Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 1-4

Chicago Marathon training has flown right by! I’m currently in the middle of week 5 and figured that I should bring everyone up to speed on how my training has been so far. Where have I been? Ah, I know. Starting marathon training the week after getting back from a 2-week long wedding and honeymoon in paradise will do that to a girl and her blog.

So far, marathon training has been pretty solid, though I’ve had to make some adjustments here and there. Life happens. Extremely busy during the week and then it seems that all my weekends are full with travel or some another engagement. But you know what? You can always adapt your plan, if needed.

For my first two full marathons, I followed the Hal Higdon marathon training plans. You can view his assortment of training plans for various distances and training levels here. I also highly recommend his book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide whether you’re a novice marathoner or advanced. Hey, it got me through the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and the Portland Marathon where I achieved my sub-4! Though, with the plan that I chose at the time, there was no speedwork involved. Would highly recommend this.

Back to the current marathon training cycle — for the Chicago Marathon, I’d like to really give my all to achieving a PR. The course is fast and flat and if I train right, I should be able to do it.

After consulting with several runner friends and online resources, I decided to do the Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path to Your Fastest Marathon, after hearing so much great feedback on this training plan. I would highly recommend getting the book (I got mine through Kindle) and reading their training principles and training plans to determine if it’s the right plan for you.

One thing to note is that with the Hansons plan, my longest long run will be a 16-miler as opposed to other training plans like Higdon’s which maxes out at 20 to 21 miles. Having a max 16 mile long run is not because Hanson opposes training longer than 16 miles (the elite athletes that they train as part of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project certainly do). Instead, the whole training plan focuses on a concept called “cumulative fatigue” which, by following the training plan, will ensure that your legs become used to the exhausted feeling that most people have while running a long distance race such as a marathon. The longest 16 mile long run works to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon, which is the toughest, rather than getting me through the first 20. This sounds logical to me.

The plan has me building base for the first 5 weeks and then me been running six days a week incorporating both easy runs, speedwork, tempo runs, and the long run. The mileage and the consecutive days running on this plan will have my legs extremely fatigued by the long run on Sundays. If I train properly, my legs should feel sufficiently fatigued and the long run will act as a simulator for hitting the wall and pushing through.

Phew. That was a mouthful. I encourage you to check out their training plans and see if it works for you.

One challenge to my marathon training this time around is the fact that I’ve been doing CrossFit for the past 5 months. I love CrossFit and think that it’s benefited me in so many ways — it acts as amazing strength training, cross training, and has helped to significantly build my muscle and definition. No – you won’t build muscle like a man. At least……. I hope I don’t look like a man. šŸ™‚

Doing CrossFit 3x/week in addition to running 6x/week this next week will prove to be extremely challenging and tiring. Already I’ve felt the struggles of exercising so rigorously on consecutive days with no rest. I think that, recently, my longest streak of workout/no rest has been 13 days. Crazy, right? For the rest of this training cycle, I’m going to adjust to reduce my running down to 5x/week or reduce my CrossFit to 2x/week, or any combination that makes sense for that week. I’ll listen to my body, take more rest days, properly fuel and hydrate. It’ll be tough, but I’m ready to put in the work.

So are you interested in the workouts I’ve done for the first 5 weeks of Chicago Training?

Here goes!








Week 1:



Run: Easy 3 mi


Portland Trip

Run: 3 mi








Week 2:

Portland Trip

Run: Easy 4 mi


Run: Easy 2 mi


Run: Easy 3 mi

Actual: Skipped Run


Run: Easy 3 mi

Actual: Skipped Run

Run: Easy 3 mi

Actual: 5 miles








Week 3:

Run: Easy 4 mi

Actual: Skipped Run


Run: Easy 4 mi


Run: Easy 4 mi

Actual: 6 miles


Run: Easy 4 mi

Run: Easy 4 mi








Week 4:

Run: Easy 5 mi


Run: Easy 5 mi

Actual: 6 miles

CrossFit AM

Boise Trip

Run: Easy 3 mi

Boise Trip

Run: Easy 3 mi

Boise Trip

Actual: Skipped Run

Run: Easy 5 mi

Boise Trip

So far, my mileage for the first four weeks have hovered closely to the 20 mile mark to build myself a base from not running consistently for the past few months. I don’t mind that it’s starting off in the ~20 mile range as opposed to jumping in too quickly and getting injured.

