The first week of June in Chicago means one thing for runners: the start of marathon training. Whether you’re targeting the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the first time, or competing in another fall marathon for the tenth, it’s time to start logging those miles and workouts.
Typically, marathon training consists of 18-weeks of consistent hard work; after a while, those long runs can get monotonous, especially if done in the same location every week, and done alone. Thankfully, Chicago is truly a running city, and therefore is not slacking on marathon training groups.
Below are nine different groups scattered throughout the city and its suburbs to run with this summer. While they all have different characteristics and perks, and are at varying prices, they all have the same end-goal: getting you to that marathon finish line.
CARA runners enjoy access to eleven training sites scattered across the city and suburbs. Every week there is a Wednesday night speed session and a weekend long run. Each site has group leaders and pacers for each 30-second-pace interval from 7:00 to 12:00 minute per mile. Participants also get an automatic entry into CARA’s Ready to Run 20-Miler in September and access to CARA’s Marathon VIP Experience on race day.
Cost: New Members: $219, CARA members: $184
The Summer Marathon Training program will be available at four of the Chicago-area Fleet Feet Sports stores.In addition to weekend long runs, CES offers weeknight training sessions as well. Each session provides a welcoming, central location to start and end the workout, a secure place for your personal gear and to meet up with your training companions after the long runs for coffee or breakfast. CES also creates a supported 20-miler to help runners practice for race day.
Cost: New Members: $257, CES Members: $232
Coach Brendan offers several options for fall marathon training, depending on the needs of the runner. Participants can choose from his 20-week marathon training program that includes Saturday morning long runs; his 18-week Speed Training Program that hosts workouts on Tuesday evenings; or a combination of both. He also offers a virtual option for those who can’t attend these sessions. All training takes places downtown.
Costs:Marathon Training, New Members: $205, Returning: $185
Speed Training, New Members: $185, Returning, $165
Combination Training, New Members: #$75, Returning: $335
This year is the debut of Clocktower Runners Marathon Training Program! It offers group long runs on the weekend, and option speed training during the week. The long runs have pacers for starting from the 7:30 minute/mile pace every 30 seconds through the 11 minute/mile pace, and certified coaches from Road Runners Club of America. Because the long runs take place on the lakefront, water and Gatorade stops will be available courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports.
Cost: FREE, but a $20 fee is requested for insurance purposes
Based out of the EDGE Athlete Lounge downtown, the EDGE Fall Marathon Training program features speed and tempo runs on Tuesday nights, and long runs on Saturday mornings on the lakefront. Participants will also receive free weekly education at runs and newsletters, a free Training Peaks Account with a full plan, and a fully supported 20 miler run.
Cost: New Members: $250, EDGE Members: $200
This training group meets at Lighthouse Beach in Evanston at 7 a.m. on Saturdays starting June 9. There are both Novice and Intermediate Programs available depending on runner needs and experience. Hydration stations will be available along the route, and for runs longer than 10 miles, GU and other gels will be provided.
With five downtown locations, the FFC includes three weekly workouts in its fall marathon training program: long runs on Saturdays and Sundays, maintenance runs and speedwork. The program also includes an online training plan, running form workshops and clinics, running gear and social outings. Participants also can utilize one-on-one coaching sessions throughout the 18-week program.
Cost: New Members: $596, FFC Members: $345
Fox River’s Chicago Marathon training program also beings June 9, with three weekly runs in Geneva, all with multiple pace groups and hydrations stops. Participants can choose from three different types of plans based on their fitness level and experience. The program also includes access to the hospitality suite on race day with gear check, bathrooms, food, and beverages.
Cost: New Members: $69, FRTR Members: $59
The Nike+ Run Club Official Bank of America Chicago Marathon training programs were created to get the best version of you across the finish line. Although there isn’t any group runs, Nike+ created two in-depth, 18-week programs to help you get to that finish line. Using the Nike+ app, you can track your progress and even chat with Nike coaches. If you want in-person sessions with these coaches, you can schedule those online. The dynamic plans created by Nike+ Coaches are made to be adaptive to all runners and are customized to fit in with daily schedule and needs.
After this post was published, we were informed of a few more local marathon training groups:
- Alpine Runners Chicago Marathon Training Program: Groups meet on Saturdays in Lake Zurich and on Sundays in Busse Woods Forest Preserve. The training groups are included in the Alpine Runners membership fee, at $25 for an individual membership, or $35 for families.
- Elmhurst Running Club Marathon Training: offers track workouts and Saturday long runs
- Naperville Running Company Marathon Training
- Glen Ellyn Runners Club Marathon Training: This program follows the popular two build up weeks, followed by a cut back week, with several RRCA Certified Coaches to help you train. They offer long runs with pace groups, mid-week training runs, as well as Interval Training for all levels of runners. Three plans are available for different levels, and a race day hospitality room is offered as well.