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Marathon Reflection: Training

by Meghann on January 18, 2010

When I signed up for my first marathon almost a year ago I took a very relaxed, ‘let’s just have fun’ approach to training for it. I followed the training schedule provided by Team in Training and improvised where I saw fit. The provided plan was geared towards beginning runners looking to complete a marathon. There was no mention of speed work, time goals, or cross training. Basically the goal of the plan was to cross the finish line – nothing else.

I followed the plan accordingly and was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 4:29:46! I averaged a 10:20ish pace for 26.2 miles and for a first marathon I was very proud of myself. However, I knew with a little focus on speed training I could do better.

When it came time to begin training for my second marathon I started with a plan. I scoured the internet and discovered Runner’s World Intermediate Marathon Training Plan. I took the plan and redesigned it to fit my needs. With a little work on my part I developed a new goal and a way to execute that goal.


The new plan included tempo runs, strides, sprints, and other various elements of speed work. I felt more confident in my plan and knew I could beat my old time without a problem.

Originally my goal was to finish Disney in 4:20 and then that dropped to 4:15 and then 4:10 as my training progressed. Honestly, having only run one marathon previously I was unsure of where to aim with a new structure of training. I think next time I will set an original goal in the beginning and stick to it just to give myself a little structure.

I immediately saw the improvement in my new training regimen. Each race I entered I felt myself getting faster and faster.  I couldn’t be stop and for the first time I had confidence in my running ability.

After 16 weeks of faithfully fallowing my plan, I knew I was ready to conquer the Disney marathon.  The whole race I felt confident and in control of my body. I only felt myself waiver between 20 and 23, but with a little more training I think I can overcome that in the future.

I crossed the finish line in 4:12:26, shaving 17 minutes from my previous marathon! My training was a success!

I also thank my training for allowing me to bounce back quickly. I attribute the poor training in my previous marathon for the minor injury I sustained. This time around I felt great and ready to run  just a couple of days after completing 26.2 miles.

Marathons are addicting and I want to run as many in the future as my body will allow me. I also plan to improve my training and adjust it as I see fit to accomplish my new goals.

Right now I believe with the right training plan I WILL qualify for Boston one day. It might not be this year and it might not be next, but never in my life have my felt for confident in myself and the ability to do so!

Stay tuned! My next installment with talk about my weight while marathon training. You can check out my previous post on this subject here.

1 Leah January 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I really like this 1st post and can’t wait to read the rest of your thoughts. What time must you have to qualify for Boston?

2 Meghann January 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

For my age I need to get under 3:40 to qualify 🙂

3 Leah January 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm

wow!!! have you read skinnyrunner’s blog? She just ran a marathon in 3:29 – maybe she’d have some tips for you, but I think with the amount of training that you do and the mindset that you have you’ll be able to do it!

4 Gracie January 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I love reading posts like this and following your blog in general because I can really see the passion you have for running. I’ve been wanting to become a runner for years, and I’d dabble in it from time to time but then give up because I told myself I just “wasn’t cut out to be a runner.” I decided to make it one of my new year’s goals to run *3 miles,* and I just started that goal today (with 1/4 mile, hehe!). I actually started a challenge for myself called “I Dream of Running” 😛 And I’m really excited about it. I’m hoping that I love it and am as passionate about running as you are. I’ve also realized, though, that I might not be. I’m going to start running to prove to myself that *I can do it,* but if I get to my goal and realize that I just don’t enjoy running, I’m going to stop! If that’s the case, I hope I can find another fitness regime that I can be passionate about like you are with running. It really is so inspiring!! 🙂

5 kristen January 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I love your goal- good luck! That’s sort of how i started running too and I’ve ended up loving it. I hope you have a great time with starting to run.

6 Jaimie January 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I think you should check out Run Less Run Faster. I just started using it for my upcoming half because I’m trying to beat 2 hours. Matt over at No Meat Athlete used it to qualify for Boston. It’s tough but you can definitely tell it’s working.

7 Pam (Pamcakes and Eggs) January 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Yeah this was a great post! I’m always interested in hearing details of training schedules and results. Congratulations on the marathon time! It’s great!

8 Casey January 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Wow good luck Meghann! I have no doubt that you’ll qualify for Boston, probably sooner than you think, with your determination! YAY for goals 🙂

9 kristen January 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Meghann- I love your attitude and I know you will qualify for Boston. Good luck with your next training cycle.

10 Deva (Voracious Vorilee) January 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I love how you took initiative to get faster for this marathon, and I’m sure with perseverence, you will BQ!

11 fromatopink January 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I can’t imagine even finishing a marathon, let alone at that pace. Congrats!

12 Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) January 18, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I have faith in you! You will definitely do it!

13 foodfitnessandfreya January 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

That’s such an incredible improvement! I’m doing my first marathon later in the year – do you think it’s better to go for the ‘just cross the line’ approach like in your first, or do more temp, intervals etc etc and go a bit faster? Personally I’m very competitive with myself….!

