Marine Corps Marathon

The first five weeks

Recently I began training for the Marine Corps Marathon. The race is on October 26, and training will be 18 weeks long. After much deliberation I decided to give the Hansons Marathon Method a try. Specifically, I’m following the beginner training plan.

2014 Marine Corps Marathon in training shirt

The point of the first five weeks of the Hansons Beginner plan is to “base build.” The concept of base building is pretty basic, and not specific to the Hansons. It means starting from a base of lower mileage and building to increased mileage and more frequent running.

The first five weeks of the Hansons beginner plan is made up of all easy running, gradually building from 15 miles per week to 24 miles. Every type of run in the Hansons program has a specified pace, based on your current abilities and your marathon goal. Easy runs are meant to be 1-2 minutes per mile slower than your marathon goal pace. For me, easy runs should be between 11:28 – 12:16/mile pace. That’s slower than I typically do my “easy” runs, so it’s been an adjustment to learn to run at a slower pace. It’s not absolutely necessary that I stick to those paces at this point in training, but it’s good to start practicing now. Correct pacing becomes very important later on.

After the first five weeks, speed work, tempo runs, and long runs will be introduced into training. In order to prevent injury and to meet the prescribed paces for these workouts, it’s very important to run easy days at the slower pace. Otherwise each run ends up being close in pace, and you won’t reap the intended benefits from each type of run.

Marine Corps Marathon

But for now, I’m halfway through week 3 of training, which gives me some leeway. The main purpose of the first five weeks is to give me some time on my feet, increase the number of days per week that I run, and create a foundation to build on during the rest of training. If your weekly mileage is currently higher than what’s scheduled, the Hansons recommend you just keep doing what you’re doing and let the training catch up with you. That’s what I’ve been doing so far. By week 5 everything will match up, and I’ll be following the training plan as prescribed from there on.

Do you follow a training plan when preparing for a big race?

10 thoughts on “The first five weeks”

  1. Yeah, I never could follow the Hanson’s program that specifically because I could NOT go as slow as they wanted me to. Yes, it does become much more important late on when you are running so much and doing a lot of speedwork later on.

    1. It’s hard right now to try and run as slow as they want (I have yet to actually meet the specified pace range), but I’m sure that won’t be a problem once I introduce speed and tempo workouts and higher mileage.

  2. I’ve never followed a formal training plan. We have our first marathon on feb but I’m running with the Mrs so I doubt I’ll use a training plan. Just build miles to make sure I can complete the 26 miles.

      1. I asked her last night and she said “not really” lol. Her plan is to have her long runs on Sunday morning and keep increasing miles near the 26. Sounded like a decent plan, so we will see how it goes.

      2. Sounds good, I hope it goes well! Most training plans top out between 20 and 22 miles, so that may be a good cap to put on your long runs.

  3. Interesting that they want you going slower than you want! It makes sense if you’re going to be doing tougher workouts later on, though. Thanks for sharing your training!

    1. I know! It’ll probably be a lot easier to go slower on my easy days once my mileage gets higher and I’m doing speed and tempo workouts.

  4. I’m pretty sure that I don’t run my “easy” runs slow enough or my “hard” runs fast enough. I’ve tried to change that, but haven’t made much progress…
    I like having a training plan, but I always end up tweaking it some 🙂

    1. I have a hard time with that, too, but in a few weeks I’m going to have to nail it or else! I always end up tweaking training plans, too, but I’m trying to stick to this one as close as possible to honestly see how this plan works.

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