Thursday, January 3, 2013

Boston Marathon Track Workout #3 - Getting Faster?

On Tuesday, I ran five of ten miles at marathon pace (6:52) or better, which I consider a kinda big deal, since perhaps the key of marathon training is to get used to running lots of marathon pace miles. So, two days later, how would I fare with my track workout?
Tuesday, I ran 5 marathon pace miles
Well, for starters, what should have been my fourth track workout, was only #3. I skipped my track workout last week, but I was in Florida, taking a short break from running. While there, I did manage to lift weights and swim laps to maintain my fitness. Anyway, this morning, I got a late start, so I had to run quickly to the track and not mess around once I got there.

The Hansons Brooks marathon training plan, speed training calls for me to run interval distances at 10k pace for a total of three miles. But, no single interval can be greater than one mile. Again, as in workout #2 two weeks ago, I chose to run the minimum number of intervals (which is three). Here are my results:

At the track two weeks ago...
Two Weeks Ago:

2 mile warm-up
1600m @ 6:22/mile pace (400m recovery)
1600m @ 6:12/mile pace (400m recovery)
1600m @ 6:08/mile pace
2 mile cool-down

Average Pace: 6:14/mile

1.75 mile warm-up
1600m @ 6:18/mile pace (400m recovery)
1600m @ 6:17/mile pace (400m recovery)
1600m @ 6:07/mile pace
1.75 mile cool-down

Average Pace: 6:14/mile

Analysis: I am always amazed at how similar my interval times are week to week. Average pace for both workouts was exactly 6:14/mile. Solely based on my times, it may appear that I'm not making progress. However, if I look at the big picture:
  1. I'm logging more weekly miles this week vs. two weeks ago
  2. I ran more marathon pace miles this week, than I did two weeks ago
  3. It may have been slightly colder/windier today. The track also had a little ice/snow.
So even though I am still running the same 6:14/mile in my speed workouts, I am doing so on more tired legs in less speed-favorable conditions.

One More ThingI looked up on the McMillan Running Calculator, what the 10k pace is for a 2:59:59 marathon and it's 6:10/mile. So, I just need to drop four seconds/mile to be on target! I have five more weeks to get there, because at that time speed training switches over to strength training.


  1. Do you ever run with a heart rate monitor? Can you tell if you're able to achieve the same pace with less effort? Or that the same effort yields faster paces?

    1. I have run with a heart rate monitor. Your idea of wearing one to measure effort is a good one. If I can find it, maybe I'll try wearing it to the track next time. Thanks!

  2. 100 days till Boston! (You probably already knew that) :)

    How accurate is the McMillan Calculator? If I input my HM time... it says I can run a sub-4 marathon?

    1. 100 days left! Wow, time sure is flying! Anyway, those calculators are uncanny in their accuracy. However, since a marathon does such punishment to your legs, you need to put in a proper 16 to 18 week marathon training program for that conversion to work accurately. Right now, you have the speed for a sub 4 marathon, but you need to get your mileage up and your legs used to the marathon punishment to run the converted time. About four weeks from your marathon race (about 12 weeks into your marathon training), you should race a half marathon and then input your half time into the calculator. That will pretty accurately tell you how fast you will run the marathon, assuming you run almost exactly the given pace for that marathon finish time. Hope that makes sense!

  3. I'm inspired by your training. You go out and run on icy snowy tracks instead of hitting the tread mill :) I've found the McMillan calculator to be eerily accurate in predicting my times off of races. It predicted a 5k time i ran (within a few seconds) off of a half marathon time I did a few weeks earlier.

    100 days to go!

    1. Thanks, I usually run on a treadmill only once or twice a year. I love the outdoors! :-) I should have brought a camera yesterday to document the ice and snow on the track. Sooner or later there will be a real snowstorm and I won't be able to run on it, so I am taking advantage of it while I can. Yes, those calculators are pretty accurate. Just goes to show that you can't really outperform your fitness level just because you are running a different distance than you did last week.

  4. Good for you running on icy trail paths! The speed work that you do is awesome. I am sure you can run a 2:59:59 marathon! The pictures are gorgeous that you take!

    1. I hope I can get the sub 3. It will be a lot of work over the next 99 days! Thanks!