Monday, April 27, 2015

How I trained for Boston! (with wine and donuts)

Over the past year my blogging skills went from bad to worse.
While a valid excuse certainly is my very important and busy life, another reason is my fear that nobody cared about my training plan, goals, excellent snacking skills or favorite running gadgets.
While that might be the case I had an epiphany the other day which was: "This is my blog and if I want to write something I will write it!" How liberating.

After having a good race last week I had a few questions about how I prepared. (and I do mean a few, people asked me in real life, I had a teeny social media buzz- you get it. It's not like there were 200 people knocking on my door for amazing training advice!) If nothing else this got me thinking that I had certainly not over shared regarding my training regimen.

I think a lot of us are busy humans. Maybe juggling a busy job, maybe running around after a few kiddos, or just dealing with life in general! Managing marathon training can feel really overwhelming- and even unpleasant unless you have both flexibility and a sense of humor. A sense of humor is pretty important especially when training through a horrible horrible winter, right?

This blizzard was on April 5th so yeah....

I have learned a lot about what I should and should not do leading up to a big race over the past few years. For most of us who don't run for a living learning how to train is done by trail and error- and usually without expert help! How many miles to run? How fast? Cross training or not? Also, the pressure of trying to "keep up" with others on social media is very real and intimidating!
All of us can get trapped in the "more is more" "faster is better" mindset and while this certainly might be a good way to roll if you are a 2:33 marathoner- I just break my legs when I do too many fast miles...!

Here is a little example of my weekly training plan. I made the choice not to cross train at all- my time and life simply did not allow for it. (ok, I tried to bust out a few planks and squats, with a few yoga poses thrown in occasionally. Like, 5 minutes at a time.)
I was running reasonably well and fairly consistently during January (I had some decent 35-40 mile weeks. Like 3 of them.)
BUT THEN February hit and all bets were off! Eric and I vacationed, I was sick, there was chaos and FORGET it- lousy month!
So, I laughed it off and got to work on March 1st.

Every week during March looked like this:
(there was a little juggling of workouts, that is where the flexibility comes in! But- I fit in all of my workouts and hit my goal mileage every week March 1- Marathon day. I feel like that is a good accomplishment!)

Monday- Off  (well. active active rest day!)

Active rest day: working in the barn, riding, teaching lessons, being bothered by the CAT
 Tuesday: Some kinda speed work. I would typically do a tempo run, about 6-7 miles and my pace improved from an 8:56 to 8:01 (I am happy if my tempo runs are actual race tempo! Also, HILLS. Flat isn't available here!)

Wednesday: Mid length mid distance at base pace. Base pace to me is what feels like work but not like race pace. Typical run was 10- pace improved from 9:00 to 8:30.

Thursday: Hills.... This was tricky since I didn't have a good hill route until March 26 (I did uphill on the treadmill but planning for Boston one needs a few downhills- ya know?) Once I was in the clear for safe roads I had a 9 mile route that included a tough, but doable 5 straight miles of long, moderate climbs and declines. It was about 775 ft of climbing which seemed legit. I never shot for a specific pace but I saw my speed improving over the weeks.

Top of the world! Mid April snow coverage.
Friday: Easy peasy run. 5 miles easy. Easy days are supposed to be just that so I would shoot for 9:30-9:45's.

Saturday: Long run day. I did a 14, 16, 18, 16, 20, 18, 10 and that was that. With the exception of the 20 which was at Eastern States (and an 8:25 pace) all of my longs were in the 9:39-9:07 AP. I never shoot for speed on my long runs. Personally, this works! I know that some of you can knock back your longs at close to race pace but I think the biggest thing I have learned for my running is that I can't do that. Slow and steady works for me!

I managed 3, 40 MPH weeks, 2, 50 MPH weeks, then cut back to 35, 16 then race day!

My only good long run! You don't need any until race day though...

Three years ago when I started marathoning I would not have thought that a low mileage plan such as this would have brought about good results. But live and learn! I am at the other side of marathon day now and am healthy, back to running some short and fun miles and looking forward to my next adventure- rather than needing to take weeks and weeks off due to ailments and discontent.

The moral of my story is that every runner needs to experiment a little to find what works for them. Take it from me- sometimes it is a process to find what is ideal and what works "now."
But don't give up, aim for consistency and relatively healthy living, with a good dose of wine and donuts and you will meet your goal!



  1. Just run, baby!

  2. I do even less mileage than that, but I do a lot of biking and swimming too. My body just cannot handle 50 mile weeks.

    1. Cross training is great, and you clearly have excellent skills in all three areas!
      It is amazing how differently we can all train and still get to the same point. It's really interesting to me to see what works well for different people and how there certainly isn't a "cookie cutter" plan for marathons!