Boston Marathon Announcement!

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Boston Marathon

Since I retired at the end of 2018 my training has been sporadic at best.  I had a good couple months last year over the summer with the UNC Charlotte guys as they started their XC training, but other than that it’s been a workout here, a long run there and nothing with any real purpose.  So to ensure I actually train for this marathon (as my wife is worried, rightfully so, that I would postpone it to the point where I wouldn’t get proper training in) I decided that I would turn this training cycle into a, “How To” series on training for a marathon when you don’t have the time professional athletes have to dedicate to running and recovery.

Training Cycle

So how do you start planning your training cycle? The first thing that I do is pick out the big race at the end of the cycle that I’ll be peaking for.  Here, it’s Boston.  Then I pick out the races I want to run along the way.  I recommend at least one race about 4-6 weeks out from your marathon (it can be closer if it’s not a marathon) as nothing prepares you for race pain other than race pain.  And while you can have a great race going into your peak race without racing, the chances of you having a great race increase if it isn’t also your rust buster race as well.   When planning races another thing to keep in mind is the spacing between races.  Three weeks is the minimum I shoot for but there are times when there are races two weeks apart I’ve just had to do in the past.  When you race more often it’s hard to fit training in between recovery from races, and then the light workouts leading up to the next race.  For this training cycle I currently have three races planned starting in June and ending in September before the Boston Marathon in October.

Race Selection

After I’ve picked out my races the next thing I do is plan out my: weekly mileage, long run lengths, and workouts for each week of the training cycle.  This is what I do for the athletes that I coach, what my coach did for me when I was a professional runner, and what I need to do when I’m coaching myself.  When you’re coaching yourself, it’s easy to argue with the coach during the middle of a run.  This not only distracts you and makes that run harder as you have to keep telling yourself not to make it easier, but it can make you second guess all your decisions and lose your confidence.  If I take the time to thoughtfully plan out my training cycle ahead of time then I know it’s the right thing for me and that I need to stop being a sissy on the runs and just go out there and get things done instead of complaining.  It makes life so much easier.


Lastly I set goals for myself.  I try and make them obtainable but at the same time a reach so that when I hit them I’m proud of the achievement and I’m not just checking off a box.  For this training cycle I’ve set A and B goals for a couple different categories.
Goals A B
Marathon Time
Sub 2:20
Sub 2:25
Drills (Abs/Back/Hips)
3 x week
2 x week

Marathon Time:  My personal best for a marathon is 2:14:30 which I ran at the Chicago Marathon in 2014.  So sub 2:20 is pretty close to that.  There are two reasons I think I’m capable of getting there on my reduced training plan (reduced from what I did as a pro).  First, as a pro I never ran a “complete” marathon, I would get cramps in my hamstrings that prevented me from maintaining my speed past 19-22 miles.  It’s a problem I wasn’t able to solve as a pro but I believe (doesn’t everyone) that I was in much better shape that what my PR shows.  That means that 2:20 is closer to 10 minutes away from what kind of shape I was in as a pro than 5 minutes.  Second, after a couple months of fartleks and tempos last summer I ran a 2:30 marathon while running the first 18 miles at 5:55 pace and then closing hard.  Not the ideal way to run your fastest time, however, I did the first 18 with a college athlete and I wasn’t going to ask him to go harder than he would on a normal long run as I didn’t want to disrupt his training.  That leads me to believe that if I train specifically for a marathon with a longer cycle and better optimized pacing strategy (ala run anywhere close to even) I should be able to run much faster than 2:30.

Abs/Back/Hip Exercises: These each have a specific purpose.  The back drills, while they help my core yes, are mainly so that I sleep better at night.  Since I stopped running as a pro and going to gym as part of that training I’ve discovered that I’m having back pain at night due to a lack of back muscles.  I’m also lazy so I haven’t been doing that and my sleep has suffered as a consequence (gotta love self-sabotage).  So, back drills equals more & better sleep equals better recovery and a happier me.  Hip dills keep my hips stronger and in alignment (which is a chronic issue for me) and thus keeps the knee pain away.  Abs exercises strengthen my psoas, something I’ve had issues with in the past and keep the pot belly from bulging out which makes the wife happy.

Weight: When you run ridiculous amounts of mileage (my PR was 150 in a week) you tend to burn a lot of calories.  There would be a 10-14 day period when my body was adjusting to the highest mileage of a cycle where I would have to weigh myself at night to make sure I had eaten enough that I would be able to sleep through the night without waking up starving.  And yes that’s after a huge dinner, a pint of ice cream and a bowl of cereal.  I would have to force myself to eat more calories.  It was a tough life and I would love to have those problems again.  As high mileage runners know, you can eat with impunity and if you stuff your face too much on any given day all you have to do is eat responsibly for a day or two and you’re back to normal.  The downside is that when you stop running all those miles for good, well there’s quite the adjustment to be had in regards to your relationship with food.  While I have made that transition more successfully than some, my excess weight at this point has gone straight to my belly (beer belly shape and then ribs showing on the side) and it’s something I’m not that I’m particularly fond of and this is a great opportunity to rid myself of it.  The goal is set at slightly above my old training weight of 144-145 (my racing weight at the end of the season somehow would be slightly less) so I think that it’s an achievable goal.

Throughout the training cycle I will endeavor to explain what I did each week and the reasoning behind it.  The goal is to give you the “why” to the training and not just the “what” so that you can take this information and applying it to your running.  Then again if that’s not for you and you’d like me to do it instead, well then sign up for a free coaching consultation and we’ll talk!

Upcoming Week: 38 miles, 11 mile long run

Three things to help your running while practicing social distancing

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Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing

Strengthen those little muscles that cause you problems while running

  • When you run in a mainly straight and forward directions there are many muscles that don’t get used as much. Ignoring them from a strengthening perspective can lead to many injuries.  Take this time to get on top of it!
  • Hip Drills – Doggie Drills
  • Calves/Soleus/Achilles – Eccentric Calf Raises
  • Glute – Glute Bridge
    • 2 sets of 15. At the start, put your hands under your butt to make sure your glutes are firing before your hamstrings or you’re reinforcing the wrong muscles.
    • https://youtu.be/-pW3YAP7G1c?t=13
  • Core – There are many ab and back exercises, choose two sets of three and alternate which set you do each day and change them up every week or two.

Training Cycle Planning

Training Plan?  That’s right, take this time to plan out your training for your next cycle?  Don’t know when to start it with all of the uncertainty currently?  Pick your race in the fall/winter and work back from there to figure out when you should start your training cycle and thus when you should end your current one.

The most common thing people forget to do is also the easiest!  Take time off!  That’s right, even the pro take time off.  Generally it’s a stretch of 7-14 days where you run short and easy about every third day.  This keeps your muscles loose and you’ll feel much better coming off your active rest as compared to if you didn’t train at all during your off time.

Weekly mileage variation is another area to look at.  When you start your training cycle of 12-24 weeks you want to avoid jumping back at full mileage.  Going from zero to peak mileage is a great way to end up hurt.  Instead, gradually build back your mileage until you get to or close to your peak mileage.  After you build up to your peak look to vary the weekly mileage like this; one up week and one down week, or two up weeks and a down week. 

On your down weeks take that lack of mileage and create another easy/off day for yourself instead of spreading it around equally to all days.  You’ll feel great that you’ve earned yourself another easy/off day by doing the work on the hard week(s).  Conversely if you spread the lack of miles around the whole week you won’t feel the lower miles much.

Want someone to do the heavy lifting?  Schedule your free coaching consultation now!