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A look inside Malindi Elmore’s five-month marathon build

An insight into how Elmore ran a 2:24:50 marathon in her second crack at the distance

On Sunday Malindi Elmore ran the new Canadian marathon record, finishing the Houston Marathon in 2:24:50 for third place. Elmore, 39, competed in the 2004 Olympics for the 1,500m and now stands a very good chance at competing in a second Games, 16 years later, in the marathon.

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While running fans were shocked at the results, Elmore wasn’t. She said it was exactly the time she had in mind. “That was exactly what we were expecting, somewhere in the 2:24-2:25 range,” she says. “We knew from the workouts that it was there and Houston was a prefect opportunity. I had a fabulous group to run with until it broke up with about 5K to go.” Coincidentally, 5K to go is also the only time that Elmore wavered from her practically perfect pacing of 3:25 per kilometre.


When Elmore talks about her success, she doesn’t really talk about running. Instead, she focuses on all of the things that are going well outside of her sport. She recently started a position coaching at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and things are going well in her personal life. She thinks that’s exactly why things in her sporting life are going so well too: “I’m truly happy with where I am in my life. I love running and racing, but life is good and I think things would be good either way. This is a total cherry on top. There were a lot of years where I was so focused on my sport. Sometimes that can backfire a bit.”


Elmore explains that when she hung up her spikes in 2012, she truly believed she was done with competitive running, but now she’s couldn’t be happier that she’s found her way back. She says, “I feel like I have purpose right now. What I do is important. One of my main struggles with running when I was younger is that I felt it was a selfish endeavour at times. But now I see there’s a reason to do it that’s bigger than me. I’m inspired by a lot of people and I want to give back too–that’s what makes this sport so special.”

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The training plan

Elmore says her training took a turn for the serious between last year’s Houston marathon and her race on Sunday. She explains, “We seriously upped the game since this race last year. It [2019] went so well but we knew I left a lot on the table.”


But another turn the runner didn’t expect was to end up in a marathon build that would last nearly five months. Her intention was to race the 2020 Olympic Trials in Toronto, but due to a hamstring strain, she pulled out at the last minute. “I effectively had two builds. The times that I was able to touch on in the last bit of my build for Toronto, I could more consistently touch in the second build for Houston. I basically had five months of marathon training.” While this plan worked well for Elmore, she also wouldn’t recommend trying it at home. She said she had to be very careful to avoid injury and overtraining.

The biggest week of mileage

Elmore’s biggest week of mileage actually came during her first round of preparation for the Toronto marathon. Between September 23 and 29 she ran 164.5K, just over 100 miles.

Monday – 16K at 4:57 per K

Tuesday – 20K at 4:51 per K in the morning, 6.5K at 4:50 per K in the afternoon

Wednesday – 14.5K at 4:50 per K in the morning, 9.7K at 4:10 per K (tempo) on the treadmill in the afternoon

Thursday – track workout with a 5K warmup, 8K of work at race pace (3:25/K) and a 3K cool down, then another 9K in the afternoon at 4:40 per K

Friday – 15K at 4:35 per K

Saturday – 20K at 4:46 per K, 7K in the afternoon at 4:07 per K (tempo)

Sunday – 5K warm up, 12 by 1K averaging 3:13 per K on 90 seconds rest and a 5K cooldown

What’s next?

Elmore is going to take a much-needed break over the next few days. She just started her coaching job, so she’s looking forward to throwing herself into that. For now she doesn’t have any big running plans. “I don’t think I’m going to run another marathon. This spring I’ll do some halfs, shorter road races and maybe hop on the track for a 10,000m. If between now and the Olympic team selection someone runs faster than me, more power to them.” The team will be announced in late May.