Boston Marathon

A How To Training Blog

Boston Marathon Annoucement

1024 919 Christo

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.

Goals

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
Weight
146
148

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

AUTHOR

Christo

All stories by: Christo

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