Marathon runner Stephanie L. McJury shares how she prepares for marathons and other running challenges.
Running a marathon is the ultimate dream for avid runners and physical challenge enthusiasts like Stephanie L. McJury. It requires discipline for both running and full-body training to tackle the physical effort and the psychological element of long-distance competitions.
Runners often develop their stamina for distance in regular runs and then prepare for competition by entering a range of smaller races that provide a preview of the marathon experience and can help runners document a qualifying time for participation in a larger marathon with a pacing requirement. Stephanie L. McJury uses a combination of techniques to prepare for her major events.
Stephanie L. McJury training plan basics
For McJury, training plans include participation in a wide assortment of races. Starting with the basic 5k and moving up to 10k and 10-mile challenges to develop additional endurance.
In her racing career, she has completed the Marine Corps Marathon two times and completed eight half-marathons in addition to the shorter distance races. McJury reports that races benefiting or honoring military veterans are her favorite as she believes it is a way to significantly give back.
Before entering these challenges, Stephanie L. McJury had a background that included routine physical challenges. While a background in physical fitness or a passion in this area is not required to begin preparing for a marathon, it can help as a runner approaches a training plan.
For McJury, cheerleading, soccer coaching, and other physically demanding activities paid the way for dedication to training and overall athleticism. For many runners, this means adding cross-training to a running plan.
Running plans and cross-training
Standard training plans for runners like Stephanie L. McJury include a mixture of run types to help develop all areas needed for a marathon — aerobic capacity, endurance, and strength.
A solid plan includes regular runs, or base runs, that help build up the weekly mileage. Runners plan these for three to five times per week and incorporate a long run three to four times per month to provide added stamina. As the plan continues, the weekly mileage from the base runs increases. Speedwork is also completed to boost endurance and aerobic capacity. The regular runs or base runs can vary and should include easier efforts to help promote healing in conjunction with full rest and stretch days.
In a cross-training plan, easy runs and some speed work can be substituted with other activities that promote the same benefits. Common exercises pursued are swimming, rowing, walking, elliptical training, or cycling. By incorporating a new activity one or two times per week based on the running schedule, different muscle groups are challenged and the cardiovascular system is often pushed in a new way for greater results.