it, it will likely be my goal again though, with a PR being second. Your speed inspires me! No matter what it’s going to be an amazing experience!

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    1. I love your positivity! I totally agree. I definitely have big goals, but running NY is unlike any other and I just can’t wait to soak it all in. Is it too early to start praying for good weather? Haha

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    1. Thank you! I can’t wait to get into the swing of things so I’m really working on holding myself back these next two weeks so when training finally starts I can totally go after it!

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  2. It looks like a great plan and yeah, we know our bodies the best so it only makes sense for us to tweak a plan to make it a good fit. I do like the plans from umm… Pfitzinger (sp?) his book called Advanced Marathoning but again, I use it as a guide and then tweak it to make it my own. Excited for you, and you’re going to do great!

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  3. That looks like an awesome training schedule–I use a giant poster board to mark what I am supposed to run and what I actually run. I hear that NYCM is one of the best races–cannot wait to hear how it goes. I think 16-18 weeks is a great length of training 🙂 good luck!

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  4. I’ve ran NYCM twice 2013/14. It is an amazing race. Last year was rough as I was running through an unknown Crohn’s flare a few weeks after a most miserable Chigaco and I was in survival mode but it was still a magical (cold and windy as all hell) day. Logistically NYCM is a bitch but it is worth it. The hardest part in my opinion is staying warm waiting at the start. I couldn’t feel my limbs for miles last year. The crowds carry you through the pain train those last few miles!
    I am working on keeping a solid base (~20 miles/week) and slowly getting back my speed as this flare dies down. 10 mins miles still feel like work so there’s that. I want to race a half this fall but considering my PR half is 1:53 I don’t think I will be putting in any PR worthy times just yet. For a full the first few weeks usually are pretty similar to base training so like 14 weeks of real work it usually pans out to.

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    1. I would love any tips or tricks you might have for NYC! I learned a lot running Boston with the later start, but I know its the logistics with NYC that can be a nightmare.

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  5. You are my hero haha. Love the part about asking your BF to watch your race after dating for two weeks. I have never run a marathon but am planning (9+1) for NYM to be my first in 2016. I will certainly be asking for tips! For now I’ll be at mile 7 water station cheering and helping out!

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  6. So excited for you! Reading your story of how much you’ve improved is really inspiring! I think you have a great plan in place for yourself and you know what does (and doesn’t) work. Now you just need to get yourself out of this flare so you can excel at training. I know you can 🙂

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  7. This is SUCH a fab post 😀 I absolutely love geeking out on training plans – and yours looks really good – you’ve clearly put a lot of thought into what works best for you. What do you normally do on your cross-training days?

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    1. I usually cross train on Mondays – an hour HIIT circuit (with some sprints built in), and one spinning class (SoulCycle) a week with a short run after – again focusing on running on tired legs.

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  8. I’m in the process of creating my own training plan for my fall marathon so I’m glad to hear that you sort of improvise and create your own too! Can’t wait to follow your training and see how you do, and I loved reading about all of your previous races!! You are crazy fast 🙂

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    1. Haha thanks girl! Definitely took some time to figure out what works best for my body. I just wrote a short novel on your post haha. Hopefully it helps and definitely let me know if you have any questions!!!

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    1. It’s crazy how fast these races creep up. I looked on my computer and was like holy cow this race is only a little more than 120 days away whatttttt haha.

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    1. Thank you! I’m really excited…. I heard that the elevation chart is a little misleading, especially for the hills at the end into Central Park.

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  9. The complete running nerd in me loved reading about how you adapted your training after each race and how that improved your time. You’re so fast – I’m excited to see how your training goes for NYCM!
    As I’ve talked way too much about on my blog, I’m training for the Portland Marathon (OR – although funny enough, Portland Maine Marathon is the same weekend) with an 18-week training plan that call for lots of running on tired legs.

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    1. Yes! I love the concept of really learning to adapt to the sluggish/tired leg feeling – I think it’s so important for marathon training. I love following along on your journey as well! 🙂

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  10. I have creating my training plan on my to do list too! This weekend for sure. They way you went about your marathons are just how I did. The first one I followed HH to the T, and the second one I followed a more advanced HH plan. Now I know what works best for my body – low milage. I am going to take a completely different approach to this one, and I am hope to get the results I know I am capable of if I am 100% healthy.

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  11. Love that you’re creating your own plan! I’m so nervous for my first… trying to find a training plan that fits my want/needs/schedule. I want to keep lifting/cross training as much as possible so I’m doing lots of research… I’ll start in a couple of weeks too so I guess I better start finalizing!!

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  12. So Jealous and SO EXCITED for you. I love making marathon plans, too. Glad you know what works for you and are able to capitalize on that 🙂 Are you putting a goal time out there for the world yet? Totally get it if you don’t, just curious. I have a feeling I’ll be living vicariously through you during this training cycle! And to think… you actually COULD eat that whole loaf of bread 😉

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    1. Haha not quite yet… I have one in my brain, but I’m thinking early August it will go live on the Internet for the world to see! That way I can get a better grasp of how my training cycle really is going. I will keep you all posted though I promise!! 🙂

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  13. Jamie! WOW! You are a serious runner. I’ve never run a marathon (only one half – at Disney World), and I’m so impressed by your dedication. I love that you’ve done the right things and the wrong things along the way, so you have a plan. You go girl!! 🙂

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  14. I hear hills make you fast. I know they make you strong, so good plan there… I’m doing a Half-Iron Triathlon in September and I started a 27 week training plan (that I found in a book) in March, but I was emulating the general schedule of the first block of training for like a month before that…. and I also have a colour coded spreadsheet to go with it!

