Training Breakdown: Full & Half Marathon PR's

This year’s TCS NYC Marathon is about a month away – who’s counting? – and as the fall marathon season kicks off, we can’t help but think about whether this is the year we'll PR (acheive a personal record). You're not alone in your quest, so we checked in with our expert coach, Luke Lombardo, who just so happens to be a NINE-TIME marathon runner. Having run the TCS NYC Marathon three times and finishing as high as 23rd in his age group, we know he must have a few tips and tricks for runners of every level so before you pull up that Google search page, look below to learn just how you’re going to get to the finish line faster.

What does a good marathon training plan look like? How do you build one and should it differ from the previous plan utilized?

  • A good marathon training plan should be 12-16 weeks with a minimum of four days of running a week, although preferably five or even six for more seasoned and competitive runners. The plan should include tempo runs, hill workouts and speed training as well as easy recovery days and long, slow distance runs.

  • I firmly believe that each marathon plan should be specifically tailored to each runner’s needs, and take into consideration past running experience, current fitness level and the amount of time he/she will be able to dedicate to training.

To achieve optimal fitness, should shorter, faster runs be incorporated into the plan, or should one just focus on long runs for these types of races?

  • Shorter, faster runs are 100-percent necessary if you want to PR in a race. The only way to get faster is through speed work. Accumulating mileage will help your body prepare to run a long distance, but it won’t help build and enhance your current speed and improve turnover. You must train your legs to be faster by routinely pushing them to run faster.

Will strength training make one faster and help him/her PR?

  • I believe that the most important element of proper strength training is that it will help prevent injuries during marathon training.

In order to PR, should one be logging more miles than when he/she previously trained for the same distance? Or is it quality over quantity?

  • In a sense it’s both! If you’re looking to PR, I think you should definitely be thinking about logging more quality miles in general. Adding mileage will prepare your body for the distance on race day and adding quality tempo runs will help you shave time off.

When you’ve PR’d for these distances in the past, what aspects of your training plan did you change?

  • I got more serious about my track workouts, I added a tempo run into my schedule and most importantly, I listened to my body throughout training. If an injury felt imminent, I backed down and rested for a couple of days to come back even stronger.