Training Preparation

Packet Pickup


Ready to Run 20 Miler

CARA VIP Experience at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Charity Information

Shoe Tags


If you still have questions, feel free to give us a call at 312.666.9836. We’re here to help you reach your race goals!

Training Preparation

How will I know if I am physically prepared for Marathon Training?

Runners entering a marathon training program should be able to complete a long run of at least six (6) miles by the start of training and should have built up to a routine of running a minimum of 15-20 miles per week.

If you are not currently reaching those recommendations, we would advise you to take advantage of our Six Week Base Building Program. This plan is designed to help you get to the start of training with confidence and a proper base for the Summer Marathon Program.

Remember to always consult with your physician before starting a new fitness program.

How can I get ready for training?

Starting marathon training with a proper base makes the program that much more fun and you even more successful! Runners enrolled in the Summer Marathon Training Program can participate in our Summer Half Program as well (limited locations).

CARA will help you get in touch with your training site coordinator to find opportunities to run with a group and build your base mileage before Summer Marathon Training begins. Simply email training@cararuns.org or joing us at a Summer Half Marathon training site for long runs, beginning on April 29. More information will be provided to Summer Marathon Training Program participants by e-mail.

Please note, Summer Half Marathon Training sites may differ from Summer Marathon Training sites. 

Packet Pickup

What is in my packet and why do I need it?

Your training program packet includes your program technical top and shoe tag.

Where can I pick up my packet?

Packet pickup is available at various Road Runner Locations. See more information on the Packet Pickup page.

What is Super Clinic?

Super Clinic is the official kickoff for Summer Marathon Training. It is a one day info session on all things marathon! Stay tuned for more information, including date/time and location. Past speakers have included Bank of America Executive Race Director, Carey Pinkowski, Coach Bill Leach, Hal Higdon and more. Information is available for both the novice and experienced marathoner.

Can someone else pick up my packet?

Yes, a friend or family member can pick up your packet for you at the various Road Runner locations.

Can you mail my packet?

Yes. We will happily mail your training program packet to the address of your choice for $15. Please contact the CARA office at 312.666.9836 to arrange payment and delivery. Please note, all packets are delivered via USPS Priority Mail. We ship them out once a week, beginning in May.


How long is the training program?

The CARA Summer Marathon Training Program is 18 weeks long. The first long run is Saturday, June 10 and the final long run is the weekend of September 30. The 18th week is the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

How long is the first training run for the Chicago Marathon Training Program?

The first long run for CARA Summer Marathon Training is six miles. Training will peak at a 20 mile long run on September 17, 2017.

What pace group should I select for my long run?

Many runners are confused about the proper pacing for long runs. You risk injury and burn-out by running your training runs too fast. As a rule of thumb, you should run long runs approximately one minute slower than the pace you plan to run during the marathon or one to 1-1/2 minutes per mile slower than your present 10K race pace.

Shorter, faster running should be reserved for during the week!!

The long run is a crucial component of marathon training because it teaches the body, both mentally and physically, to tackle the challenges presented in completing the marathon. Your body must learn to tap into and utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food sources) have been depleted. Through long run training, the capacity to store more glycogen within the muscles increases. An increase in glycogen stores translates into the ability to maintain one's pace during the marathon and delay the onset of fatigue. Conversely, when you run out of glycogen, your pace will significantly decrease.

You must be accustomed to running for very long periods of time and “time on your feet” as it is often referred to, has mental benefits as well. You gain confidence that you’ll be able to finish strong on race day.

To find your optimal training paces, plug in your current 5k, 10k or half-marathon time: http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/index.php/site/calculator

If you have further questions, contact training@cararuns.org.

Do I have to train at the site I selected when I registered?

No, you are free to run at any of the eight training sites for CARA Summer Marathon Training Program. The program has eight different sites including: Chicago Montrose, Chicago Monroe (Downtown), Wheaton, Niles, Oak Forest, Darien, Libertyville and Schaumburg. Click here for locations and times.

It is best to try and find a site that works for you and stick with it, though. Pace groups often become tight-knit communities and it’s hard to forge friendships and create bonds if you are hopping from site to site.

Will we run in inclement weather?

  • Rain: We will run in rain.
  • Lightning: We will not run if lightning is present. If the run has not started, we will wait a reasonable amount of time to determine if the bad weather will pass, or if the run should be cancelled. If lightning occurs during a run, seek shelter, such as an underpass or building. Stay away from open areas or trees.
  • Heat and Humidity: We will run in hot weather. We will slow our pace and stop more frequently at aid stations. If the heat is severe, the run distance may be shortened. Please be alert for signs of heat related illness such as light headedness, cramps, headache, chills or lack of sweat. Alert your Group Leader if any symptoms occur.
  • Snow: We haven’t had to deal with snow in the summer before, but we’ve had some crazy weather this year! We will run in snow. We will not run if more than one foot of snow has fallen in the past 12 hours. Runs may be shortened if substantial portions of the running route are covered in snow or ice.

