From 3:53 –> 3:32

Hello hello!

I am back again! See – I told you I’d come back to the blog. 🙂

After the amazing success of Hyannis, I wanted to take a moment to look back at my progression and what I did differently with this marathon training cycle that allowed me to take a full 21 freaking minutes off my previous time.

Marathon Training**Disclaimer – this is not a post that’s intended to show how you too can take 20 minutes off your marathon time and qualify for Boston in one easy, breezy training cycle. Frankly, this post is so long because there is SO much that went into this PR and I don’t want to gloss over all the details.**

2016 Baystate MarathonSo, let’s go back to the Baystate Marathon for a sec. I ran this race in October of 2016. I was still uncoached at the time and the goal going in was pretty much to just have a better experience than I’d had at the Delaware Marathon which I had run that spring (finished, but had heat stroke and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER).

Rewinding even further- my initial goal training for Delaware was to try to qualify for Boston. After a few runs shooting for that 8 minute pace, I realized that might not be the best idea… So I backed off and focused on sub-4.

I decided to run Baystate pretty late in the game and didn’t officially start training until AUGUST (this seems insane to me now.) I also traveled for work a decent amount that month so I really didn’t do much training until the second to last week in August. I did have a base still built up from Delaware but even so… this is not ideal training.

Week of Aug 22nd – 41.5 miles

Week of Aug 29 – 26 miles

Week of Sept 5 – 50 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 12 – 43 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 19 – 9 miles (Traveling for work, but still – YIKES!)

Week of Sept 26 – 35 miles

Week of Oct 3 – 14 miles

Race Week – 8 miles + 26.2!

Looking back at this makes me cringe. My mileage was ALL OVER the place! Where was the steady build? How did I not get injured? I do remember the 20-milers in this training cycle taking a lot out of me. Like – spend the whole rest of the day on the couch doing nothing type tired.

I was trying to incorporate some marathon paced miles during my runs, but looking at my training notes, it looks like my long runs usually only had 5-8 miles at goal pace. For a harder mid-week effort, I was taking classes at Mystryde (a local treadmill studio). While those classes were good and a nice way to push myself, they were a little limited by time constraints (hour long class usually) and not very specific to my goals. I was also consistently taking 2 if not more rest days per week.

Shortly after Baystate, I decided to hire a coach. It was something I thought about for a long time and I finally decided that I loved running enough and wanted to invest in improving myself. I still wanted to qualify for Boston and I had a hunch that I was gonna need a little help. Somehow I came across  Mary through the interwebs and I’m so glad I did.

After chatting with her about my goals, we agreed that I would skip a spring marathon and use the spring to target a PR in the half marathon. The thought being that if I could build some speed in the half, my goal marathon pace would start to feel a lot more comfortable.

**I think this decision was HUGE. If I had tried to jump into another marathon in the spring of 2017, I would not have taken 21 minutes off my previous PR. It can suck to wait when you’ve got a goal you want to accomplish so badly but patience in running is critical.**

So I ran a couple half marathons in the spring. I didn’t really have great races, but the training was there. I was 100% getting faster. I was running more miles more consistently and beginning to dream about my fall marathon.

Philly Half Marathon

We all know what happened with Philly. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. It sucked. I love the half, but I was pretty annoyed to be running ANOTHER HALF MARATHON. But again, this was a situation where patience paid off. My hamstring strain would not have allowed me to put together the proper training to go after my goal, so once again… I pushed back my goal race to February.

So now that you have the facts, here is what the build for Hyannis actually looked like –

October – very light on miles, nursing my hamstring (and my pride). 71.7 miles for the whole month.

November – again, very light on miles. While I felt great running the half at Philly, I felt like I restrained my hamstring during a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. 100.9 miles for the month.

December – Things finally started to pick up. 128 miles for the month.

Week of Dec 11 – 30.3 miles

Week of Dec 18 – 25 miles

Week of Dec 25 – 39.3 miles

January – Finally, a solid month. I think I finally stopped being afraid that I was going to tear my hamstring during my speed workouts. 181 miles for the month.

Week of Jan 1 – 36.7 miles

Week of Jan 8 – 41.9 miles

Week of Jan 15 – 45 miles

Week of Jan 22 – 46 miles

Week of Jan 29 – 49 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 5 – 52 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 12 – 30.8 miles

Week of Feb 19 – 14.4 miles + 26.2 mile race!

