Training S.M.A.R.T for the Philadelphia Marathon

I'm starting to train for the November race now with a tailored-to-me training plan. Here's how it works.

Runners in the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon // Photo by Jim McWilliams

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you warned you about the rapidly approaching Philadelphia Marathon? And the part about how building a base and 18-week training programs are the norm? Well, guess what, people? The marathon is exactly 18 weeks from Sunday, so I decided to get crackin’.

My choice: The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, a race-training program started by Saint Joe’s grad Brian Rosetti, which kicks off it’s 18-week training plan on Monday, July 16th.

So what’s S.M.A.R.T? Rosetti says, “It’s how we approach and manage everyone’s training—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.” In other words, training with S.M.A.R.T. makes you a smarter, healthier and faster runner, and they’ve got plenty of success stories to prove it.

Getting Started

The unique thing about the program is that plans are customized individually for each runner tailored to a goal marathon time. Rosetti set me up with my own profile and I logged into the website. There, I got to set my goal marathon time (3:30) and I had the option of choosing my weekly mileage and the number of days I wanted to run a week. The site prompts you to enter in some recent race times and personal records. Since I haven’t raced lately, I chose mine from when I ran varsity cross-country my freshman year of college. (Do not do this! Remember that the success of the program is based on designing a plan that works with your current fitness levels.) Rosetti, my designated coach, later e-mailed me and basically told me those times indicated that with a sprint finish, I was capable of a sub-3. I laughed.

I did not inform Rosetti of my tendency to over-train, but somehow he picked up on it. My guess is that simply from the information I provided on the fill-in-the-blank website (red flag: wants to train seven days a week), Rosetti took note. The necessity of taking days off every once in a while was stressed in my personalized training plan.


The key to the success of S.M.A.R.T. is the flexibility of the program. Since I will be training mostly at school (I go back in the fall), I needed a running plan that I could fit into my crazy senior-year-of-college schedule. Not only does it do that, but the program is easily adjustable, say if I get sick, miss a workout, or find that my customized times are too easy or hard. The premium option allows for direct communication with one of 12 Run S.M.A.R.T. coaches, including legendary running coach Dr. Jack Daniels.

Using Daniels’ running formulas, the coaches are able to calculate the appropriate training paces to the second for various workouts necessary to keep clients on track to reach their goal. This means no burning out. Avoiding over-training is the key to success in a five-month training block.


The 18-week marathon plan costs $80 with the email-coaching-support option, or $65 for a basic plan. The 15-week marathon plans, which for the Philadelphia Marathon begin on Monday, August 6th, cost $70 with coaching support and $55 for basic. You can find more information on the website.

The training schedule, according to Rosetti, is the equivalent of a private coach handwriting an individualized plan at half the price.

My thoughts on the cost: Once I opened up the e-mail with my plan, I could see it was legit. The program is not priced much higher than the generic plans and others offer, and the customization is worth the extra dough.

>> How are you training for the Philadelphia Marathon? Let me know in the comments!