Marathon Training Update: Gaining Speed

I’m final­ly get­ting there. I’m up to Week 13 of Hal Hig­don’s Inter­me­di­ate II pro­gram and things are going great. When I start­ed run­ning 18 weeks ago, I had no idea how to approach “race pace” runs. I was so out of shape that I could­n’t even imag­ine where I’d end up for the marathon. I dreamt of run­ning a Boston qual­i­fi­er in my first marathon, but that did­n’t seem very like­ly, even on a friend­ly Philadel­phi­an course.

Today I test­ed myself to find out what I might be able to accom­plish and I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised. I ran 10 miles in 1:12 and change, which put me at a 7:12/mile pace, three sec­onds ahead of the 7:15 I’d have to main­tain to qual­i­fy for Boston. With a lit­tle more than a month to go before the Philadel­phia Marathon, I’d like to think that, bar­ring injury, I might even improve a bit on that pace.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though. I’m run­ning my sec­ond 20 mile run tomor­row morn­ing from the usu­al start at 21st and Poplar out to For­bid­den Dri­ve and back. I’m going to see if I can get the Garmin Vir­tu­al Part­ner fig­ured out to help me main­tain an 8:15/mile pace tomor­row. I want to be very con­sis­tent and care­ful now that the mileage is reach­ing a peak to pro­tect myself from injury.

It’s a real treat to get out­doors and enjoy the fall weath­er along the Schuykill and Wis­sahick­on. It’s a lit­tle chilly when I leave the house, but feels com­fort­able by the time I get warmed up.

Fast for­ward 24 hours from the pre­vi­ous four para­graphs: I just got back from run­ning 20 miles in 2:41 and change, rough­ly 12 min­utes faster than my last 20 mile time. I tried hold­ing 8:15 miles, but found myself rip­ping off 7:45 and faster splits from the 14 mile point onward. I feel great. I hope I’m not peak­ing too soon, but I think if I keep chal­leng­ing myself over the next month, I’ll be in great shape for the marathon.

I feel like I have a Boston qual­i­fi­er in me if I run smart. Do you think I can do it? If any­one has qual­i­fied for the Boston Marathon and can share train­ing insights, espe­cial­ly with respect to the taper, let me know in the com­ments!