MCM Training: Mindset & Long Run List

After having training plans that seemed to change by the week, I realized that maybe the day-by-day schedule doesn’t agree with my mindset. That’s fine; it doesn’t have to. Approaching marathon #4 means that I have a pretty good idea of what I’m in for  – all 26.2 miles of fun! –  how I deal with it and what I want the end results to be.

Goals: finish in 3:30, pace the legs consistently, don’t injure anything.

Since last year’s MCM approach was far from consistent and didn’t follow a routine until about 6 weeks out, I know what my mind and muscles can function off of. I know what they deal with, and what they resist. I know how to make them happy, and I know how to train them to be stronger, faster and smarter.

Since the above-mentioned routine-less approach worked, I gave this year’s “plan” some wiggle room and know that we’ll breathe easy (i.e. we have no plans to move cross-country any time in the coming weeks. Whoop!).

Meet, the mindset & the Long Run List:

decisions and values Disney  MCM long run list

They seem to have really hit it off.

Yep, it’s pen-and-paper. It’s hanging on my fridge, and I see it every day.

It’s not hard to go out and run, because my mind is on the prize and what it takes to get there! I value the self-challenge and having the ability (for now) to tackle it.

I check off each week (clearly), and see what’s coming up. I build for three weeks, and then back off. I have one half-marathon in the mix, approximately half-way through, to race with friends and test the legs’ speed.

It’s just a personal preference: I don’t like having set mileage for the days of the week. I run anywhere from 4-7 miles on weekdays, depending on whether it should be an easy day or a moderately “hard” one. I aim for 30-40 mile weeks, and build gradually. I put speedwork into the run, as if Kate were running with me and pushing the pace without knowing it. Mixed into that recipe you’ll find doses of yoga, walking, tabata-workouts, cycling & rest.

I prefer not to have a plan dictating the schedule 24/7 because life gets in the way and sometimes I want to let it. As long as each of those weeks gets a check mark and doesn’t come with an asterisk, I deem things successful!


Who else is training for a Fall race? Which plan are you using, and why? I love a good discussion around running, and the variety of plans out there always opens up a few weekday workout options!



Filed under balance, marathon, MCM, running, things that make me Happy, training

16 responses to “MCM Training: Mindset & Long Run List

  1. Hi Heather! I am so excited for you for MCM! Your plan sounds like a good one and I know you are going to rock it! I am training for my 10th marathon and when I think about all the different approaches I’ve taken over the years I have learned so much about myself. After every marathon I take a step back and think about what works for me and what doesn’t. To set ourselves up for success and a positive experience, we really need to pay attention to what is best for us as individuals and to be flexible along the way. I had too many marathons where I over trained and burned myself out just to get the miles in. I was miserable. Now I am more like you – sticking to my long runs and being flexible during the week. I have a plan but it is constantly changing. I try to always make sure I am sticking to certain principles (like never two hard days in a row, always taking at least one rest day a week, building the mileage safely) but other than that I am switching things up all the time! We really have to connect before MCM – I want to see you there!!!!! Miss you so much!! xo jess

  2. I like the pen & paper plan! I have gone both ways – the plan being mapped out for every day of the week, and the no plan at all. I’m somewhere in the middle right now. I’m running Chicago but have been so focused on the 70.3 but I am NOT in marathon mode at all. I’ve tried to get some longer runs in but this has been an interesting training cycle for sure. Good thing I’m treating it as a fun run!

    • Heather C

      I still struggle with the idea of a marathon for “fun”… 😉 You’ll love it, though – I’ve heard so many great things about that race. Maybe next year you can do MCM for fun!

  3. Every time I train I try to force myself into a carefully laid out plan, but I only ever end up following the weekend run (usually). So your way makes way more sense. Plus, I just love checking things off any list, so it’s a win-win!

  4. Pen & Paper, is a great way to commit it to memory. I am so proud of you. 4?! Wow, incredible. I have no doubt you’ll train smart and hard.

    Does training for my 5k count? lol

  5. I also believe in the long run schedule and the figure it out as you go weeks. Parfait.

  6. I am currently traininh for Baltimore and using a day-by-day plan. I think in the future I will be less rigid and just make sure I hit a certain long run mileage each week. At the moment things are working pretty well and I take Tues/Thurs completely off from working out so that I can be more productive during the work week.

  7. I love your approach to marathon training! It’s tailored just right for what you’ve learned over the years and what works for YOUR body and it takes the pressure off by not being UBER structured about it. I dig that! It’s very much in line with how I am training for my first too – two mid-range runs and one long run per week. Aiming for 30-40 miles a week, which I know isn’t all that far but this is my first and I’m trying to train smartly and safely 🙂 so far, so good!

  8. Woohoo! Glad to hear you’re going strong! I’m training (ish… not nearly as dedicated as you!) for the Bozeman half-marathon (NEXT WEEKEND!!). YIKES. I’ve been admittedly lazy about my training, but am still feeling like I should be able to meet my goals. I’m nervous, but think I think it should be a good one – especially for my first real race!

  9. krissy m. murphy

    How many days do you run per week?

  10. YOur plan looks great and consistent. I’m sure you can reach your goal. Nothing planned after this 50K, but school. Not exactly fun, but a good thing.

  11. I love your approach – throw the rules out, run whatever miles you want during the week and get your long runs in. perfect. Good luck!!

  12. I’m impressed that you create your own plan and run by feel. Since this is only me second marathon, I am using a plan from RW and so far I am really thriving on it. I think I feel more comfortable in the hands of the experts, plus I am a type-A person who loves plans of all types.

    I am running the Parks Half-Marathon next week, too!

  13. jos

    Three 20s…that’s a great endurance plan! Will some of these long runs be trails? Those will definitely help with stability to build strength over the next few months. I rarely have a serious training plan but I usually have a long run on Saturdays. This year I had a 27-week training plan for the Leadville 50. I only missed two weekends because I was traveling in Memphis and Germany. That is crazy to look back at but I appreciated that I could tailor my schedule if I had a busy/tired/bad week. It’s important to have a base mileage (~12 miles) so that your body is still strong but can recover. Otherwise I KNOW you can REACH 3:30!!

  14. Too funny—I just posted something about my training plan for the Philly Half in November, and my strategy is very similar: Think of the long runs you need to do, and count backwards from race day to figure out when you need to start doing them. Looks like your plan will have you prepped and ready to go for October!

    • Heather C

      If only we could look back and tell our OCD-training selves this strategy a few years ago, right? (Not that those versions of us would have listened…) 😉

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