I have such a fun story to share with you today.
Last December, Alyssa reached out to purchase a Race Pace Wellness marathon coaching program for her husband, Gary, as a Hanukkah gift (best present ever!). This super-fit couple started running marathons in 2012, setting the goal to complete a marathon in all 50-states. As it turns out, both Gary and Alyssa are really good at running!
After his third marathon in October 2013, Gary set a personal best of 3:14, four minutes off his Boston Marathon Qualifying time. He accomplished this by following a couple of different generic training plans, but without doing too much technical running.
In January, Gary and I began working together. We nailed down the areas he needed to improve upon to nail a BQ. The four key areas we worked on together are four key areas every runner should focus on to improve their race times.
#1 Don’t Just Squeak By.
In reality, Gary already had one BQ in his pocket because of when his birthday falls. The 3:14 he ran in October 2013 was fast enough to BQ for the 2015 race because his age category will have changed by race day. When I explained this to him, he still wanted to go big. He didn’t just want to squeak by.
Over and over again he proved this to me. Most days he ran on the treadmill, due to a demanding job and prioritizing time with his wife and two daughters. And when it was freezing outside on the weekends he still went outside for his long runs.
Gary did the work. He never just did enough or just part of his workouts. Squeaking by wasn’t an option.
#2 Pay Attention to the Details.
Weekday workouts on Gary’s training plan included a dynamic warm-up, foam rolling, strides and a cool-down. These things can seem tedious to complete during a marathon training cycle and honestly, they are. However, the time spent doing these little details can help prevent injury, help refine your form and make you a better overall runner. If you don’t want to just squeak by, give the details due diligence.
#3 Practice Race Pace
Throughout the four months of training, Gary ran a bucket full of miles at race pace. Goal paced miles incorporated into a training plan in the proper way help you memorize everything there is to know about your goal pace. It also can help you learn to run by feel without letting your watch dictate your run.
#4 Run Different Paces
When I started working with Gary he didn’t have much experience with speedwork and didn’t know the difference between tempo runs and strides. Take the time to make sure you’re including a mixture of paces during training by mixing in recovery runs, race pace runs, tempo workouts, strides, easy runs and nearly everything in-between.
When May arrived, Gary blew his old marathon personal best out of the water. In just four months he went from being a 3:14 marathoner to a 3:04 marathoner. Next week, I have the privilege of starting to coach Alyssa as she aims to snag her own BQ so they can run Boston together in 2015. I can’t wait to take this journey with her!