Crowd Coaching to Boston Part 2

Two steps closer to Boston with addition of interval, hill repeat training

I recently reached out for advice from the running community in my Crowd Coaching to Boston blog post. As you probably got from the title, I am attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon, a long-time goal of mine. This is a follow-up to that post so if you missed it, it might help to go back and read it for information on me and my training schedule for the Oct. 15 race.

The response I received from that initial post was amazing. So much great advice and so many encouraging words. Two of the biggest takeaways I received were to incorporate more hill repeat training and more interval training. And one of the criticisms I received was not giving enough information about where I was at in my conditioning, which I have since added to that initial post. 

After reading all of the comments and adjusting my training with some of your recommendations, I have experienced how subtle changes can be so important. Coach and 7-time Boston finisher Chris Weimar stressed with me the importance of tempo runs. He suggested doing them twice weekly anywhere from 05-50 mins, ex.3-4x 5mins at half marathon pace, 3x15, 3x20 at marathon pace, 2x25 at marathon; 1x30 at half marathon; 1x40, 50 at marathon; suggest intervals at 800, 1200, 1600 at either half marathon pace or marathon, depending on volume. I'm not much of a numbers guy but I got the gist of what Chris was saying and incorporated his expertise into my training and made it my own. I added the two-a-week tempos like he said. So one day I would out for an hour or less and alternate with 100 meters jogging and 100 meters at an all-out sprint. On runs of an hour or more, I run at an easy pace with short bursts between .1 and .25 mile at high intensity, somewhere between a 1 mile pace and 5K pace.  In the short time since adding more interval training (I call it tempo and fartlek in my schedule), I've watched my times go down by .5 min./mile. That might not sound like much, but when you start multiplying that over several miles it adds up. Gaining .5 over a marathon is 13 minutes faster, which in my case makes an incredible difference. 

But I can’t give all the credit to intervals. Ulrtafarmer Jonnah Mellenthin Perkins advised me that in addition to intervals, hill training is an incredible asset. Jonnah is a badass trail runner so when it comes to hills she’s a pro. She said that hills work your running economy on the ups plus you get the leg turnover on the downs without as much tax on your cardio system. I’ve done plenty of hill repeat training in my ultra training, but when it came to training for a flat-land road marathon I didn’t see the need. But it seemed to make sense and within even a couple weeks after adding it to the training arsenal, I’ve felt a difference. Firing up the hills and bombing the descents really does help build endurance, which will serve me well in those later miles.  

Another thing that I was reminded of was cross training with bicycle and swimming, which is appropriate to mention as the IRONMAN Wisconsin is going on within a few miles of my home as I write this. Swimming is not a favorite of mine and is probably one of the reasons I have never considered IRONMAN. Bicycling on the other hand is something I enjoy and I have incorporated it into my workouts, which I am certain has made a difference. 

I continue to make those tweaks that will give me a few extra seconds here and there so if you have advice that you think will help me along, please share. Thank you all so much for all your help and encouragement.