Training for Boston’s (down) hills


It’s hard to believe exactly two years ago, I was at the peak of my Boston marathon training cycle for the 2011 race. I had completed my first 18 miler, and was gearing up for my 20 miler.

A medical emergency prevented me from getting on my plane 3 days before racing Boston, but I remember at this time back then, I was doing as much Boston marathon research as possible.

I asked you guys for your best Boston Advice, and you gave me some great stuff!

Time and again, I’ve heard downhill training is important for the first 5+ miles of Boston’s course. People say your legs might get trashed from the steady downhill, and that it’s important to train to prevent that.

Boulder is a pretty hilly place (we’re nestled up against the gorgeous Flatirons)
IMG_20120421_090609 IMG_0504
so it’s easy to find hills to train on of all different makes and models.

For this Boston training cycle, I’ve been running “down-hill repeats” on a hill that’s about 0.6 mile long with 200ft of elevation differential. I run the downhill at a steady tempo effort (6-7 min/mile pace), and run back up the hill at a slow recovery pace (10-11 min/mile pace), repeat x 4.

After 3 “down-hill repeat” sessions over the past 3 weeks, I’ve noticed improvements:
– my legs are fatiguing less quickly on the downhill
– my posture is less sloppy (I lean into the downhill, rather than slouching back)(this is the biggest improvement thing)
– I can maintain my tempo effort through more of the downhill repeats
– gained confidence in taking the first 5 miles of Boston a tiny pinch quicker

However, I’m not sure at all how much quicker to let myself take the first 5 miles of Boston’s course…. 10 seconds/mile? Not at all? Don’t think, just run? (that could cause a blow up later, no doubt)

This is where I need your advice, oh-wise-veterans: Do you run the first downhill miles of Boston at your avg goal pace, or do you let yourself roll with the hills and take advantage of the easier/quicker miles? 

Thanks in advance!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    I definitely had to pull back in those early miles. Of course, the excitement and the crowds pull you along, but that downhill feels like you’re rolling out of control!! I just tried to be conscious of it so it wouldn’t bite me later. Nice to have those hills right in your backyard.

    I’m almost positive I’ll be volunteering at a water stop (either mile 7 or 8) as part of my company’s volunteer effort, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled!!

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