BEST FOR: Another mother runner who has at least one marathon under her shoes, has done speedwork in the past, and has pinned on a race number (for a range of race distances) fairly consistently during the past 2 years.
PHYSICAL PRE-REQS: You should be able to rip off a 10-mile run without it being too much of a hiccup in your life or on your legs.
PLAN OVERVIEW: This is a fairly serious, intense plan that can get you a BQ or a significant PR, and, with either, some heart-swelling satisfaction. Over the course of 18 weeks, you’ll be running four to five times a week, doing three 20-mile runs, and generally turning into a sleek, fine-tuned running machine.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Recognizing that women, especially mother runners, have extra-full lives, we built a "bail if needed" day into each week. In an ideal world, you'll be so stoked from seeing your near-daily improvement you won't miss many workouts, but in the real world, we know sometimes something has to give. The "bail" day is the workout you should nix if you need to. Conversely, each week there's a "Gotta get it done" workout: This is the workout that's most vital to getting you to race day raring to go.
A 4- to 5-mile cruise.
Warm up by running 1 to 2 miles. Run 1.5 miles at tempo pace, recover for a quarter-mile, then run another 1.5 miles at tempo. Slow your roll for 1 to 2 miles.
10 minute warm-up. Run 2 minutes in Zone 4, recover for 2. Repeat once. Then run 4 minutes in Zone 3, recover for 2. Repeat once. Cool down for 10 minutes. Expect to go about 5 to 6 miles.
A 3- to 4-mile cruise.
A 12-mile-long run, with the last 10 minutes at a slightly faster pace. Aim for tempo if you can hack it. If not, just hang in there.
Run 4 to 5 miles easy; then do 6 strides: On a flat stretch of road or grass, pick up the pace to a controlled sprint—not an oxymoron—for about 100 meters or 30 seconds. Recover as needed between each stride.
Run at an easy pace for 1 to 2 miles, crank out a fast 3 miles, then cool down for 1 to 2 miles.