How Did You Shave 40 Minutes Off Your Marathon Time, and What’s Next?

I try to live my life without regrets, but I also like to constantly improve on myself, so sometimes that takes some looking at where I’ve gone wrong.

So first, let’s talk about the parts of my training I would like to do differently next year.

  • Start speedwork early. I started marathon training in July, but I don’t think I started doing speedwork until September. I also want to incorporate some Yasso 800s into my training, mostly so if I meet Bart Yasso again, I don’t have to tell him I don’t do his workout.
  • Stay consistent with strength training. I don’t know if the lack of strength training led to my knee pain, but I know it can’t possibly have helped. I was good on my strength training at the beginning of training, but I started slacking pretty quickly.
  • Stretch more. Last year, I was so good at stretching after every run, but this year, I sort of substituted the ice bath for stretching. Bad.
  • Maintain a healthier diet. I started carb-loading really early. I could have used some more vegetables while training.


Look! It’s green!

Really, other than that, I think my training was pretty spot-on. Since a few people have asked, here’s how I think I was able to shave 40 minutes off of my marathon time.

  • Speedwork. I didn’t do any last year, and really, I was okay with that. It was my first time running the marathon and I was terrified of getting injured. I didn’t want to push speed and distance at the same time.
  • Running more. Last year, I’d say I stuck to about 60 percent of my scheduled runs. This year, it was closer to 90 percent. Granted, I also had the luxury of time on my side this year, but I think even if I had been working in an office this fall, I would have found a way to get my runs in. I’m more dedicated to running this time around. By running more, I also mean more days. Last year, I ran 3 days a week; this year I ran 4 days a week. I’m pretty sure 4 days a week is my personal maximum–at least right now–but the more you run, the more your body adapts to it.
  • Not putting my life on hold.Last year, I generally refused to do anything the night before a long run or the day of a long run after I was done. This year, I was definitely cognizant of being careful to get enough sleep and hydrate well enough for a run, but I was fine having a beer or two the night before a long run–even my 20-milers! While I was certainly focused on my goal, I think relaxing a bit about things actually helped my body out, too.201111090742.jpg
  • Running with faster people. Basically, meeting Gia really helped. Running a few long runs and a racewith her helped me realize that I really could push my pace.201111090739.jpg

What’s Next?

The other question I’ve gotten a few times is–what’s next?

While I am so damn happy with shattering my marathon and half-marathon goals, I’m not ready to hang up my Sauconys yet.

So, my 2012 race goals are as follows:

  • Marathon: sub-4. This is a pretty ambitious goal, but with another year of good training, I think I can do it. Before Sunday, I was nearly positive I was going to run Marine Corps next year. Now, I’m not sure if any marathon could ever live up to the NYC Marathon, and I’m thinking of running both next year. Either way, there will be another marathon in my life next year.
  • Half-marathon: sub-1:50. (Also pretty damn ambitious.) My next half is the DC (now RnR) Half in March. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll be clamoring to try to PR at that one or not (although I have a hard time training for a big race without trying to PR, so we’ll see), but that is the next big race on my calendar.

What have you found has helped or hurt you in training for a long race? What’s your next big goal???

19 comments on “How Did You Shave 40 Minutes Off Your Marathon Time, and What’s Next?

  1. Margaret

    oh cute, I got the pink shirt too! way better than the race shirt. It’s like someone srhunk the logo on the front, you can barely read it. Congrats on your PR! Something to be proud of

  2. Beth

    Thanks for the info! I definitely want to get back to speedwork and incorporate more of it – I definitely got slower during marathon training. I’m also running the DC RNR, gotta love any race where you can roll out of bed and walk to the start line!

  3. Jess

    I’m 99.99% sure I’m going to run Marine Corps next year too! After spectating at it the last two years I definitely want to run it.

    I’m also planning to spectate at the RNR race this year. It will be my coworkers first marathon and I know tons of people are running the half! I’ll be on the lookout for you!

  4. Gia

    First, I am beyond flattered, I love running with you. We must do it more often!!
    Second, I am running the national half in March too with the same goal as you πŸ™‚ Speedtraining? Lets do it!

  5. Kimra

    I did Yasso 800s this morning! I was planning on doing 400s, but my friends were all Yasso-ing so I joined them. It was hard but fun — I tend to lock in a pace early and just hold it, so anything interval-ish is new to me.

    Big goal? Like I even need to say it again: sub-2 half by the end of 2012, but maybe by the end of 2011! (Hm, should I be trying to “predict” my time with 400s? If so, I’ve got some work to do…)

  6. S.

    Yasso 800s don’t REALLY predict marathon time…

    Uh, my goal is a sub-1:27 half (PR is 1:30), a 5:00 mile, and a 5k in the 18:00s. I find doing tons of varied speedwork and HILL SPRINTS helps. Seriously, hill sprints–do them on 91st St. and 2nd Ave, there’s a great 200m hill there with an 8% grade.

  7. Jessica

    I think my goal is to just have more fun when running a large marathon. I need to train myself to focus but stay relaxed and most important of all to have fun.

  8. ellen

    the things i did better with this year and improvements for next time are almost identical to yours. so are my goals: sub-4 marathon, and a 1:55 1/2. i also feel like i have to keep running nyc, but i’d like to try my hand at a flat, fast marathon course. also possibly considering a spring one (though this might be insane).

  9. Beth @ Beth's Journey

    I’m so excited you’re coming to DC for the RnR. That’s going to be SO fun! Plus, it’s on a Saturday, which means we can go out Sat night. I hope you continue to relax your drinking with next year’s training. =)


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