Kickoff to Boston Marathon Training

women runners
Yesterday, Molly (left), her oldest daughter, Lane, and I powered through eight miles in glorious sunshine--and Saucony Bullet bottoms.

One week ago today, I kicked off Boston Marathon training--and it was an inauspicious start. I'm hoping Day 1 of training wasn't indicative of how the next 14 weeks of it will go.

It was supposed to be the first day of school after a two-week winter break, but un-Portland-y winter weather got in the way: Freezing rain on top of snow turned the unplowed streets and sidewalks into the equivalent of a lumpy, crusty ice rink. Temps were supposed to rise above freezing by midday, but the mercury took its sweet time rising. One stroke of luck: The veterinarian clinic where my best running friend, Molly, works was closed for the day, which meant I had access to a treadmill (long story involving guest policy at her gym)...if only the roads melted enough to make driving sane. Finally at 3:00, we (cautiously) drove to her gym for a session on the treadmill.

My usual dread of the 'mill was replaced with nearly giddy relief at being able to get in the run spelled out by my coach; all morning I'd fretted Day 1 of Boston training would have to be scratched. Molly and I nabbed adjacent treadmills, and we launched into a 45-minute "gradual progression run," which entailed:

15:00 gradually warm up to rate of perceived exertion (RPE) 3/comfortable running.
10:00 @10-15 seconds per mile faster that warm-up pace.
5:00 @10-15 seconds per mile faster yet
2:00 build to 5K FEEL and hold
1:00 aim to go just a little faster
12:00 cooldown of comfortable running

woman running on treadmill
Saucony shorts and a tee: not typical January 4 running attire in Portland.

The air felt too close and hot, but Molly distracted me by recounting tales of a round-the-world sailing race showcased in a documentary she'd just watched. More luck-for-me: Molly misunderstood the workout, so while I was running 8:12 for two minutes, then a minute at 7:53, she was going at a wonderful chat-able pace!

The stubborn ice kept schools closed again the next day (argh!), and I did a strength circuit in my basement instead of barre class. But Molly and I were back outside in plenty of time for Friday's "tempo/up-tempo run," which had us running on dark neighborhood roads, pushing the effort to RPE 5, then RPE 7, numerous times.

During the second two-minute, RPE-7 push, as Taylor Swift told us she'll, "never miss a beat, I'm lightning on my feet" ("1989" blared on my iPhone-cum-boombox in my Saucony Breeze Vest pocket) and my own feet fired surprisingly lightning-like, my mind flashed back to the weeks I spent in a royal blue cast as my fibula and tibia mended with the help of titanium pins and plates. I marveled at how freely my foot and ankle moved through each stride; how strong and unfettered my legs felt; how fit I felt. I'd overcome a lot to arrive at this training cycle; something as insignificant as icy-covered snow wasn't going to stand in my way.

Diligent--and dorky: Molly (blue) and I doing dynamic flexibility moves post-treadmill.
Diligent--and dorky: Molly (blue) and I doing dynamic flexibility moves post-treadmill.


18 responses to “Kickoff to Boston Marathon Training

  1. So glad you got your workout in! We on the east side of Oregon (Baker City) well understand workouts ruled by the weather — sometimes we go weeks without a run due to snow and ice or temperatures hovering around zero. Even with YakTrax, it can be hazardous and not worth falling!

  2. I’m a week away from surgery for a torn hip labrum due to hip impingement. Reading how fit and great you felt after your injury is inspiring. I’ll be following your training journey as I embark on my rehab journey. I’ve got The Chicago Marathon in my sights. Good luck for a great training cycle.

  3. Congrats on your Boston Marathon training kick off. Question, how do you know when you are running RPE 7 or RPE 5? I would like to be able to use these as guides, but I am so used to (addicted to) the pace that the Garmin shows me as my guide to work out intensity.

    1. Heidi, it helps to run in the DARK–no temptation to look down at wrist! It’t truly by feel. Like for RPE 5, I just run harder than easy pace (RPE 3), but not so hard as to be super-winded like I would at 7, 8, 9, or, gulp, 10! I just think, “Push hard, but not too hard.” A sense of powerful calm comes over me, and I keep my foot on the accelerator. Since there’s no right or wrong answer to what pace should be, I don’t have to worry if I’m nailing any Rx’d pace or not. Then, when Strava tells me pace for final mile, which might have been like 2 minutes on, 3 minutes on, 2 minutes off, and like 90 second on, I just figure an average of 9:00 or faster is damn fine!

      Hope my rambling helps. Coach Christine can give you lots of great advice.

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