2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

Last week was the second week in a row where I went 5-for-5 with early morning wakeups (before work). I feel like I’m in a good groove with the mom/work/running balance. I know it won’t always feel like this so I’m trying to make the most of it while things are working well.

I’ve begun to look ahead and think about fall racing plans. I am leaning towards skipping a fall marathon this year. There are many reasons for this. Truth is, usually about 6-8 weeks out from a marathon, I start feeling like I will take a break, but the excitement and happiness from race day is usually enough to have me signing up for the next one. So I know part of my current thought process is affected by my current feelings towards long runs and the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to Boston.

But one of the biggest reasons is that I (currently) do not want to dedicate Saturday mornings for long runs. Now that I’m working out of the home during the week, our weekends, especially during the warmer months, will be when we do things – go to beach, go on day-trips and so on. I don’t want my training to infringe on those plans.

My personality is all or nothing. It’s hard for me to run marathons for fun or run them easy. I run marathons to run hard. The training and hard work that leads up to the race are a lot of what make me happy. For me and my family, it’s just not worth it for me to run a marathon for fun. I dedicate a lot of time and my family sacrifices time with me in order for me to train hard. And there’s obviously the financial aspect of it. I was tempted to sign up for the NYC Marathon but at $250+, I can’t justify running it for fun.

This is obviously not a finalized decision, but it is something that my husband and I have begun to talk about. I also feel that focusing on shorter distance may be a good thing for me – 5k, 10k, half marathons. I’d be able to do a bunch of half marathons in the fall (Philly, Brooklyn, Vegas) and actually train for and race a half – and see what I can do. And then maybe see what that translates into the following spring.

So knowing that I may not have a fall marathon lined up makes it easier for me to kind of suck it up and work hard for the next 8 weeks until Boston. I know I am going to take it easy after Boston (recovery for a while and then easing back into training) and that makes the early wakeups a bit more bearable right now.

Last week was a pretty successful week. The weekend’s runs got tossed out the window because of the photoshoot, but I hit the two priority runs for the week (Coach Hadley prioritizes the workout so that if runs need to get moved around, I know what he wants me to ensure I get in).

56 total miles (+/- a few because I ran a ton on Sunday and didn’t include most of it in the totals). More miles on treadmill than I would have liked, but my husband was away, so it was the only option for most of the week.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
7, 8, 7 miles
Easy miles – most averaged between 8:10-8:20. That range seems to be what my body is gravitating towards most easy/recovery days. Although, I try to not pay attention to pace (when I’m outside) and just let the pace come naturally.

Tuesday: First wave tempo
Planned: 2 up, 5 miles alternating 6:55 (1/2 mile) and 6:25-6:30 (1/2 mile), 2 down
Actual: 10 @ 7:18

Wow. If you are looking for a fun, but challenging workout, try a wave tempo. Holy moly. This was tough but so rewarding. You are basically teaching your body to use the slower range as a recovery pace. And it’s amazing how much slower it feels after your first “fast” portion.

I started on the conservative side. I’ve never done a wave tempo and the faster range had my eyes popping out of my head. I didn’t want to jump into paces and then blow up by the 3rd or 4th mile.

Here’s how the workout went down:

6:58, 6:31 (these are paces I ran)
6:53, 6:30
6:52, 6:27
6:53, 6:22
6:53, 6:22
6:53, 6:15

Yes, there are 6. Plan called for 5. But, after the 3rd, my arm swung and pulled out the emergency stop. So I had to turn treadmill back on and wait for it to start again. All told, it was probably about 20 seconds of just waiting. I was annoyed with myself and felt like I had cheated the workout. So decided to add one more for good measure.

I kept the recovery portion pretty consistent. I felt that it was pretty close to the limit of what I could run and still feel recovered for the faster portion. And so I focused on picking up the pace for the faster portions.

6 total miles: 6:39 average pace – with one quick stop in the middle :)

Friday – long tempo
Planned: 4 moderate, 8 tempo, 4 moderate (16 total miles)
Actual: 16 miles @ 7:13 average pace (middle 8 @ 6:49)

I have a love/hate relationship with long tempos. They are often the toughest workout of the week when they are on the schedule, but it’s been so rewarding to see the improvement over the last year. And I’m a big believer that these tempos pay off HUGE on race day. Incorporating some AT tempo miles in the middle is tough during training – but it makes marathon goal pace feel much easier. My pace for the tempo portion has been dropping each week I do these workouts (over summer it was every three weeks but right now it’s every other week). And thus, it’s also helping pull down my marathon goal pace.

One of the reasons I love keeping a training log is the ability to look back and see what I was doing a year ago. Sometimes I get so focused on where I want to go that I forget how far I’ve come in the last year. And so, I can easily look at my training log (in excel) and see workouts, paces and mileage – that aligns with the same week of training for last year’s Boston Marathon.

