Boston Training Week 2: Slow Down!

By Carissa

Do you ever hear something and know it to be true but then one day it falls on fresh ears and changes everything?  That’s what happened to me this week.  I knew that running paces were important and that each run should have an objective.  Pace runs are different from long runs which are different from recovery runs.  What I didn’t realize was just how much slower these runs should be compared to how I’m used to training.

I’m using the book Advanced Marathoning to train for the Boston Marathon.  This book is loaded with great advice and I really like how the training program is laid out.  I can tell this is the kind of plan that will allow me to show up prepared on race day.  Early in the week I read the chapter called Following the Schedules. In this section the objective of each run is outlined and training paces are prescribed based on one’s marathon race pace.

Marathon race pace can be a tricky thing to determine.  There’s McMillan Running Calculator which will give you a marathon pace based on your most recent race of another distance.  McMillan gives me a race pace of 7:26 minutes/mile.  This would mean a 3:14 marathon.  I know Boston is a tough course. I also know historically I’ve underperformed compared to McMillan paces.  With this in mind I think 3:20 is a realistic goal.  The pace per mile for a 3:20 marathon is 7:38 minutes/mile.  Based on this information I chose 7:30 minutes/mile as a marathon pace for training purposes.

Next I figured out training paces for my other runs based on the recommendations in Advanced Marathoning.  I admit, the accountant in me totally enjoyed this. 

Type of run
My training paces
Long run
10-20% slower than marathon pace
General aerobic run (moderate effort runs up to ten miles)
15-25% slower than marathon pace
Recovery run
Noticeable slower than the rest of week

What immediately jumped out at me was that I never run slower than 8:40 (hills excluded.)  I’ll push a jogging stroller, chat with Jodi and go faster than that.  Considering the book I got my advice from was called Advanced Marathoning I was ready to give this running slow thing a try. How would this benefit my training?  I hoped I  would feel more rested, less sore and be able to handle faster speeds better for my hard workouts.

This is how I incorporated my new pacing strategy into my workouts for the week:

I went to the gym early to do weights and swim.

Treadmill run.  Eight miles with 10x100m strides. This was my first time doing a workout that called for strides.  A stride is accelerating up to full speed and then "floating" for a few seconds.  I ran this at a 8:57 pace (6.7 mph.) The strides I ran at 10 mph.  

I should have done a five mile recovery run but I was short on time and wanted to squeeze in swimming too so I ran three miles instead.  Pace: 9:14  
Getting ready to face the cold wet morning on Wednesday.

More slow running.  The weather was cold with steady rain.  I headed out as it was just getting light.  I was intimidated by the conditions but it turned out to be a really beautiful and rewarding run.  Ten miles with 8:58 average.  

Swim session with a trainer.  This was my third time meeting with a trainer for instruction.  I have been learning so much and I continue to be challenged by the cardio aspect of swimming.  In the evening I squeezed in some core work and upper body strength training.
Kelly and I after our run on Saturday

On this day I was supposed to run thirteen miles with eight miles at marathon pace.  This totally intimidated me.  Could I hit race pace for that long?  I knew I wanted to get some practice on hills for this run.  Five of the miles were flattish and the last three were a climb.  The first several went well.  I definitely lost my pep climbing the hills.  My friend Kelly was with me and was the perfect pacer.  What was killing me was a breeze for her.   Even though the hills were tough I’ll run them again and again because I want that practice for the course at Boston.  
Ice bath and protein shake post run

Blessed rest.

That wraps up week two of training.  I’m feeling good and enjoying this new pacing strategy.  How about you Sole Sisters?  Do you run intentionally slow as part of your training?  If yes, has it helped you run faster?


  1. I have never done the intentionally slow which may help explain the numerous stress fractures I've had. I think when I get to start running again I will try to force myself to run slower (just longer!!!). Good luck on you training!

    1. Numerous stress fractures!? Ouch. :( Hope you are all healed up and back to running soon.

  2. Good for you for taking the recovery part of training seriously!! It will so help you to hit the harder workouts, and keep you healthy.

    Your icebath looks so FROSTY. I haven't done one of those in a long time, and i don't miss them!!

    Congrats on making it through the first 2 weeks- it will fly by :)

    1. Thanks Raina! My youngest was perched at the side of the tub asking if he could join me in the bath. I tried to tell him it was VERY cold but he insisted he didn't care. Once he put his feet in he "got it" and returned to playing by the side of the tub. :)