Home / Training Programs / Spring / *Virtual* First Time Marathon (FTM) Program

*Virtual* First Time Marathon (FTM) Program

A CURRENT MCRRC MEMBERSHIP is REQUIRED to participate in this program. Please note that membership is NOT included in your program registration.  Non-members will have the opportunity to join MCRRC during program registration. If you are unsure if you have a CURRENT MCRRC Membership, please contact office@mcrrc.org for assistance.

Registration is Closed.

Virtual Program Overview:

MCRRC and its volunteer program directors and coaches are committed to helping club members reach their running goals, even as all physical club activities are suspended and the state continues to limit group activities for the health and safety of all.  This summer’s program will begin as a virtual program, where no runners will physically meet to run together.  If state and club restrictions are lifted before September, we may transition to some form of in-person program.  Schedules will be sent to all participants and a variety of electronic tools (e.g., Strava, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram) will be used to foster the community aspect of the program.

Participants of this program must agree that they will perform the program workouts by themselves or (only) with people with whom they are currently living.  The Program Director reserves the right to dismiss anyone from the program who blatantly disregards recommendations for social distancing while running.  As club and state guidance changes, these rules may be modified by the Program Director.

It is recommended that all program participants have a GPS watch or a running app on their phone, since each runner will be responsible for ensuring the distance and pace of their runs.  The Program Director is happy to provide guidance on watches and apps.

Goals and Purpose of Program:

This is a structured, coached, group-oriented program for people training to run their first marathon (26.2 miles).  Although our name includes the words “First Time”, our program is also applicable to people who are training for their second, third, fourth, or even fortieth (or more) marathons.  The FTM program is six months long.  This program began in 1995 and has helped well over two thousand runners complete their first marathon.

The program’s philosophy is simple.  We believe that any healthy adult can complete a marathon if: 1) they have the desire; and 2) they train properly by following the program. Our program should provide participants with the physiological and mental toughness necessary to go 26.2 miles.  We also firmly believe that training for a marathon should be FUN, and the marathon itself should be an enjoyable experience (although not an easy task).  By following our training program, it should be possible to run the marathon in relative comfort, without hitting “the wall.”  You do not have to be a fast runner to participate in our program or complete a marathon.

The program gradually builds up your average weekly miles from a minimum of about 15 miles a week at the start in May to about 40+ miles a week just before the event in October. We want you to average at least 35-45 miles per week running for three months before the marathon to be in the proper shape. If you come to the group workouts on a regular basis, follow the monthly schedule, run the average weekly miles prescribed, and do all the scheduled long runs; you will be able to finish a marathon by the end of the program. Over the last ten years the program has had virtually a 100% completion rate for those who finished the program.

This is not a “walk-run” program. We run our workouts (except for water stops), and our program participants run the entire marathon. There are no fundraising or charity components to the program.

Prerequisites: This program is open to any healthy adult. We train runners at all ability levels.  That said, we do not think a marathon should be the first race for a beginning runner. The marathon is a difficult athletic event, so to ensure that participants are properly prepared prior to enrolling in the program, we have the following criteria: 1) be averaging at least 12-15 miles per week for at least 4 weeks; 2) be running about 3 times per week; 3) most importantly, be able to run six miles at one time without stopping. Our first long run will be 7 miles on May 5th. Given the physical stress associated with training for a marathon, if you have not run a marathon it is strongly recommended that you consult your physician prior to entering this program. There is no speed requirement but we cannot guarantee that a coach will be available for those who run slower than a 13:00 pace per mile.

We’ll need a CURRENT 10K race time to properly place you in a pace group. Your race time and race effort will help us to determine your pace group – the harder the effort the better, but not at the risk of injury.

Cost/Premium Info: The virtual version of the First Time Marathon Program is offered at no cost to participants.  As such, we will not be able to provide premiums to participants. If and when the program is able to transition to a “live and in-person” program, a reduced fee may be assessed for continued participation.

You must be a member of MCRRC to participate in this program. If you are not a club member, you may join the MCRRC by clicking here. Registration is online only for the FTM program. The money goes directly to the MCRRC (a non-profit organization) to cover program administrative costs and fund other club programs. All of the coaches in this program are unpaid volunteers. Sorry, but there can be no refunds or transfers to another program, regardless of the reason.

Dates/Target Race:

Dates: TBD

Target Race: Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, on October 25, 2020. However, this training program is applicable to other fall marathons, such as Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Steamtown, Philadelphia, or Richmond.

First Run: TBD

Program Staff:

Head Coach/Director: Conroy Zien; ftmdirectors@mcrrc.org

Background:  Conroy has completed dozens of marathons and is an RRCA-Certified coach who began his running career in the MCRRC First Time Marathon Program.

Support Staff: The 30+ coaches and pace leaders have a tremendous amount of knowledge and marathon experience.


Date/Time:  Saturday, May 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Location: Virtual via Zoom.  

Topic: MCRRC First Time Marathoners Program Orientation
Time: May 2, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 602 463 835
Password: 549356

Note:  You do not need to register for FTM in order to attend the orientation.  We will be providing an overview of FTM and answering any questions you may have about our program.

Workouts/Pace Groups:

Pace Group Information: We will put people of similar ability together in pace groups, based on 10K (10,000 meters = 6.2 miles) race times and other criteria.

Workouts: Sundays @ time TBD; various locations* – long run

Wednesdays @ 6:45 PM – track workout. The track workouts will take place on the track at Montgomery College, 900 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

*Sunday morning workouts are held at various running venues in Montgomery County along the Rock Creek trail such as : Ken-Gar Palisades Park in Kensington, Lake Needwood in Rockville, Candy Cane Park in Chevy Chase and the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda.

You are expected to run one to four other times during the week on your own in order to meet the weekly mileage goals. You can easily stick to the schedule by running 3 days a week at the beginning and 4 days a week as the mileage ramps up. We will provide you with a training schedule for the full program, which gives weekly mileage goals and outlines the group workouts.

Communication Methods: We will use a private, online group to facilitate communications. Everyone will be required to join this group to participate in the program. Instructions on how to join this group will be provided by the Program Director. Participants are also encouraged to join MCRRC-info , the club’s listserv for delivering important club information including race announcements or changes, track closures due to weather or other issues, etc. When joining any of the Yahoo groups, please include your first and last name in the “comment from user” field so that your membership to the group can be verified.

Volunteer Requirement: MCRRC is a volunteer organization. The staff for this and all other training programs as well as that of all the races we conduct are volunteers. To support the club, participants in this program will be asked to volunteer for at least one, if not more, club races or events.

Disclaimer: The program director reserves the right in his sole discretion to refuse admission to the program or dismiss any individual from the program whom the program director believes is unsuited for running the specified distance, or is unable to meet the demands of the training schedule, or is disruptive to other program participants. Those individuals will be denied entry into the program or dismissed from the program as appropriate. The program director also reserves the right to limit the number of participants in the overall program or in individual pace groups. MCRRC has a No Refund policy. Program registration fees cannot be refunded due to injury, schedule conflict or any other reason.