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Episode 38: Marathon Training Plan Phases – Part Two: Sharpening

This is part two of a three part series on the training phases/cycles of marathon training.   In this episode I share tips on how to train during the sharpening phase as well as its purpose, its duration, where to start and how to incorporate it into your marathon training plan.


Show notes:

  • A quick review of my experience at USA Track & Field – level one coaching certification class
  • A quick review of the base building phase of your marathon training plan
  • The sharpening phase – focusing on fine tuning your training, targeting your race environment (terrain, heat, altitude) as well as simulating race conditions through speed workouts.
  • Benefits include improving race performance, better judgement of pacing, optimizing lactate levels, simulate effort.
  • Not all runners need to do sharpening (eg. beginners).   Base-building should be primary, then sharpening due to better results of proper base building.
  • Length of sharpening phase depends widely between beginners vs experienced athletes depending on where the athlete is at.
  • Sharpening workouts should be minimal, but higher intensity.  Alternate hard/easy.
  • Where does sharpening phase fit in and how to apply it.

Listener Questions answered:

1)  Running shoes – How to buy and select running shoes and the best place to buy.
2)  Pain in the knee – What should I do to deal with knee pain?
3)  Shout out and congratulations to Alex A for his 4:05 Charleston marathon beating his old PR of 4:51.
4)  How long should recovery be after running a marathon at a hard effort, especially with another marathon coming up and what do you focus on between the two races?  Speed? Base Building? etc.


If you want an example of a complete marathon training program, including everything I have previously mentioned already built in for you, be sure to check out my 20 Week Marathon Training Program.

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Steve is a RRCA and USA Track and Field certified running coach and club director for Run Fit Running Club in Central Ohio. He is the host of the Start Running Podcast and Marathon Training Podcast which can be found in iTunes.

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