Mexico City Marathon will Require Training

I have to do it this time. I need to train. I can "wing it" at a half marathon without much training, and I can finish a full marathon with a generous time limit without putting in a lot of effort. But this is no longer good enough for me. It never was, but I've been dealing with some personal things that have made it difficult mentally and sometimes physically to be consistent with my training. I'm working on those things. And I need to also work on my overall fitness and my pace. I can do endurance, but at a slow pace. I want to get back to a moderately faster pace. And I have a marathon coming up that will make this necessary.

Mexico City, situated 7,200 ft above sea level (credit:

Scot and I will be crossing the border for the Maratón Ciudad de México at the end of August. This will be my 9th marathon country. Many people do not know that Mexico City sits 7,200 feet above sea level (that's 2,200 meters for you metric folks). That's higher than Fort Collins CO, Idaho Falls ID, Jackson Hole WY, Deadwood SD, other places where I've run marathons. It's on par with Park City UT. It's a little lower than my highest marathon, the Madison Marathon in Montana (peak of 9,300 feet). It's going to be tough. Living in the Washington DC area we're very close to sea level, where there's lots of oxygen. Mexico City will challenge me even if I'm adequately trained. Because not only is it at such a high altitude, but the Mexico City Marathon course is a net uphill. And there's a 6 hour time limit. I'm not ready for that, but I can be by the end of August - if I train.

A view from the Mexico City course (credit:

To do well (and by "well", I simply mean finishing upright, before the time limit), I need to increase my speed and train on hills. I've done plenty of hilly races, but I tend to walk up the hills; I certainly can't walk for an entire marathon! I also need to do some long runs greater than half marathon distance. I have designed a training plan that includes the following:
  • Weekly Strength Training - I need to strengthen my core and my lower body muscles. I will also work my upper body muscles. When I become consistent with a weekly routine, I'd like to increase it to twice weekly. For now, baby steps or else I'll feel too overwhelmed.
  • Hill Training - I will do a session of hill repeats at least every other week. In addition to that, I'll choose some running routes that include hills that I hate, you know those long ones that go on for a while, and don't have an immediate gratification reward of a corresponding downhill. And I will make myself run them and not walk them. I know of a few of these on my local running trails.
  • Speed Work - I will do a weekly speed work session on a track, and I won't be winging it. I have a plan based on advice from fastie Chuck Engle. I will also incorporate fartleks into some of my shorter training runs.
  • A Weekly Long Run - Some weekends I have races scheduled. These range from 10 milers to the Ottawa Marathon. On other weekends I will do a solo long run, with a goal to get up to 20 miles in training. I can already do that distance, but I need to be able to do it faster. I'm really not sure how Ottawa will go because it's in less than four weeks, but after that I'll be ramping up the long run mileage at a faster pace. I will use recovery weeks after some of the longer runs, and I've even included a taper period for the couple of weeks before Mexico City.
Everything is on paper. That was the easy part. The hard part is making it happen. I have found that I sometimes do better with a training partner or a group, and sometimes I don't. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about that. Right now I'm prepared to do all of this work solo, with the exception of my Tuesday night running club and the races I'm registered for. The half marathon training group I have run with the past few summers is going to be less structured this year, so I don't know if that is going to work out for me. I researched several other training groups in the DC area, and none of them really clicked for me. It's not too late to join one, but I also may want to do my own thing since my plan is already worked out.

I know one thing. Failure is not an option. Mexico City is going to be tough and I want to be ready. I'm not going to travel to another international marathon and have a repeat of Tokyo. I'm working on my personal and health issues so I can be the best me, so I can follow my plan. That means that as soon as I publish this post I need to go do a strength workout. Wish me luck, not just today, but throughout the spring and summer as I work to improve myself.


  1. When I did the Pike's Peak Marathon, I learned that I would never completely catch my breath, no matter how much walking I did. At times, you'll need to force yourself to run before you feel like you can.

    1. Thanks. Good to know. I will just need to keep plugging away. Mexico City will not be as bad as Pike's Peak, thank goodness.


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