Training for Boston: My Game Plan


I can’t believe we’re already into week two of training for the Boston Marathon!  It seemed so far away and now it’s here.  Crazy!  This definitely isn’t how I thought I’d kick-off my training.   I’m still nursing a cranky Achilles and my running is limited. Hopefully taking it easy now will make for some great Boston training and an even better race!


I was reading the Runners Connect Blog and started thinking about my goals. This is such a monumental race and it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

Am I going to run hard and see what I’m capable of? OR Should I run for fun and try to take it all in?

As I get back to full health, here are some of the key elements in my marathon training.

Long Runs:  This Spring, I am pacing a Country Music Marathon training group for Fleet Feet.  My group is training for a 4:00 hour marathon.  Our long runs are at a 9:30 pace.  I’ll be pacing their miles, and then I plan to add a few more miles before and after the group run.

Speed Work:  I run track on Tuesdays with my Speed Session group.  We base line our workouts with a 2 mile time trial.  Then the rest of our group workouts will be geared toward marathon preparation with lots of mile repeats, 800’s, etc…

Mid-Week Long Run: I like to do a Wednesday “longish” run….usually 10-12 miles.  I include 6×20 second surges.

Tempo Runs: My tempo runs are usually 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles at tempo, and 2 mile cool down.  (To determine your tempo pace: Add 30 seconds to your 5K pace.)

Steady State: These are usually 1-2 mile warm-up, 10 miles (20-30 seconds slower than my tempo pace), 1-2 mile cool down.

Fast Finish: I will incorporate fast finish runs into my group long runs.  I’ll finish the group run and add on an additional 3-5 miles at my steady state pace.

Cross training: PiYO for low impact days, weight lifting, Orange Theory Fitness, TRX, nightly core work before bed, and I just got a YMCA membership so I can try some of their classes.

Foam Rolling and Stretching: Dealing with my Achilles problem has really reminded me to roll and stretch.  Seriously, I can’t stress it enough!


Mark Hadley at Maximum Performance Running has created the training plans for my last 4 marathons.  He does an amazing job at customizing the above workouts to help me meet my goals!

Conclusion…I might not have a race day game plan yet, but this is what my training will look like.  My goal for now is to recover, focus on quality training miles, and then decide.  Either way, I am STOKED to run this race!!!

Check out this Podcast on Setting up for Success; Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray

And, I LOVED playing around with this Boston Marathon Pace Calculator!

Boston Advice: Would you run hard or have fun?

What’s your favorite type of training run? I love long runs!

Least Favorite? Tempo runs are always tough for me.

Do you have a Spring “Goal” Race? Have you started training? How’s it going?


Join the Conversation

  • http://danarunsboston.wordpress.com danarunsboston

    I am also training for Boston and struggling with the same dilema! Right now I am hoping to run hard but to make sure I take time throughout the course to say hi to my family and friends…so I guess it is a mixed approach. I have watched the race for years and the atmosphere is unmatched, it is definitely something worth slowing down a little bit for :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks for the advice!! Ive only watched it on tv so i want to make the most of it! Good luck with your training:)

  • http://alsoranagain.com alsoranagain

    I’m so happy for that you’re running Boston this year! It sounds like have a really solid plan.

    If I were running Boston, I would probably run it somewhere in between conversational pace and race pace. That way I’d still get an okay time but have fun doing it. My least favorite workout? Hill repeats! My favorite? Long runs.

    I’m supposed to be training for the Eugene Marathon, where I want to run 3:40. I am currently resting, though. Ankle issues. Boo!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Sorry youre fighting an injury, too. Its the worst. I like your boston strategy…thanks!!!

  • http://crazyrunnerblog.wordpress.com joannaraines

    My favorite runs are long runs, too! I dream of qualifying for Boston one day!! Praying your achilles tendon is healed quickly :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thank you!!!

  • suzysuzyheather

    You know, that question (to run Boston hard or run it easy and enjoy the sights) seems to be one that Boston marathoners have a tough time answering. And when we do run it, if we run it hard then all the runners who ran it easy seem to judge us a bit, and vise versa. I’m not sure why! When I ran Boston, I ran it hard because that IS how I best enjoyed the race. It’s an incredible experience no matter what. You’re going to love it. :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I have a friend that says the same thing…fast and hard is fun! Thanks so much for your advice:)

  • http://runnersconnect.net Runners Connect

    Thanks for linking up with us Jen! How wonderful to learn about how your training is going! It is interesting to see how you have it broken down, and we are very happy you are choosing to use a coach to help you get there. That will make a big difference. Glad you enjoyed the podcast, and hope you will continue to tune in!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

  • http://tinamuir.com Tina Muir

    This is awesome Jen, so excited for you, and so happy we have connected, I will look forward to following your progress! I began my marathon training for London yesterday, it is scary, but also fun. Have to remember to be able to enjoy the ride! My least favorite workout is 2 mile repeats, for some reason, I always mess them up!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I completely agree with you on the 2 mile!! We do them during our winter track workouts and theyre always tough for me!