14 Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) January 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Intervals and tempo runs help SO much – have you thought about doing speed workouts with a local running club/team? I train with the Central Park Track Club and having other goal-oriented runners to do workouts and long runs with really pushes me to get faster and stronger.

15 eaternotarunner January 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

That is so awesome, I bet you will definitely qualify for Boston! Good luck!

16 Melissa January 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I’m attempting to qualify for Boston this year, too! I’ve taken a decade off from marathon running but am starting again this year and it’s my New Year’s Resolution to give it my best shot! Of course being older now (41), I have to qualify in 3:50:59 or under and it’s going to be hard but I think I can do it finally and I’m certain that you can, too!
I also started a blog about my training to keep me motivated and it’s really helping–not sure why.
Anyway, best of luck!

17 Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen January 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm

so cool! honestly, i don’t know if i will ever want to run a marathon, but i have a HUGE amount of respect for those who do! i’ve loved reading your accounts and training posts regardless, it’s so cool to see that progress 🙂

18 Chelsea January 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Great post and great points. When I trained for the Ironman I worked with a coach and his goal was for us to have the best race we could. It was that and more. I finished with a respectable time and I wasn’t that sore when all was said and done. There were many other people who couldn’t say the same thing. A race is about the training 🙂

19 Anna January 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for sharing your training schedule/plan! I really admire your ability to work hard to improve– obviously it paid off majorly!

20 Heather January 18, 2010 at 2:20 pm

What an inspirational post. I would love to shave some time of my half marathon time and hope to run another one this spring and shave a few minutes off of it. My goal is to one day run a sub – 2 hour 1/2 marathon.

I love reading your blog for some tips – and how did you make that amazing calendar? I wish I had your excel skills!

21 Sarah January 18, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You should start looking for plans that have you running more than just one 20 miler, especially if you are seriously thinking that you want to BQ someday.

22 fitandfortysomething January 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

you will definitely qualify. you seem to be quite a gifted runner!

23 megan January 18, 2010 at 2:29 pm

great goals! I’m sure with your determination you’ll get them. I don’t think I’ve ever trained for speed in my life, but it’s fun reading about your journey!

24 RhodeyGirlTests January 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Great post. I can’t wait for part 2. I think a lot of people make the mistake of not planning exercise. You take the extreme opposite approach (as do I) and I love that! I have all my workouts planned too (although more loosely than you…)

25 Jenna January 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Yay for the Boston marathon 🙂

26 weightwatchersforone January 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

That’s such an awesome time! I can’t believe you shaved 17 whole minutes off from your first marathon. You def will qualify for Boston!!

27 Britt January 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I responded to your tweet last week, but I am positive you can qualify for Boston (aka BQ). I did my first marathon back in 2004 and was over 4 hours, did a couple more also 4 hours. But then I got serious with my speed training and something just clicked. I have qualified for Boston ever since. I’ll be running my 5th Boston Marathon this April and it will be the 4th time I have run it as a qualified runner. 🙂 You just have to commit yourself and you can do it!!

28 Karla January 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I think you can definitely qualify for the Boston Marathon if you set your mind to it! I’m sure you will!

29 AprilBRuns January 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Hey Meghann,
I’ve enjoyed following your journey to your second marathon, particularly because I was doing the same thing. I ran my first marathon in 12/08 in 4:50. I was okay with it for a first but knew I could do better. I finished my second in 12/09 at the Dallas White Rock in 4:20. I’m now shooting for a third marathon in the fall of this year and hope to get close to or under 4:00 and then eventually also BQ. It’s fun to read about others who are working on similar goals. Good luck!

30 Lauren January 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Wow Meghann-that is incredible. Very inspiring. I was hoping to do the San Diego Marathon in June but got 2 stress fractures in my ankle. Reading this makes me upset that I can’t run but excited to be able to run in a few months. I can’t wait for your post on weight because I have been curious about that and nervous about weight gain when I train for the marathon.

31 Melissa January 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm

have you read run less, run faster? It’s a book published by runner’s world that is soley focused on training plans that will qualify anyone for boston. I will loan you my copy when you visit nyc if you want.

32 Heather January 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I love dedicated you were to your plan, and the confidence it gave you! You sure worked hard and it paid off!

33 Sarah January 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Hmmmm…..I’m training for the Vermont City Marathon (and tracking my trainingon I ran it two years ago in 4:15 and was going to do the same training. Hal Higdon’s Novice I plan. Maybe I should reconsider and do a different plan, since you had such awesome results!

34 jenngirl January 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm

This is so awesome to read Meghann! You are very inspiring, and a wonderful example that with a good plan and determined mind-set, we can achieve anything we set our mind to! 🙂

35 Lily @ Lily's Health Pad January 18, 2010 at 11:36 pm

I followed the intermediate plan from when i trained for my marathon too. it served me well!

36 Megan January 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I definitely reccommend setting a goal in the beginning of your training and sticking to it. It also is super helpful in figuring out what pace to do your tempo runs/speed runs. I decided I was going to qualify for Boston in Disney back in August, and having htat goal in mind was SUPER helpful in my training. I ended up PR’ing by over 30 minutes!!

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