The Cutting-Edge Runner MarathonTraining Plan, Level 4, is recommended for runners who want to complete a successful marathon race in 16 to 20 weeks and whose current fitness level allows them to run about 5 times per week, up to 45 minutes per run.
The first 4 weeks of the plan are optional, making it adjustable from 16 to 20 weeks. If you choose to do fewer than 20 weeks of the plan, it is hoped that your recent training has been similar to the first 1-4 weeks of this plan.
The workout schedule includes 5 runs per week, plus 2 optional strength workouts per week. It begins with a weekly total of 2 hours and 25 of running and builds up to 6 hours and 8 minutes.
All of the running workouts are based on the Cutting-Edge Runner Pace Zone Index (PZI), which allows you to do every step of every workout at precisely the right effort level for you. Learn more about the PZI system here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/using-pace-zone-index-pzi/ The PZI table that you will use to determine your zones based on a race race or time-trial performance is attached to the first workout in the plan itself.
Key workouts in this plan include the following:
Foundation Runs: Steady runs of 0:20 to 0:55 done mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 3)
Foundation Runs (2): These more challenging runs include some work at High Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 4)
Foundation Runs + Strides: Foundation Runs followed by 4-6 30-second bursts at Speed pace (Pace Zone 10)
Long Runs: Steady runs of 1:00 to 3:00 done mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace
Short Intervals (1): Runs featuring 30- to 60-second intervals at VO2max pace separated by jogging recoveries at Low Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 2)
Tempo Runs: Runs featuring a sustained segment of Threshold pace running sandwiched between a warm-up and cool-down
Cruise Intervals: Runs featuring a couple of longer intervals run at Threshold pace (Pace Zone 6)
A 10K tune-up race is scheduled at the end of week 12 and a half-marathon at the end of week 16. If you can't find suitable races to do these days, you may run a 10K time trial and a half-marathon time trial instead.
Weeks 4, 8, 12 and 16 of the plan are recovery weeks. Training is slightly reduced in these weeks to afford an opportunity to absorb recent training and prepare for more challenging training to follow. Weeks 19 and 20 (race week) are taper weeks, meaning your training tapers down during this period to ensure you’re rested and ready to perform on race day.