8 Weeks Out: Dathan Ritzenhein’s Marathon Training
Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein details every mile of his Boston Marathon training from February 18–24, 2019.
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Eight weeks out from race week is pretty much the heaviest load of training. This week I wanted to show you what a normal week looks like now for me in the thick of training for the Boston marathon. All the paces, drills, lifts, massage, workouts—all the little details that go into training for a professional marathoner.
Here is last week, eight weeks out from Boston Marathon.
Monday, February 18:
-AM: Woke up to 4 inches of snow, so I pushed the workout to the afternoon and just ran and easy 4 mile shakeout from home and waited for the roads to clear. Average pace 6:32 per mile.
-Rehab: After my morning run I had 45 minutes of treatment with Dr. Jason Ross from Train Out Pain Chiropractic. I normally see him twice a week for Chiro/fascia work, he’s amazing. He also does my strength training program. Once a week I also see my physical therapists Adam Homolka at Endurance Rehab and Athletics and Dave Asselin at PT360 Physical Therapy —but not this week as I head to training camp. I’m going to be missing that down in Florida!
-PM: 3 miles warm up at 6:32 per mile. 20 minutes of drills and strides.
Workout: 5 x 1.5 miles of hard, alternating with 800m moderate/easy on rolling hilly terrain in East Grand Rapids. I averaged 4:53 per mile pace for the 1.5-mile sections and 5:20 per mile average for the 800m sections. 10 miles total in 49:53, 4:59 average pace. My goal pace for Boston is around 4:55/mile (2:09–2:10 marathon).
3 miles cool down at 6:54 per mile average.
Tuesday, February 19:
-AM: Off travel to Florida for Hanson’s/Brooks Training Camp for Boston Marathon.
-PM: I arrived and just did 30 minutes of light aqua jog to flush out the flight. I normally take one day off of running every 6–10 days and do some strength training and 30–60 minutes of cross training to let the body recover and decompress.
Wednesday, February 20:
-AM: 10 miles looping around the turf fields at 6:21 average per mile. Drills and 8 x 100m strides. It is super hot and humid for this five day stretch.
-PM: 5 miles in 32:11 from the house, 6:25 per mile.
Thursday, February 21:
-AM: 20 miles at the Hilly “Clay Loop” in Clermont in 1:57.01, 5:50 per mile average. It was very humid and hot! I drank three full 20oz. bottles over 20 miles and still felt dehydrated later in the day!
-PM: Strength training. 45 minutes. I did my usual workout made by Dr. Jason Ross but with added focus on eccentric quad work for Boston Prep, building strength for survival on the downhills. I do a lot of split lunge/squats with weight, coming down slowly, with an isometric hold at the bottom.
-Rehab: Massage after for 60 minutes at the house.
Friday, February 22:
-AM: 12 miles at Green Swamp Preserve at 6:37 per mile. It is still very hot and humid.
-PM: 4 miles from the house at 6:31 per mile average. Drills and 8x100m strides after.
Saturday, February 23:
-AM: 3 miles warm up at 6:42 per mile average. 20 minutes of drills and strides.
Workout: 4 x 2 miles on rolling terrain w/ 3–6 minutes easy jog recovery at Sugarloaf Mountain in Clermont.
My 2-mile splits were:
9:50 (4:55/mile average)/ 1k jog rest at 6:23 pace
10:03 (5:01/mile average)/ 1 mile jog rest at 6:14 pace
9:56 (4:58/mile average)/ 1 mile jog rest at 6:21 pace
9:47 (4:53/mile average)/ 800m jog finish at 6:26 pace
11 miles total at in 59:13, a 5:22 per mile average. It again was extremely hot and humid. At this point I’m starting to feel the consecutive days of extreme weather.
Cool down 4.5 miles at 6:43 average per mile.
-PM: Strength training for 58 minutes total. Our usual work with added focus on eccentric quad work for Boston.
-Rehab: PM Massage for 60 minutes.
Sunday, February 24:
-AM: Easy 14 miles on the hilly “Clay Loop” in Clermont at 6:43 per mile average. The last day of very hot and humid weather!
-PM: Off, recover, refuel and rehydrate!
Weekly Total: 106 miles.
This is just a glimpse of what I do at this point in my career to get ready for a marathon. It’s important to note that everyone is different. I try to never compare myself to what others do in training and that should be the same for any athlete whether professional or recreational.
Each athlete has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths always and refine your weaknesses! You might read about some athletes that can run a substantial amount more than you, or who have better quality sessions. Don’t try and emulate their training; learn the principles and patterns, then make it your own by what works best for your body!
I also have had to adapt over time. I used to be able to run 120–130 miles a week when I was younger but now I find that one day off a week is something my body needs. It takes 15 miles out of my weekly volume but I have to look at my workouts and know that the quality is there and I don’t need to reach as much for the quantity that I did when I was younger. I have a lifetime of mileage in the legs.
So if you are an athlete that is still competing at a high level but getting into your 30’s and 40’s, be conscious that your workouts can still be very good, but you need to make the recovery a priority. When you are younger that maybe be a slightly different story. You recover fast and are still building the foundation. That is so important, as you need that base to be strong. Once you get there, you go for the specific work.
Good luck to all you other spring marathoners in the thick of your training cycle!