Running a marathon is no easy feat — mentally and physically taxing, training for such a long endurance event can be as challenging as the race itself. Tempo athlete, David Mussatt seems to have cracked the code in how to combine training runs, strength training, and proper recovery into a successful and injury-free 26.2 miles.
Below, David shares how he typically trained in a week with his Tempo while training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon.
As a one-time college basketball player who competed before modern training techniques were developed, injury for me was probably inevitable. After two ACL surgeries and a protruding disc in my back, I eventually asked my doctor what I could do to stay in shape other than playing basketball and not risk injury. He suggested that I should try running slowly for a long time.
After nine years of running marathons, my knee and back have become so much stronger than they were before that injuries are far less frequent and severe. However, it requires a commitment to overall strength because marathons require extreme physical and mental strength, but they also require a commitment to injury prevention through cross training and mobility training.
As I prepared for my eighth Bank of America Chicago Marathon and ninth overall marathon this year, I began implementing Tempo workouts into my training program. I realized what a valuable resource it would be in all aspects of my training. In a typical week, I use my Tempo to improve my overall fitness, strength, flexibility, and recovery. Given my age and injury history, my running mileage is lower than most marathoners so many runners will do a lot more miles than me (and run a lot faster than me as a result). Using my Tempo helps me make up for some of these “missing” miles.
Below is what a week during the most intense training over the summer looked like during my training program:
Sunday: Strength Day
40 minute Full Body Shred: Strength v. Cardio with Coach Clarence (HIIT)
The legs are always sore after Saturday long runs, so I decrease the recommended weight for Round 1 of this workout. However, jumping right into Goblet Squats and Lateral lunges will shake the soreness out fast. I also find lateral lunges, actually any lunge, are a runner’s best friend. The combination of strengthening the glutes and quads while increasing bend and flexibility is the perfect antidote the day after a long run.
A full body workout on a cross training day is also welcome mental relief from the monotony of the miles covered the day before.
Monday: Recovery Day
Run 8 miles
30 minute Lower Body Recovery Foam Roll Flex with Coach Colby
A lot of runners do yoga on these days so Head Yogi Jeremy is an option to turn to here but given my back limitations I prefer the foam rolling. Coach Colby’s practice of rolling and then stretching provides me with the relief and recovery that I seek on these days. I have tried this workout on Sunday but as Coach Colby says, foam workouts for some people, including her and I, can be the most difficult workouts, so I like committing a day exclusively to it.
Tuesday: Mental Day
30 minute Live Back & Bi Class with Coach Bryan
Most marathoners would probably add a 10-14 mile run on this day, but I use it as a mental day. I started taking Coach Bryan’s morning live class on this day that normally focuses on back and bis. I messaged him earlier in the training about how I wasn’t sure if a back and bicep workout helps my running, but feeling strong and tone helps with confidence.
Coach Bryan however stressed the importance of this class in helping to maintain good running posture, particularly when you get to mile 18 and more during the marathon.
Wednesday: Speed Day
Run: 10 Miles with 4 x 2 miles at Half Marathon Pace
This is the second most important run of the week and probably the most painful. Speed days require a lot of mental preparation and a lot of effort but for me are crucial to be prepared for race day.
Run 8 miles
25 minute Full Body Shred: The Effort Business with Coach Cole
The body is a little fatigued after putting in a couple days of effort, but I always find it easy to show up for Coach Cole’s classes. Inevitably, I will laugh at something ridiculous he will say, and why not make a workout fun? A second full-body workout also provides me with some of the strength I miss from not running super-high miles.
Friday: Running preparation day
25 minute Glute Build with Coach Melissa
If you struggle with running injuries like I do, then this is a mandatory day. I train with a lot of physicians and they all agree that many distance running injuries (particularly hamstring and IT band) result from weak glutes. Runners seem to have chronic weak glutes so I was thrilled to see the large number of glute workout options to select from on my Tempo. This is a great workout any day of the week, but I prefer it as a running preparation workout to get the glutes engaged prior to the long run on Saturday.
20 minute Core Burn with Coach Natalia
Since I engaged the glutes, I might as well engage the whole core so this quick but thorough core workout gets my body and mind ready for the challenge tomorrow. I prefer planks as my go-to core workout so I tend to select core workouts like this one that includes a good dose of them.
Saturday: Distance Day
Run 20 miles
On Saturday mornings in the summer, distance runners own Chicago’s lakefront with large groups and plenty of hydration stations available. These runs cannot be skipped and are the foundation for running any marathon. Afterward, I focus on static stretching and icing, but another Colby foam roll or yoga with Jeremy may feel perfect to others.