Chicago Marathon Training

Chicago Marathon Training

I thought I would take a break from the steady stream of race reports to share some of my Chicago Marathon training. If you were hoping to find some pie charts and bar graphs you will be sadly disappointed. It’s all I can do just to stay on top of updating my training log. This will be a brief summary of the workouts, the racing, the mileage, and any other random training tidbits!

My Chicago Marathon training cycle has been a total of 14 weeks. It started July 6, right after the Firecracker Fast 5k. (Yes, this is one of those race reports I still never got around to writing!)

Firecracker Fast 5k- 18:29
Mileage and Schedule

I’ve run an average of 57 miles per week. My lowest was last week at 46 (tapering!) and my highest was 70. This is not my highest mileage training cycle to date (I’ve peaked at 80 before) but the quality has been the best. Typically I run 6-7 days per week. It took me about a year to get back to this point after plantar fasciitis.  Sunday is my off day or easy (3-5 miler) day. Saturday is my long run or race day. Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on weekend race schedule) is my hard effort workout session. The rest are all easy run days. 

During this 14 week training cycle I have raced 9 times. Yes, I know that’s a lot. One of my favorite things about running is competing and racing.  Most are local races and the distance always varies. My favorite distance to race is the 5k.

These tune-up races included: 

My older two children and I are involved in the Arkansas Grand Prix racing series so we’ve done quite a few races as a family. I know that as my kids get older and involved in more/ different activities my racing schedule will change. For now, the kids are enjoying it and we’re just going with it!   

 These races were excellent workouts on a variety of courses. The Full Moon 25k, 4 mile classic, and Benton 20k were definitely the hilliest. The Arkansas Classic 5k was probably my favorite course.

The Weather

This is the earliest fall marathon I have ever trained for and I’d have to say the heat was the biggest challenge. It affected every run. Easy runs never felt that easy (until recently) but I got them done. I would say the average temperature for this training cycle was in the mid 70’s with dew point in the low 70’s.  There were plenty of times in July and August when it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Things started getting better in September and I’ve been loving the cooler temps ever since.

I’ve run 800+ miles these past 14 weeks and only 46 miles have been on the treadmill. I go through different phases every year when I’ll run more or less on TM’s and this training cycle was definitely more on the road. Obviously all of my races were outside.  I knew if I did most of my training indoors I would have had a difficult time adjusting to the summer temps. (It was hard enough as it was!)

Long Runs

Every marathon runner knows how important the long run is. My long runs ranged from 14 (when I started) to 22 miles (a few weeks ago). I only had two runs that were 20+.  I’m sure my racing schedule had something to do with this. All my long runs ranged from 7:15-7:35 min pace. I was fortunate to be able to run most of my long runs with a good friend who is also marathon training. This really helped! I can’t remember the last marathon training cycle when I had this much company on my long runs.  Thank you Natalie!! She made early Saturday morning long runs in the heat much more bearable!

Hard Effort Workouts

These are the workouts that really pushed me.  Sure, there were times when I would look at the week ahead and think, “Can I really do this?!”  This is one of the reasons why having a coach is so helpful! It’s a collaborative effort to help you reach your goals by pushing you to reach your potential.  This training cycle I really focused on starting on the slower end of my target pace range and picking it up each set. A few of the hard effort workouts I did included:

  • 2 mile repeats (3-4 sets) @ 6:05-6:18 range
  • 1 mile repeats (5-6 sets) @ 5:45-6:03 range
  • Tempo runs (4-8 miles in the middle of longer run) @ 5:59-6:20 range

Easy Runs

At least 4-5 days a week I had easy runs. No doubles. Most easy runs ranged from 6-10 miles.  In the summer heat these runs typically ranged from 7:45-8:15 pace.  I follow a lot of runners on Instagram and many seem to be running their easy runs very close to race pace. That isn’t an easy run!  My easy runs are AT LEAST 1-1.5 min per mile slower than my half marathon pace.  One of my college teammates who happens to be a 2:18 marathoner posts his workouts on his blog and his easy runs are about 1.5-2 min per mile slower than his half marathon pace.  That’s a true easy run. 


This summer I usually stopped for water at least once during any 8+ mile run because of the heat.  This hasn’t been as much of an issue the past month but in the thick of summer training there was no way around it. For any long run more than 14 miles I would have half a banana or toast before and then have a gel somewhere along the run with water.  Before every hard effort session, long run, or race I drink a spark. I’ve tried several other types of pre-workout drinks and this by far has the best taste and works well.  

Pre-race or pre-hard effort drink= Spark, Post-workout/ race drink= Rehydrate or water

Shoes / Gear

Ever since my injury last year I have been wearing Asics. The Asics Gel Nimbus has been the perfect shoe and helped me during my recovery and comeback.


Asics Gel Nimbus
Race Goals

This is hard one to write down because it means putting it all out there and I’d hate for anything to go wrong. Obviously a PR would great (anything sub 2:58:56) but I’m ready for more than a few seconds PR. I’ve put in a solid training cycle, done every workout, and hit all of my target paces. I’m going for a 2:55 and leaving it all on the course.

For anyone interested- I’m bib number 169 in Chicago this weekend! Runner tracking is available. It will be my first time in Chicago. I always say what better way to see the city than by running 26.2 miles in it!

Who else is racing this weekend? Where? Good luck!!

14 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training

  1. Good luck on Sunday- I can’t wait to see how you do and read your recap of the marathon. You’ve done a great job of training for it and it’s been fun following you. I agree that when doing long runs in the heat, having someone to run with you makes all the difference!
    Amy Lauren recently posted…Weekly Rundown: Sept 28 – Oct 4My Profile

  2. Have an AMAZING race in Chicago! You will smash that goal, no doubt about it!
    It’s an awesome city and the race is one of a kind. I loved it last year (as you know…thanks for helping me get my PB)!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It was extremely interesting to take a in-depth look at your training cycle!

    Huge congrats on your PR in Chicago. I know it is not exactly what you wanted, but you still did awesome! Enjoy some well-deserved rest now!

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