Do You Really Want to BQ, or How to Set SMART Goals
The 2018 Boston Marathon
You can't help but be inspired by the 2018 Boston Marathon.
You saw Desiree Linden’s win, the first for a U.S. woman in 33 years! You watched thousands of runners brave and persevere the truly insane Boston weather and can't help but want to set a goal for yourself.
To run the Boston Marathon one day.
No doubt, it is a goal worth pursuing. But before you print out those advanced marathon training plans and set out to chase a BQ, let's take a step back and determine if you are ready for the goal you're about to set.
Do You Have What it Takes to Qualify for Boston -- and the other Marathon Majors?
I arrived in Boston the fittest I've ever been, but The Weather had some interesting plans. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and never have I ever heard the phrase "Wintry Mix."
What does that even mean? Well, evidently it includes sleet, heavy rains, 30 mph winds, and 30 degree temperatures. I was worried, but Coach told me not to be, the weather was completely out of my control. My job was to show up, put the work in, embrace the suck, and do my very best.
I managed to set a new Personal Record of 3:33:20, with a BQ minus 11:40.
Fitter After 50
The World Marathon Majors have been rolling out qualification standards that, similarly to those of the Boston Marathon, give runners who meet a certain finish-time criteria a chance to forego the lottery. Do you qualify? Check our tool to find out.
Race Planning 2018: Plan Your Most Epic Year Yet
The main challenge with running in your 40s and 50s is avoiding injury. At that age, we are much more easily injured, for all the reasons described above. So whether you are picking up running for the first time ever, or after many years of non-running, or you have been a runner for a while already, consider these five elements integral to your running lifestyle
The 2017 TCS New York City Marathon
Some people don’t really have or make plans when it comes to running and racing. They just register for whatever events tickle their fancy or show up on their Facebook feed. Others race everything.
Somewhere in between these two extremes are the smart folks who plan their season in advance. A solid plan for the year ahead can do wonders for your motivation and improvement as an athlete. Setting a goal is one thing, but making a plan for achieving it is what will, in the end, enable you to make it happen.
Let’s talk about planning your 2018 race season, then. The process I’ve described below is meant to supplement using my 2018 Race Planner. You can download it here, or just freestyle your own on a blank piece of paper, cocktail napkin, or whatever app you use on your phone or tablet (and, clearly, you are not as old - or old fashioned - as I am, what with my habit of writing everything down, pen to paper).
The Simple Secret to Becoming a Better Runner
CRL Runner Marie-Laurence Stopford shares her experience at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon:
Wave 4 runners are finally called to the start corrals. This is the last wave and I have been sitting in the green start village for over an hour now. For the first time since I started running four years ago, I had trained consistently, I had practiced nutrition, I was ready. One last call to my friend back in our hotel to check on the kids, and I made my way to the start line.
You're Injured. Now What?
As a running coach, people often want to hire me to train for a specific race. "I signed up for XYZ marathon in eight months. When do I need to start training with you?"
"NOW! Let's start now!" is what I want to say.
And that's not because I want your money, don't get me wrong. I want to start working with you six or eight, or even twelve months before your big race because I want to make you a better runner!
If we start working together only four months before your marathon, I'll have to figure out a way to rev up your engine from 0 to 60 over the course of several weeks. At the risk of being too blunt, the truth is that yes, I will probably get you ready to complete your event within that time frame. But just barely so. You will finish your race, we will say our "until the next one" good-byes, and you will likely stop running altogether, simply because that last training cycle took so much out of you that you need a break. And months later, when you decide to begin training for another big one, you may come to me -- and we will once again have to rev you up from 0 to 60 over the course of weeks.
Use This Simple Rule to Find Out if You Are at Risk of Overtraining
For runners, injuries are a matter of when and not an if. That's simply the reality of a sport that involves repetitive pounding on unforgiving surfaces like asphalt and concrete, or on trails with all sorts of things to trip over (the tiniest of rocks being the worst, of course).
If you are lucky and smart with your training, you will avoid injuries for as long as possible -- and when you do get injured, you will rehab and recover quickly. In fact, I'd go as far as suggesting that an injury could be a blessing in disguise. It could force you to take a break from running, for example, and cross train and strengthen muscles groups and imbalances you have been neglecting.
But let's be real: no one in their right mind would consider plantar fasciitis, runner's knee or an ITB that burns like the 10th circle of hell a blessing. Injuries suck. They could keep you away from the start line of a race, or worse, throw a wrench in your entire season.
Should You Hire a Running Coach?
Chances are you know someone who runs their daily runs too fast, or doesn’t take adequate rest. They’re racing their training – and they’re not even getting medals in return. Instead, after getting better and faster for a period of time, the reward is feeling increasingly sluggish and tired. Running might become a chore, rather than a joy; mile splits start getting slower and the race PRs never materialize. Overtraining Syndrome is real, and it's dangerous. The good news: there is a simple way of finding out if you're at risk.
Slow Down to Go Fast
Hiring a running coach is obviously a personal decision. Much of it has to do with cost and coaching style. Some coaches will work with you one-on-one, sending you a training schedule weekly and communicating with you at least a few times a week, making updates to your schedule as needed. Others will send you a monthly schedule and check in with you up to once a week.
Whatever the format, the benefits of working with a coach can go so far beyond improving your race times and avoiding injury. That is, of course, assuming both sides have realistic expectations about what they bring to the relationship -- and what they get out of it.
Step Up Your Game with These Four Marathon Training Strategies
One of the most common mistakes runners make is push too hard on all of most of their runs. It’s only human: you’re out there running, which means you’re out there working, which means you better work it, right?
The problem is, if you push hard all the time, your body will at some point give in. The consequences are no fun, ranging from overuse injuries, getting sick too often (a compromised immune system), and inability to sleep well, to the worst of all: losing your running mojo and, eventually, giving up on running altogether.
When you’re training for your first marathon, worrying about the long run getting longer and the weekly miles piling up is enough. But when you move onto your second, third, fourth marathon and beyond, and begin chasing those alphabet-soup goals – PR, BQ – you’ll have to step up your game.
Here are four workouts — or rather, marathon training principles — that enable runners to take their training up a notch.