Saturday, August 15, 2015

Possibility Days

Here we go again...

Exactly two years ago today, I formally announced that I intended to train for the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon with the intention of qualifying for Boston.  I achieved both goals with a PR that still stands to this day.

And now I'd like to make a similar announcement: I intend to run the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon (my 6th) in a time below 3 hours.  My first ever sub 3 marathon.  And most likely my last.

My PR is 3:03:05, just over 3 minutes from the coveted sub 3 title, yet I feel I'm already operating at the outer limits of my abilities and patience.  Can I run a sub 3?  I feel confident I can.  But the required training involves time that, as a husband, father and full time public high school teacher, I'm already stretching as is.  I would love to give it my all one last time before running marathons just for fun in the future (inasmuch as marathons can be considered "fun").

Here's what will remain the same as last time:
  • I will once again be self coached, drawing on my own experience and information culled from articles, books and other runners.
  • I'll train 6 days a week, long runs on Sundays, rest days on Mondays, and keeping mileage around 60-70 miles per week.
  • I'll cross train and strength train as much as possible but will focus mainly on the running.
  • Speedwork once a week.
  • Increased focus on nutrition while cutting out all alcohol two months out.
  • Cutting about 10 pounds to get to race weight of 130.

Here's what will be different this time around:
  • More progression runs and runs ending in goal pace.  I really want to practice negative splitting, which has always been one of my weaknesses.  My MO in longer distance races is to go out at what I consider  a sustainable pace, and then hold on for dear life towards the end.
  • Run the Baltimore Marathon as a training run.  Technically this was the plan last time around, but I started to suffer from shin splints and had to cancel that plan.
  • Focus more on quality of runs, not the quantity of miles.  I simply don't have the same amount of time to train like I did last time, and I need to make each workout count.  Each workout should have a plan and a goal rather than just the goal of adding more mileage.
  • Run the bulk of my runs early in the morning before work.  Becoming a morning runner is one of my life's goals, but sleep always wins out.
  • Make a stronger effort to keep my wife and son as a priority in my life.  Remind myself that I don't need the marathon like I need a positive and healthy relationship with my family.

I've been cycling through periods of intense excitement ("LET'S DO THIS!!!") to periods of self doubt ("Ugh... what's the point of doing yet another marathon and training so much just to lower my time by three minutes?").  I'm worried I'm not as committed as I should be, but for now I am going to stick to the plan of just going for it.

The good news is that I will be in a new age group for the 2017 Boston Marathon, meaning my qualifying time will be 3:10.  If my goal is to run a sub 3 but I miss it by a few minutes, I still attain my B goal of making it back to Boston with plenty of time to spare.

I do hope you'll follow along on this journey.  I'm not trying to be some sort of coach or marathon expert, but let's just say this ain't my first rodeo and I've learned a thing or two over the years.  If you want to leave me encouragement or even constructive criticism about my training, I'd be more grateful than you know.

You can also follow me on twitter: @Spartenheimer

Enjoy the ride, folks.  It's going to get intense in these parts.


  1. Scott,
    all the best for your training! I love how you set things in perspective and plan to get the priorities right. I am also more than happy to hear that you will run Boston 2017 once you got your sub-3 marathon in Philly. This gets me extra motivated to make my goal (sub 3:10) for Chicago, which should also set me up for Boston 2017.

    One question: Are you going to continue your streak?
    Keep on keeping on,

    1. That'd be awesome if we both make it to Boston in 2017. So you're shooting to BQ in Chicago this fall? Good luck!

      And yes, I plan to continue the streak. My rest day on Monday will be one very slow mile.


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