[Editor's note: Meet Saucony Freedom Track Club member, Brian Shrader. As he prepares to toe the start line in Hopkinton on Monday, Brian chronicles a week of marathon training. He, along with the rest of the FTC, trains in the Boston area.]
One of the best and cruelest aspects to our sport of running is that everything is measured and recorded. When you’re out training, you record the distance, paces, and splits and then compare them to a past training cycle or goal. The race is the time to prove your fitness and show that the training is working. Simple enough. The beauty of this concept is that you put the work in, and you’re rewarded with the results. You have control of your fitness. Unfortunately, sometimes you’re reminded that running can also be a cruel sport and all of the fitness that training has shown isn’t always seen on race day.
This is what happened to me during the New York City Half Marathon during my buildup. I had just come off some of the best months of training of my life and confidence was at an all-time high. I had goals of battling for a podium spot and trying to get under the 62-minute barrier. Well, that went out the window at Mile 4 when I got dropped and ran the next nine miles wondering what went wrong before finishing 15th in 64:03.
The 64:03 is the hard number that measured my fitness that day - a full two minutes slower than what I thought my training had shown I was capable of. So, do I change my goals and expectations? Do I scrap my future training plans and start over? The easy thing to do in the moment would be to succumb to these moments of panic and make drastic changes (in either mindset or plan). But it’s in these moments when faith needs to be unwavering. I look back and know that the training before this result was real. My coach, (Olympian) Tim Broe, talked to me without panic and told me that I am still perfectly on track for my true fitness test - the marathon.
After New York I took the next week of training runs relatively easy with a couple of marathon-type workouts. This then led into the week of March 25-31, three weeks out from Boston. It wasn’t a week of mind-blowing workouts but it was still the week that I needed. It showed that I’m fit and have the ability, and it let my confidence grow back to where it needs to be.
Monday - March 25
AM: Easy training run, 62 min/9.7 miles.
AM Notes: Went along the Charles towards Waltham. I usually pick it up as the run goes on but I kept it at 6:25 the entire time.
PM: Easy, 33 min. 5 miles
PM Notes: The usual afternoon double spot around Chestnut Res.
Tuesday - March 26
AM: Training run and strides, 61 min/9.25 miles
AM Notes: Met at Harvard with the team. We ran up the Charles and then through BU and onto the Emerald Necklace. Drills and 10 x 100 strides afterwards.
PM: Easy, 33 min/5 miles
PM Notes: Double around Chestnut Res.
Wednesday - March 27
AM: 20 x 400 w/100 jog rest. 13 miles on the day.
AM Notes: Ran at Wellesley High School with (fellow Freedom Track Club members) Tommy and James. Ran 68’s down to 64’s. 100 jog rest was about 45 seconds.
This workout can look a bit boring, but I’ve found it’s important for me. After weeks of mileage up in the 115-120 range my legs can get a bit heavy. I can run 5:00-10 all day, but as soon as a 4:40 is thrown in there, my heart rate immediately spikes, and I can’t recover (As the NYC Half proved). This workout lets me run 5 miles worth of 10K pace while also focusing on staying under control. This workout has actually always been a struggle for me but this time I felt pretty great! I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m getting my legs back.
Thursday - March 28
AM: Medium long run, 90 min/14 miles
AM Notes: The team and I went to Battle Road now that it’s finally clear of snow and mud. We like doing medium long runs the day after our Tuesday workouts. I think it’s good to practice running a bit longer while being pretty depleted and heavy legged. It’s not long enough to dig myself in a hole but long enough that I’m glad it’s done!
Friday - March 29
AM: Easy training run, 60 min/8.9 miles.
AM Notes: Connected Chestnut Res, Brookline Res, and Jamaica Pond. I was extra tired so made sure to listen to my body and go easy with a big workout in store for Saturday.
PM: Easy, 8 x hill strides. 33 min/5 miles.
PM Notes: Double loop around Chestnut Res and then 8 x 20 sec hill strides afterwards.
Saturday - March 30
AM: 5 mile tempo, 3 mile fartlek, 4 mile tempo. 18 miles on the day.
*5 miles in 24:44 (4:57 pace), 3 miles of 1 min on/off, 4 miles in 19:27 (4:51 pace)
AM Notes: This was a good day! Ran with the team at Chestnut Res. I was able to run marathon pace extremely comfortably and had 3 miles of surges in the middle of it to simulate racing a bit. (Tim) Broe had me squeeze the pace down the last 800 of my tempo. I ended up running 2:13 for it so a good sign that I was able to run that pace on tired legs!
Sunday - March 31
AM: Long run. 2 hours/18 miles.
Notes: Ran a good loop from home connecting all of the reservoirs to Emerald Necklace and then taking the Charles back. It was super windy out and my legs were dead from yesterday so I bonked pretty hard the last 30 min. I usually like at least a day in between a workout and a true long run but this actually was good so that it let me do one more long effort while being depleted. These suck pretty bad but that’s pretty much exactly how you feel during the marathon when you don’t want to go anymore.
Weekly Total: 106