Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to train for a Boston Qualfier

In case anyone is curious about what my training looked like over the past few months, here's a recap:

(This will be very boring to non-runners)

Returned from my honeymoon in July weighing 146 pounds.  I'd spent a month on the road first in Germany with students and then in Alaska with my wife.  I started training earnestly on July 20th.

I spent many weeks battling heat and humidity.  Stevie and I don't have air conditioning, which probably helped my body acclimate better, but there were some pretty rough days and nights last summer.  I also spent a lot of time doing laps at our community pool down the street.  My long runs topped out at 15 miles.

In September I started school again, so I had to adjust my training schedule to meet work demands.  During the school year I get up at 6am, am at school by 7am, and leave at the earliest by 3pm.  I started bringing my workout clothes to school with me and running right after work.

I ran the Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1:31:33.  By the end of September I'd started doing two-a-days; I'd get up at 5am and run 5 miles, then run between 8 and 12 miles after school.  I was up to 73 miles a week when I developed shin splints and had to take a week and a half off and abandon plans to run the Baltimore Marathon.

Once back on track, I kept the mileage between 60 and 65 miles per week and abandoned two-a-days.  I did speed work on the track every Thursday with some pretty serious sprinting, but hardly did any tempo runs.  I did three 20 milers and one 22 miler.  I did incorporate hills whenever I could, and ran the steps at my school's stadium the same days I did sprints.

I ran six days a week, with long runs on Sundays and rest days on Mondays.

I finally started using a Garmin regularly for the first time, but I still never used music on my runs.

In terms of cross training, I rode my bike the four mile round trip to school and home almost every day. I never set foot in a gym, but did lots of pushups, situps, pullups and arm work involving bricks at home.

My taper was two weeks long.

I'd spent a lot of time over the summer debating whether or not to follow an established training plan.  I even considered shelling out the 100 bucks for a special training program from Runner's World.  I wondered if I would be foolish not to follow professional advice when I had such a lofty goal in mind.  Eventually I did what I always do, which is to make it up as I go along, using experience and listening to my body as guidance.  I was entirely self coached throughout this process, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud of that.

For my diet I reserved almost as much effort as I did for the physical training.  I cooked and juiced a lot and relied on lots of chicken, pasta, homemade pizza and egg dishes.  I ate a ton of vegetables and fruit, and drank a lot of skim milk.  In the last two weeks before the marathon, I didn't set foot in a restaurant.  By race day I'd managed to shed almost 15 pounds.

It wasn't always an easy process, naturally, but it is certainly nice to look back now and be able to erase the self doubt and worry.  Obviously I ended up making enough smart choices because it all paid off in the end.


  1. Interesting about lack of Tempo runs..... I agree though, they seem to beat you up too much, for the amount of gain obtained(risk > benefit, as we say in medicine). It is all about increasing aerobic capacity with mileage, and leg/stride strength with speed work.
    I love your blog, but now you have met your goal.....
    Joe from Florida

    1. HEy Joe, glad you enjoy the blog! Now that I've met my goal... I'm just going to set more goals. In 2014 I hope to run my first ultra. Someday I hope to run a sub 3 marathon.

  2. I'd be curious how you structured your runs. What was your pacing? How fast did you run your long runs?

    1. This post is from almost four years ago. I honestly don't remember these details from this training cycle.


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