I first started training for the 2018 Boston Marathon the day I finished it in 2015, and more officially in December 2017. I (over)confidently decided to use the same ASICS sub-3:30 plan that had worked for me at Chicago. I’ve never trained the same way twice and despite my intentions to followthe same plan, it did not go according to plan. It’s tempting to blame the weather, but I really can’t. I have the gear and although this winter did truly suck, I rarely missed a run because of it and there are runners who had far worse winters than me so I’ll just park that excuse over there and move on to how training really unfolded for my 13th Marathon.
Back in December I looked at the 16-week plan and felt like if I spent the first four weeks rebuilding my base, I’d be right on track to really dive in for 12 weeks of solid training. And that sort of worked. But it was cold, and icy, and dark. So I took the 5 days a week down to 4 and decided to – for real this time – add in strength and cross-training.
Enter yoga. In October 2017, I started tagging along with a yogi runner friend (who now teaches!) to some classes at YogaWorks. Fortunately, I got hooked. I decided yoga is the ying to my running yang and is the thing I’ve been missing in all my running. I started to feel stronger. I discovered a new appreciation for stretching and strength training simply using my own
body weight as the core weight. My new obsession with yoga meant that I was trying to add it in 1-2 times a week. This worked pretty well most of Jan
uary and February. And then March hit with work events, changes in our family logistics, longer runs, weekend commitments, and yoga started to take a back seat. The good news is, I think about it all the time and I continue to practice the headstand which is something I hope to really master and evolve by the end of this year. And I’m definitely looking forward to bringing it back into my routine with some consistency.
This round of training I can safely say I had a training-life-work balance. I gave myself the flexibility to move runs around within the week, change up mileage, and accept the outcomes for what they were. In the moment, this felt like a good balance. Two weeks before the race, I’m just shy of panicking that I did it all wrong. I didn’t feel stressed in the moments of training, but I also didn’t feel “all in” all the time. I was proud of myself for working in yoga and rides on my bike trainer. I did speedwork, sort of, usually on Tuesdays. I kind of had some tempo runs but not nearly at the paces I had last summer. I did the long runs: one 20, one 21, one 18, and several in the 15-17 range. The good news is that with the exception of one 17-miler, I felt really good on these long runs. My fueling is good (something I learned and practiced 3 marathons ago thanks to training from Coach Scott) and once I get past the mental barriers that are inevitable in most long runs, my mental game is also pretty strong.
The caveat there is that my mental game is strong while running. For reasons I cannot put my finger on, this training cycle is missing my obsession. It’s the BOSTON MARATHON. I am beyond lucky to have the opportunity to run this race for the second time. I qualified for it, well within my age group’s BQ window, and I even earned myself a 2019 BQ in the process. I know in my heart I will love everything about this experience once it is under way. And yet, I’ve struggled to truly embrace it. I spend more time trying to figure that out then I do focusing on all the things I could be around training. Deep sigh. Perhaps, it’s kind of like any run – they’re all different and they certainly aren’t all perfect.
From Training to Race Day
After 16 weeks of marathon training, I will follow a pretty consistent taper and prep plan. I will have multiple gear options, I’ll have all my Gu ready, I will have obsessed over the weather (that is something I’ll always obsess over), I’ll have studied the course, and the one thing I will have over-thought is Heartbreak Hill and if I’ve done enough in my balanced training to actually be ready for that climb. I still have a lot of questions coming out of this training plan.
I’ll only know the answers on race day.