Experienced Marathon Program (XMP)

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 for the 2021 Season is CLOSED.

The XMP Program is designed to train runners with previous marathon and other long distance running experience to improve their marathon. The training schedule is designed to fit most of the fall marathons beginning in mid-September and ending in late November. Many participants completing an early marathon can close out their training season with that marathon or can continue to train with the program. Some typically complete multiple marathons. While there are many metrics to measure success, typically each year 50% of the participants run PR’s and/or Boston Qualifying times.

Prerequisites:  The program is open to runners with experience in long distance training.  MCRRC Membership is required for participation in this program.  If you are not a member, you will have the opportunity to join MCRRC during registration.  Participants must be 18 or older to register.

Structure: A training schedule that covers the entire season will be provided to each participant following registration. The training schedule will accommodate multiple marathon weekends with appropriate build-ups and tapers. The schedule addresses all days of the week over the 7-month period from May thru November utilizing 5 to 6 running days per week, although in the past some participants have managed with a 4-day per week schedule, with guidance from the coaches. The coaches will adjust the training schedule for individual participants as requested.

All participants will be assigned to pace groups based on recent race data. The pace groups typically range in size from 10 to 20 runners and are designated using the “long, slow distance” (LSD) pace.  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 plus minute per mile LSD pace.  These paces have historically led to marathon finishing times ranging from 2:45 for the faster groups to 5:30 on the slower end. Some pace groups will have assigned coaches; others may not.

Each pace group will be provided with 6 different training paces to be used on assigned training days. The various paces will be designed to improve endurance, lactate threshold and oxygen efficiency – all critical components to best marathon performance. 3 training days per week are specifically dedicated to (1) long run endurance training on Saturdays, (2) speed workout training on Tuesdays and (3) tempo marathon pace training on Thursdays.

There are two group runs each week.  Saturday morning long runs are set to start at 7:00 AM in May and 6:30 AM thereafter, and are mostly run at LSD pace.  These runs are normally loops or “out & backs.” Many start and end in Bethesda and use primarily the Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Trail or the C&O Canal Towpath. The long runs typically buildup to four 20-22 mile runs at a slow pace before reaching marathon taper. Tuesday evenings are “speed” training days, normally starting at 6:30 PM.

The May and early June portion of the program will be informal and will build up to the heart of the training program, starting in June and running through November. The informal part of the schedule has been added to assist participants in “catching up” their training to smoothly adjust from running during the pandemic to the typical first XMP long run of 14-miles in early June.  May will be a month in which participants may choose to gather with their groups informally, coordinating via the communication group, or to run solo if one chooses. The month of May is also intentionally designed this way to give participants more time to finalize pandemic inoculations before the more formal gatherings of all participants begin in June.

Each pace group will have its own communication group that may be used starting in May to communicate about meetups for long runs or speed workouts.  Participants will be encouraged to gather with others for the early season long runs and speed workouts. During this time, such gatherings will be informal and participants are acting individually and not as MCRRC or XMP Program representatives.

Beginning mid-June, the program will become more formal with scheduled group runs, divided as necessary to meet gathering limitations by utilizing two or more starting locations for pace groups.  Pace groups may be subdivided as well, due to size.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is unlikely for the program to have access to a track.  The Tuesday training schedule for May through July includes hill repeats as well as mile tempo runs starting at Ken-Gar Palisades Park.  Beginning in August, if not earlier, speed workouts will be track-type workouts. Unless a track permit is available to the club, small, informal groups or participants may utilize any tracks open and available to the public, at their discretion.  Please note that such gatherings will be informal and participants are acting individually and not as an MCRRC or XMP Program representative.  The XMP coaches will also maintain quarter-mile marks along the Rock Creek Trail that can be used as a track substitute for short distance, higher speed workouts.

COVID-19 Considerations:  The Club has a set of safety guidelines and expectations which all participants MUST follow.  These guidelines can be found here.  Any participant not following the guidelines may be removed from the program without notice and without refund.

It is important to note that aid stations offered during group long runs will likely contain water or Gatorade ONLY, and participants should be prepared to carry their own fuel or snacks during these runs.  Additionally, the aid stations will be available for refilling only and are NOT permitted to be gathering locations.

Cost:  Online registration is $125 and is non-refundable.  Total registration may be limited if, and as, required.

Program Dates: Saturday, May 1, 2021 to Sunday, November 21, 2021


Date/Time: Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 5:30 PM.

Location: Zoom Meeting ID: 977 4882 0087; Passcode: 662337

Head Coach/Director: Harold Rosen

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).  Harold has run 35 plus marathons.  This is his 11th year directing the program.  He will be assisted by a team of RRCA certified running coaches.

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.

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, is unable to meet the demands of the training schedule, is disruptive to other participants or fails to meet pandemic guidelines. 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 and program registration fees cannot be refunded due to injury, schedule conflict or for any other reason.