Workout of the Day

Megan Saloom, a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier in 2:43

Megan Saloom, a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier in 2:43

2 x 5 Miles

Splits:  31:25 / 30:20

Recovery: 3' recovery jog

Megan Saloom — December 15th, 2015


Context & Details 

When do you start your marathon build? Is it 12 weeks out, 16, or maybe even 20?

How about 4 weeks?  

In 2015, Megan Saloom had one goal; qualify for the 2016 marathon trials, but she thought she was going to get it by running a half-marathon. After a PR to run 76 minutes and then another attempt ruined by a rain-onslaught which dashed all hope of running fast, the only race left on the schedule was the Houston Half Marathon.

Four weeks before the race, Megan brought up the topic of switching to the marathon. As a coach, I’ve always followed the idea that it’s the athlete's career and I’m just a guide, a co-pilot if you will. Megan was convinced she could run sub 2:45, even off a short training block.  With her longest run having been 17 miles, we decided to do a simple test workout before we made the call.

We decided to run 2 x 5 Miles with short rest in between. The first 5 miles was to get a feel for goal marathon pace, and the next 5 miles had a target of working it down and seeing how she responded. We didn’t have time to go through a traditional 13-15 mile hard marathon pace effort, so we opted for keeping it manageable so she could explore how she responded and make a choice about go or no-go for this Marathon idea.

Megan clicked off the first 5 miles, starting at 6:30 pace and gradually progressing down to 6:10 for the last mile. On the second set, she started in the 6:15 range, and progressed down to 5:53 for the final mile. Once she finished, her mind had been made up, race the marathon at Houston.

It wasn’t that the workout was amazing or was any sort of indicator she could run sub 2:45. It was how she felt. The pace was very manageable for her, marathon pace did not scare her. This session gave her the confidence to take a risk, put herself out there with less than ideal preparation, but with an open mind to see what she could do if she gave it her best on the day.

The rest of this rushed build-up was almost all focused on marathon specific work. In two weeks we crammed another 10 miles at low 6-minute pace, a 20 miler with a pickup at the end, and 12 miles at goal marathon pace.

After the shortest taper imaginable (merely days) Megan ran 2:43, checking off her goal of being an Olympic Trials Qualifier, proving educated risk-taking can yield big results.


Any questions? You can send me a Direct Message on Twitter.  Thank you for reading.| SM

Steve Magness