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*Virtual*Experienced Marathon Program

A CURRENT MCRRC MEMBERSHIP is REQUIRED to participate in this program. Please note that membership is NOT included in your program registration. PRIOR TO JOINING this program, you must become a member. If you are unsure if you have a CURRENT MCRRC Membership, please contact office@mcrrc.org for assistance. Otherwise, please click here to become a valued member.

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, 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: 

The program is designed to help runners with previous marathon experience reach their goals of improving their marathon experience. Over the past 5 years, on average, 1/3 of the participants have achieved PR’s (personal records) and Boston qualifying times. Last year alone, half of the participants ran PR’s and BQ’s.

Prerequisites: This program is open to runners who are experienced in long distance running and marathoning. There are no criteria for speed and we welcome runners of all paces.  Historically, the marathon times range from 2:45 to 5:00. In order to be ready to handle the training schedule for this program, at the time the program begins in early June, runners must have a strong and consistent mileage base of at least 35 miles per week in order to be able to safely build to the suggested peak mileage of 50-60 miles per week, and should be able to comfortably run 12 miles as a long run.  The long runs build to 20-22 miles, with 4 20-milers before taper begins, depending on the marathon date. If you have any questions about your suitability for the program, please contact the program director prior to registering. The first group long run is 14 miles.

Cost: The virtual version of the XMP 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.

Dates/Target Race:

Orientation & First Run: TBD

Target Race: The program does not have one particular “target” marathon.  The training schedule is designed for training for a variety of marathons, covering 9 different weekends, throughout the fall marathon season, beginning with Erie and Lehigh Valley (mid-September) and ending with Philadelphia (late November).  The training schedule specifically includes in between Wineglass, Steamtown, Chicago, Baltimore, Marine Corps, New York and Richmond, but many program participants will run numerous other fall marathons on a variety of weekends.  The coaches will adjust the training schedule to fit particular marathon weekends.

Many of the program’s runners participate in early season marathons starting mid-September and then continue with the program running second marathons or just continuing to train with XMP. The program ends in mid-November to accommodate the later fall marathons.

Program Staff:

Head Coach/Director: Harold Rosen

Background: Harold was a participant in the first year of the XMP program in 2002 and has coached in the program since 2003.  He is RRCA certified (Level II), with some USATF training as well.  Harold has run 35 plus marathons. This is his 9th year as Head Coach and Director.

Coaches: Most of the coaches in the program are RRCA certified and have current first aid, CPR and AED certifications. The coaches include (alphabetically):

  • Dan DiFonzo has run 50 marathons and ultra-marathons including the last 14 Boston Marathons. He has trained with XMP since 2005. In addition to coaching XMP, he has coached with the club’s Winter Half Marathon and Winter Marathon Programs.
  • Chris Grant ran his first marathon in 2012 and has trained with XMP each year since 2013. He has run 10+ marathons, including multiple Boston’s.
  • Roman Gurule ran his first marathon as a whim in 2014, became addicted, and has since run multiple marathons, including 3 Boston Marathons. Roman is a member of the MCRRC Competitive Race Team.
  • Bernard Kelly’s first marathon was Marine Corps run in 2007. The following year, he began training with XMP. He has run 26 marathons, including 4 Boston’s.
  • Argaw Kidane began training with XMP in 2011. He has completed numerous marathons including 6 Boston Marathons. He is also a member of the club’s Competitive Race Team.
  • Bill Loomis first took up running in 2006 and began training with XMP in 2008. He has run over 20 marathons (including the last 11 Boston Marathons) and ultras. In 2015, Bill was recognized by the club as Grandmaster Runner of the Year. This is his sixth year coaching XMP. Bill is a member of the club’s Competitive Racing Team.
  • Elizabeth Pavlick ran her first marathon in 2012. She has since completed 12 marathons, and 2 ultra-marathons. Elizabeth began her marathon training with MCRRC’s First Time Marathon Training Program in 2013, and started training with XMP in 2016. She has also coached with MCRRC’s winter Advanced Marathon Training Program and its predecessor Winter Marathon Training Program.
  • Dayna Rashidian ran her first marathon in 2008, training with the Club’s First Time Marathon Training Program. She began training with XMP in 2011. She has completed 16 marathons. She has also coached in the Club’s winter Advanced Marathon Training Program.
  • Karyn Ryan ran her first marathon in 1998, took a break for family, and then returned to marathoning in 2011. She began training with XMP in 2013. She has completed numerous marathons including multiple Boston Marathons.
  • Jennifer Sample has been a runner for the past 20-years. She has run 30+ marathons, including multiple Boston’s. She is a member of the club’s Competitive Race Team.
  • Brad Stewart, a triathlete and Ironman competitor, ran his first marathon in 1996 and has run with XMP since 2013.This is his third year coaching with XMP, and has also coached with MCRRC’s Winter Advanced Marathon Training Program (AMT).
  • Janet Strudwick first trained with XMP in 2008. She has completed 15 marathons including 2 Boston’s. In addition to marathoning, she has completed 2 Ironman, multiple Half Ironman and numerous other triathlons. Her focus now is on marathoning. Janet is RRCA certified.
  • Doug Watt has trained with XMP since 2007. He has run the past 11 Boston Marathons among his 30 + marathons to date.
  • Robert Yarchoan ran his first marathon in 2003, began training with XMP the following year and became an XMP coach in 2011. He has completed at least 30+ marathons and ultra-marathons, including a number of Boston Marathons, two JFK 50’s and other ultras.


