Lee Troop knows a few things about the marathon. The 42-year-old Boulder resident was a three-time Olympian for Australia and holds a personal best of 2:09:49 for the distance. He’s now the high performance coach for the Boulder Track Club and works with some of the best marathoners in the United States. Reigning national cross country champion Laura Thweatt made her 26.2-mile debut in New York last fall a memorable one, finishing seventh overall and top American in 2:28:23. Sean Quigley, who ran his personal best of 2:13:30 under Troop, recently finished ninth at the Olympic Trials.
One of Troop’s key marathon-specific workouts for his charges is a progressive long run done three weeks out from race day. Here are the key details:
WHAT: An 18-mile long run that starts off easy and gets faster every 3 miles. The last 6 miles are completed at goal marathon pace. E.g., If your goal marathon pace is 7:30 per mile, begin the run with 3 miles at an easy training pace. Then run miles 4-6 at 8:15 per mile, miles 7-9 at 8:00 per mile, miles 10-12 at 7:45 per mile, and the last 6 miles at your goal marathon pace of 7:30 per mile.
WHY: “It gives me a really good indication of what they’ll be able to hit [on race day],” Troop says. “If they hit it, we can go into the last couple weeks [of training] with a lot of confidence.”
WHEN AND HOW: Troop has his athletes complete this challenging workout three weeks out from their goal race. “This is one of the last hard workouts we do,” explains Troop, who adds about 5-8 seconds per mile for his athletes when they’re training at altitude. “And it’s done off a fairly heavy block of training leading into it, so it’s just the right amount of stress.”