  • http://laurainlou.wordpress.com lmicklich

    I’m running the Louisville Triple Crown, and I really want to PR in both the 5K and 10K…and I will automatically PR in the 10 miler because I’ve never raced that particular distance!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I love racing a new distance!! The triple crown sounds like fun! Ive raced back to back 10k and 5k but ive never done three…good luck!!

  • http://www.ksrunner.com Sarah @ KS Runner

    I like progressive pace runs. Finishing faster than I started is always really satisfying. I think that you should enjoy Boston. I’ve run it four times and I still don’t feel like I’ve experienced it all. One of the best times I had running it was in 2012 when it was in the mid 80s and we had to slow way down – it was so fun interacting with the crowd, high-fiving kids and just enjoying the experience. I hope your achilles is better soon!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      It always feels good to start easy and finish fast! I appreciate your Boston advice…thank you!!!

  • Kate

    Hi Jen, I’ve never run Boston (future goal to BQ) but many of my friends have and they all say that it’s an amazing race to experience. I think you’ve run enough that if you trust your gut you’ll have a great race. I’m with you on the love of long runs! Intervals are my least favorite, particularly 400M repeats – ugh :-)! I’m going to do the Disney Princess Glass Slipper next month. It’s more of a fun race as opposed to a goal race, my goal race will be a marathon in the fall. Also, I just started working with Mark Hadley and he is awesome! Found him through following your blog so thank you for sharing your coach. Good luck on your Boston training plan!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Ive never done a Disney run but they look like a blast…good luck!!! And, im so hlad you started working with coach hadley!!!

  • http://gravatar.com/simmogl glenn

    Jen, my training partner and I will be in Boston this year too! We are doing a lot of treadmill training because of the snow here in Ontario. But we do get one long run a week outside with our team.

    Our plan is to enjoy Boston, take it all in and experience it all.

    Train well.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Congratulations!! It seems like the concensus is to enjoy the race. Best wishes for your training!!!

  • http://eathostrunstyle.blogspot.com Sun

    I’m excited for you with your upcoming Boston Marathon training! I say … go hard – perhaps a PR is in store and that could make the experience truly memorable :)

    My hardest workouts are also tempo runs. Something about holding that comfortably hard pace – usually feels more uncomfortable to me than fast speedwork – my favorite type of workout!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I struggle with tempo runs for the exact same reason! Track work is uncomfortable but it’s only for a short duration.

  • http://leerunsdistances.wordpress.com FLRunnerBoy

    That’s a solid plan Jen!! I would have to say for me personally if I ever qualified for a race the caliber of Boston though I would make sure to take it all in I would be trying to run the race of my life as well if I’m 100% because you are never guaranteed a second shot at a race like that. My least favorite workout is 1600 repeats even though I know they are a necessary workout for my 5K racing they are sooooo god awful long and painful in my opinion ha! 😛 I do have a goal spring race and it’s my half marathon in March. Since 5K’s are my thing for the most part when I do race a half marathon it’s a big deal and I’d really like to go 1:45 or better in March. I have started training for it though not at 100%. I have had to scale back on workout because of this blasted leg … ugh!!! Oh, and my favorite run is the tempo run. They are so empowering and confidence building when you nail them just right :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I wish i could embrace the tempo run like you! I hope your recovery is going well:)

      • http://leerunsdistances.wordpress.com FLRunnerBoy

        Same to you Jen! :)

  • http://www.runningnreading.com Running ‘N’ Reading

    That’s definitely a tough dilemma, Jen; I think it’s tough to recognize the allure of “taking it all in” when we want to go, go, go! I definitely agree with Molly, though – maybe somewhere in the middle? I mean, the hard part is done (you qualified! YAY!) and this is a race you will cherish; might as well have some great memories, right? Plus, I have to live vicariously so I’m going to need lots of detailed recap – ha! 😉 You’re going to do great, no matter what.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks!! Im really excited for the experience:)

  • http://charissarunning.wordpress.com charissarunning

    Wishing you the best for a quick recovery! I think you still have plenty of time to decide whether to run hard or have fun. But I’m sure you’ll want to train as hard as you are able to anyway so you could even leave that decision till just before running Boston 😀 Good luck!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks so much!!

  • http://travisandmarilynkeys.blogspot.com Marilyn

    Hmmm… This is a dilemma, but a great dilemma to have! I think if I were to go to Boston, I would want something in the middle of full-on-race and conversational pace, at least for the first time.

    I can’t wait to read about your progress as you prepare! What an experience it will be! Enjoy it!

  • http://twitter.com/edigrigoli Erin

    Loved this post!! You’re going to rock Boston!! Get well soon!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks so much for your encouragement!!