Molly Gries PT - The Polyclinic
February 2, 2017 | by Molly Gries PT, DPT, OCS, CertMDT

This is the first article in a series from physical therapist Molly Gries who is training for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Gries will focus on phases of marathon training from planning to recovery. In this first article, she outlines planning and training.

Throughout my years of running and working as a physical therapist, I have developed a systematic plan to effectively train and manage a busy lifestyle and other activities. The keys to a good training plan are flexibility and recognizing when to adjust.

Week 14 from Molly's Training Plan

Day Type Mileage
Sunday Rest 0
Monday Track 5 miles
Tuesday Tempo 8 miles
Wednesday Crosstraining n/a
Thursday Regular run 5-6 miles
Friday Regular 3-4 miles
Saturday Long run 20 miles
TOTAL 41-44

Develop a Plan

  • Start by figuring your baseline mileage. Tip: Use the longest distance you can comfortably run as a starting point for weekly mileage.
  • Adjust your plan as needed for training, activities and vacations.
  • Listen to your body and do what’s right for you.
  • Increase weekly mileage gradually -- about 10 percent each week. A typical training plan takes anywhere from 13 to 24 weeks depending on your starting level.
  • Include a variety of workouts. I always include these five: long run, track/speed workout, tempo, regular run and crosstraining.

    How to Vary Up Your Run

  1. Long Run. Build your weekly long runs by adding about one to two miles/week. Plan for your long run to be slower than race pace by about 30 to 60 seconds per mile. As you plan your mileage, determine what your longest run will be and how many 20+ mile runs you will complete. Typically, I try to plan two to three 20-mile runs, with the goal of completing your last 20-mile run three to four weeks prior to race day.
  2. Track/Speed workout. These workouts build speed and endurance while training other muscle groups. Options include: fartlek runs, hills/stairs, and track workouts.
  3. Tempo. Complete these at a “comfortably-hard” pace. Running with people who are faster than you is a great way to perform at this pace. You can also try a running app to ensure even pacing.
  4. Regular runs. These runs can vary in pace from comfortable to slightly slower than race pace. Regular runs build up endurance and time on your feet.
  5. Crosstraining or rest. Changing your activity will help train other muscle groups and keep you from burning out on running. I usually plan two cross-training options each week, alternating with rest days depending on how I feel. Some of my preferred cross-training activities include rock climbing, hiking, biking, pilates, or yoga. This is a great time to add strength or circuit training.

Train with Intention

With advance planning done, the real running begins. A few tips for making your training count:

  1. Map your route. Don’t just wing it. Take the time to map out a route first taking notes of mileage and possible water sources. This is also a good time to try to work in more race specific training. If you’re running a hilly course, do some hilly training runs to incorporate elements of the course.
  2. Warm-up. Try a quick dynamic warm-up to prevent injuries before running.
  3. Run hills. During long runs, training runs or repeats. It will help increase your endurance and strength.
  4. Hydrate. Bring water with you or scout your routes for water fountains to stay hydrated. The goal is to take in water every two to four miles. Tip: Most cities turn off outdoor water fountains in winter, check if they are on before assuming your source.
  5. Fuel your body. From energy gels to jelly beans, there are lots of options. Find something that works for you and practice eating and running. Find and practice fueling before long runs. I like yogurt and granola, or a Cliff bar and banana with coffee. As a morning runner, I try to wake up 30 to 60 minutes prior to a long run to make sure I can get ready, eat and drink water.