June 21, 2013

4:30 Marathon or Bust! Treadmill Workout

On Monday, two weeks after my last marathon (yes yes San Diego race report still in progress), I finally got back to running. While in upstate New York on Monday morning, I went for what was supposed to be an easy three-mile jog around the SUNY Albany campus. It was beautiful scenery, but my legs just felt heavy and dead throughout – I think from all the squats in Refine Method on Sunday) – so it wasn’t quite as relaxing as I had wanted the run to be. At least I got to enjoy some pretty views of the campus, which has changed quite a bit since my childhood!

SUNY Albany Running Trail

After flying to Dallas on Monday night, I was still yearning to run more. Now, you would think that summer in Dallas is a horrible time/place for me to start taking my running more seriously, and it’s true that I haven’t run outside in Dallas in over a year, but one of my favorite (indoor) fitness classes to take there is actually running-based! Tread Fitness splits the time so it’s half the time on the treadmill and half the time lifting weights (dumbbells), rotating back and forth between the two in short sets. Their workouts are totally killer, to the point where sometimes it’s hard to make myself go since I know what a challenge they will be, but they are such great training tools! I have always hated the treadmill, but Tread taught me that you don’t have time to be bored if you’re doing short intervals and constantly changing the speed/incline.

I know I have a lot of followers striving for a 4:30 marathon, particularly after having paced that group for so many years in Vermont. Furthermore, my friend Ashley is training for a new marathon PR this fall, and 4:30 may be in her sights. She’s currently traveling in Switzerland (where she’ll be moving in less than a month – I can’t believe it!), and while running can be an amazing way to explore, sometimes it can be easier/safer to go to the hotel gym, particularly if you’re working long hours that only allow you to work out when it’s dark. I put together this workout for Ashley that gets her in and out of the gym fast, while still incorporating some brutal hills and fast sprints to make the regular 4:30 marathon pace (10:18/mile) on flat ground feel like nothing. The best way to make a marathon feel easy is to have the mental assurance that you’re capable of more, and this workout will definitely be a challenge!

One note about the sprint section – this will vary quite a bit from person to person depending on the individual’s makeup of slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. The speeds defined for sprints are minimums; if you think you can go faster (especially for that final 30 second push), go for it! If you don’t want to collapse in a puddle of sweat by the end of that last sprint, you didn’t go fast enough 🙂 That said, all of the “pushes” (hills and sprints) are only one minute long (you can do anything for one minute!), and since the intervals are based on a 2:1 principle of work to rest, you’ll always get at least 30 seconds of recovery right after. HIIT training is a great way to get your heart rate up and get a great workout in just a short amount of time – lots of research lately is showing that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to get results. Plus, the constant tweaking of the incline and speed won’t give you a chance to be bored – the time will fly!

4:30 or Bust! Marathon Treadmill Workout

And if you’d like to know the stats for what this workout encompasses, here’s a quick screenshot of the treadmill after I completed a test run:

Treadmill Stats

Of course this type of workout will not substitute for your long runs (there’s no getting out of those!). But just try adding these hills and sprints into your weekday workouts and you may be surprised at what you can do when it’s long slow distance time…


14 thoughts on “4:30 Marathon or Bust! Treadmill Workout”

  1. I still cannot believe I ran a 4:14 for my first marathon. 4:30 was my goal, and I am pretty sure I had the race of my life and will never run that fast of a marathon again. These are great tips!

    1. Amanda, you can absolutely run faster – take this workout, leave the inclines the same, but adjust the speeds so that the base is 9:09 (4:00 marathon pace). If you want to 🙂

    1. You left a cool comment on her [Blake’s] blog; I can’t wait to hear more from your perspective of the race!

    1. That will depend on your overall training plan and where it fits – despite the short duration, it’s meant to replace a workout and not a recovery/shakeout run. I would suggest using this to replace one of your short distance workout per week. Again, It’s definitely meant to build strength/speed, so don’t use it to replace a recovery run.

  2. Thank you for sharing this plan. I’m happy I stumbled across it 🙂

    I’m a nurse working long hours, therefore a lot of my training runs happen on the treadmill. I’m currently training for my first marathon this fall.

    Many thanks!!

  3. I always used to be in decent shape, and I was the best runner in highschool, but now I am 21 and to be honest it feels like I am 40. I am preparing for a cross competition event hosted by my college and I am training every day for almost a month now and it definitely feels better, especially after I have found your workout program.
    The weather outside it’s quite unfriendly, so treadmill workout is basically my only route to get in shape. I have only a month left until the deadline.

    This is the treadmill that I use for the moment, but I am looking up to replace it with a better one.

    Do you have any recommendations for a treadmill that comes with some fancy features for some advanced workout programs? My budget it would be near to $1,500.

    Looking forward to your replay!

    1. Hi Grigore! I’m not much of a treadmill expert – lately I have been really enjoying the Woodway Curve, but that one is REALLY expensive. Honestly, all the other treadmills I’ve tried have been about the same. Good luck in your competition!

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