The next 13.5 weeks of training (I’m currently into week 5) will have me ramp up to between 30-50 miles per week. The most I’ve ever run in a week for marathon training is around 41 or so. Coupled with CrossFit? If anything, I will need to tweak the times and types of CrossFit that I do while training the rest of this time – need to listen to my body and adapt.

Here are some fun pictures that I’ve accumulated in the past month from running around to CrossFit. Enjoy!



























11 thoughts on “Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 1-4

  1. Can’t wait to follow along with your training! I’ve researched the Hansons training plan and I’d like to give it a shot too once I’m not such a novice marathoner.

    • Since you’re doing Chicago Marathon, too, let’s do some training runs together especially the long runs! Though, I’m a bit worried that my 16-mile long run won’t be enough as I’ve been used to putting in a couple 20-21 milers during training.

      However, I will just have to trust that the plan will do its thing — my consecutive runs in the days before the LR should make the LR super hard. Already I’m feeling tired frequently. The plan doesn’t recommend a lot of cross-training/strength-training. I guess I’m going rogue on the Hanson plan! šŸ˜‰

      I’m actually very excited for Chicago!

  2. Good luck, looks like a good plan! The cumulative fatigue is no joke – good you plan to be aware and listen to the body. I had to tweak a little to my abilities but it was still worthwhile (I was doing it for the half though to check it out.)

    • Thanks, Paulette! Oh, yes, that’s right! Forgot that you’ve done the Hansons plan for the half.

      Gosh…. the mileage just keeps piling on. I will definitely need to stay in tune with my body and adjust the plan for sure.

  3. Dang girl you are an animal! Awesome job so far and just remember that is it MORE than ok to take that running down to 4-5 days if you feel like incorporating Crossfit is still important (which I think it is!). I think more and more studies/stories are out that prove running less/lifting more is a great way to increase your endurance capabilities! Keep rocking chica!

    • Thank you, lady!! That’s right. I need to keep remembering this. Running 4-5 days a week while still continuing CrossFit 3 days a week is very much OK, more than OK. My body feels incredibly strong and I think that this will train me well for the marathon in terms of endurance and strength. I’m constantly pushing through a wall in CrossFit and wanting to keel over, so hey… I can tolerate pain more.

      Hope you see you soon, lady! Especially at Ragnar PNW next week. You ultra badass, you.

  4. So fun to have you doing the same plan for the same race! I heavily tweaked the first five weeks an am already feeling so tired! I can’t tell if that’s just from running or from going on 4 months without more than 3 hours of consecutive sleep since L’s birth. Can’t wait for Chicago!

    • Yes, I’m so looking forward to meeting you in Chicago, my lovely teammate mama bird!

      I think your plan is geared towards the advanced plan – for me, the beginner plan (even though I’m not a beginner marathoner) was the best place to start especially because I’ve never incorporated speedwork, etc. into my training. Plus for me, I’ve never hit the 50 mile week, so it’ll be especially challenging!

      Good luck with training!

  5. I am interested to hear how you end up feeling about the Hanson plan! I am using a variant on McMillan’s “You, only faster” plan for CIM in December. A friend is training for Portland using Hanson though and really likes it so far.

    • I will be sure to keep you updated on this. šŸ™‚ Is your friend on Twitter? Would love to know how he/she is faring with Hansons! Portland and Chicago are just a week apart, or at least when I ran Portland last year. Just a warning… mile 17 or so has the infamous St. John’s Bridge which just about slaughtered everyone. I made it up to the very top without stopping but then received a painful leg cramp.

  6. Pingback: Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 5-9 | sarahthefitfoodie

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