2019 Boston Marathon Training Plan
As a year-round recreational athlete, I never enter a state of arrested development when it comes to training. I have a fairly regular weekly routine when I’m ‘in between’ events, be they biking, running, or other, so that when it’s time to specialize my training for one particular event, I can jump into that training without it being a shock to my system.
For a taste of what my ‘regular weekly routine’ looked like – from about September through December – leading up to my Boston training plan, this was it:
- Monday: Run with Bryn or bike ride solo
- Tuesday: Run to Group Power (hour long weights class at my gym) and run back (about 4.5 miles running total)
- Wednesday: Run or bike ride
- Thursday: Spin for 45 minutes at the gym and then 1 hour of Group Power
- Friday: Rest day? … or go for a run
- Saturday: Long trail run, MTB ride, or epic gravel ride somewhere
- Sunday: Fun day! Usually a MTB ride or something with my partner Trish
Leading up to January which is the start of my more intentionally focused marathon training, I did a lot of trail runs and found that this was an activity I enjoy almost as much as mountain biking, as my dog Bryn can come with me and keep up for the most part – with only a few creek baths in between as breaks. I think that after the Boston, I’ll definitely begin entering more trail running events! But below is a little visual depiction of my ‘off-season’ training this fall and winter:
Now that January has officially arrived, my more intentional Boston Marathon training begins. Because I work full time, I’ll be doing a morning workout and an afternoon workout, with morning workouts focused on cross-training and evening workouts focused solely on running. Here’s a general breakdown with brief explanations:
|Monday||Morning: Mileage Run – 4-7 miles|
Afternoon: Hill Repeats – 5-9 miles
|Tuesday|| Morning: Group Power – One hour group weights class |
Afternoon: Interval Training – 5-9 miles
(Usually either 1/2 or 1 mile intervals, with mile
cool downs in between; no breaks)
|Wednesday|| Morning: Group Ride – 45 minute spin class|
Afternoon: 5-9 mile run, marathon pace or faster
|Thursday|| Morning: Group Power|
Afternoon: 5-9 mile interval training or hill repeats,
|Saturday||Long run: First Saturday in January – 13-15 miles. |
Then, 1 to 2 mile addition each week.
|Sunday||Fun Day! MTB ride, trail run, gravel ride, group ride, |
Peak Week and Beyond – an Unconventional Approach
Since the Boston Marathon is on April 15th, my ‘peak week’ will be March 18-24. Peak week basically means you have reached the pinnacle of your training, and that your long run day – for me either March 23rd or 24th of that week – is going to be the highest mileage run of your entire training regiment. Many beginners like to hit 18 miles this week, and many of the more advanced marathon training plans have people running around 23 miles.
Once again, I am a bit unconventional in this arena. For my first and only marathon so far – the Portland Marathon – I found myself at a campground near Crater Lake and ended up doing a 24+ mile trail run for my biggest mileage day… and I was definitely not doing one of the ‘advanced training plans’. However, I felt like only getting my mileage up to 18 or 20 miles for my peak week was going to make the actual marathon mileage come as a huge shock. So I had built up my mileage very quickly (see why I had to build up mileage in a very quick 8 weeks here) so that I could at least get close to a taste of what actual marathon mileage felt like on the legs.
This year will be no different, and I’ll probably aim for between 24-26 miles during peak week. From there, I’ll taper my mileage big time, with a 15-17 mile big run on March 30th or 31st, and a 13-15 mile run April 6th or 7th. And the week before the Boston will probably only include three 3-5 mile runs total. No weights. No spinning. Just a few easy-paced runs to keep from going insane that week before the marathon on the 15th.
The major difference between my plan and many other marathon training plans is that I focus a lot more on cross training. I cut out some of the extra miles I could be putting in on morning workouts in favor of weight and spin classes. While some might think my training plan too heavy in these areas, I believe it helped me avoid injuries at my last marathon, and am going to follow through with it again this year.
I hate to say it, but…
While training for a marathon is pretty rough, and getting up every day at 4:45am to work out isn’t exactly what I’d like to do with my mornings, I must say that all of the pre-work leading up to this marathon has actually been pretty fun. I am coming into this training period in much better running shape than my last marathon, and I think I’m once again motivated to push for a somewhat competitive time.
My sister, who has run the Boston a number of times already, said that you should expect your Boston time to be 10 minutes below your PR, which is a real bummer for me to think about, as I always like to shoot for bigger and better times. That being said, if I can run the Boston in under 3 hours, I’ll see that as a win. If I can run it in under 2 hours and 50 minutes, I’ll be ecstatic. If I somehow pull off a PR, I’ll be buying everyone’s drinks that come out to support my sister and me on the run this year (which is 4 people not counting Ash and me, so that’s a lot of drinks!).
Anything can happens in a race as long as a marathon, but I absolutely love pushing my limits and seeing whether I can improve on the times of my younger self. Whether it’s on Strava, at a gravel bike race event, a half marathon, or a marathon, I’m always trying to push my limits and see what I can do. Does it mean I wake up every morning ready to crush my workouts? Not at all. But every workout for me starts with a plan, and if I’m feeling unmotivated, I tell myself, ‘Just get out there and see what you can do…’ And once I’m out the door, I can usually rely on my inner-competitor to do the rest.
I know it’s not always as easy as walking out the door for everyone, and I feel really lucky to have the time, the energy, the motivation, the drive, and the nutrition to do everything I can to make goals like the Boston Marathon happen.
Perhaps more important than personal drive, though, also is having a supportive partner to keep me accountable to my goals, particularly in the kitchen, where some of the most important training takes place. Trish and I both set some ‘Boston Training’ nutritional goals for ourselves, which is awesome for me, as a weeknight drink or an impulse purchase of chips while at the store happens all too frequently.
Having a partner that is as health conscious and athletically motivated as me keeps me going out the door every day, just as much as my own personal drive. I have to admit that if I didn’t have an accountability partner to challenge me to keep pushing myself athletically, nutritionally, professionally, and beyond, it would be way harder to follow through with these kinds of goals. I’m a lucky guy!
Moving forward with my training this January, I’m in a good head space mentally, solid fitness level physically and, barring any sort of injuries and/or illnesses, feel confident that things will continue to go positively for me leading up to the big day in April!