Calgary Marathon Training

I get lots of questions about my training, so I thought I’d summarize my training over the last few months, and reflect back on what I did, why, and what I might do differently.  I feel like it would be a good exercise in growth for me too, so here goes.


This is something I keep having to relearn it seems.  After a marathon, I need to recover.  (Honestly I am still trying to learn this as I’m back in the month after a marathon).  I ran Surfer’s Point Marathon in November, and the next 6 weeks, my mind kept on getting ahead of my body, trying to do too much, and having to back off.  By January I was starting to feel better and ready to build.  I was slow and felt out of shape, but not injured.

Feeling better, now to get some speed back!

The week of Jan 11 started a month long speed block (from McMillan’s, You Only Faster).  I built my mileage up slowly over that 4 weeks, with 67 km, 72 km, 75 km, and 58 km.  The weeks generally had 2 quality workouts, usually one speed or fartlek session and one tempo.  My LR’s were in the 20-25k range.

Adaptive training, with some volume, maybe too much?

From here on, I mostly made up my weeks as I went.  I’ve become a big fan of adaptive training.  The next block included a 90k, 100k, 50k (start of vacation in Hawaii), 55k (in Hawaii).  I built up to a couple of bigger weeks before vacation, and then once we were on vacation, I just ran for fun.  I did do one speed workout while we were gone, but more for something fun/interesting.  I think in retrospect, and knowing the rest of the cycle, I should have done even less on vacation.  I need to learn to not be afraid of taking a full week off here and there.

Ran to the beach this morning. #ShirtlessFebruary #resultsstarthere

A post shared by Terry Toffelmire (@terryruns) on

After vacation, the first week back was hard, my legs were tired, I ran 80k that week, which included a 3k race as part of a team triathlon.  The rest of the long run that day was a tough one.  I think it’s pretty normal though to feel like crap when you first come back from lower mileage weeks.  I think it’s good to just push through sometimes, the trick is knowing when. I followed that week up with 90k, 91k, and 101k weeks.  Each week generally consisted of a tempo or fartlek quality run, a long run, and a long trail run.  I also was going to yoga once a week and strength training once (sometimes twice) each week.

After these 4 hard weeks of building I took a much needed cutback week of 63 k.  Again here, I think I should/could have cut back more.  I came back with a weekly mileage PB of 108 km’s, but the kicker here is that on my final run that week, an 8k recovery run, something tightened in my right quad, it felt like a Charlie horse.  I stopped a couple times, tried to stretch it but just finished my run, it was a slow easy run, and I had no idea that it could/would do any real harm.  What it was, was a minor quad strain.  My quad had a bit of localized swelling, and I could feel it even when walking.  I had planned to run the next day, but 1 k on the treadmill, and I bailed knowing that it wasn’t going to loosen up and be ok.  I took Monday and Tuesday off, and on Wednesday, Lori and my usual run night, we set off, me saying I’d turn back if I needed to.  It felt good for about 4k, and then I could feel it, but it wasn’t bad, we turned around at 5k to make a 10k total run, but by 7k my quad was really bad, and I decided to walk back.  By the time we were back I was limping.

An injury 😦 …

I did a bunch of reading on quad strains (self-diagnosed), and took a full week off running.  I DNS’ed my half that should have been the Sunday after my injury.  I spent that week swimming and doing some biking.  I couldn’t push it on the bike, or my quad would ‘talk’ to me.  It was frustrating, but I knew I needed to take time to heal.  I took a full week and 2 days off running, and then did an easy 8k test run.  It felt good, and by that Sunday I was able to finish a 16k run.  Lori and I actually did a mini self-supported Tri, we swam 30 minutes, biked an hour and then ran 16k, anything to get in a long workout day!!  I was able to get myself to 84k the week after this, including a 32k long run.  I was very glad for this, as taper would start after this week.  I cut my mileage as planned during taper, but wanted to add some intensity and MP work.  Again, like after vacation, my legs felt dead, they needed a kick to get their bounce back.


My taper weeks were 70k, 57k and 66 (including the marathon).  My mileage was about right, my legs were getting more and more rested, and the quality felt good.  Most of those weeks I did a threshold (HM pace) run, and a marathon pace run.  I also did one ladder speed interval workout.  I was feeling better and better through taper, until my kids got a cold the final week.  I could feel that I was fighting that cold all week, and I think it wore me down a bit.  I don’t think I’d change anything for my taper weeks, except maybe moving out of the house or putting my kids in a bubble.

If you missed the details on the race, you can see this post for my race report.

Also, if anyone wants to follow along with my training on a regular basis, here’s my Strava Profile.


4 thoughts on “Calgary Marathon Training

  1. Kids in a bubble! What a great idea. Holy doodle that is a lot of running. But that’s what it takes to get good. I like that you emphasize the importance of recovery. I’ve seen so many people break themselves because they don’t consider recovery to be part of their training, or take the time to fully recover from an injury.

    1. Yes! The more I run, the more I realize how important recovery is, but it also seems to be hard for my brain to actually accept that I need to take that time. Posts like these are as much for me as anything, to remind myself of the traps I continually fall into!

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