Hyannis Marathon 2018So as you can see, this was a much more consistent and logical build. Again, this build only contained 2 20 milers. But I was running so many more miles during the week that I felt so much stronger on these runs. I was also training with WAY more miles at marathon pace. For example, my last long run was a 3 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ 8:15/8:20, 5 miles of 1 min on/1 min off (the min on was probably around 7:40 and the off was 8:50-9:00 pace), 5 miles @ 7:45/7:50, 2 mile cool-down. So roughly, 15 miles of work right around that goal 8:00 pace.

For the first time in a marathon  cycle, I actually really enjoyed running these 18-20 milers. I know that sounds crazy. But all the intervals truly helped break up the time and as I started to have success hitting these paces, I really began to believe I could run a 3:32 marathon. It was exciting!

In terms of rest days, early in the training cycle I was taking 2 rest days per week but as the mileage progressed, this dropped to one rest day per week. And I was fine!! I used to think I ALWAYS needed a rest day after a hard effort. Working with a coach has allowed me to see that easy miles can also work for recovery.

2017 was a long year. But I knew it would eventually pay dividends in my race times and it finally did. Hyannis was an incredible experience (rain and all) and I would not change anything about it. I can’t wait to see what I can do in Chicago come October!


Making Recovery A Priority

Hello Again!

It’s been a minute since I’ve shared any updates here. Part of it has been the whole ‘don’t jinx yourself’ mentality and some of it has been just the sheer craziness of life.

But things have been going well in marathon land, so I wanted to quickly touch on some of the things I have been doing differently recently that seem to be helping. For better or worse, I think 2017 taught me that I am injury-prone. Some people seem to be able to pile on the miles and workouts without running into issues … but I am not that type of runner. So with that said, here’s what I’ve been working on during this training cycle.

  1. Smarter commitment to strength training. I became more focused on this in 2017 but I didn’t really know what I was doing, my strength training was disorganized at best, and it led to some very stupid accidents. I love checking out the strength training moves of professional runners on Instagram, but implementing these moves was not always a good idea. For example, the one time I clunked myself on the head with a weight not once BUT TWICE while attempting a fancy plank with a weight on my back (supposed to help keep my hips from moving). And then there was the time I tweaked my hamstring doing curls on an exercise ball that turned into a full-on strain later that same week when I was running Montreal. So I finally realized I probably needed a little help in this department. Thankfully, my coach Mary, is also a strength and conditioning coach. Lift Run PerformSo now I am following her strength plans and thoroughly watching the directional videos she sends on all the moves so that I actually know what the heck I’m doing. Unsurprisingly, this seems to be working better than putting together piece-meal strength training routines based on what I see on Instagram. LOL, good job Nora.
  2. Foam rolling like a boss. I’ve never been into foam rolling. It’s kind of uncomfortable and I am always in a rush to do something else. But after reading some training books, I’ve been understanding just how much scar tissue is developing around my muscles which leads to that tight, achy feeling. And if rolling for 20 minutes on my tight-as-guitar-string IT bands will keep me from pulling something down the road, then sure, I will foam roll.
  3. Give me all the recovery. Lately, I’ve been making the time to take 20 minute epsom salt baths (always after a hard workout and periodically throughout the week as well). The idea of an ice bath is pretty horrendous this time of year, but an epsom salt bath I can do. The science seems to be pretty mixed on whether these actually work beyond a placebo effect, but I feel like what the hell. Might as well try anything I can! Along those lines, the opportunity came up last week to try a new recovery spa called InBody with my mom. I’ll have a full review coming up in a separate post, but I got to try cryotherapy along with an infrared sauna and it was awesome. inBody Cryotherapy As cold and uncomfortable as the cryotherapy was, I think it really did work wonders! The past two weeks I’ve been running between 40 and 45 miles, and I felt so fresh after the treatment.
  4. Sleep Sleep Sleep. Honestly, I love to sleep. I don’t understand how people function on 5-6 hours a night. However, getting a full 8 hours used to be really hard at my 9-5 job while marathon training. I was getting up around 4 in the morning to get my workouts in and that was really exhausting, no matter how much of a morning person I am. Thankfully, my hours are very different now and I can sleep till a pretty reasonable hour while still getting my runs in during the morning. I really do think the extra Z’s are helping me recover better. I wish I had time to take naps the way professional runners do, but oh well, I suppose I can settle for a full night of sleep 😉

So in between all the running, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s to hoping it helps me keep this up for 1 more month!