Ready to learn about training for a marathon? Since I don’t know anything about this topic, I sent a list of questions to my good friend Kristen. She’s a track coach, has run the Boston marathon twice and is currently training for the San Francisco marathon this October. Alright, bring on the questions!
1) How did you pick a training program?
For my first marathon I joined a running club and piggy backed off of their training program. For both marathons I have run I knew that I wanted to keep the weekly mileage low because of previous injuries. I researched a few programs and sort of made a hybrid of them all. I followed what the running club was doing for long runs on the weekend and then during the week I would try to run 5x and make sure to do a speed day and a hill day. I did not do a long run over 21 miles. I did an 18 miler and then a 21 miler. I researched a lot of different programs (Hal Higdon, runners world etc.) and combined a few that would work with my work schedule and what I could handle physically. I know my body and what is too much for it. There were a few times when I had a run planned and needed to alter it because I was not feeling well or an injury was creeping up or I did not have enough time. I had to realize that its simply a training schedule and can be altered and I need to be able to be flexible to that.
2) How many weeks do you train?
16 (I was averaging 4/6 miles 4x a week for about 3 months before training began)
3) What is a typical week of workouts?
In a typical week, one day is dedicated to the long run. Then I usually will do a speed workout or a hill workout (sometimes I squeeze in both). I will include a longer tempo run and then the 2 days of running I just get out to get out. During my first marathon I did not do a lot of cross training. During my second marathon I boxed about 3x a week which included weights, plyometricsm sprints, and core work. This helped me immensely while training.
4) How did you get through the Boston marathon last Spring with temps in the upper 80’s?!
I knew that I had trained well. I had felt great in my two longest long runs and was confident going into the marathon. When I heard about the weather I tried to remember that I had trained properly and what was to be was to be. I had set three goals for myself and knew that this race probably was not going to be my #1 goal. I kept my cool and just realized that I had to stop for water/gatorade if I was going to get through the day. The first 10 miles I stopped about every 2-3 miles. I quickly realized that I needed to stop every water stop. The first 6 miles I tried to run and drink at the same time but changed that after the 10k. At each water stop I would walk through and grab a gatorade and a water. I would pour water down my neck and then have a sip of gatorade and continue to carry that with me as I continued to run. I basically stayed hydrated (not over) the whole race. When I saw family members or friends in the crowds they were prepared with oranges and towels for me to have to cool off. My race strategy was to enjoy the day, stay hydrated, and realize that I would probably not reach my number one goal.. i came pretty close though. I PRed from my previous marathon by 22 seconds. I missed my number one goal by 12 seconds. I was very proud of my performance and surviving heat. For anyone who is going to race in heat like that.. trust your body and your training, remain confident. I also would suggest to not run under hoses or any water things that are out… lots of water could mean getting your shoes and socks wet which could create friction which could create blisters on your feet.. and create more chafing on your clothing.
5) What do you typically eat the night before and the morning of the race?
I do not change my diet the day of the race. I try to test out different foods during training runs so that I know what works well with my stomach and what does not. That is what training is for. On a typical race day/ long run day I will eat an english muffin, and a banana.
6) Do you run alone or with a running group?
My first marathon I did my long runs with a running group. My second marathon I did all of my long runs with my cousin Colleen who was also running with me. On a few occasions we would run with our team (I ran both marathons for the Melanoma Foundation of New England). My weekly I usually do solo. When I can have someone to run with I do! Having someone along side you is always helpful!
7) What is your favorite mantra(s)?
Beast Mode, Boom, or I got this!
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to run their first marathon?
Ask other marathoners for advice….running is a great community of people who want to help each other out. Yes runners are competitive but we like to share in that. If you can run with a partner or group do it! I am training for my third marathon and having a difficult time as I am doing this one solo. Runs can get lonely.. and I do not have someone forcing me out the door.
Be flexible as well… there may be days when your body is just not feeling it… or a day when you feel great.. Listen to your body.. trust your instincts. I have altered my training plans on how I am feeling and been successful!
THANK YOU, KRISTEN! You’re the best! 😀
I will one day run a marathon with you, promise!