The Six-Mile Road To Boston

Photo: John Segesta

Want to get faster in the marathon? Here’s a straightforward workout that’ll boost your fitness.

“Mile repeats are the single most important workout a marathoner can do to obtain a Boston qualifier,” said coach Mark Buciak. He should know—Buciak has completed 32 consecutive Boston Marathons and is a member of the Boston Athletic Association’s Quarter Century Club, an organization whose membership is reserved for the rare few with 25 Boston finishes. A motivational speaker, writer and program director of The Road to Boston training program and running camps, Buciak views the Boston Marathon as a rite of passage for spring that he wouldn’t miss—even the year that he had open heart surgery to insert a new valve. The finisher of 55 total marathons with a 2:30:25 personal best gives the following workout to his BQ hopefuls.

Marathon Mile Repeats

* Begin with four repeats of one mile; try to work your way up to six repeats. Prioritize quality over quantity.

* Start three months before your goal marathon and complete the repeats once a month, mid-week, with the final workout completed two weeks before the race.

* Month one—complete each repeat at 70 percent of goal race pace with a four-minute jog between sets. Month two—complete each repeat at 80 percent of goal race pace with a four-minute jog between sets. Month three—complete each repeat at 90 percent of goal race pace.


  1. Run the same point-to-point distance on a straightaway each month.
  2. Simulate the marathon course: If the course is hilly, complete these workouts on hills. If it’s flat, use a flat stretch of road. Don’t run these repeats on a track unless you’re completing a marathon on a track.
  3. When you complete each interval, try to estimate your split before consulting your watch.
  4. If you’re feeling good after you complete the repeats, add one or two miles to the mix plus ten 110-meter strides at a quick pace.

“In addition to making you stronger, these mile repeats will help you learn your race pace,” said Buciak.

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