Sunday, March 18, 2018

Boston Marathon Training: 4 Weeks to Go!

With just four weeks to go until the Boston Marathon, I'm feeling really good about my training. My coach is really pushing me with this cycle and I'm running higher mileage and more intense workouts than ever before. It's really no one single workout that builds fitness; it's the consistency of workouts over time and how they are strung together. I've been working with my coach for nearly four years now, so he knows how to push me in a way that safe. When I received my most recent block of training, I was intimidated by the volume and intensity. But as I've gone through it I have managed quite well!

The most difficult thing about this week was daylight savings time. Even though I started going to bed an hour early on the Friday before, my body clock was messed up all week. I was up for at least an hour in the middle of the night each night, which is rare for me. Thankfully, I allowed myself enough time in the bed to still get nearly 8 hours each night. The darkness was admittedly depressing. I feel like we "worked" our way down to a 6:30 sunrise, and now it was back to square one with most of my runs being in the dark again. Since Greg is done with his marathon (Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans) he's had the time in the morning to make me "care packages" with healthy lunches, snacks, and vitamins. That has helped me feel energized throughout the day.

Monday: 14.2 miles including 10 tempo.
This was a tough workout to have on the Monday after daylight savings! I warmed up for 2.1 miles and then followed that with 4 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile tempo, all with 4 minutes recovery jog in between. My coach prescribed paces for these that seemed impossible, but I tried my best and came relatively close.
  • 4 miles in 7:01, 6:56, 6:51, 6:44 (6:53 average)
  • 3 miles in 6:49, 6:57, 6:47 (6:51 average)
  • 2 miles in 6:50, 6:50 (6:50 average)
  • 1 mile in 6:39
Even though I didn’t quite hit the paces my coach prescribed, I worked really hard and am pleased with how I held up. The 10 miles averaged out to 6:50, which is a faster pace than my 10-mile PR. Afterwards, I ran a 1-mile cool down.

Tuesday: 11.6 miles at 7:44 average
Instead of running easy the day after the massive tempo, my coach challenged me with 90 minutes at a pace of 7:45. After how hard I worked my legs on Monday, I did not think this would be possible, but I went for it anyway. It was 30 degrees and very windy but I used a route that looped around enough times that I was never running into a headwind for more than five minutes at a time. Miraculously, I felt great and this 7:45 didn't seem all that hard. My legs weren't even tired.

Wednesday: 8.5 miles easy at 8:50
I really needed an easy day! It was dark and windy again, but I didn't care because I got to run very easy, which was such a treat after Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday: 8.5 miles including 20 x 200m
Thursday, March 15th

When I saw this workout on the schedule I freaked a bit. I've never done more than 12 x 200m in a workout and the paces that my coach wanted me to hit (38-41) were fast. I ran 200m recovery jogs between each interval. I warmed up for 2.4 miles and then got into it.
  • Reps 1-10: 42, 42, 40, 40, 39, 39, 39, 39, 38, 38 
  • Reps 11-20: 39, 39, 38, 39, 38, 39, 39, 39, 39 
I cooled down for 1.1 miles. For reference 39 seconds = 5:14 pace and 38 seconds = 5:06 pace. Removing the recovery jogs, this is 2.5 miles at a pace of around 5:14. This workout was great practice in pushing really, really hard. In fact, once I hit the straight-away section of the track, I imagined I was approaching a finish line in a race and really gunning for it. I focused on my form and my breathing in order to stay strong throughout the entire workout. Even though I’m super focused on the Boston Marathon right now, I have to admit I would still LOVE to break 20 in the 5K. This workout gave me the confidence that I will be able to do that at some point.

Friday: 8.4 miles easy at 8:57 average
Ouch! My legs were sore. I had spent a good amount of time on the foam roller on Thursday night and Friday morning before the run, but my legs were definitely sore from those 200 meter sprints. I wanted to call it quits after an hour, but I hung in there for the entire 75 minutes that my coach prescribed.

Saturday: 19 miles with 15 at marathon pace
I was skeptical that this workout would be possible given that my legs still felt a little sore from the 20 x 200m. But I've had successful long runs in the past on sore legs, so I figured I would go for it anyway. I ran 2.5 miles easy, 15 miles at marathon pace, and 1.5 miles easy for a total of 19. My coach prescribed 7:24 as my marathon pace because that is what my recent half marathon in Houston indicates. However, I know I am fitter now than I was in January. This proved itself when I actually had to hold myself back to stay in the 7:20s throughout the workout.
  • 2.5 miles at 8:27 average
  • 15 miles at 7:21 average!
  • 1.5 miles at 8:20 average
My splits for the 15 miles were: 7:28, 7:23, 7:22, 7:20, 7:25, 7:21, 7:21, 7:21, 7:21, 7:23, 7:18, 7:20, 7:19, 7:21, 7:18. I drank half a packet of Generation UCAN before the run, and then during mile 8 I took a homemade UCAN gel, which contained nearly an entire packet of UCAN. That was all the fuel I had and it was plenty. I was aiming for 7:24 but my body felt like going a bit faster. The pace felt relatively comfortable for the first 11 miles and then it started to get a little harder during the last four. But it still wasn't that bad- not nearly as hard as the workout I did on Monday. The entire run averaged out to 19 miles at a pace of 7:35. According to Strava, I got a new 30K PR!

Sunday: 5.6 miles recovery at 8:54 average
My legs felt better on this recovery run than they did the day after the 200m intervals.

Total Mileage: 75.9 at an average pace of 8:04!
This is a new weekly mileage PR for me. I am also on day 65 of a run streak, averaging 9 miles a day.

Past 8 weeks' mileage

I'm really excited about how much I have progressed this cycle. I'm not really associating any of this with a goal time because if Boston is hot, then that goes out the window. I think that in perfect weather on a flat course I could run a 3:13ish. That might have to wait until the fall, but I can be patient.


  1. are on a roll! From what you report you are going to own that Boston race to your terms and more. Your training load this week is getting into the league of what elite marathoners run. Once you get into taper and your coach keeps that "sharpness" up, but gradually reduces that weekly volume, you should feel even stronger and even easier to hit those 7:24 splits. Watch for that feeling in taper. say the least!

  2. Super cool to run a PR during a workout.