Mapping (and Starting!) My Mississippi Blues Marathon Training Plan

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I’ll start by saying that there are millions of philosophies about race training.  Here I’ll share what has worked for me, and what I am planning to do for the Mississippi Blues Marathon, but this is not the only way (or even the best way) to train for a marathon.  I’d love to hear thoughts about what has worked well for other people.

In short, I like to make a rough sketch of a training plan for each marathon so that I don’t get completely off-track, and so that I can anticipate holidays, travel, and work events and prepare accordingly.  Usually I just jot it down on a calendar or in a Googledoc (or now, in a blog post).  The most important runs for marathon prep are the long runs, so I make sure to note what my goal long run is for each week, and then I have the option to do that run any day during the week (but usually Saturdays or Sundays).  I don’t generally write the week’s non-running activities (Orangetheory, pilates (upcoming post!), barre, yoga (also upcoming post!), swimming, etc.), or my run commute, in my training plan, and while I do sometimes put in shorter runs, all of those are subject to change.  Each week is different, and I vary based on my own schedule and how I’m feeling.  Missing a few runs isn’t going to totally kill your training.  Really.  I take at least one, but usually two, rest days each week.

For the Mississippi Blues Marathon, I basically have two months to train.  That’s plenty of time because I just ran Freedom’s Run a few weeks ago (recap here), so I have a strong base.  Otherwise, I’d want to have at least three months to build from a normal 10 mile base.  Training for this race is going to overlap somewhat with my “training” for my turkey trot, so the front end of the training schedule has more speed work that I usually do, but I think this will be good for me.

I’ll also note that I’ve been doing a lot more running lately both in terms of frequency and mileage than I’ve done in the past because of my commute.  I have trained for several marathons by doing only weekly long runs plus only one other casual run per week, and then non-running workouts (yoga, spin, lifting, swimming) as my mood and schedule dictated.   Yes, that means only running twice a week.  I am an evangelist in the church of You Don’t Need to Love Running or Run Every Day to Run a Marathon.

But I do actually love running, and at this point I’ve now found myself running almost every day.  So there is that.

OK, so the marathon training plan:


October 26-November 1:  

  • Hell Week at Orangetheory Monday-Friday (I decided to make the investment in the heart rate monitor (got it on sale for only $34!)) (I’ll post a recap of Hell Week once it happens!)
  • Drink a lot of protein smoothies to help with recovery
  • Run 4 easy sunrise miles X 5
  • Run 6 easy miles (Saturday)
  • Rest night on Saturday because I’m officially too old and married for Halloween
  • Rest day Sunday

November 2-November 8:

  • 10 mile long run (Sunday)
  • Faster-paced 6 mile run (Saturday)
  • Hill workout (during the week)
  • Interval workout (during the week)

November 9-November 15:

  • 14 mile long run (Sunday)
  • Faster-paced 6 mile run (Saturday)
  • Hill workout (during the week)
  • Interval workout (during the week)

November 16-November 22:

  • Faster-paced 6 mile run (Saturday)
  • 15 mile long run (Sunday)
  • Run a test 5K to see if my planned pace is totally absurd
  • Eat extra clean so I don’t feel weighed down for the Turkey Trot

November 23-November 29:

  • Turkey Trot 5K (Thursday)
  • Black Friday shopping workout
  • 10 mile long run (Friday or weekend)

November 30-December 6:

  • 17 mile long run
  • Turn 30

December 7-December 13:

  • 19 mile long run
  • Question why I run marathons

December 14-December 20:

  • 20 mile long run
  • Listen to Christmas music during all workouts

December 21-December 27:

  • 10+ mile long run, as schedule allows
  • Force my family to engage in physical activity with me
  • Begin carb-loading with Christmas cookies (don’t follow my example… this is neither the time nor the way to carb load)


December 28-January 3:

  • Taper
  • Try not to turn to mush
  • Celebrate the new year with sparkling cider

January 4-January 10:

  • Keep tapering
  • Hope for no snow in DC
  • Begin true carb loading
  • Mississippi Blues Marathon Saturday

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Do you follow an official training system, or do you just make one up?  How many days per week do you run when you are training?  How do you organize your training plan–on a spreadsheet or calendar or app?  Is there some awesome technology I am missing?  This system has worked well for me but I’m always open to thoughts and suggestions!    

8 thoughts on “Mapping (and Starting!) My Mississippi Blues Marathon Training Plan

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