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Running by Heart Rate: Marathon, Level 2 is a 24-week program perfect for more experienced runners wanting a training challenge for motherlode of all races: the marathon.

You’ll continue to train by heart rate, using your individual zones, calculated by regular testing, to moderate your effort appropriately. You’ll spend a couple of runs weekly in the lower zones, building your endurance base; you’ll also spend some time climbing hills, finding different gears with pick-ups and intervals, and practicing your race pace so that you’re ready to thrive on race day.

Running by Heart Rate: Marathon, Level 2 eases you into things with the first four weeks; you’ll have a few hilly and negative split runs, but it’s a nice entry. In Week Nine, you complete your first tempo run, while Week Ten gets on track with 800s and 400s, and the rest of the pre-taper weeks are an effective mix of easy and harder runs that will get you ready for a super solid marathon.

You’ll run five days a week throughout this whole program. In addition, every week, there is one cross-training day, two strength circuits, two foam rolling sessions, and one rest day.

PREREQS: You’ve been running at least 60 minutes 4 days of the week for at least 12 weeks. You’re injury-free. You’ve completed a marathon within the last 18 months. We recommend having completed a Running by Heart Rate: Level I program (10K, half-marathon, or marathon), but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

BIGGEST WEEK OF TRAINING: 8 hours, 30 minutes, including five runs, one cross-training session and two strength circuits.

LONGEST LONG RUN DISTANCES: Three hours; you’ll do this twice, and each workout has goal pace miles built in.

CROSS TRAINING + STRENGTH TRAINING INCLUDED? Yep. Each week has one cross-training session and two strength circuits. Two of the strength routines include resistance bands.

WEEKLY OVERVIEW: Five runs; one cross-training session; two strength circuits; one rest day.

FIRST AND PEAK WEEKS: (explained fully in the program)


    Step One: Select your race date:

    If you don’t know your race date yet, please select a date that you estimate will be close to your race date. When you solidify your race date—or if you need to change it—simply email us and we can make the change.

    If your race date doesn't allow for the full training cycle, please still enter your race date; your emails will correspond. If you need guidance on tweaking your plan, please email us or ask your coach on the Facebook page. 

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    Step Two: Your training program will officially begin on:

    Mark this date in your calendar so you’re ready to go! Also, please note that this start date does NOT include any pre-program Holding Plans.

    Note: You’ll receive a confirmation and welcome email, as well as program-wide emails prior to your program starting. Your weekly training emails will arrive the same day as your race day; if you’re racing on a Saturday, you’ll receive your emails on Saturdays (Ditto for Fridays, Thursdays, etc.). That said, ALL training programs begin on Mondays. If you are racing on a weekday, let us know and we can help tweak the final week of your plan.

Product Description


  • A 24-Week Comprehensive Training Program. Designed by Jennifer Harrison + Elizabeth  Waterstraat, two expert coaches who have been training runners by heart rate for over two decades, Running by Heart Rate: Marathon, Level 2 is a 24-week program perfect for more experienced runners wanting a training challenge for motherlode of all races: the marathon.

  • Miles of Resources. Your registration gets you access to the Train Like a Mother private site, where you’ll find helpful articles; video demonstrations of strength training moves, foam rolling routines, and running drills that are totally doable and will keep you running strong and injury-free; and plenty of other tips and tricks to compliment your heart rate-based training.

  • Exclusive Train Like a Mother Podcasts. We’ll answer individual training questions—and entertain you on your runs. We’ll pull in experts, answer questions, help you thrive. As always, no question is too basic or TMI.

  • A Training Peaks Account. This comprehensive training tool will help you chart the nearly daily growth of your endurance base. It also sends you a daily email with your workouts for today and tomorrow so you can plan accordingly.

  • Accountability—and Camaraderie—Galore. In addition to Train Like a Mother Club, you’ll be invited to join a private Running by Heart Rate Club on Strava, where you can track your miles, and a private Running by Heart Rate Facebook page, where you’ll quickly find an army of (funny, empathetic, inspiring) #motherrunner teammates.* You’ll share training tips, stories of good runs and bad, cheer each other on, and push each other out the door. Momentum comes from teamwork, and these programs roll on some serious #motherrunner momentum.

    *Please note that your membership in both our Strava and Facebook groups and access to the training program coaches are limited to the duration of your training plan, plus a few weeks for you to bask in the glow of your race and work with the coaches to help plan your next athletic goal and corresponding training plan.

  • Best.Swag.Bag.Ever. As part of your registration, you will receive a package stocked with training essentials, including a tube of Nuun, packets of GU, and a pair of Balega socks. (Shipping of $7.00 on U.S. orders and $15 for international orders will be added to your registration at checkout to cover the cost of getting these goodies to your mailbox.)

  • Expert, Accessible Guidance. We pop in via email weekly and host a weekly Q+A on the Facebook page; in addition, there are regular office hours so you can call your coach directly to get guidance with your personal questions.

  • When does Running By Heart Rate: Marathon, Level 2 run?
    This 24-week program starts based on your race date. On the front page, put in your expected race date, and it will give your start date, 24 weeks prior. You can sign up for a race anytime, but the newsletters and program won’t begin until your start date.

