Marathon and Half-Marathon Training Program

Sat June 20 - Sat October 31 Charlottesville, VA 22902 US
Race Website

Additional race information can be found at

PO BOX 495
Charlottesville, VA US 22902

In an effort to keep this longstanding and popular thirty year old tradition going, even in the face of this unique and challenging COVID-19 time, we’re once again hosting our annual summer training program to prep runners for an autumn Half or Full marathon.  

But, with the distinct likelihood that most, if not ALL, of the fall marathons and half marathons will be cancelled, we decided to shift gears and “go with the flow” by making a few significant but  appropriate changes to the program to help it comfortably and safely partner with this uneasy time.  

Our goal is two-fold: 1. To create a productive program that safely adapts to this new world 2. And, at the same time, have you enjoy the experience by helping you to stay motivated and engaged in your training experience while guiding each of you, in a positive way, to your individual personal goals, towards a real event.

Fee (includes training shirt):
$30 (non-members)
$20 (members)

The Nuts and Bolts of our “Revamped” Training Program

KICK OFF: The program kicks-off the week of June 15, with our first “long run:” set for June 20. The Half Marathon training option will run through October 2nd and the full Marathon option will go through November 14.

TWO FULL-PROOF RACE OPTIONS: What has made this program unique over the years, is that each summer our 200 participants have been able to select a marathon or half marathon race of their choice. Last summer there were 37 different races among our participants. But now, because we feel like ALL of the traditional fall racing events will probably be cancelled, we’ve set up two local courses for your individual racing experience. Both certified courses are flat and on is totally auto free while the other sees limited car use. You will have an opportunity to race them separately, in a socially distanced manner, over a three-day period. The Real Half Marathon is set for 10/2-10/4 and The Real Marathon is set for November 14-15 or 11/21-22, whichever has the better weather forecast. The marathon weekend date intentionally coincides with the scheduled Richmond Marathon date. Why? Every year, close to 70% of the marathoners in our program run this event…it’s by far the most popular choice among our participants. So, in the off chance that they somehow hold this late fall event, our training program will seamlessly guide you to this popular marathon.

FINDING THE RIGHT PROGRAM for YOU: I have created 6 different Half Marathon programs, based on your current mileage, from those just starting out with a one mile run to those who are already running 8-9 miles for their long run. For you Marathoners, I’ve crafted 7 different programs, also based on your current long run, from those starting with a 1 mile long run to those currently at 9-10 miles for their weekly long run. I will then individualize these base programs by creating a personalized pace chart for each of you (see below). Each program will have two phases, with Phase I running from June 15- August 23.     

REQUIRED TWO MILE TIME TRIAL: To determine what is a reasonable and attainable personal goal for each of you, everyone will need to run a two mile time trial over the coming weeks (unless you’ve raced one of my virtual 5K’s in the past month). I will be offering three 2 mile courses (One at Riverview, one at Sugar Hollow and one at Locust Avenue) for your racing convenience and you will need to submit your time before I can write your personal pace chart. I can then accurately determine what your current long-distance potential is by simply converting that 2 mile time. I know this sounds like a pain but it has worked beautifully in the past with helping all of our participants shoot for attainable goals with comfortable training paces.    

PERSONALIZED PACE CHART: Once you’ve submitted your two mile time, I will then individually create for each of you a personalized “Pace Chart”. This will give you a personal guide as to exactly what paces you should be running for your everyday runs, your long runs and your MP (Marathon Pace) or HMP (Half Marathon Pace) workouts. All of these personal paces will be based on your 2 mile time.     

SATURDAY LONG RUNS: Unlike in the past, when we had large weekly group runs, that featured directional arrows, water and Gatorade stops plus Clifbars, we will now encourage you to run with a household member (if they don’t run maybe they can keep you company on a bicycle), a similar pace friend at appropriate social distance or on your own. I will suggest four different courses each week that will sync up terrain wise, depending on whether you’re going long and slow or faster pace work. Water and starting out extra early will be the key (see below)!  

WATER & FUEL: So, because we won’t have groups coordinating each Saturday group run, it will be up to each of you individually to carry your own water and fuel. This is very important! I suggest carrying at least one hand held water bottle and wearing a belt  as you will need to sip 3-4 ounces every 15-20 minutes and take electrolytes throughout. I’ll explain this VERY important component of the program in detail, once we get started. And with summer on the way, the earlier you get out the better (I’d suggest starting no later than 6:00am).    

MONTHLY GROUP ZOOM SOCIALS: These Saturday “group” runs were the heart and soul of the training program experience over the years, so in an effort to recreate that feeling and camaraderie, we will be hosting a monthly Zoom social for those training for the half and a separate one for those training for the marathon. This will give all of us an opportunity to meet and talk with one another, for me to give you live tips.    

COMMUNICATION with COACH: The single most important component of an athletic endeavor of this nature, is communication.  Communication with yourself and with me, your coach, is essential in keeping you healthy and happy along your long-distance journey. This is my 40th year of coaching long-distance runners and I do this purely on a volunteer basis, as I truly love guiding runners of all abilities to their personal goals. And over the years, I’ve found that the folks who are most successful are the ones who communicate the best! With issues like feeling extra fatigued, needing to adjust your weekday runs, coming off sickness or anything else and a change of plans, the best way to reach me is by text at 434-962-1694. And if a new pain or ache crops up, especially if it’s only on one side of your bod, I ask that you follow my 24 Hour Rule, which means to get in touch with me within a day of you first experiencing this. I will call you back ASAP. I will also be sending you, on a weekly basis, a quick 5 minute video message with tips and updates.           

Once again, Leah Connor will be offering her invaluable help with the program. She will be helping with registration, our weekly posts and all of my communications to you. We can’t thank her enough for all the wonderful volunteer work she does to make the program run so beautifully each year! She can be reached at or 202.320.5207 (text)   

I’m so excited about having the opportunity to coach you this summer. Please stay tuned for more details as we get closer to our kick off date in mid-June.


Coach Mark
434-962-1694 (text)

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