One year to the next Boston marathon....give me some tips please

TheoShmeo

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Jul 19, 2005
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Boston, NY
OK, I will admit to being something of a cliche with what follows.
 
But after absorbing and being extremely inspired by a lot of the marathon coverage, and particularly the excellent article in this past week's Sports Illustrated, I would very much like to run Boston next year.
 
I have not been a runner historically though I did run a half in Vegas a few years ago.  It was not at all easy and as marathons go, that's a flat track and it was at night.  So I don't assume that Boston is just a double of Vegas.  To the contrary, I get that it's harder and I will need to be in much better condition.
 
I am 51 and at least 25 pounds overweight.
 
Thoughts on how to attack this would be appreciated.
 
My leaning is to start training now, even though it's a long ways off.
 
As to getting into the race, I think I can run with a client's team or maybe join a charitable endeavor, so I am less worried about qualifying or getting into the race.
 
In any event, as I said, any and all ideas would be appreciated.
 

fieldslikebuckner

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Oct 31, 2005
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The Boston-NY DMZ
TheoShmeo good luck, running a marathon is an awesome experience. Like yourself I'm overweight, about 225 lbs., in my mid 40's, and this year I'll be running my fourth consecutive Hartford Marathon. I'm guessing you're interested in training to finish in a respectable time rather than challenging a course record so...
 
My advice. Go to Halhigdon.com. He's a marathoner and coach and he breaks marathon training down to your ability level...novice, intermediate, advanced, and as long as you pick the appropriate program for you and follow his training regimen, you'll finish without killing yourself. I won't say it'll be easy but if you build up your endurance and can complete the weekly long training runs you'll reach the finish line.
 
Also, his training program is 18 weeks long so if you start now you'll be ready to run a marathon by the fall. I literally had no running experience at all when I started his program four years ago. I'd never run a 5k race, hadn't even run consistently in 10 years but it didn't matter. By the end of the program I was running 18-20 milers every couple of weeks. I still follow one of his novice programs now as preparation. 
 
Finally, the high when you cross the finish line is unbelievable.
 
 
 
Edit: grammar
 

TheoShmeo

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Thanks much for the advice and encouragement. 
 
Got the Higdon novice app.  
 
I'm particularly interested in thoughts re training over a year and how to pace it, as opposed to a four month program, which most regimens seem to envision.
 

Spelunker

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Jul 17, 2005
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What would help, I think, is picking some other races throughout the year at various distances, and doing training programs leading up to those. 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon or two. You get a sense of the rhythm of a training program- especially for the half- with much less time commitment. Plus- and I think this is key- you get really valuable race day experience. Knowing how to prep for a race, how to fuel during, that you'll need more Glide than you expect, etc, is really important. Logistics are a surprisingly large part of road races, and hands-on experience helps.
 
Besides that I think most of the marathon programs assume a bit of a baseline going in. I think that's the best possible thing that you can do prior to actually starting the program- not just running, but getting your body used to working out 4-6 days a week, with a large focus on leg and core strength. By the time you hit the program, you can work up to running around 20 miles a week, but I think most of the scaling of running can happen in that program itself. You can take advantage of the 8 months leading up to starting an official training program by getting in better general shape. Core strength and flexibility are two things that take a lot of time outside of the actual runs, so the more you strengthen supportive muscles and the more you learn how to stretch and recover, the easier it all is.
 
And good choice: the Higdon plans are great.
 

Hank Scorpio

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Apr 1, 2013
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Semi hijack here. Does the Higdon app have anything about joint discomfort and overall flexability? Breathing tips?
 
My issues with running have always been related to:
 
1) overall stiffness/lazy feeling in my knees and ankles; they often feel as if they need to be stretched or cracked, but no amount of stretching can satisfy the restlessness/discomfort (there's no actual pain).
 
2) probably doing a bad job breathing, but if it's even remotely chilly or brisk, the cold air feels like someone bleached my lungs... no issue with warmer air.
 