  • How will heart rate-based training help me become a better runner?
    Building running-specific fitness is like building a pyramid. You have to start with a wide, solid base that can support the demands of the structure as it grows higher and higher. The stronger and wider the foundation, the better your performances will be at the peak.

    Without a stable base? The pyramid is going to collapse into the sand—or in your case, result in injury, burn out, sickness, or a performance plateau. Thanks, but no. The most efficient way to build your own, never-gonna-break-down pyramid is to train in your own heart rate zones.

    Running by Heart Rate Marathon

    The majority of the runs in this program are in Zones 1-2, which helps you build a solid foundation of cardiovascular endurance and keep your risk of injury low.

    Running by heart rate requires patience and persistence. You will likely run slower than you have in years, and your post-run, “I’m-a-b*d*ss” glow may not feel as intense as it usually does. (But make no mistake, you are STILL a b*d*ss!)

    The thing to keep in mind is that that post-run, b*d*ss glow is likely from a Zone 3 effort, which leaves you prone to injury + stagnation. What’s more, that glow is temporary, and fleeting euphoric feelings are typically not worth the long-term drawbacks.

    Often athletes abandon training in lower heart rate zones out of frustration or boredom—or because they just can’t bear—and move on to the higher zones for one of two reasons:
    A) They get to maintain a nice clip and satisfy their inner competitive beast
    B) They believe that training harder will yield faster and stronger results.

    A is true—it does feel good to run fast, but it doesn’t do anything for building endurance or warding off injury. And B? Simply not true. We—Coaches Jen + Liz— have trained athletes by heart rate for over twenty years, and have seen huge gains when they lean in, slow down, and trust the process.

  • I get injured easily. How does Running by Heart Rate help me stay healthy?
    Because using your heart rate—not your GPS or best friend—as your pace guide allows you to zero in on Zone 2. This Zone, which encourages, slower, easy running, improve endurance and aerobic capacity while allowing all of your body, from your strong, powerful glutes to the tiny tendons in your feet, to adjust to the high-impact demands of running.

    When you exercise in Zone 2, you improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and your muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen—two of the foundational bricks of your #BAMR pyramid. Training in Zone 2, a physiological sweet spot, teaches the body to become more efficient at fueling muscles and metabolizing fat as a primary source of fuel. Slow twitch muscle fibers become stronger and better at using oxygen to produce energy.

    It’s not only about oxygen transport though. Your ligaments, tendons and other connective tissue adapt more slowly to the high impact demands than your muscles do. Hanging in Zone 2 gives them time and distance to adjust and prepares them for the higher intensities of the upper zones.

  • How do I know if this is the right plan for me?
    It’s the right plan for you if you’ve been running at least 60 minutes 4 days of the week for at least 12 weeks. And you’re injury-free. And you’ve completed a marathon within the last 18 months. We recommend having completed a Running by Heart Rate: Level I program (10K, half-marathon, or marathon), but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule

  • What heart rate monitor do you recommend?
    It depends on your budget, your preference for features, and your feelings towards tech. (One great place to do a deep dive into heart rate monitors is D.C. Rainmaker.)

    The most basic or sophisticated model will be suitable for this program; we recommend using a device from either Garmin or Polar. As you look through the options, know you need a monitor that, at a minimum, displays elapsed time and heart rate. Features like cadence, pace, vertical oscillation, and stride length are interesting to observe and track but are definitely not necessary.

    Wrist-based monitoring, including Apple watches, has definitely improved over the years, but it’s still not as accurate as a chest strap, so go for the latter if you want the most consistent data.

  • Do I need other equipment for this program?
    Two of the strength circuits include moves with Resistance Bands if you’d like to get a set.

  • Does the registration fee include a race?
    No. The fee is for the comprehensive training program, unlimited support, miles of resources, exclusive podcasts, and swag package, which will help you nail your marathon, both physically and mentally.

  • Wait: So I have to pay for this program and a race entry fee?
    Yep—and we’ve heard again and again it’s worth it. Staying committed and motivated during the days, weeks, and, yes, months of training can be ridiculously hard. If you can do that—and these programs are all about accountability and inspiration—race day becomes a celebratory victory lap, not a slog full of self-doubt.

  • Can you please explain the shipping charges?
    Within a few weeks of registration, every participant in a Train Like a Mother program receives a stocked swag package with some of our favorite training essentials. Domestic #motherrunners are charged $7.00 for shipping; international #motherrunners are charged $15 for shipping. The Train Like a Mother tee and medal have no shipping charges associated with them.

  • What if I realize this isn’t the right training plan for me?
    We definitely want this to work into your life and your running lifestyle. You can email us within 2 weeks of starting the program and we will set you up with another plan or a credit for an upcoming challenge. We will not be able to issue a straight-up refund.

  • What if I get injured or really sick?
    With a smart training plan, doable strength training, and advice on foam rolling and other self-care, we’re going to do our best to keep you injury-free. That said, if you have an injury or illness that totally slays your training, let us know. We’ll work with you to get you a credit for an upcoming program.

Any other questions? Hit us up and we’ll help you out!


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