Training for Boston

2014 Boston Marathon Training Plan presented by Coach Spencer Aston


One of the criteria for selection onto the 2014 One Fund Charity Team was that you already posses a strong understanding of the intricacies found within a marathon-training plan.  Please be aware that the plan below should act as your training guide for the next 14 weeks.  It is what I call a ‘skeleton plan’ and is flexible enough to accommodate the training routine that you are already accustomed to maintaining on a weekly basis.  Feel free to adjust the plan accordingly based on your own personal fitness level and schedule.  As your coach, I am hear to help you make these adjustments so as not to jeopardize your ability to make your way safely from Hopkinton to Boylston St.  I will stress with all of my runners that communication is key!!  Please do not hesitate at any time to ask questions.

Let me further assure you, if you follow this plan as written, you will be ready for the race on April 21, 2014!  There is no need to adjust the plan as written.  It contains the elements necessary for your preparation to toe the line with over 30,000 of your newest friends.

Now that we have established that our training guide is flexible, we should all understand which workouts are the most important and why we do them:

1-    The Long Run: the long run is essential for preparing your body to run for 26.2 miles.  There are many factors that go into this equation and we will touch on these as the season unfolds.  The weekly long run is the most important of all your marathon-training runs. 

2-    The Quality Run: this is the workout that will improve your strength and break up the monotony of logging all your miles at the same pace.  We have the quality run scheduled on Tuesdays and specific workouts will vary from week to week.

3-    Rest: our rest days are VERY IMPORTANT.  This is the time to let your body recover.  You will not get stronger if you are constantly over exerting yourself on a daily basis in the training plan.  Our rest days are strategically placed to maximize our recovery and allow us to be fully prepared for the next workout.

4-    Mileage: the rest of our weekly schedule is geared towards building a base fitness level through running and cross training.  These runs are beneficial and act as complimentary workouts to the rest of our schedule.


Training Plan Terminology

Rest: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF OUR TRAINING!  We must allow our body the time it needs to recover and repair itself before each subsequent workout.  Rest days have been strategically placed and will give us the proper amount of rest before heading out for our next workout.


Hills:  These workouts are designed to build your strength and prepare you for any hilly parts of the racecourse.  Start each hill workout with a 5-8 minute warm up on relatively flat ground.  Find a hill that is 150-200 meters long.  Run up the hill at a quick pace.  Concentrate on picking your knees up.  Keeping your head high and pumping your arms.  Jog back down the hill at a comfortable pace.  Repeat as specified.  Finish each hill workout with a cool down of 5-10 minutes.


Intervals: These workouts should be done on a track or somewhere that you know exact distances.  Each workout is described with the notation (number of intervals) x (distance of interval).  For example: 6x800 means 6 intervals of 800 meters.  Rest times in between intervals will also be specified.  These are more structured than the Fartlek runs and you should aim for running each interval in negative splits; ie. Each interval is faster than the previous.  (tip) do not begin this workout too fast otherwise you will not be able to run negative splits!


Fartlek: This term is a Swedish word that means “SPEED PLAY”.  This is a workout that blends continuous training with interval training.  The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.  It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured.  Intensity and/or speed will vary as the athlete wishes.  While running, pick an object that is 200-400 meters away.  This could be a tree or mailbox or street sign.  Any object will do.  Focus on that object and increase your speed, using that object as the “finish line”.  After reaching your target object, decrease your speed to a pace that is comfortable and regain your breath.  Aim for 2-3 three of these fartlek intervals per mile.


LSD: Long Slow Distance.  Nothing fancy here.  Go long.  Go slow.  Enjoy the scenery.  Our goal here is to keep moving and prepare our body for the constant expense of energy that we will experience on race day.


Tempo: Tempo runs should focus on maintaining a steady pace or gradually speeding as the workout unfolds.  This should be somewhere in between your 10k and half marathon pace.  In other words, a tempo run should be executed as a pace slightly faster than your comfortable running pace. 


XT: Cross training.  A workout (preferable aerobic) that does not involve high impact exercises.  Swimming, biking, and rowing are some examples of great cross training exercises.


Click here for a downloadable version of the above calendar


The Course





The historic Boston Marathon course travels from Hopkinton to Boston through some of the most scenic New England roads you will ever run on.  Many who have never run the course’ will hear stories of the dreaded Heartbreak Hill as you climb through Newton on your way to the finish.  The reality is that the elevation of the course actually drops nearly 500ft from start to finish!!  The down hills preceding Heartbreak Hill are what make the Newton hills seem unbearably large.  We will be training from several of our Marathon Sports locations and will have the opportunity to tackle Heartbreak Hill on a weekly basis.  You will become intimately familiar with these hills during the training process and you will be completely comfortable that on race day, after traversing the summit at Boston College, you will gather strength as you fly down Beacon Street on your way to Copley Square.






Q: It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.  Should I skip my run?

A: No.  You must be prepared for all weather conditions by training through all weather conditions.  April in Boston can bring temperatures in the low 40’s all the way up to 90 degrees.  Always use common sense and make decisions taking into account your safety first.  We will discuss in upcoming clinics how to properly prepare for all the elements that New England may through at you!!


Q: I work a 10-hour shift on Tuesdays and will not be able to run.  When should I get my quality run in?

A:  This training plan is flexible enough that we can create a strategy that will work around your personal schedule.  Please contact the coach to find the best solution for your specific situation.


Q: I really only want to run on the weekends.  Can I just do the long run on Saturday and still run the race?

A: Don’t be a weekend warrior!!  I have known people that train on these types of plans, however most of the time they end in some sort of injury that would have been preventable with a more balanced training schedule.


Q: I am really interested in still getting a workout in on the days marked as rest or cross training days.  What are some activities that I can do that will still benefit my marathon training?

A: Any exercise that is low impact will benefit your marathon training while still allowing your body to recover.  I would suggest swimming, yoga, stationary bike, or core workouts on your off days.