Sunday, March 13, 2016

Boston Build-Up: 5 Weeks To Go

Boston is freakishly close! In five weeks I will be eating my "last supper" before running my first Boston Marathon.

Training has gotten super intense over the past two weeks. I never thought I would be able to train at this level--at least not without getting injured. Here's a snapshot of the training cycle so far:

This week was 68 miles and last week was 67 miles. Because I did this week's long run on a Friday, I actually had a rolling 7-day total of 80 miles as of Friday, March 11th. That's a 7-day record for me, and this 68-mile week is a "Monday-Sunday" record.

I've been running marathons for 10 years, and I've been training seriously (with a coach or plan) for the past 7. So why haven't I been able to run like this until just now? I think that I've built up to it properly. When I first started working with my coach in July 2014, he dropped my mileage and had me running faster, more intense workouts. Doing difficult workouts while keeping the overall volume low has prepared me to safely tack on miles.

Also, it used to be that I would run a lot of "junk miles" and my quality/speed workout days would have low mileage. For example, in the past, I might have run 10 miles easy on a Monday, followed by 5 x 800m on a Tuesday. The Tuesday workout, including warm up and cool down, might have only amounted to 8 miles. When I started working with my coach, I flipped that, making my easy runs only 4-7 miles (truly easy) with workout day mileage totaling 10+.

Essentially, I've been building up to this level over the past two years. So even though going from the low 40's in December to the high 60's in March seems like a huge jump, my body was prepared for it. One of my favorite all-time running quotes is "you do the training so you can do the training so you can do the training." And I've found that to be true.

Here's a look at my daily mileage for the past 30 days.

In addition to the high mileage, I've had some really fun/interesting/crazy workouts. I about had a heart attack when I saw this on my training plan last week (it's the purple tempo run above): "15 to 30 minute Warm-Up + 4 mile tempo run, 800m jog, 2 times 90 seconds, 4 times 60 seconds, 4 times 45 seconds, 4 times 30 seconds, 6 times 15 seconds all with the same recovery as the rep time + 15 to 30 minute Cool-down." I ended up with 45 splits on my Garmin! I felt really accomplished when the run was done, having stayed strong all the way through the finish. My tempo pace for the 4 miles was 7:02, and I kept all of the shorter intervals at a 6:35 pace or quicker.

On Tuesday of this week, I ran 10 miles at marathon pace, plus warm up and cool down. Thankfully, I had perfect weather (overcast and 44 degrees) and I felt amazing. I was able to average a pace of 7:39 and it didn't even feel hard until the last two miles. Do I plan to run a 7:39 marathon pace in Boston? I think it's possible if the weather is just right and I'm having a good day. But never having done it before, I'll probably start out slower and then speed up if I am able. My main goal with Boston is to have an amazing experience and to soak it all in! Part of that is running my best race possible, and I know I'll be prepared to do that.

Earlier I mentioned that I did this week's 20-miler on a Friday. That's because I spent my Saturday
At the start line of RNR DC
morning cheer for my husband and good friend Allison at the Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon. Greg broke his ankle one year ago, and it's been a long road back to running for him. He was in a boot for nearly two months, and then stayed on crutches for a few weeks after that. He wasn't able to return to running until the end of August. He ran the Columbus Half Marathon in October, and then began training for the marathon in November. I wrote his training plan for him, which was very conservative to make sure he came back safely.

Greg and Allison were planning on running similar paces, which made it easy for me to cheer and take photos. Even though they weren't planning to run together (and didn't actually "run together") they were always within about a minute of each other. I was able to take the metro around the city to see them at mile 7.5, 15, 17, and the finish. I had a lot of fun, and it was so exciting to see all of Greg and Allison's hard work pay off. Greg wound up with a 3:40, which is amazing given all the time off he took last year, and Allison with a 3:39 BQ! Both of them looked strong throughout and I plan to use them as inspiration during my next race!

Greg is always so supportive of me and my running that it was nice to be able to support him, give him his water bottle when he needed it, and take photos. I also just really love the "vibe" of a big race. So much excitement!

Allison in purple tank, Greg in blue shirt at mile 7.5

I ended up logging about 17,000 steps on my FitBit, which winds up being 7-8 miles of walking. It was definitely a tiring day of being on my feet, but I loved every second of it.

I hope the next five weeks of training continue to go well. My legs are definitely feeling the miles, particularly since I run my "easy" runs on very hilly routes, sometimes with downhill strides at the end. I want to be really prepared for all the hills in Boston so I am seeking them out on my training runs.

Oh- and my Boston Marathon jacket came in the mail! I tried it on to make sure it fit, but I won't wear it until I actually arrive in Boston. I was temped to wear it yesterday at the RNR DC marathon since the weather was perfect for it, but I didn't want to tempt fate! I'll probably end up being one of those people who wear the jacket to race expos even when it's like 70 degrees outside. . . :-)


  1. Hi Elizabeth - I don't know what happened to my comment. I'll try again. You've been doing a great job training. I can't wait to hear all about your experiences at Boston. You've worked so hard! I hope it's everything you've dreamed of and more. I wish I could be there to cheer you on! - George

    1. Thank you so much, George! You've always been so supportive of me. I am lucky to have you as a friend.

  2. You're doing so awesome with training! Way to go on the mileage increases. I do have a question about the longer workouts though- I've always heard the bulk of the mileage per week should be fairly easy/aerobic. How's this work when your easy days are short and your workouts long? Do you run long warmups or cooldowns? Or is marathon pace slow enough to not be considered a "hard" run unless it's really long? I have thought about increasing mine to do more things like mile repeats and longer repeats, although I'm not training for a marathon. Especially not Boston. I'm not fast like that ;).

    My friend is running Boston, though, and has the jacket. The ladies one looks super cute on her! She's worn it to track a few times. I'd be scared to wear it too but in the end I guess it's the runner's jacket and they can wear or save until later.

    1. Thanks, Amy! Yes, the bulk of the mileage should be easy/aerobic. So if you look at the charts, you will mainly see the green, which is easy. And the blue (long runs) are also aerobic. I do speed work twice per week, so that leaves 5 days a week that are easy/aerobic, so that's how it works out. With speed work, I usually warm up for 2 miles and cool down for 1.5-2. The speed itself is usually 5-7 miles. That 10-mile marathon pace run was an exception. But the 4-mile tempo + all those other intervals is a good example of a long speed work. Hope that makes sense. And I think you COULD qualify for Boston if you ran a marathon!

  3. Well done, Elizabeth. This is quite instructive. I'm hoping to qualify for next years Boston on April 16, the same weekend you'll be in Beantown. Your story is quite helpful. Nice to meet you as a fellow "Shinner" as well! Joe

  4. Hi Elizabeth - very inspiring! You are really working hard! Question: you said your Boston jacket came in the mail. Did you special-order the jacket? Or did I just not receive mine?

    1. Thanks for reading! I ordered the jacket from the Adidas website. It's not free. You can order it online or wait to get it at the expo. I chose to get it ahead of time so there was one less thing to worry about getting at the expo!

  5. Nice training! Preparing for your first Boston is a once in a lifetime, and yours is going great! Make sure you listen to your body, rest if you need to and make it to that start line in great shape.