Difficult Runs

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Marathon Coalition TEAM ran 17 miles on the Boston course yesterday.  We ran to Wellesley College and back for the first time.  It’s challenging to deal with traffic, snow banks, ice-covered sidewalks and 50 mph winds.  It was nice having Paul Oparowski join us for a portion of yesterday’s run.  Paul has run 2:18 at Boston and provided the TEAM with insight into managing the Boston Marathon course.

Change is definitely in the air with several days of unseasonably warm temperatures this past week.  This is the time during training when the volume of e-mails I receive increases significantly as runners realize the marathon is looming. 

It’s important that runners keep the quality of their runs in perspective.  Less experienced runners tend to place too much stock into individual runs, particularly the long runs.  This is understandable since they’re the cornerstone of our training program.  I caution runners not to get too exuberant over runs that seem so easy or too depressed over seemingly disastrous runs.  

Challenging runs are actually far more important and beneficial to your training than the best runs.  The great runs can be a HUGE boost to your mental state but there aren’t significant physiological benefits to these runs.  The difficult runs benefit your running immensely because you have to deal with and overcome challenges.  Those challenges can range from weather, the course, or a range of physical obstacles.

Challenging runs help you to deal with adversity that you’ll likely encounter at some point in the marathon, particularly in the closing miles.  Dealing with difficult training runs in the most positive manner will provide a much higher degree of confidence that you’ll be able to manage anything you encounter on marathon day.

Running 17 miles by yourself or with a small group of runners is far more challenging than running 26.2 on marathon day.  The Boston Marathon course is magically transformed from a course filled with traffic during training to one lined with spectators from Hopkinton to Boston giving so much of themselves to encourage you to the finish line!

So realize that these difficult runs are an important part of your marathon preparation.  Challenging runs rank closely with the weekly long runs as vitally important to your marathon preparation and success…embrace them with a positive attitude!

  1. Lori B. says:

    AMEN Coach! For us to get out there that early and with that wind chill & most even smiling demonstrates our toughness and ability to “Bring It” race day. Thanks for the inspiration–your story of our fellow runner and what she’s accomplished to date, along with your willingness to “cage fight” for us Motivated me more than ever before! Thank you. LB

  2. Lori,

    Yesterday was such an encouraging day for so many runners. Being able to overcome so many challenges was a boost to their confidence. Sheree continues to inspire all of us and I’m glad my willingness to defend the reputation of every charity runner motivated you.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having you and your incredible energy on the TEAM!

    Your Coach,


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