Will I be notified if a training run is cancelled?

If we have advance notice that we will be cancelling a run, you will be notified by email. However, many scheduled runs are cancelled the morning of (due to unforeseen weather circumstances). In this case, please check the CARA Facebook Page, Twitter Account or call the CARA Weather Hotline at 312.666.9836 ext. 16. You can also contact your Site Coordinator if you have any questions about a weekend long run.

What other training opportunities are available outside of the long run?

Runners in the CARA Summer Marathon Training Program can take advantage of mid-week runs and speed work at a variety of locations throughout the city and suburbs.

The program has already started. Can I still join?

Yes! Runners are welcome to join CARA training programs at any point. Please note, prices for the Summer Marathon Training Program are not prorated.

Can I use this program for any fall marathon?

The CARA Summer Marathon Training Program is targeted at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, however it can be adapted to a number of fall marathons including Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, Indianapolis, Columbus, NYC, Berlin and more!

Where are the hydration stations and how many are there?

Hydration stations vary from site to site. Your Group Leaders and Site Coordinators will send you information closer to training with these details. Please note, if you run at the Darien site, you will be required to bring a water bottle as Waterfall Glen does not allow paper cups.

Ready to Run 20 Miler

What is the Ready to Run 20 Miler?

The  Ready to Run 20 Miler is the last big run of marathon training. Rather than just run 20 miles, CARA turns the 20 miler into an event to remember. Runners will have an amazing point-to-point course along the lakefront, post-run party including stretching provided by NovaCare, aid stations, full medical support and more. The  Ready to Run 20 Miler will be Sunday, September 17. For more information on the Ready to Run 20 Miler, click here.

Can people who are not training with CARA run the Ready to Run 20 Miler?

Yes! Registration is open to anyone.

CARA VIP Experience at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

What is the CARA VIP Experience at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon?

CARA runners are VIP at the Chicago Marathon! We will have a large INDOOR space  available exclusively to our runners. We call this the CARA VIP Experience. Runners will have indoor, temperature controlled space for pre and post-race, private gear check, Gatorade, water, coffee (pre-race), free beer (post-race), food (post-race), indoor bathrooms and an exclusive bank of porta-potties between the hotel and the starting line. Stay tuned for more information.

You must show your shoe tag for entry.

Can non-CARA runners access the CARA VIP Experience?

CARA members who are not enrolled in the Summer Marathon Training can take advantage of the CARA VIP Experience. Prices and purchase opportunities will be announced later in the season. Family is welcome to join you at the CARA VIP Experience post-race, but we ask that the food and beverage remain only for paid runners (runners in the Summer Marathon Training Program and those who purchased entry).

Charity Information

Which charity organizations does CARA work with?

We train runners for more than 60 charities. You can find our full list of charity partners here.

I’m running for charity. Will my charity have a booth in the CARA Charity Village at the VIP Experience on race day?

CARA and its Charity Partners are planning for race day on October 8, 2017. Limited space is available at the CARA Charity Village . Please contact your charity coordinator regarding their participation.

Shoe Tags

If I lose my CARA shoe tag, can I replace it?

Do your best to hold on to your shoe tag! They are expensive to replace, but it can be done. Just stop by the CARA office (549 W. Randolph, Suite 704, Chicago) and purchase a replacement I.D. shoe tag for $50. CARA can also mail you a replacement tag.

Remember your I.D. shoe tag must be worn at all times during your weekend training runs.

What is a shoe tag and why do I need it?

The shoe tag is a plastic tag that attaches to your running shoe with a small Velcro strap. It shows that you’re a registered runner with CARA. It is also how the hydration workers will know that you can get hydration at each of the stops. Lastly, and most importantly, it has space on the back for your name and emergency contact information. FILL IT OUT! Accidents do happen in training and we want to make sure you get the medical attention you need.


Do I have to wear the technical top I received from CARA?

You are not required to wear the technical top. It’s just a perk of the program. We hope you like it and will wear it often, though!

Running Buddies

"CARA is far more than a running organization. In my group, runners would fall back and run with me when I couldn’t keep up. They’d pour my drink at the water stops…They’d listen with their hearts…A year later, I’m a group leader, about to complete my second marathon."
-Claudia Parker


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