Date/Time: TBD

Workouts/Pace Groups:

Pace Group Information: Runners will be assigned to specific training groups, which will include runners with similar levels of pacing and conditioning.  The program normally has 18 to 19 such pace groups. In order to assign runners to pace groups, the program will require a recent race time with registration run at 100% effort, to provide an accurate measure of current race pace and fitness level. The registration form includes questions about recent race times.  If you cannot provide us with a recent race time at the beginning of the program, you will need to run a 5K or a 10K race as soon as possible in order to receive an appropriate pace group assignment.  The size of each pace group will vary depending on the number of registrants in the program and the distribution of runners among various running paces.  We place participants in groups whose pace will provide them with an appropriate training stimulus to maximize their marathon performance, consistent with their current fitness.  While coaches may set pace in some groups, some pace groups will not have coaches assigned to them.

Training Paces: Each pace group will be assigned five different training paces.  The assigned paces are designed to train the various physiological “systems” critical to marathon success. The pace groups in the program are designated by the “long, slow distance” (LSD) pace.  It is slow. Each pace group normally has a 15 second LSD pace “window” recognizing the minor spread of abilities and conditioning within each pace group.  In the past, LSD pace groups have ranged from a 7:00-7:15 minute per mile LSD pace to an 11:45-12:00 minute per mile LSD pace.  These paces, in the past, have generally led to marathon times ranging from 2:45 for the faster groups to 5:00 on the slower end.  The other assigned training paces for each pace group include a “lactate threshold” (LT) pace (roughly a 10 mile to half marathon race pace), and a “10K Pace” and a “5K Pace”).  A “marathon training pace” (MP) is also assigned to each pace group.  Marathon training pace tempo runs (low end “lactate threshold”) become a mid-week staple of the training program midway into the season.

Training Schedule: XMP has prepared a “Virtual Training Manual” that sets forth the “Rules of the Road” for the XMP virtual season. The Rules of the Road will be distributed to all registered runners before the start of the program. This year, XMP is starting the program early, on May 23, 2020, to prepare runners both for the postponed Boston Marathon and for the Erie Marathon (run a day apart on September 13 and 14, 2020). Training will continue through to mid-November, closing with the Philadelphia Marathon, but the training will work well for any marathon throughout the fall and into the winter.

Much information from the many previous years of XMP in-person group training can provide further information of how XMP works and is retained substantially intact below. If you have questions, please send them to the Program Director at haroldrosen@comcast.net.

Group Workouts: There are two coached group runs each week.  Tuesday evenings at 6:45pm are the quality or speed and hill runs.  The early season Tuesday group runs will include hill repeats and tempo runs at various paces, run from KenGar Recreation Center. After that, the program will move to the track at Montgomery College, Rockville  Campus  for the remainder of the training program.

The group long runs are mostly run at LSD pace and are held on Saturday mornings starting at 6:30am. These runs are mapped for the runners and are loops or out and backs. Many start and end in Bethesda and use primarily the Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath.  Many of these runs include hills.

Program Communications: Participants will be required to utilize Groups.io, which is the official communication forum. After registering for the program, a registration confirmation sent to each runner will include instruction for registering for the XMP Groups.io. In addition to the information found in the “Communications” section below, the program utilizes Twitter to announce any last minute group run changes. There is also an “unofficial” XMP Facebook page. There is no requirement to subscribe to either Twitter or Facebook.

General Club Communications: 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.