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Chicago Marathon 2015 - official Training plan and resources


Week 1, day 1 of the beautiful struggle that will take us through the next 18 weeks. For those who slept, I'm talking about Chicago Marathon training. I don't know about you, but I definitely have my mind on my miles and miles on my mind!

Before moving forward, I, Nico B and we, 3run2 just want to remind you once again that we do not endorse nor are we associated with any one particular training plan or coach. As the legendary Black Sheep once stated, "The Choice is Yours". We do however strongly suggest that you ask around, do your due diligence and most importantly be realistic when deciding on your training this summer. 

Whether you're aiming to complete your first or fastest marathon, your primary goal should be to make it to the starting line healthy. Please take stock of how you feel throughout your training experience and always listen to your body. Believe you me, self-preservation is key!

If you're unsure about anything regarding training, running or racing, just ask. The beauty of our community is that someone else has most likely been there before and is willing to share their thoughts. Be careful what you wish for though. As you may know, once you get a runner talking about running, they'll never stop.

 Hal may not look happy with us but it's all love baby, baby! Chicago Marathon Expo 2013.

Hal may not look happy with us but it's all love baby, baby! Chicago Marathon Expo 2013.

Before we move forward, I want to take a second and toast the god Hal Higdon. This man's plans, or at least variations of, have gotten myself and many others across many finish lines many a times. He's definitely not the only game in town, but what can i say, "He's a hustler, baby..." 

Forgive me for taking a while to get to the point, but the real purpose of this post is to weigh in on Nike's NRC Marathon Training Plan. Or if you prefer, The 2015 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Training Program.  Same content, the latter is official like a whistle and branded like so. 

First things first, hats off to the swoosh. This thing is about as in depth as they come. It's approximately 30 pages and leaves little up to the imagination. If you're considering giving this a go, I suggest printing up a hard copy and reading through it thoroughly.

Now I completely understand the gravity of my ask, my attention span is that of a goldfish myself. However, you really ought to know what your're getting yourself into over the next few months. The same goes for any training plan that you're thinking about following, or coach that you're considering working with. Trust me on this one. 

I personally like how this plan breaks things down conceptually. Speed, progression and endurance are the basic building blocks of successful marathon training. Each run should serve a purpose over the next 18 weeks.

Proper rest and nutrition (recovery) are equally as important. With that being said, say goodbye to late Friday nights and hello to post-long run brunches. I'll even go on record and say that beer and vodka taste better with breakfast. 

"Throughout the plan, you will see references to different paces you should aim to maintain during specific workouts. Use the chart above as your guide to help you understand which pace you should be running at."

Love the chart above, but in my opinion it should read a little differently. AVG MILE PACE (Left Hand Column) would make more sense to me as BEST MILE PACE. Also, I'd personally determine said pace by running a mile time trial. 

Again, this is simply my interpretation. I could be completely missing the point for all I know. The cool thing is that you have the ability to ask a NRC Chicago Coach yourself.

More on that later...

I'm a firm believer of meeting people where they stand so naturally I consider this glossary to be necessary. Running has the capacity to be intimidating as is, especially if you don't know what the hell someone's talking about. Although this information is readily available online, I appreciate the convenience of having it all in one place. 

If you've made it this far, literally and figuratively, I applaud you. Marathon training is definitely not for the weak of heart. Nike outlines each and every week of their training cycle with an image like the one above.

Specifics of each workout can be found in their respective block. This plan is made to be flexible however "don't do Speed & Endurance runs back-to-back and stick to the recommended miles." Each week corresponds to the overall sample plan pictured below. 

So here's how I'd personally work the above plan.

I'd run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I'd recover on Monday and Friday.

  • Monday - Recovery
  • Tuesday - Speed (Track)
  • Wednesday - Progression
  • Thursday - Speed (Hills, Strength, Fartlek, Tempo)
  • Friday - Recovery
  • Saturday - Endurance (Long Run)
  • Sunday - Progression 

I'd increase the distance of progression runs gradually as the weeks went on, peak, then bring it on back down. I'd also consider peaking much higher than 7 or 5 miles.  Mind you, I've done this in the past and felt good doing so or else I'd stick to the script. Lastly, I'd consider swapping out Sunday's run for an equally as challenging bike ride. 

I'd treat portions of my long runs as workouts, running several miles at half marathon and marathon pace. Again, I've done this in the past and have been happy with the results. 


So there ya have it. My thoughts and how I'd personally put my thang down, flip it and reverse it this summer. 

If you have any questions about marathon training I suggest you sign up for a Nike Run Club Chicago Session yourself and chat with one of the experts above. It's free and they welcome runners of all strengths. Click here for this week's schedule.