Programmed


My training program for this year’s Boston Marathon is a lot like last year’s: lots of running squeezed into just a few weeks, no taper. Most runners train year round but since I’m coming off a nordic skiing, I have to do a rapid adaptation to get my legs used to the road miles. Aerobic base is not a problem, but it has to be converted to specific running technique and physiology.

Last year, I did that adaptation over 8 weeks. As one can see from my very scientific tracking data (above), I’m trying for a similar plan this year, though I’ve got myself a few extra weeks. One notable difference in my program is…the absence of really long runs. Most marathon preps will have the runner do a few 20-mile plus runs. I’ll go to 18, tops. I find that the extra long distances just make me tired.

So instead, I try to maximize the training effect by stacking middle-distance runs (12-15 miles) back to back. I believe the cumulative effect is more efficient: I’ve run almost double the distance, but over 3 days, with some recovery time in between. This keeps me fresh — relatively speaking, fresher than the last few miles of a 20 miler — which means better form and better muscle memory for running efficiently while tired, but it also loads my system with consistent, repeated distance which, hopefully, will achieve that sought-after super-compensation.

There are also dedicated speed workouts that focus on threshold, VO2 max and cadence, to make sure I can still run fast, especially in the last 6 miles of the marathon.

Last year, this program seemed to work. It’s a stretch to assume it will be repeatable, especially considering that my plan is more intuition than science. Nonetheless, I squeaked in under 3 hours.

This year, I’m hoping to go under by a healthy margin. I won’t set any hard numbers. There’s too many variables to account for on race day. Ultimately, I will push as hard as I can while still feeling “comfortable”, until the last third of the race, when the focus will be purely on going fast.

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