7 Continents: How my Training Evolved

In training to run a marathon on all seven continents, I've run thousands of miles and used a variety of methods and plans. My training has definitely evolved over time

Here's What My Training Looked Like:

For my first 3 marathons (Providence, Virginia Beach, and Antarctica), I trained using a straight run training plan. For the first 2, I used the Runner's World beginner training plan and then jumped up to the Runner's World intermediate training plan for the third. These had me running 3-4 days a week, with weekly mileage of 18-36, and a longest run of 20 miles.

For my next 3 marathons (Europe, South America, and Asia) I switched over to the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. I used his beginner plan for Europe and the intermediate plan for South America and Asia. These plans had me running 3-4 days a week, with weekly mileage of 15-35, and a longest run of 26 miles.

For my final 2 marathons (New Zealand and Africa), I used the Doug Kurtis intermediate training plan.  My (modified) version of this plan had me running 4-5 days a week, with weekly mileage of 19-33, and a longest run of 20 miles.

my training with the Doug Kurtis plan
What I Learned Along the Way

  • Running 3-5 days a week works best for me. Physically, I can't handle more than that, and mentally I need to include some other activities or I burn out on running. 

  • I like my longest run in training to be 20-22 miles. The Jeff Galloway plans had me doing the full 26 miles, but that was just too much for me. I'd already completed a couple marathons, so I mentally knew I could go the distance. Going more than 20-22 in training left me physically and mentally burned out before the race. 

  • Run/Walk works for me. My over-all pace wasn't affected, I recovered physically from my races/training so much faster, and it was mentally so much easier! Breaking a long run down into 4 minute run increments is a lot less intimidating. 

  • Customize, customize, customize! I followed my first few training plans to the letter. I figured the "experts," knew best. However I learned that these general plans are just that- they are general. YOU know your body, your schedule, your unique circumstances. Make your training plan work for you.

  • Long runs are important, but so is overall mileage and consistency. For my middle 3 marathons, I focused mostly on my long runs because of a crazy travel schedule for work and the set-up of the Galloway training plans, My mid-week runs were shorter and less consistent. However, when I started using the Doug Kurtis plan, I focused a lot more on my total mileage, doing a variety of work-outs mid week (speed, hill, middle distance). I felt a lot stronger over-all and my long runs felt easier. 

  • REST. This is still so hard for me. I know they are important, but rest days make me crazy. I've recognized that this is a problem area for me and tried to work with it. So instead of trying to force myself to take a total rest day, I found low impact, gentle options like swimming and yoga.

  • If you don't have training buddies, work a couple races into your training. I got so tired of running the same routes by myself all the time during training. I used races as supported long runs. It was nice to mix up the scenery, have some company, and have food/water stops along the way. These were especially nice during winter training. Instead of sliding around on the un-plowed shoulder, I got to run (safely), right smack in the clear, middle of the road. 

How has your training evolved over time? What works and doesn't work for you?


  1. Absolutely! I can't do the high mileage anymore--that really takes a toll on my body. Last year for my Chicago marathon, my longest run was 18 miles. But I did a lot of cross training, intervals, speed work, HIIT--so the endurance was there!


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