Home Heart Rate Training Boston Marathon Training Update: On the hunt for hills! (week 3)

Boston Marathon Training Update: On the hunt for hills! (week 3)


New hat from the Paper Store, who knew they sold hats? See, I’m not always in running clothes!!:)

Happy Thursday runners! I have been wanting to get this post out for the past few days, but the running store has been bonkers with runners buying shoes, shoes and moooore shoes!!!!!  While it’s been magical being so busy at work I’ve been feeling completely spent at night, left foaming at the mouth and passing out well before 10 pm. Yikes! It’s horrible and glorious all at the same time :). Horray for magical, energizing and relaxing sleep!!!


Big Picture Lessons

Many runners (new runners especially) aim to run more miles at a faster pace! This seems like a natural and normal goal, right? I really like this running thing, so I want to do more of it annnnnnd I want to get better at it too!

The problem is too many runners will continue to load on the miles week after week until their body just gives out (injury, mental burnout, etc.). The human body needs a break to repair both mentally and physically from the rigors of running; these mini breaks (recovery weeks) allow for the body to repair, rest and recover so much so that the runner is able to tackle more miles the following week!

So how do you…

(1) do what you love (run!!)

(2) avoid getting injured/feeling burnt out and

(3) effectively prepare for race day??



It’s simple! You….

(1) Train for a specific race, your “A-race” and structure your training volume around that race

(2) Incorporate recovery weeks of lower run volume and intensity (no speedwork!) into your training about once every 3-4 weeks

(3) Run 80% of your runs at a comfortable, conversational pace


Let’s take a closer look at these concepts…

I upload all of my workouts to Strava, a social networking site for athletes to view and comment on each other’s workouts. Not only do I use the site to track my own workouts and long term progress, but I also use it to observe and learn how other athletes effectively train for their races.

Last week I was playing around with the training log tool on Strava and noticed some big picture trends in my training.  I not only examined my weekly run volume but also the net weekly elevation gain on my runs. I closely examined week to week changes and more importantly changes from one training cycle to the next.


Run Volume & Recovery Weeks

The chart below represents the run volume (miles per week) week by week for all of 2016. The specific numbers of how many miles I ran are not as important as the trends that you can see in the chart throughout the year.


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1. Recovery weeks. Take careful note that during Boston Marathon 2015 training I grew my mileage for 2 weeks in a row and then on the third week I took a recovery week (where the blue bar drops significantly). I was running such a high volume during this time that my body needed the recovery week to repair.

This training trend was present but subtly different during my Baystate half marathon training in the Fall. Due to the lower run volume required for half marathon training I was able to grow my volume for 3 weeks and then take a recovery week on the fourth week.


2. Run volume. A marathon is longer than a half marathon (I know, I know Kass is a pure genius, grade-A Ah-mazing coach). But seriously, 26.2 is longer than 13.1. The training you complete for race day should mirror the race distance you are training for, and sadly not the amount of trail mix you prefer to consume!

If you examine the chart above you will see that my run volume is rather high during Boston training (Jan-April), but drops rather significantly for Baystate training. During Boston I grew my volume up to 80 mpw, whereas for Baystate I maxed out at 50 mpw.  A lower run volume during half training allowed my legs to feel fresher so I was able to push harder in weekly speed workouts.

*Note: It is just as important to grow your volume higher for longer races as it is to decrease the training volume for shorter races. I’ll admit that it was a challenge to adjust my diet due to running 30 fewer miles/week in order to maintain (and not gain) my weight during half training. Thankfully my weight evened out after I started to minimize my trips to the trail mix bar at Whole Foods over the summer :).


3. Race Specificity: Hills, Hills, Hills. 

Runners need to train for the race that they are running! If you are running a flat course like Baystate or Chicago then train on flat terrain to get your body accustomed to the redundancy of the terrain (no uphills also means no downhills, gasp!!). If you are running Big Sur or Boston they you better go hunting for hills during your long run!

The chart below is a week by week glance of the cumulative elevation gain for my runs over the past year. Take note that the elevation gain from January to April (Boston training) was significantly higher than during June through October (Baystate). This means that I was out hunting for hills last winter to get my body used to the hill work!!


Fullscreen capture 12202015 63341 PM-002

*Note: Do you see that one week in February of zero elevation gain? That week represents EVIL SNOWMAGEDDON and 40+ miles on the treadmill!!! Boo!!


Do you know what this means? It means I need to get my bum out hunting for hills ASAP to start properly training for Boston! Take note of the final week of the training log- see how the little blue line is a little bit higher than the ones before it? Yep, it’s already begun ;).




The low down on last week’s workouts 12.14-12.20

Another week of Boston training is in the books and I feel phenomenal!! Either I have gained some fitness since the summer or my body just REALLY REALLY hated running in the humidity, but my zone 1/conversational pace has dropped nearly 20-25 seconds a mile since the summer. In other words I have been running 20 seconds faster a mile at the SAME heart rate as over the summer!! Therefore my body is exerting the same effort as a few months ago and yet moving 25 seconds/mile FASTER!! YESSSSS!!! I’ll take it! It’s moments like these that I LOVE heart rate training with Your26.2; I am able to pull out concrete data and flat out KNOW that I am moving faster than before!! I love it!

About 80% of my run volume is completed at an easy/conversational pace; this is indicated below with runs highlighted in red. Runs of intensity where I had to WORK HARDER are typically tempo runs and are highlighted in blue. It’s fairly early in my training cycle so I am able to gradually incorporate tougher workouts into training. Can you see how few tough workouts I actually do right now? This structure will allow my body to gradually acclimate to the added run intensity that will build throughout the season until I am ready for hill repeats and speed workouts! Wahoo!!


A little course recon with my girl Molly.

The official shakedown..

Monday: 3.7 mi @ 9:19 min/mi recovery run; no time to lift! boo!

Tuesday-  2×12 min zone 2 tempo– interval 1 @ 7:22 pace, #2 at 7:09 pace … total 7 miles @ 8:03 pace

Wednesday- 7 mi conversational pace @ 8:16 min/mi pace

Thursday- 60 min lift

Friday- 7.2 miles comfortable @ 8:18 pace

Saturday- 2 hour run on the Boston course with my friend Molly (100 min @ conversational pace, 20 min @ tempo zone 2)

15. 2 miles @ 7:54 pace

Sunday- 3.7 mi recovery run @ 9:26 pace


Total miles: 44.2


15+ miles later and I was hunnnnnnnngry!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Runners!!!




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