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Boston Marathon Prep: Course-Specific Workouts

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Dec. 30, 2013
The Boston Marathon and its hills should not be taken lightly, so come prepared. Photo: www.shutterstock.com


Get ready for one of the most famous marathons out there with these workouts.

The journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square is one of the most famous treks in marathon racing. While some runners prefer to approach the actual race as a well-earned celebratory run, many runners relish in the opportunity to challenge the infamous course.

If your goal is to conquer the Boston course and run your best in April, then it is critical that you train for the specific demands of the course. In this article, we’ll look at the course-specific training, including key workouts, you need to performing in your training run your best on Marathon Monday.

Timing Your Training Cycle

Timing the start of your Boston-specific training segment is critical to ensuring you’re optimally prepared on race day. Start too early and you’ll be burned out come March and April. Implement the course-specific work too late and you’ll be fried for race day.

If you’re an experienced runner with a strong foundation of training, your Boston training can generally start a little later into the season — about 12 weeks from race day. In the early part of the year, you want to hold back and make sure you don’t get too antsy with killer marathon workouts. Use the time at the start of the year to work on your weaknesses and the foundations of the course-specific hill work we’ll discuss later.

If your training background is not as developed, you’ll want to start your Boston cycle a little earlier — 16 to 20 weeks from race day. During this time you’ll want to work on building your mileage, running lots of aerobic threshold runs, and getting as comfortable as you can with the marathon training volume. You’ll also want to include toned-down versions of the hill work we’ll outline below.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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