Boston Marathon Training Weeks 2-3

Boston Marathon TrainingThe second and third weeks of Boston Marathon training are now done, leaving only 15 more weeks to go. That sounds like a lot, but it actually feels really short. I can’t believe how close the race is already.

The first few weeks of marathon training are the “easiest” in the sense that mileage is lower. What is challenging to me about these first few weeks of training is just getting into a very regular running habit, where normally I’d swap in other workouts if the weather were bad or I just wasn’t feeling like a run. Weekend long runs are also mentally tough, not as much the runs themselves as the knowing I will be spending a good chunk of an afternoon out there pounding pavement.

Integrating Running With Holiday Travel

Probably the most difficult part of week 2 was that it was Christmas week, and we were visiting family in a not-so-pedestrian friendly town. Think no sidewalks and winding country roads with high speed limits. Not my ideal running location and a harsh change from the beautiful protected pedestrian path where I do 90% of my runs!

That said, I managed to get out for three runs while we were visiting, all between 4.5 and 5.5 miles. I found a route that took me through some more residential areas and minimized my time on the scary main roads. The routes were quite hilly, so I just kept reminding myself that hills are the perfect training for Boston! I tried to maintain a steady uphill pace and feel pretty good with my Runkeeper-reported splits.

The elevation of one of my rural runs, along with my pace. I think I did pretty well keeping my speed even when the roads weren't!
The elevation of one of my rural runs, along with my pace. I think I did pretty well keeping my speed even when the roads weren’t!

Home for New Year’s

Flywheel rankings--I'm the bright blue bar at the very top!
Flywheel rankings–I’m the bright blue bar at the very top!

We were back in Boston for the week before New Year’s, so I got to spend my third week of training on my beloved pedestrian path. I also got in some good cross-training, including a Flywheel spin class where I had my best performance ever. Not only did I win my first race (I’m better at endurance than speed), I won the overall class, including against the men! I had 302 points total for 45 minutes, compared to a previous best of 288. The funny thing is, I didn’t feel great at the beginning of class, but I think it was because I was working really hard. Once I realized I was doing well, something clicked and I started to really enjoy myself.

Solo Long Runs

Because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team didn’t do organized weekend long runs, which left me on my own to get them done. Given the road situation on our trip, I decided to postpone the first long run till the Monday after Christmas when we were back home. I got in 11.5 miles on the Charles River on Monday afternoon and was grateful that I had waited.

Bright shoes and pants alongside the Sunday slush.
Bright shoes and pants alongside the Sunday slush.

This last weekend offered me a terrible choice: Run on Saturday in the cold and hope to finish before the rain/snow set in, or wait until the warmer Sunday forecast but definitely get soaked. I opted for Saturday, reasoning that I’m always grateful to myself when I don’t procrastinate long runs.

I repeated my same 11.5 mile loop from Monday. It took me about 30 seconds more per mile this time, likely because of my tired legs from a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class and a spin class the day before (both planned when I originally wanted to run Sunday). It was also really cold, and I’ve decided that this week will include a field trip to Marathon Sports for some seriously warm running gloves.


One area where I do very poorly in general is nutrition. I tend not to follow any specific diet plan when I’m training. I’m also a person who would much rather do more exercise than change her eating, but at some point that doesn’t really balance out any more.

While I don’t have the worst diet in the world, I definitely over-indulge in drinks and unhealthy foods at times, especially in social contexts. I was one of the lucky folks who actually gained weight training for a marathon when I was preparing for Los Angeles. It was no mystery; I probably shouldn’t have rewarded my grueling long runs with ice cream sundae lunches is all.

This time around I want to do better with nutrition, for three reasons. The first is that I don’t want to gain weight, and in fact, I would like to lose a little weight (I never really lost what I put on for LA). I haven’t been totally happy with my appearance. Second, I’d like to improve my pace, and I know that dropping a few pounds will make me faster. Third, is I want to have energy and endurance and suspect that the right mix of nutrients will really help with that.

So, I embarked on a new eating plan beginning January 1. I will probably post something specific just about that in the future, but for now wanted to note that I’m doing something nutrition-wise! I’m eating a lot of veggies and proteins and cutting out excess fat and most sugar. I am eating some carbs but with a focus on whole grains, so for now there’s no pizza or beer. Which, honestly, is ok with me–I am hoping to re-calibrate my attitude toward food and wind up in a better place than I started, and this seems to be helping.

Total Training Mileage:

The totals are so uneven because technically both long runs were part of week 3.
The totals are so uneven because technically both long runs were part of week 3.