3 Race-Specific Workouts That’ll Help You Finish the Philadelphia Marathon Faster

With just six weeks to go until the Philadelphia Marathon, focus your training around race-specific workouts.

race-specific workouts

Run the marathon faster with these race-specific workouts. Photograph by Flickr/Evan.

With a little over six weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon, it’s important that the majority of your workouts are specific to the demands of the marathon. This means increasing your ability to ward off fatigue to avoid a late-race fade. Ready to complete the race feeling strong? Here are a few workouts you can do that’ll help you finish the marathon faster.

Before you run off to get started, please note that these workouts are volume-based. Meaning: Accumulating repetitions is more important than running them faster. If they are too easy, add more repeats instead of picking up the pace.

And be prepared: These workouts are are long and demanding on the body, which is why I never have any clients do more than two workouts per week.

The Threshold Workout 

The Basics: Run between 8 to 14 repeats of 2 minutes 45 seconds to 3 minutes and 45 seconds intervals. Then spend 60 to 90 seconds in a slow jogging recovery.

The Details: This workout is more of a half marathon workout, but it works well with marathon training. It helps your legs maintain a fast pace (relative to marathon pace) while tired. This is best done on a track or somewhere with short interval markers. You’ll want to run between 8 and 14 repeats of your 30 to 45-minute race pace in 2 minute 45 second to 3 minute 45 second intervals, followed by 60 to 90 seconds slow jog recovery. These typically end up being anywhere from 400 meters to 800 meters in length. Note: This is not the Yasso workout.

The Long Run Workout

The Basics: Run six to 12 miles easy miles, then alternate one mile fast followed by one mile moderate for six to 10 miles.

The Details: This one is about as marathon-specific as you can get, practicing running faster on tired legs. Use this to replace a weekend long run. Run the first portion at a comfortable and conversational pace. This is not the workout; think of it as just getting your legs tired for the real challenge. After about six to 10 miles, depending on your fitness, start to alternate your two-and-a-half-hour to three-and-a-half hour race pace with a pace that’s more moderate, roughly 20 to 30 seconds slower.

The Leg Speed Workout 

The Basics: Run between 10 to 18 repeats of 200 meters, followed by a 200-meter slow jog for recovery.

The Details: While not marathon-specific, this workout maintains some leg speed, which can help with your efficiency and make marathon pace feel a little easier. This one should be done on a track for ease of starting and stopping — 200 meters is half a track.


Cory Smith is the founder of Run Your Personal Best, an online running coaching business that has helped hundreds of runners achieve personal bests in distances ranging from 800 meters to 100 miles.  He is a multiple-time NCAA Division One Regional qualifier and two-time National Championship qualifier while at Villanova and holds personal bests of 8:05 3K and 3:45 1500 meters. Along with his work for Philadelphia magazine, Cory serves as a running editor for Gear Institute and is a regular contributor for Outside, Trail Runner, and Gear Junkie.

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