By Randy Pierce
“We do not plan to fail, we fail to plan.” – Lorrie Ross
I was excited to announce that my good friend and fellow 2020 Vision Quest Board Member, Jose Acevedo, would be running as my guide for the Boston Marathon. But now it’s time for the discussion of some details. Just making the announcement won’t help either of us run the Superbowl of road races. It takes a plan and plenty of hard work in implementing the plan.
Most marathons require roughly 18 weeks of training in order to prepare for the endurance experience impact upon the body. Running it as a team requires being in synchronicity sufficiently to ensure the best chance of success. So Jose and I reached out to Greg Hallorman, a good friend and excellent run coach. We use a modified version of the Hal Higdon training program with a few lessons from our past marathon experiences.
Having very successfully run the California International Marathon together in 2014, we understand fairly well how to work together. There is an additional burden on my guide to be able to find their comfortable pace for not only running their marathon but having the reserves mentally and physically to be my guide. This includes the breathing room to call out warnings of obstacles we might not be able to simply steer around such as a pothole or manhole cover. It involves tracking not only the pathway they are running, but the wider path for me with an extra bit of attention to provide warning time for me when those obstacles cannot be avoided. The guide often has to alert other runners of our presence and the visual challenge to help us be good citizens to our fellow runners. On the very crowded Boston course this can be an especially significant challenge.
Given these factors, Jose set our goal race pace as 8:40 minutes/mile as our target. This was the basis for our plan. Added to this is the expectation that four days per week of running was the right and reasonable limit for the rest of our busy schedules.
This does not mean that we only train on four days, however. There are two additional days of cross training for roughly an hour each time. These days help develop a different range of muscle motion, enhance our cardiovascular conditioning as well as hopefully support our body clearing lactic acid build-up from the running. Jose often uses his Kilimanjaro favorite of stair climbing at his high-rise office building, I tend to visit my local YMCA and put the time on an indoor bicycle. Many alternatives can exist to help supplement the core run training with cross training.
While staging to ever longer runs as we near the April 18 Boston Marathon date, our typical week might look like this glance for the week of January 18:
Monday: 60 Minutes of Cross training
*Thanks to Rick Perreira who drives me to the YMCA Each Monday Morning, helps me with the touch screen cycles and takes me home!
Tuesday: 5 mile run with 4x hill repeats in the middle (alternates weeks with speed intervals)
*Thanks to Tracy for pushing me and helping with the timing on the key points of this hard workout!
Wednesday: 60 Minutes of Cross training
*Thanks to Alex Newbold who drives me to the YMCA each Wednesday morning, helps me with the touch screen cycles, and takes me home!
Thursday: 6 miles of “tempo run,” meaning 2 miles of warm-up at 9:00 minutes/mile, 3 miles of “lactic threshold”at 8:10 minutes/mile, and 1 mile cool-down at reduced/recovery speed like 9:30 minutes/mile.
* Thanks to Matt Shapiro who works hard to give me this very early morning speed push most Thursdays!
Friday: My one rest day to recover and prepare for the weekend push!
Saturday: 6 miles of race pace (8:40 minutes/mile)
Sunday: 11 mile “easy pace” run (8:45-9:15 typically)
* While we often switch Saturday and Sunday, Rob Webber has been steadfast on longer and faster runs with various guides or treadmill options for the other day as necessary!
Those weekend-long runs will rise to 20 miles and as the snows fall, roads become icy and temperatures can drop; training for Boston is simply a challenge. Meanwhile my counterpart in Jose will contend with Texas temperatures and we check in with each other regularly to see if our progress remains encouragingly comfortable. All this work for an incredible celebration together as we share the legendary experience which has become the Boston Marathon. Hopefully some of you will be helping us out with encouragement throughout the training and especially on our big day.