Respect The Distance, Don't Take The Marathon For Granted

 January 25, 2017 by Justin Horneker
There's a saying that is often repeated when preparing for a marathon, "Respect the distance".
Respect the distance - that shouldn't be a big revelation! Running can be tough especially when you're running 26.2, whether it's your first attempt or your 10th... it's still a big undertaking. However, the motto is more of a reminder of the toughness that is required to not only complete a marathon but to race a marathon. There's a reason why Arthur Lydiard once advocated for upward of 150 miles a week to reach your Aerobic development potential! This isn't exactly scalable for the masses but you understand the point I am trying to make - 20 miles per week isn't going to cut it if you want to feel a little more comfortable on race day.
As a coach I understand that no two runners are the same and we all have our limitations to training this way - be it work, injury prevention, or anything else that life may throw at us - but we can still learn a few things from the approach. The main point being that Aerobic Development is the major key in becoming a marathoner, this means that you need to work hard to boost that development when you don't have the time or the ability to stay healthy through multiple 100+ mile weeks.
So how do you go about accomplishing this task?
First off, you need to have a good mix of paces - don't just focus on easy pace and marathon pace after the base training period!
A good mix of paces will do more to boost your aerobic development:
Tempo paces help teach your body how to deal with an increasingly acidic environment, tempo paces being at the threshold of aerobic and anaerobic. Running at these paces your metabolism produces more acidic byproducts at a faster rate than our bodies can flush them out. Therefore the more you develop that training system the better your body becomes at efficiently buffering the acidic environment at the cellular level. Ok that may have been a bit too scientific... so put simply in running terms - the longer you can hold a pace on a tempo run, the longer you'll be able to hold your Marathon pace which is slightly slower overall.
CV or 10k pace
If you followed Drew Hunter's story last year(link to, he was able to run a sub 4 minute mile while doing a lot of training at this pace. I personally have had a lot of experience training at this pace (link to This pace allows you to train at a higher volume than you can at 5k pace while simultaneously working your Vo2 and Aerobic Threshold training systems. So ideally if you want to fit in more mileage and pack more punch into a workout - a CV pace workout would be a perfect addition to your training plan. Like Vo2 pace you don't need months at this pace to notice the affect pn your training.
Vo2 pace
Like discussed before, Vo2 pace was once though of as the essential training pace for becoming a faster runner. Vo2 pace is essentially 3k - 5k pace depending on the runner so you can't handle a ton of this pace at once but it goes a long way towards teaching your body to run efficiently at a sustained pace. Vo2 max comes from the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. It’s a combination of how much oxygen-rich blood your heart can pump, and the muscles efficiency in extracting and utilizing the oxygen. Therefore, running efficiently at this pace goes along way towards developing how long and how fast you can run before going into a more anaerobic running environment.
Mile pace
As a miler this is my bread and butter pace, something I can break out at any point in training and instantly feel a confidence boost... ok that's not the normal feeling you have running mile pace repeats but mixing a little bit of this pace into your running will help you run more efficiently and overall help you handle the mileage you are trying to run. The reasoning being that mile pace is so short and sweet that you can do a longer warm up and cool down to incorporate more mileage and the pace itself doesn't have a long lasting negative effect on your training because you spend so little time running. You may feel sore immediately after but it won't go towards your fatigue later in the week if the training is done right.
These paces mixed with running more miles in general will take your training to the next level. Remember that there are so many ways to train and so much information out there about marathon training that it's tough to see the forest through the trees. My goal as a coach is to help you navigate that forest and find which paces and how many miles allow you to train at your best while allowing you to enjoy your life.
After-all the goal of training for a marathon is to race the marathon to the best of our abilities... "Respect The Distance" and have some fun along the way.
Happy running friends,
Jack Daniels Running Formula

Arthur Lydiard Running To The Top


"Good things come slow----especially in distance running." - Bill Dillinger,
-Justin, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is the Head Running Coach at and has experience coaching runners of all ages, experience levels and distance. Justin's main goal is to make your running personal; not just writing training plans will be custom tailored to YOUR schedule, YOUR body, and YOUR goals. His goal is to teach you #TheLifestyle which means teaching you how to hold yourself accountable to your: training, lifestyle, and goals!