San Francisco Marathon Training Cycle Details

San Francisco Marathon Training Cycle Details

This is it.  Just a couple more days until I head to San Francisco to put months of training into one race!  I know I’ve done my best and I’m anxious to put it to the test Sunday morning.  I think no matter how long I’ve been running I am constantly learning about the sport. This summer I’ve experienced and learned more than I ever imagined I would preparing for the San Francisco Marathon. Every training cycle is different and anyone who has trained for a marathon understands that there is something truly unique about the journey.  Before I get into my training specifics I thought I would list a few of the things that stand out in my mind from my SFM experience.

1. Summer marathon training is no joke. The reality of a July 31 marathon means long runs, tempos, mile repeats, and every other run will be done in the blazing heat of summer.  It doesn’t help to whine or complain. Get acclimated and get moving! There were times I wanted to run less (or not at all) but I knew I had this race looming ahead on the calendar and it wasn’t going to train for itself.  In May and June the temperatures rose steadily from low the 60’s to 70’s. Here in Arkansas by the beginning of July every run seemed to be heat index of 80+ with dew point regularly above 75. I never thought I could adjust to the crazy warm summer temperatures but somehow it happened.  Our bodies can do amazing things and I’ve decided surviving marathon training in the summer in the south is one of them! By the end of my training cycle I was able to knock out my tempos and long runs with the same level of intensity (or better) that I would have during a much cooler time of the year. (My ideal training and racing temperatures are the 40’s-50’s.)  This summer it wasn’t necessarily easy or enjoyable but it was doable.

2. Be on guard for bugs and nature! I’ve never had a training cycle when I’ve had more mosquito bites (while on the run) or had an outbreak of poison oak. A little over a week ago I hid my water and gel right off the side of a trail I’ve run on for years. Within 48 hours I realized I had poison oak and had three breakout/ rash areas which itched like crazy!! I’m still recovering from this but I think I should be mostly in the clear by race day.

3. Safety first when it comes to weather and strangers! Many of my runs for this training cycle were solo due to my two main running partners traveling or dealing with injuries.  I always feel safer running solo during daylight hours so this training cycle was unique in that every run I can think of was at or around the sunrise.  I didn’t have to carry my flashlight or worry about reflective gear.  This is probably my favorite thing about summer running.  I did have a very close call with weather about two weeks ago.  I was halfway through a 10 mile run when a major storm system (which we were supposed to miss according to the radar) hit hard. A complete stranger offered me a ride which I politely declined.  I’d rather take my chances with the storm!  I ran two miles in POURING rain and lightning until I got a to a store to call my husband to come get me.  I also barely missed a tree coming down that was struck by lightning.  It was up on my way out (around mile 4) and on my way back at mile 6 the tree was was down, covering the trail.  I had to climb up and across it and I’ve never been more scared about getting struck by lightning.

4.  Choose the hilly route.  I know I’m going to be facing some hills in San Francisco.  One of the workouts that helped me prepare for the Little Rock Marathon was hill repeats.  After Hogeye I had to take a few weeks off hills due to some hip issues I was having but fortunately that resolved itself within a few weeks.  Since then I’ve started working them in again- especially on longer runs. My most challenging run by far was a 17 miler in the Ouachita National Forest.  My 22 miler worked in my favorite local hills but it did not compare to the elevation gain from the 17 miler.  One thing I have done differently this time around is more consistent hill sprints during easy runs and long runs.  Thanks to segments on strava (and my competitive nature) I’ve been challenging myself on some of these local hills to get up them faster than I did on a previous run.



Do I have any regrets?  No.  I’ve done my best in my training and I hope I can say the same after my race Sunday.  This hasn’t been my highest mileage training cycle but it’s been very consistent.  I typically work in a half marathon as a tune-up race during a marathon training cycle but that did not happen.  Instead I had a 1 and 2 mile race which is about as opposite a racing distance as you can get from a marathon!

The number of weeks in the San Francisco Marathon training cycle- 14

Races run during TSFM training- 4 (8k, 2 mile, 1 mile, 5k)

Longest run- 22 miles

Hardest workout- 3 x 3 mile repeats

Average weekly mileage- 57

Highest mileage week- 70

Lowest mileage week- 42

Weeks between the Hogeye Marathon to the San Francisco Marathon- 16

Now just a couple short easy runs between now and Sunday and then it’s go time!! San Francisco here I come!

7 thoughts on “San Francisco Marathon Training Cycle Details

  1. Good luck Tia- you’ve got this! I did notice you didn’t race as much as you usually did, but I don’t think this is a bad thing when training for a marathon and summer. In fact, I looked for a Fall marathon down south to train for for that very reason (we don’t have a ton of races here during the summer, so I could devote more time to longer mileage instead of trying to run a fast 5K or something). I never could find one, but I’m not too sad about not training for a marathon in the summer heat ;). The weather can be an obstacle here as well, and I have had several afternoon speed workouts become treadmill runs due to thunderstorms.

    I bet you will really reap the benefits when you get to SF and the weather will hopefully be cooler there. Running hill repeats sounds like a great idea and it sounds like you did your homework on the course and race itself.
    Amy Lauren recently posted…Weekly Rundown: July 18-24My Profile

  2. Good observation Amy!! You’re right about racing less. Every summer the Grand Prix series takes a big break and I’ve taken advantage of this. I was able to work in my longer runs on weekends when I otherwise would have been racing. The Grand Prix schedule will pick back up immediately after SFM (6 days later!) so my first few races back are going to be during my recovery cycle (AKA- I’ll be running SLOW!!!).

  3. Good luck Tia! You sound VERY prepared and mentally ready to go. Just remember to have FUN and ENJOY THE MOMENT! We are so lucky we get to participate in these events. It is a blessing! SO….put a smile on your face and a pep in your step! YOU GOT THIS!!!

  4. Good luck this weekend Tia! I know you will probably smash this course. So neat to hear that you are on Strava too. I just sent you a request to follow you. I love Strava because I don’t have time to meet up with a local track club or with a buddy to run. But having virtual training partners motivates me. I love seeing other people’s workouts, photos, and miles.

  5. GO TIA! I incredibly admire your dedication. Training for a marathon exclusively in the summer is no joke and something I could never bring myself to do. I’m sure this will pay off tomorrow! Can’t wait to hear how it went! GOOD LUCK!

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