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  15. I usually train about 15 weeks or so for a marathon. I’m so glad you had great results with Hal Higdon. I used his plan for my first marathon and then switched. I’m thinking of going back and using his to modify and create my own. Love the spreadsheet! You’re so organized!

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  16. Thanks for posting your training program! I’m currently trying to plan mine out and I’m always curious what other people are up to. I’m with you – I like a blended program with what I’ve learned in the past and liked/didn’t like.

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  17. Wow a 3:18 marathon! What tips could you possibly need?! I have never followed a training plan for my halfs. I just try to do a long run, a tempo and a speed workout each week. Everything else is just easy paced runs.

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  18. You are awesome! This plan is so inspiring. I ran NYC last year and the late start time messed with my head. That and the crazy weather, which hopefully won’t happen this year! Logistic wise I did stay in Manhattan and took the Midtown bus. I found that to be the easiest part of the day.

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  19. Looks like you have a great training plan! It’s so tough to find the sweet spot with marathon training between preparing well for the race and not getting injured, but it sounds like you’ve really figured out what works for you through trial and error. Good luck with your training–I’m looking forward to reading about it!

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  20. That spreadsheet is kind of awesome! I’ve played around with making one for myself since I never follow a training plan completely but I don’t think I would follow my own. I’m trying an app right now, it integrates with my calendar and I just have to check the complete box when I am done. We’ll see how it goes. Good luck with training- New York looks like an amazing race!

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      1. It’s the RunTrainer app by MapMyRun. It’s free and basic but does let you move things around. I don’t think there’s a way to add runs if you run an extra day though. I figure I would give it a try. I do like the reminders that pop up on my phone 😀

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  21. I am SO excited for you!! That is one of my lifetime goals! Thank you for sharing your plan! It will be fun to follow you through this training adventure!

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  22. I’m so jealous of anyone doing New York. That was my first marathon last year and it was incredible. Like I still can’t believe I got the chance to do that. Looks like you have a solid plan in place,hopefully the weather cooperates better this year!

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  23. Ah I loved reading this post as I try to figure out my training plan for my 3rd marathon in Chi. You are so speedy and inspiring! I want to get 3:30 (and a shiny BQ) down from 3:36 (also in Chi last year). I don’t know how I’ll fair with that many miles but I like that you crosstrain because I’ve found 2x a week crosstraining is what I like/helps my body. I definitely want to add some pace work in my long runs and maybe add those double days of Friday/Saturday with a run before my long run instead of a rest day.

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    1. Pace work definitely helped me drop time quickly. I personally like truncating my longer and long runs because then on Sunday I really rest and recover properly. And teaching your body to run on tired legs is so crucial and definitely helped me get better endurance for later on in the race. But for both those longer and long runs I usually run about 30-45 seconds slower than MGP per mile. I loved running Chicago last year and would love to do it again in the future!!

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  24. Ok so I loved this post and devoured every word. I love that you aren’t afraid to experiment and know what works best for you. Super impressive times too! Wow! Good luck with training for NYC. It’s clear you are excited. You will kick some serious butt! Thanks for linking up. Great recaps!

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  25. Ah thank you for satisfying my inner #runnerd! I totally geek out when I get to read about speedy runner’s training plans 🙂 Those 30 mile weekends are impressive!
    My goal race this year is the Chicago Marathon – with a 17 week plan. I like 16-18 week cycles too, it calms me mentally to think I’ve put so much time into training.

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  26. I love reading this because your marathoning inspires me! I love the progression and tweaking of your training. I’ve followed the same plan the past two years and this year am keeping the long run and structure the same but focusing more on higher mileage by adding easy miles. Slow, no particular pace, just time on my feet. I also want to add in more race pass or faster miles into my long runs and try running the day before long runs instead of resting. Great tips! I’m running Chicago for the second year in a run and trying to turn the 3:36 from last year into a BQ this year 🙂

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    1. I’m totally with you. I felt like increasing milage and getting my legs used to what TIRED felt like, was a more effective way for me to train. So I usually ran my mid-distance run (10 miles) on Friday and my long runs on Saturdays to truncate my distance. You will totally get that BQ! Chicago is a great course and I know you will absolutely kill it! : )

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  27. Oh My Gosh! My brother has his sights set on NYCM and is trying to talk me into joining him. I love running half’s but am not sure I am ready to commit to training for a full! I LOVE that you work through your own plans. After following someone else’s (HH or others) plans for 3 years, I started creating my own last year simply by tweaking one I had already completed – which worked overall, but it was still heaving on running (5-6 days/week) and light on strength training. I just put together a 24 week plan for my running group to prep us for two of our favorite half marathons just a few weeks apart (and incidentally posted it today, for the WWW link up!) Congrats on both of your BQ’s … crazy fast improvement! Can’t wait for this race recap for sure!!

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