Events

#NMrunsBOS: 6 Weeks Of Marathon Training

Nicki Miller shares her story of training for her first marathon in 6 weeks.

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Editor Nicki Miller (left) is tackling the Boston Marathon as her first 26.2-miler!

No, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke! I found out I could run the Boston Marathon as part of a press trip with the official sports nutrition partner of the marathon, Clif Bar, just a few short weeks ago, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Luckily I had already been running some good miles, but I’ve never run 26.2 before and haven’t run more than 13.1 at a time.

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I can’t recommend this training strategy become the norm for any runner, but sometimes impulsive race decisions happen. You find the opportunity to do a cool race, and you just make the training and timing work in your favor. Or—your training gets put on pause by a minor injury, illness or the craziness of life, and all of sudden you’re skipping weeks and diving into the highest training mode.

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I grew up outside of Boston, but it’s never been a dream to run the race. I’m not particularly fast, and since I crossed into my 40s, I don’t find speed work much to my liking. I do really enjoy endurance though—my most extreme accomplishment is a half Ironman.

I’m not in BQ shape, but I figure there are plenty of other charity runners and “regular” people like me, and if they can do it, so can I. So when the invite from Clif Bar arrived, I was all in. While I have access to coaching advice and plenty of training plans through my job, there’s no six-week plan for a marathon, so I’ve cobbled together a plan on my own.

I started by running with some walk breaks to beef up the mileage on my legs for a couple of weeks. Then last week, I adopted a new philosophy: Run every day. I’m usually an every-other-day runner to give my body a little more healing time, so last week was tough, but it also felt good to push my body and discover that it could run everyday. However, this week I chose to revert back to the every-other-day routine and go longer on run days instead of lacing up every day. I started by running the Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday, which offers an all-day 20K—you run a 5K four times, but there are breaks between each that are about 30 to 60 minutes, so you have a lot of extra time on your feet. The total 12.4 miles was a good, long run.

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However, I still haven’t run longer than a half marathon, so I’m planning to do 18 miles on Saturday. Someone suggested a half marathon and then running 5 miles on my own, but then a colleague recommended I run without the support of a race to develop mental toughness. Sounds like that might be a good idea!

Next Wednesday, I’ll follow up with how my training is going. If you want to share your training tips for this compressed schedule, tweet me @nickiontherun!