Tim Love's World

Tim's 8-Week Training Program for Completing a Marathon

In 1976, a friend got me interested in running. It was a pretty new thing the baby boomers were just starting to get into. I went to see the NY Marathon that fall. There might have been 500 runners then. I got the bug and two weeks later, Kate and I drove down to Washington, D.C. to run the Marine Corps Marathon. The most mileage I had done in one run was 5 miles a couple of times. The week before the marathon, I did a whopping total of 30 miles.

I was foolish and pumped with adrenaline when I set out that morning from the Iwo Jima statue on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. I did the first 10 miles in 70 minutes. I was shocked when I saw that time split. I was feeling fine. Feeling no pain. I was flying, effortlessly. Then, at about mile 16, I was hit with crushing fatigue. I was running on empty as we left the magnificent memorials and scenes of Washington, D.C.  I crossed over to Alexandria for a lonesome, sad, painful last 10 miles. I saw other runners breaking down. Some starting and stopping, starting again and stopping again. I saw more than two runners fall down and collapse by the side of that lonesome trail from Alexandria along the Potomac to the Iwo Jima statue.

Aching to stop, I was afraid it would become addictive and that I would be abandoned in the middle of nowhere. So, I kept running, if you could call it that. There was absolutely no bounce left in my legs and feet. I was pounding step by step, trying to hang on.

Then I heard the sound of the Marine Corps Band playing John Philips Sousa’s famous marches. I saw the statue and the band ahead on a hill. I raised my head and tried to make the last 100 yards look like a runner instead of the cripple I had become.


I had no idea. The time did not matter. I had finished.
However, I could hardly walk the next day.
I had to go slowly sideways down the subway stairs in NYC on my way to work the next day.
This was a pain all over like I had never felt before.

That was the day I made a resolution to run a smart race instead of the really stupid one I had just done.


8 Weeks before the run:

  • Quit smoking. Drink lots of water. Eat protein and lots of vegetables.
  • Train in the shoes you will run the race in.
  • Work on your form during training, e.g., run with your arms carried easily by your side, rolling along the waist as you run. Use your arms to help carry you up hills/inclines.
  • Run at least once per week in the actual outfit you will wear. You don't want to wear anything new for the first time on race day.
  • Get a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings. It will help your discipline.
  • Decide what is the start day of your week.


Day #1
("Long Day")
You will build up to one 20-mile Sunday two weeks before the Marathon and then taper down going into race. Start this week with a long run, like the longest time or most mileage you have run when running regularly. In your case, this might be 1-½ hours which at 10 min/mile would be a run of 9 miles. If your usual long day is one hour, then start week #1 with one hour (6 miles).
Day #2 Light easy run of ½ hour. Do stretches to loosen up since you may be stiff from the long run the day prior.
Day #3 ½ hour to 45 minutes.
Day #4 One hour.
Day #5 ½ hour. Alternate your speed in intervals (fast/medium) so your body recognizes the feeling of different speeds. Also, interval training deepens your strength.
Day #6 ½ hour. Eat pasta and carbs.
Day #7 Light day so you can have your long day tomorrow. Plan on a 60- to 90-minute plan on a light carbohydrate dinner.

WEEKS #2–5
Same as above but increase the time 15 minutes per session, dropping it down when tired. Don't go crazy on yourself if you have to miss a day. If you do, don't try to "make up for it" by getting yourself worn out.

This is the week you want to do 20 miles on the Long Day.

Taper down this week.

Taper down from the Long Day to the day before the race. Day before the race you want to stretch and not run as much.


I ran two marathons in 1977 including one in Ottawa, Canada wearing a copper colored singlet with black trunks. Kate had sewn the name Duracell vertically on the top like “The Copper Top” battery, my client. The Canadian President of Duracell and three of his staff and wives came to watch me. It never occurred to me how stupid that was, until years later when a colleague said he thought it was one of the most courageous things he had seen in advertising. I said, “Why?” He said, “Because your client was there and their claim was long lasting performance. What if you hadn’t finished?!”

Each one is a vivid memory. Each subsequent marathon I ran smarter until I qualified in the fall of 1978 with a sub-3 hour time in the NYC Marathon (with 11,000 runners) and was invited to run the legendary Boston Marathon that next April.

I ran in Boston three weeks before my son Mac, our first child, was born. I did not know that would be my last marathon. I thought I would still be running now. But, this is just not possible on my ankles.

I treasure the fading certificate I have on my wall with the number I wore that day.


Run a smart race,


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