Sunday, February 25, 2018

Boston Marathon Training: 7 weeks to go

I haven't blogged about my training in awhile, but it's been going really well. My coach has decided to push me even further than he has in the past to see what I can do.

My marathon-specific training began two weeks ago, which is nine weeks out from the race. My coach typically gives me about a month of prep work (which was hill-intensive this time) and then two months of high volume including longer workouts.

Monday 2/12: Marathon training kicked off with an easy 70 minutes on Monday.

Tuesday 2/13: I followed it up with 90 minutes on Tuesday, and my coach told me to run it at a 7:30 pace. I'm using 7:24 as my target marathon pace this cycle, based on my Houston Half marathon time, and it seemed a bit premature to be running so far at close-to marathon pace, but I went for it. And. . . much to my surprise it wasn't hard. It felt "moderate" the entire time. My last two miles were actually around 7:20! I felt amazing and was really pleased that running 12 miles at a pace of 7:30 wasn't all that taxing.

Wednesday 2/14: 8.3 miles easy at 8:40 average, including strides.

Thursday 2/15: My workout on Thursday was 6 miles, alternating between 10K pace and marathon pace each mile. I've done this before and I really like it: 6:40, 7:19, 6:35, 7:26, 6:37, 7:20. I was targeting 7:24 as marathon pace but every time I looked at my watch, I found myself going faster. I guess that's good?! This averaged out to 6 miles at a pace of 6:59.

Friday 2/16: 8.3 miles easy at 8:41 average, including strides.

Saturday 2/17: I ran the first 10 miles with Anna and Greg
Saturday 2/17: My first marathon pace long run of the cycle! The run was 18 miles, with the last 8 at marathon pace. I picked a challenging route for this, and 3 of my marathon pace miles were uphill and into a headwind. I was not able to hit 7:24 on those, so my 8 marathon pace miles averaged out to 7:28. The effort was there, though, so I'm not bothered by this. The entire 18 miles averaged out to 8:05.

Sunday 2/18: 5 miles recovery at 8:58 average. I've been running 30 minutes recovery every day for the past three years. Now my coach has bumped this up to 45 minutes! I handled it well, although my legs were definitely tired during the last mile.

Total Weekly Mileage: 69.3. My legs were tired on the Sunday recovery run, but otherwise I was very pleased with how this week went. My energy levels were high and my legs were peppy.

Monday 2/19: I started off the week with some speed work: 15 times (1 minute at slightly faster than 5K effort, 1 minute easy) then 15 times (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy). All in all, this is a 45-minute workout. And it's tough. I've done it many times before and it's always really hard because you have to keep shifting gears and the effort level for the hard portions is quite hard! I think I've finally figured out how to execute this one, though. I used to go really hard on the one-minute segments and I would have to walk the first few seconds of the easy portion. Now I go at truly "slightly" faster than 5K effort, so there is no walking needed, and the easy jogs are faster. This also allows me to really sprint on the 30-second segments.

Tuesday 2/20: 90 minutes at 7:30 pace again! I was surprised to see this the day after a hard workout. But again, if you don't push yourself every once in awhile, you won't know what you are capable of. I gave myself permission to truly ease into this run so I spent the first mile progressing from 9:30 down to 7:30, which yielded and average 8:30 for the first mile. But after that, the rest of the miles were right around 7:30. And I felt really strong. I honestly did not expect to be able to do this, and I would have been happy if everything averaged out to 7:45, but I hit my 7:30 for all the miles except the first, which resulted in 11.88 miles at a pace of 7:34.

Wednesday 2/21: 8.2 miles easy at 8:51 average, including strides.

Thursday 2/22: My body finally started showing some signs of fatigue. My prescribed workout was 3 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile tempo with a 4-minute recovery jog in between each. The goal was to start at the slower end of my tempo range (7:00) and progress down to the faster end (6:40). I've done this workout in the past and nailed it, so I know what it should feel like on a good day. After the first 3 miles, I knew it was not a good day. Those three miles felt much harder than my paces indicated and I had to walk during portions of the recovery jog. I rallied for the next two miles, but it started to feel like 5K effort and I wasn't even hitting the paces I had planned, so I shut it down after that. I figured that doing that last mile wouldn't really get me any additional fitness benefit, and that I risked over-doing it based on how I felt. My first 3 miles averaged 6:59, and my second two averaged 6:56. A very solid effort and over 10 miles for the day including warm up and cool down.

Friday 2/23: 8.4 miles easy at 8:39 average, including strides. I was relieved that this run felt as good as it did. I think Thursday must have just been an off day.

Saturday Feb. 24th: 20 miles in Central Park
Saturday 2/24: 20 miles at 8:14 average. I did this run in Central Park! I had travelled to NYC on Friday for a business trip, and stayed overnight. Greg came up with me and we ran the first 8 together. We were trying to start slowly, but my Garmin kept ticking off splits in the 8:20s. I felt amazingly good and I think being in Central Park really pepped me up. The weather was perfect: upper 40s and partly sunny. I ran at what felt like normal long run effort and ended up running an 8:14 average pace! The crazy thing is that the first 10 miles averaged out to 8:30, which meant the second half of the run averaged out to 8:00 or slightly faster. And central park is hilly! My splits were: 8:54, 8:26, 8:31, 8:17, 8:41, 8:47, 8:27, 8:27, 8:17, 8:05, 8:23, 8:13, 8:02, 7:58, 7:59, 7:50, 7:57, 7:50, 7:46, 7:57. Based on this run, I think my fitness has really jumped up.

Sunday 2/25: 5.1 miles recovery at 8:47 average. My legs felt pretty good on this run and it wasn't as hard as last Sunday's recovery.

Total Mileage: 73.4. A new weekly mileage PR. My previous highest was 71.7 last February.

I'm really optimistic about how my training has gone and what it will mean for future races. I am running the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans half marathon in one week. My time goal for that will be somewhat weather dependent, but if conditions were ideal, I think I could PR. Boston, of course, is always a crapshoot in terms of weather but regardless of what happens there, I'm thrilled to be taking my training to the next level.


  1. Two great weeks of training for you! How exciting to see your paces bump up like this. Good luck at RnR NOLA!

  2. Your runs and training are going really well! I'm proud of you for the mileage bumps, pace bumps, and slightly longer recovery run. Your coach sounds like a really knowledgeable guy, and I love that you're willing to push yourself with higher mileage and workouts. No risk = No reward. But I think you'll get a great reward with Boston and maybe even in this half!

  3. Very impressive and from what I see you really have awesome fitness in-situ for upcoming Boston Marathon and you should be able to run a really sweet time there based on what you report here! Most impressive are those 2 LR's...20-mi at 8:14 pace and not feeling hard or bogging down at end is very good sign indeed! I like that 2/19 workout which I call "Threshold" training...running intervals at intensity lactate accumulates...falling back to marathon pace speed and nurturing the internal metabolism to become better at processing lactate at goal race speed. I know I have mentioned this and suggested you incorporate that into your training in past. I have a variation of that workout each week in my training least in 2nd half of training cycle. Keep it up and don't over-run the training...come in to Boston strong like you feeling now and run that race to your terms and own it! I will be there...far slower than you. I do know that course and every single hill in it. Have a binder with extensive notes from years of doing "recons" of it and know how to take advantage of the terrain...where to lay-back on ascents...where to fly on the downhills. I will show you it if our paths cross out there. Every year...I go 1-week early and always 2-3 days doing walking or jogging sections of the course. I messed up and missed the registration for the BAA I guess I just have to be a spectator for that. Keep up the training...stay healthy and strong!