The 2016 Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, April 18th. This is my personal training log leading up to the legendary 26.2-mile foot race. Maybe you are considering running one day and want to know what it’s like to train for a marathon, or perhaps you just want to see what it takes to train for a sub 3:10 finish. I earned my BQ in the 45-50 year-old age group by running 3:20:01 on a blustery day in New York City. I intend to take full advantage of my opportunity in Boston.
My Boston Marathon training plan is based on the Jack Daniels’ 2Q program which can be found in his book, Daniel’s Running Formula, 3rd Edition. I highly recommend this book for any runner’s library. It’s full of useful training information to help you run faster at any distance from 800m to the marathon. Each post in this series details one training week. To see the marathon training plan in full, and calculate your own customized training paces, click here.
2016 Boston Marathon Training: Week One of Eighteen
I’m in it now. The easy days of base-building have already become a distant memory as the reality of what I’m training for sinks in. Twenty-six point two hilly miles from Hopkinton to Boston in uncertain weather conditions that fluctuate wildly from year to year. It could be 80 degrees and sunny, or 20 degrees with frigid winds blowing in off the Atlantic. To run this race, you’ve got to be Boston Strong.
In prior marathon training cycles, I’ve let myself ease into training with some 5 mile weekly runs and a 8 or 9-mile long run on the weekend. Not this time. The mileage totals are going to be about the same as before, but the Daniels plan has two tough workouts each week. They are referred to as Q1 and Q2. This week, those two workouts combined for a total of 29 miles. That left me with just 11 miles over a span of four days, plus a rest day. The key to this plan is intensity and purpose. Run hard, or run easy, but don’t get caught in no man’s land drifting along without intention.
The first workout on Monday was a tough one. It felt good in a masochistic sort of way, but bad by all normal measures. I was happy to see that my running fitness is decent considering the 3-month running hiatus this past summer while my stress fracture healed. It took a lot of willpower to turn in a mile at threshold pace immediately after 8 miles of steady grinding.
Q1 Training Plan: 4 miles @ 7:45 to 8:30, 8 miles @ 7:10, 1 mile @ 6:44, 1 mile @ 7:45 to 8:30
Q1 Reality: 4 miles @ 7:55, 8 miles @ 6:59, 1 mile @ 6:42, 1.6 miles @ 7:54
The next two days were easy 3-mile runs. Tuesday wasn’t easy at all. I was huffing and puffing and sweaty all over. My legs felt like they were running for the first time, and my stride was about 18 inches long. I guess Monday’s effort was harder than I thought. Wednesday was better, and I managed to run upright without grimacing the whole way. I even enjoyed doing my strides afterward.
Thursday was a rainy day with temps hovering just above 40 degrees. The first 8 miles was an exercise in patience as I waited for the workout to begin. The next 5 were a wake-up call. I suffered miserably and cursed the 20 mph headwinds along the coast as I dug into my first 2-mile interval. I welcomed the 2 minute rest period and walked with my hands over my head. When I hit the stopwatch and took off for the next interval my legs remembered what they were supposed to do. I dare say the second 2-mile interval was actually easier than the first. By the last 1-mile interval nothing was easy, but it was over quickly compared to the first two. I dragged my ass home at 8:19 pace and hoped nobody in the passing cars was judging me. Everything hurt: the arches of my feet, my wooden calves, and an upset stomach. Next time, I think I’ll plant a water bottle out there on the course.
Q2 Training Plan: 8 miles @ 7:45 to 8:30, 2 miles @ 6:44, 2 miles @ 6:44, 1 mile @ 6:44, 2 miles @ 7:45 to 8:30
Q2 Reality: 8 miles @ 7:55, 2 miles @ 6:37, 2 miles @ 6:36, 1 mile @ 6:34, 1.3 miles @8:19
The next two days called for easy 3-mile runs to round out the week to a grand total of 40 miles. Friday’s run felt like crap again, and Saturday felt close to normal. On Sunday, the temperature dropped to the high 30’s here in New Hampshire. I wore my new Adidas PrimeKnit shirt and was very comfortable wearing only that single layer of clothing with my hat and gloves. I was so impressed, that it just rocketed to the top of my winter running gear list.
Sunday brings a welcome rest day. Next week will be full of holiday cheer. At least, both of my Q sessions will be done before Christmas Eve, and I’ll be able to enjoy myself without the thought of an early morning long run haunting me like the ghost of Christmas future.
Other Boston Marathon News…
The new jackets go on sale December 20th! Some people are already comparing the color to porta-potties, but I’ll be proud to wear mine no matter what color it is. I actually kind of like it. The Equipment Green color palette pays homage to the first Anthem Jacket that Adidas released in 1991.
Both the 2015 Boston Marathon winners will be back to defend their titles. So, that’s exciting. I’ll have to DVR it, and check it out as I recover on the couch after the race. I admire these athletes and what they put themselves through to race at that level of competition. Check out the video below for some inspiration and goosebumps courtesy of 2015 Boston Marathon champions Lelisa Desisa and Caroline Rotich.
Also, I want to give a shout out to Boston Marathon sponsors Adidas Running and CLIF Bar, for agreeing to help me train for this year’s race by sending some running gear and sports nutrition products my way. Enjoy the miles! Happy holidays!