3) if I even remotely try to push myself to run when I start to feel winded, my jaw feels like it's been smashed with a sledgehammer... a friend suspects I'm clenching my teeth as I struggle to push my limit, but I don't really notice myself doing it...
 
When I was 18 and weighed about 110, I could run like Ellsbury (okay, not quite), but got winded really fast going full speed. Now I'm 32 and about 165, and I run like David Ortiz, injured version. But I have more stamina than I did at 18.
 

bobbo

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Feb 25, 2014
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New Jersey
I would definitely join a team like you said, either with clients team or a charity. That way you can run with when training before the race (when it gets closer). I would also sign up for some 5k's or 5mile runs to get used to running in a 'race' atmosphere. There are a ton of sites that give a breakdown of how you should train before a race with suggested miles for each week leading up to it. For now I would suggest getting used to normal runs and also get to a gym for some weight training. This has a pretty good breakdown of training plans based on if you're a beginner, advanced, etc. http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_4/143.shtml When it gets closer to the race, I'd follow along with training programs like that.
 

TallManinOregon

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Feb 19, 2004
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I've been at it for about 19 months... started from zero... probably negative running territory if that's possible.
I will run my first 26.2 in June on San Juan Island, WA. I haven't been close to ready yet and have logged nearly 800 miles to-date. I started in the gym on a treadmill and it was awful. Now, I have done 3 half-marathon races since November (and it's slightly less awful).
Suffice to say in my experience there's no way you'll qualify for Boston in anything other than a Charity or Team capacity. The standards are kind of ridiculous (3:30:00 in another official qualifying 26.2 race for a man of 51 years old... which is an 8 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles)...
 
The keys, in my opinion, are:
  • to just get started... don't wait... go now
  • to not get injured (so take it easy at first and listen to your body when it's hurt - also, ignore your brain/body when it's just moaning and groaning urging you to stop... there's a difference)
  • to learn how to stretch (like really stretch ... a lot... before and after runs)
  • to have good running shoes
  • to have a good playlist and an ipod/mp3 player (it gets pretty boring sometimes)
  • and find a friend/training buddy to run with
I have been using the Higdon Novice I program and train almost exclusively alone. My biggest struggle has been with developing the actual routine (3 runs, rest, long run, cross-train, rest)... even with 10 weeks until my race it's a battle every week to get all of my runs and miles in.
 
It's easily the best change I have made for my physical health ever.
 

drleather2001

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Jul 18, 2005
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I am kicking around the idea of running my first marathon (Twin Cities) on October 6th.  I trained fairly seriously last summer/fall for a half marathon that I did not ultimately run in do to a death in the family, but still.  I did the 13.1 on my own as a matter of pride and finished it in about 1:50.  Then I more or less sat on my ass for 4 months.
 
I am going to follow Higdon's Novice program (I can run 5 miles at a decent (for me) pace and the run is 21 weeks away, so I think I'm going to be good). 
 
Theo, I think the biggest hurdle you are going to face is training in the winter.  Whenever I kick around the idea of trying to run Boston someday, the biggest hurdle aside from actually qualifying is the fact that I'd have to train balls-out from February through March.   Living in Minnesota, that's just not going to happen.  I suppose I could join a gym and run on the treadmill and switch to outdoors runs throughout March when the temps are sometimes above freezing, but ugh.
 
I'm 6' 2" and about 200 lbs, and I use Saucony Hurricane shoes; they've been fantastic.    If you get shin pain, I also recommend compression sleeves.  They really helped my mild shin splint issues.
 

Year of Yaz

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May 1, 2014
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When it comes to race day it's important to run the right pace. If you think you can handle 8:00 minute mile pace be cautious and start at 8:30-8:45 and wait until the 20-mile mark to pick up the pace. I was a 31-minute 10-K runner in college but didn't run a marathon until many years later. I didn't train much for it but 6:30 pace felt really easy for the first 15 miles or so. The last 6 miles were a disaster as I slowed down to close to 8-minute miles. All and all it was a miserable experience.

If you leave too much on the table you can be more aggressive in your next marathon.