You Can Do 26.2—Part II

The Marathon distance was originally instituted in commemoration of the fabled soldier Pheidippides. Legend has it that right after the Greek soldier was done fighting in the battle of Marathon, he set off running from the battlefield to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. It is said that he ran the entire distance (26.2 miles) without stopping, burst into the assembly and exclaimed, “we have won,” before collapsing and dying!


While there is debate about the historical accuracy of this legend, there are two important lessons that we can take away from Pheidippides. The first: A marathon is an arduous journey that will test your mental and physical limits, but ultimately what determines your success is your will to persevere. And second: You can’t just roll off the battlefield (or couch for that matter) and expect to run an effective marathon. Adequate preparation is of utmost importance if you want to successfully arrive at the finish line standing on you own two feet…and happy.

If you’ve read Part 1 and already completed Phase 1 of my 14-Week Marathon Training Program then you’re on the way to achieving your goal of finishing a marathon. Phase 2 of the 14-Week Marathon Training Program will build upon the gains you’ve made by introducing new stimuli designed to bring you to a new level of fitness. Staying focused and consistent with the program, while pushing yourself mentally and physically in training, will ensure that you arrive at the finish line healthy, with a smile on your face, and able to fight another day!

Woman Running

Phase 2: Build 1

FocusPhase 1 of the Marathon Training Program developed a very solid base of aerobic endurance. Having already developed general fitness allows us to now shift the focus towards quality running which more closely resembles the demands you’ll confront during the marathon. While the Long Runs will remain the foundation of Phase 2, we will introduce two new runs, Pace Runs and Tempo Runs. These runs will be more challenging as we start to build race specific fitness.

Hydration and Fueling
Phase 2 is the perfect time to start rehearsing your race day fluid and nutrition plan. The best training sessions to practice this are your long runs. The runs are now long enough in duration that you will need to start hydrating and fueling to complete them successfully. The marketing tactics used by sports nutrition companies have lead us to believe that hydrating and fueling is an extremely complex and complicated process but it is actually quite simple. The following guidelines will allow you to stay properly hydrated and fueled during your long workouts and race!


Drink consistently in small sips and remember you only need to drink to thirst. Thirst is your body’s amazing communication mechanism, designed to inform you that it needs fluid. Listen to your body!It’s alright to become slightly dehydrated as optimum performance is achieved when dehydrated with a weight loss between 2% and 5% of your body weight. However, if you fall below this mark your performance starts to decline and it becomes extremely difficult to replenish fluids.

Stick to liquid or semi-solid food while running. Gels, blocks, and liquid calories are easier to digest than solid food while running at a high intensity.
Consume 100-200 calories per hour during a long training session or race. This equates to about 1 gel and 4-8 oz. of sports drink every 30 minutes.
For runs and workouts that last less than 90 minutes it is not necessary to consume calories during the workout. Your body already has more than enough carbohydrate stored in your muscles to fuel you for that training session.

Types of Workouts in the Base Phase

Pace Runs:a href=”index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=269″ target=”_blank”>Phase 2 of training introduces the pace run which is the projected average pace at which you will run the marathon. If you are new to the distance or do not have a projected goal time you should use the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale to ensure you are running at the proper intensity (PRE 5-6). The lengths of the pace runs in Phase 2 are relatively short, giving you the opportunity to explore the pace you will be able to run on race day!

Tempo Runs: In Phase 2 we also introduce a bit of intensity in the form of tempo runs. A tempo run should always begin with a warm-up that includes 15 minutes of easy running. The “tempo” part of the run should be completed at 15 to 45 seconds per mile faster than your projected race pace (PRE 7-8). During Phase 2, your workout should include 10 minutes of tempo in week 5, 15 minutes in week 6, and 20 minutes in week 7. Finish every tempo run with 10 minutes of easy running. If you find yourself tired on Thursdays from runs earlier in the week, it is perfectly acceptable to turn your Tempo Run into an easy run to save your energy for Saturday’s long run.


Long Runs: As described in detail in Part 1, the long run will continue to be the most important run you will do during the week. This workout should take precedence over all workouts done during the week!

Easy Runs: As described in detail in Part 1, easy runs are similar to long runs however they are much shorter in duration. Remember that Friday’s run is optional and if you are feeling tired or run down you are better off cross-training and saving your legs for Saturday’s workout.

Cross-Training: As described in detail in Part 1, cross-training can be considered any form of aerobic exercise other than running.

Rest: As described in detail in Part 1, it is highly beneficial to break or refrain from physical activity either one or two days a week to allow your body to rest.

 (Look for Kyle Visin’s article on the third phase of training in the October 2012 issue of SB Fitness.)

Coach Kyle Killer Tri

A USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Coach, Kyle Visin specializes in coaching runners and triathletes in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. He is the co-founder of Killer Tri, an innovative triathlon training and development program that integrates hands-on instruction to maximize measurable results.

An elite competitor himself, Kyle heads to Kailua Kona this October to compete in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. His Personal Best for the marathon portion of an Ironman triathlon is 3:02:49. A graduate of UCSB, he works as a mechanical engineer at Asylum Research in Goleta when not racing or coaching, and lives with his wife in Santa Barbara. 

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