Developing the Trickling Marathon Training Plan

Without getting too deep into my methodology… every few days I schedule one or more days off from training, whether I’m just base training or actively training for a goal race (as I’m doing right now). On these days the only exercise I do is walk and use the spin bike. Otherwise, I avoid exercise and definitely avoid training.

In the past I trained with few to no days off, and in fact leading up to Chicago in 2018 I ran 70 straight days… with no ill effects in either case. My only knockout injuries have occurred randomly during down periods in training.

But, never minding the first digit in my age is now a 4, I recognize the balance between training enough (and hard enough) to generate fitness adaptions… and taking enough time away from training to allow those adaptions to manifest through recovery and supercompensation.

What I’m doing with the Indy training plan is something that for now I’ll call a Trickling 18 Week Plan. At some point I’ll diagram this all out in detail but in general I’ll describe it:

  • I map out or take a pre-written standard 18 week training plan, with the long run Saturday and other workouts (speedwork, tempo runs, base aerobic runs or cross training) scheduled through each week accordingly.
  • Rather than go back 18 weeks and start with mapping out week one (which would have been in early July), I stretch the training schedule out so that gradually I begin the training plan weeks before, in-between my other base training, e.g. regular runs, work break runs, basic quality workouts like hills, drills, time trials, strength training and other cross training.
  • Filtered into these early weeks is a training run here, the first or second planned long run there, a training-specific speed workout there, etc.
  • Along with mapping out on the calendar Race Day (obviously), I also map out my days off. Again, I put these on a fixed schedule so I know I’ll get a day or more of rest.
  • Then, I take the desired training plan and for each day of the week, I go back from Race Week and count back 18 weeks, allocating each workout while skipping over any scheduled off days. For example, say I go back and schedule the 18 Monday workouts, which in my case is just regular training runs or cross training. I skip over any Monday with a scheduled rest day. There may be 2-3 Mondays in a row where I’m off, and I may go back 20-22 weeks before I finally schedule Monday week #1’s workout.
  • I do the same for each subsequent day on the original training plan, including the long run. I actually have a section in midsummer where I go three weeks between long run workouts because scheduled days off happened to fall on back to back Saturdays.
  • When done, typically I’ll have several early weeks with only 3-5 training workouts, before I start seeing weeks full of training workouts. Again, those non-training workout days are not necessarily days off. If there’s no scheduled day off, I’ll do base training that day.
  • I’ll often have weeks with 1-2 days off. Sometimes I get a really thick week with no days off, and sometimes I get a barren week with 2-3 days off, or days off and no long run, or no speedwork. Conversely, I may have a stretch of 7-10 training days in a row.

This admittedly semi-random approach ensures a good mix of training stimuli, and builds in ample recovery periods plus solid challenging periods of relentless workouts.

In my experience, I’ve found that like anyone I’m prone to stagnating with too many regular days off each week, and prone to stagnating from endless training with few to no days off.

This approach may be random but what’s not random is the built in ebb and flow of recovery days with longer tougher training stretches, and more balanced training weeks in-between.

As I work with this during this summer, I’ll solidify its execution and hopefully will end this cycle with something useful to share with everybody.

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3 thoughts on “Developing the Trickling Marathon Training Plan

  1. swosei12blog says:

    One of these days, I would like to run Indy’s Marathon. Good luck with your training.

  2. […] I did before, I will “trickle in” training starting this month with built in rest days, slowly ramping up to a marathon training schedule that […]

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