The name of the Boston 2017 game is SPEED and let me tell you why..
It’s been far too long since I had my 3:25:15 Providence marathon PR in 2015 and although I am content with my last 3 marathon finishes it’s about time to get over this plateau.
In the past, I used to use my marathons as a physical challenge, something I simply just wanted to complete. I went into my first two marathons with one goal in mind: just finish. I didn’t care how, I just wanted to get it done (mainly for that shiny piece of hardware at the finish line). Training back then included completing all my long runs and random shorter runs during the week. No pace variations, no method to the madness, just plain and simple running. Let’s be real, I really didn’t have a plan nor did I understand how to even follow one.
Then came #3, the race that opened my eyes to a whole new world in racing. I went into #3 with the same nonchalant attitude I went into the first two, however, going into this one I knew someday I wanted to run the Boston Marathon and I knew what it took to get there. Run a sub 3:35. HA! Never in my life did I believe I would BQ at that particular race, considering my first two marathons were finished between 4:01-4:06, so shedding over 35 mins from my initial time would be remarkable. Well guess what.. I shed 45 minutes off my time and holy shit was I proud.
So how the hell did that happen?
Well, I was planning a wedding at the time, so wedding stress certainly fueled my fire a bit. But my training was completely different from my first two. I discovered different studios around NYC that helped teach me the importance of interval training and strength and speed work. I cross trained a bunch and always did my long runs, as done before. But the main difference were those interval runs/strength and conditioning classes. I noticed incredible changes in my power output, and overall speed and endurance.
I learned that the quality of your run is way more important than the quantity of it. Anyone can jog at a leisurely pace for a long time, but to push your body to it’s maximal potential takes alittle (ok, ALOT) more out of ya. There is a general consensus among scientists and coaches that running fast in training can improve oxygen processing and help us run more economically, and therefore, faster during distance running.
Why? You may ask - well, let's get science-y..
In order to increase your endurance, you must up your lactate threshold and oxygen levels by increasing your VO2 max.
Your VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake your body can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. Vo2 max determines an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise aka marathon running.
So like anything else, in order to increase your VO2 max you must train it.
What this means for distance runners:
Well, the faster you run, the harder you breathe. The longer you run, the harder you breathe. The more energy utilized during a workout, weight training, strength, conditioning, ect, the harder you breathe. And if you sustain a max running speed long enough, you will eventually find yourself utilizing all the muscular and oxygen transport systems in your body and find yourself breathing as hard as you can. This is why it is important to have a high VO2max. Research has shown that VO2max accounts for roughly 70% of the variation in race performance. Therefore, if you are able to run a half marathon faster than someone else, it is likely that your VO2max is higher.
Now this doesn’t mean get out there and sprint for your life. That’s just exhausting and excruciating.
Rather, it’s better to do several shorter high intensity or max efforts followed by recovery periods. You will have better success in sustaining more total time at 100% VO2max before reaching exhaustion.
Think: interval training
For me during my Boston Training, speedwork has been just as important as distance for all the reasons above. Some of the workouts I’ve completed are as follows:
Week 1 – 2 mile warm up (9:13 pace) l 6x400m @10K (6:40 pace), 60sec reco l 6x400m @5K (6:20 pace), 90sec reco l 2 mile cool down (8:55 pace)
Week 2 – 2 mile warm up (9:20 pace) l 5x1200 @10K (6:40 pace), 400m reco l 2 mile cool down (8:50 pace)
Week 3 – 2 mile warm up (9:06 pace) l 4x800m @10K (6:38 pace), 90sec reco l 4x400m @5K (6:20), 90sec reco l 2 mile cool down (8:48 pace)
Week 4 – 2 mile warm up (8:46 pace) l 5x1200m @10K (6:45 pace), 400m reco l 2x800m @10K (6:50 pace), 400m reco l 2x400 @5K (6:30 pace), 400m reco l 2 mile cool down (9:20 pace)
Week 5 – 2 mile warm up (8:58 pace) l 4x800m @10K (6:40 pace), 90sec reco l 4x400m @5K (6:20 pace), 60sec reco l 1 mile cool down (9:13 pace)
Week 6 – 2 mile warm up (9:13 pace) l 5x1200m @10K (6:35 pace), 400m reco l 1 mile cool down (8:48 pace)
If you want to see change in your speed. Change your speed. Run faster. Run longer.