Hope you all had a great weekend! Mine included relaxing/seeing family and friends/eating a lot of delicious food/running a half marathon yesterday. I ended up finishing the half with a new PR! I am excited because it gives me a confidence boost for my upcoming marathon in Phoenix. More about the half in another post!
In November, 2014, I ran the Philadelphia marathon in 4 hours and 3 minutes. After crossing the finish line (my 11th marathon), although I felt fatigued as anyone would after running 26.2 miles- I did not feel like I had pushed my body to the maximum. I felt that I still had some strength in me- maybe not at that exact moment of crossing the line, but in the hours, days, weeks following the race.
Finish line @Philly Marathon
This end of November marathon marked the beginning of the holiday season, which led to a tremendous, record-breaking snowy winter in Boston. Mark and I had a vacation overseas at the end of the winter, but by the time I was back on greener grass in Boston, I was ready to put that fire of a goal marathon out.
I decided that in order to achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston (3:35 marathon finish time for my gender and age), I needed a professional to put together a training plan that would suite my running style and needs. I found a coach through another blogger Hungry Runner Girl, and worked with her during the summer 2015. She put together a training plan that although seemed a bit aggressive at first- I quickly realized that I enjoyed the challenge and was able to meet the mileage.
Working to run a marathon that is half an hour faster than a previous race is ambitious, but not impossible. I had previously run marathons with finish times closer to my goal (3:37, 3:39, 3:44. 3:49), but had not finished with those kinds of times in a couple of years. Following a summer of hard running, but without devoting my entire life to running, I was able to run a 3:33 marathon in September (Big Cottonwood Canyon).
Just a couple of amazing sites we saw in Utah before the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon:
Here are some tips I learned for improving your marathon finish time:
- Mentally understanding that this goal will take a lot of hard work and time. My training plan started in May with an average of 30-33 miles/week that month, increasing to 34-46 miles a week in June, to the upper 40’s per week in July, peaking to 53 miles in August. I incorporated long runs, speed work (800 meters, mile-repeats at certain goal paces), and tempo runs into my routine. I also incorporated some agilities and strength training, as well as several half marathons into my training cycle. This was a lot of work—but fun work to me! When runs became difficult/hot/tiring, I tried my best to think of the end result. I had to be sure of how badly I wanted this goal to happen, and had to remind myself of this every single day.
- Along those lines, it takes patience to understand your own progression. In order to avoid injuries by increasing mileage too quickly (ie-more than 10% each week, which is the standard rule), I strictly followed my training plan, and increased my mileage each week very slowly: 3-5 miles max per week, no more than a 10% increase. I also followed the important rule of running my slow training runs slowly to avoid injury.
- As I mentioned, hiring a coach may help you reach your goal. I quickly realized that the missing link for previous races was the fact that I needed to be accountable to someone other than my sister, running buddies, and myself. A third party observer was that extra push I needed. I highly recommend working with my current coaches Julie and Lisa (Run Farther and Faster) if you can– they have been incredible!
- Cut back on the alcohol (this doesn’t apply to everyone!), pay more attention to nutrition and hydration on and off the course. I increased my carb intake during my training cycle- even more during the peak weeks, and know that this fueled my energy and ability to run so many miles.
- Choose a course that was favorable for faster finish times, even though it might be across the country. Big Cottonwood Canyon was a good choice for faster racing conditions, given the relatively downhill nature of the course and the mild temperatures.
- Find support from friends, family, and other runners– this was helpful during my training cycle and race weekend, and was important for keeping up the morale.
- Most importantly: Know that you can do this! With hard work and dedication, you can accomplish anything—even if it sounds impossible!
Training for my marathon this summer awarded me with some amazing sunsets in Boston!
Some 3:33 Marathon training plan workouts:
- 1-3 mile warm-up, 4-6x 800m w/ 400m jogging rest, 1-3 mile cool-down. 800s @3:25-3:35 pace.
- 2 mile warm-up, 4x 1 mile w/ 400m jogging rest, 1 mile cool-down. Mile repeats @7:22-7:38 minute miles.
- 1 mile warm-up, 4 mile tempo, 1 mile cool-down. Tempo miles @7:43-7:50, progressed to 7:32-7:42.
- Half marathon distance to a total of 22 total miles, fast finish/goal marathon pace (GMP) last few miles.
- 2 miles easy, 10 miles @ GMP, 2 miles easy.
What are some of your tips on improving race times?
What has been your favorite race and and why?
What do you prefer, speed workouts or long runs?