I have always been an endurance athlete. My days of racing the mile in the pool during my swimming prime was the real deal. After swimming came running. slowly picked running up step by step, literally. It took me two solid years to be able to run 13 miles straight without stopping. What I learned form this experience is that with consistency and by building a little more and more each week progressively, the hard work sure does pay off!
To run a marathon, you need to be able to run the 26.2 miles in duration without getting injured and with good running economy, all of which comes with smart and proper training. Or so we’d hope!
SOME COMMON MISTAKES I MADE EARLY ON THAT OTHERS CAN RELATE TO
I DIDN’T LISTEN TO MY BODY. And it hurt. So badly that I got a quad strain and piriformis syndrome in the same leg. Lesson learned: don’t increase that mileage too quickly. Be on top of the sports nutrition and recovery game while training for an endurance event of this sort. It’s mentally and physically exhausting and draining!
I wore my "lucky" Marathon shoes, featured in the above image, because they got me through my Marathons until San Diego. WELL, let me tell you that no shoes are lucky over 400+ miles, regardless of how good of a runner you are. Go get those feet checked for the proper running shoes at a local running shoe store by you! You have one life to live and one life to run!
I went too hard on my easy runs. Therefore, I couldn’t even give it my all during my harder workouts and my more intense training runs. Lesson learned: polarize that training! Make easy runs 70-75% of your Max HR, or conversational pace. The better that running economy gets, with your body adapting to increases in speed and keeping that perfect running form, you'll find that naturally, the speed will follow the distance, ultimately making you a faster and more efficient runner. Take note!
As a silver lining (because I’m big on those), I found myself learning and absorbing new information and research like a sponge. And not from an overwhelming abundance of sources either. I gained knowledge through extensive experience AND research. I listened to podcasts, read the work and research studies conducted by various exercise physiologists and still continue to today. I just love the learning aspect of coaching and being a runner. I still do! It’s imperative to allow myself to grow for both my athletes and for myself!
After I ran my first marathon in 2015, the TCS NYC Marathon, I finished with a time of 3 hours, 48 minutes and 31 seconds, not having properly trained to run that race at ALL! NOT SMART, but we all have our little secrets to share! Shortly after finishing my first Marathon, I put together a game plan to Coach myself to systematically drop time for my next race: the 2016 Rock “n” Roll Los Angeles Marathon. I had a work trip to L.A. and figured since the work trip coincided with the race, it was worth a shot at running it! With about 4 months to prepare myself to drop the time to get my PR and goal Marathon time, I came up with a structured program by working with various seasoned marathoners and Coaches.
I am forever grateful for them. You know who you are!
As a result of the Los Angeles Marathon and missing that BQ by only :50 seconds. My friend Pavan, who was with me, called out that I had missed the Boston Qualifying time by :50 seconds. :50 SECONDS! I didn’t even know what Boston was until I did! Shortly after I found out, I had booked my plane ticket to run the 2016 Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon June 5th and my Mom came with me. It was an experience of a lifetime and one that I will never forget! Having continued with my training program I had been working with, I managed to shed another 13 minutes off of my previous PR, finishing my 3rd Marathon with a final time of 03 hours 21 minutes and 41 seconds. I DID IT! I qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon! And I did it while coaching my own athletes. I truly believe this has enabled me to be a better Coach for them, but that's a convseration for another time. Now, on with it!
HOW I PREPARED MY STRUCTURED PROGRAM TO DROP 21 MINUTES OFF OF MY MARATHON PR
I structured proper periodization blocks, with a primary emphasis on ONE specific variable of training at a time. For example, my first was building block of 4-6 weeks within my training plan had more of an aerobic capacity focus so that my body could train itself to use oxygen more efficiently for longer bouts of time while running, ultimately boosting endurance. Once I had an aerobic base, for the next building 4-6 week block in my training cycle, I worked on building my lactate threshold, or making my body more efficient at clearing lactate while running at higher speeds sustainably. That takes LOTS of training w/ mixed and varied mile repeats, hills repeats and TEMPO RUNS. Everyone’s favorite! But, one size doesn't fit all and I mixed all of these training workouts to find the program best suited for my goals, my work/life demands still being employed full-time in digital ad tech!
Challenging, but doable I must say! And these types of training workouts result in real work wonders! Trust me. ;)
I learned the importance of why different training runs are put in certain places within a Marathon training program and truly how one size certainly doesn’t fit all. It was also interesting to learn how many workouts a week are appropriate based on the athlete at hand, and other constituents that are at play for that specific individual. All of these things are currently embodied in my coaching philosophy today! I take pride in it while working on my each of my athlete’s training programs with a fine-tuned customized approach!
I learned how to assess my own running gait too. #funfact! Along with that, I learned a TON about running mechanics, proper body alignment and foot strike, how to train away asymmetrical patterns and muscular imbalances: the list goes on! I was keen on strength-training at least 2x/week during my Marathon Training Cycle, especially after getting injured before running Boston for the second time. Onwards and upwards!!
MY GO-TO RESOURCES TO REFER BACK TO WHEN IN DOUBT
I would recommend heading on over to Prehab USA for a gait analysis! This private specialty of DPTs, owned by Alex Gometz, specializES in injury-prevention for runners. They assisted me before this last 2019 TCS NYC Marathon. Head to them to check out your running gait, or mechanics! They do feature Zoom calls currently as well!
Try to work with a Run Coach, or any other seasoned runner that has extensive experience with marathon training. You never know who you come across and how they can either guide you, or provide you with the tools and advice that you need to be your ultimate, best marathon running self!
7 TOP TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR NEXT RACE TO GET THAT PR
Make a timeline and a structured program. Especially if you need to adjust it, work with a Run Coach, or a running buddy to do so. It’ll be well worth it! That way, you can clearly map out your goals, see them, and check off the days you complete as you progress with your training. Celebrate every small win!
Snag your favorite running gear! Who doesn’t want to feel cute and comfortable in their running outfit?! Plan out your race day attire and wear whatever makes you feel like your very best. When you feel it, you do it
Do what works for you. Run your OWN race. Don’t compare. Everyone is different. Everyone has a customized program for them. Or should!
Eat while training! Practice your nutrition regime during your long training runs. Don’t wait until race day. Take it from someone with some experience and listen more about this from the fascinating episodes on the podcast from the one and only Dr. Shawn Bearden: The Science of Ultra!
Run with friend! Competition makes you push yourself harder subconsciously. You can still keep social distancing while racing your running friends too! It might just make you a faster runner to run with a faster runner! Try it out!
Get that head in the game! Mental strategy and preparation is key! I personally write daily affirmations to myself in my journal so that I can take a look at them before I head out on my training runs. They’re also all over my apartment AND I recite them to my athletes daily as well. Anyone could always use a little mental boost and pick-me-up!
Like I always say, “NIX the word CAN’T.” Because YES, WE CAN! And we will! Include those cross-training and strength-training workouts too. You'll remain injury-free and most definitely see your performance increase. DO IT! You're welcome in advance.To make it easiest for YOU, I offer in-home LIVE Zoom classes, all of which can be found here! Sign up for a class of your choice and get that strength-training & cross-training work in on your own time and dime using simply your bodyweight!
The possibilities are endless for you. Once you have your training program down, along with your nutrition and recovery strategy to help you optimize on your training, you will succeed if you use them properly together!
Don’t deviate from your plan. Stick with it. Stay consistent. Find a running community. You're welcome to join mine on Strava! Find a Coach. You are worth it! Let's get this show on the road. There is never a "right" time!!!
Happy & Safe Running! Stay hydrated out there!
Until next time!