Last year, I did a 16 mile long tempo (with 8 in middle) – and my splits were about 20 seconds slower for the tempo.

This week’s tempo miles were: 6:58, 6:53, 6:53, 6:53, 6:48, 6:48, 6:44, 6:35

The entire run was at 1% incline – and I threw in 30-60 second “climbs” at 1.5%-2.5% incline.


Saturday – unplanned rest day
Should have been 5-6 easy recovery miles, but we filmed from first thing in AM until late afternoon and then my family and I went over my mom’s to celebrate my great-aunt’s 98th birthday! Aunt Connie is truly one of the most special, amazing women in my life!


Sunday – ~8 miles
Lots of running on Sunday – 14 hours of filming (of running) to be exact – with a lot of it either on the beach or running really hard.


Hope you are having a great week! =)

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    12 thoughts on “2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

    1. I never knew that workout was called a wave tempo, but my coach has been having me do them, too. This is the first training cycle that I’ve done these and the third time I’ve trained for a marathon under her guidance. Must be the thing to do! You’re right about that slower pace feeling easy after running half a mile at 6:30, even though a 6:50 pace is still incredibly speedy. It’s a stellar workout AND an amazing confidence booster.

      I only run a spring marathon for the same reasons you mention– not into the ‘run for fun’. I’m always trying to PR. And I don’t like to structure my summer around all the serious training. Too many other things begging for my time.

      Good luck with your Boston race. I’ll be looking forward to your race report in April!

    2. I’m feeling the same way about a fall marathon right now in the Boston training cycle, but I think I’ll still end up running something this fall.

      I LOVE the “wave tempo” workout. I usually do the same workout, but as “Canova Ks” alternating 1 km at marathon pace with 1 km at half marathon pace. It’s definitely one of my favorites in the training cycle.

    3. De-lurking to comment for the first time. Would you ever consuder running a fall marathon as a pace bunny (or pace elf, or whatever) in the fall, maybe to raise money for charity?

    4. YES!! I am so with you on this. I run marathons to race hard. With family and kids there is so much going on in life. It takes a lot to train for a marathon and I have zero desire to run it for fun. I love what Jes said above about if I want to run for fun I can run in my neighborhood. :)
      Sounds like such a great plan to focus on shorter races. I am sure whatever you do, you’ll kick butt :)
      Your training for Boston is awesome and a Boston PR is 8 weeks away!!!
      Natalie recently posted..Boston Marathon Training Recap: 8 Weeks Till Race Day!My Profile

    5. I can completely relate to not wanting to run a marathon for fun when it takes so much time away from family life. I feel the same way – if I am going to put in the time to do the long runs that take me away from my kiddo and to spend the money on the race, I’m going to make it count! Your training seems to be going well! Congrats and keep up the good work!

    6. Congrats on another incredible week of training Michelle! I’m always so impressed by your discipline and commitment! I’m totally with you on the racing for fun front. I’ve tried it and it just isn’t for me. I like to race for purpose. I can run for fun everyday in my neighborhood. I love to reserve races to give my best effort (or help someone else). xoxo

    7. Another good week of training for you, well done. I love running marathons too but they are expensive and a big commitment. Have another good week!
      Fiona recently posted..Just Beet ItMy Profile

    8. I once said I’d never run a marathon “just for fun” but after a tough training season, a few injuries, and some other issues I am going out to Boston to run “for fun.” I worked SO hard to qualify for Boston. I took over an hour off my PR in one season and that was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Even though the original plan was to try to PR in April, I know my body can’t handle that right now. I don’t want to throw away what I worked so hard for and not run Boston, so I’m going to go – soak it in – run a strong race- and enjoy the hard work that got me to be able to run it! It’s not ideal, I LOVE to run for a PR but my body doesn’t have it in it right now.

      That being said – I too am thinking about skipping a fall marathon and focusing on 5k, 10k, and half marathons to work on speed then try to REALLY race Boston in 2017! Life has a way of throwing things at us when we lease expect it, so I guess I’ll wait and see but hopefully it’ll all work out!

      Good luck in these last 8 weeks! Your training is inspiring!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Training Log: The Week of No WorkoutsMy Profile

    9. “I run marathons to run hard.” THIS! Personally, I’d never run a marathon “just for fun” because, just as you said, it is the hard training and the reward that I [hopefully!] get on race day that makes me happy.

      Good look with your training this week, Boston is getting closer and closer…!

    10. I love the wave tempo idea – will definitely add that into my training later!

      Totally agree with you about marathons sometimes needing to take a back burner to other priorities. Those 20 milers not only take up a lot of time, but they can take a lot out of you, especially the summer months. Other race distances can be challenging and rewarding as well – and help train you for a better marathon as well!
      Susan – Nurse on the Run recently posted..Long Run and Looking Long TermMy Profile