Q&A: Keeping Up With Magdalena Lewy Boulet

Caitlin Smith paces Magdalena Lewy Boulet at last fall's Northface Endurance Challenge Championship. Photo: Caitlin Smith

The 40-year-old juggles family life with a full-time job and a full-time running habit.

For those trying to categorize Magdalena Lewy Boulet’s running specialty, good luck. Road, trail and track, short and long, this 40-year old, former Olympic marathoner likes it all.

She recently won the Masters Division of the Brea 8K Classic (at 28:15, she was actually first female overall) in California, came in second at The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 50-miler (her first time running that distance) in December, traveled to Poland (where she was born) in September to represent the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships, ran a 4:50 at the USA Masters 1 Mile Road Championships, good for first place, in August and earned a slot on the women’s U.S. Mountain Running team at the 2013 Mountain Running Championships held in conjunction with the Cranmore Hill Climb in Canada in July.

Lewy Boulet owns a marathon PR of 2:26:22 and 1:11:46 for the half marathon, with a lot more racing in the works. She even wants to toe the line at the Western States 100 one day. Next on Lewy Boulet’s list is running the Way Too Cool 50K in Calif., as a “solid training run” for the Boston Marathon … just try to keep up!

Lewy Boulet slowed down long enough to share her advice on running, life and finding a balance.

How can you excel at so many varied running disciplines?

Versatility has always been important to me. I don’t like to be labeled. You can train on trails and it translates well to roads. But running only on the road doesn’t help in cross-country or trail running. I want my training work to be a multi-purpose mix of functionality and versatility.

RELATED: Lewy Boulet’s Workout Of The Week

What does a “normal” training week look like?

I do most of my easy running for the week (about 70 miles) on trails. Then I have specific training work. The long run is what I look forward to every weekend — I love getting “lost” for three hours on Mt. Tam. But for training, it’s important not to ignore any aspects, all the ingredients have to be there.

Threshold work is a constant. I do interval miles at threshold pace once a week. It helps me be able to hit certain paces and build my threshold. For my second focused training day each week, I choose between hill repeats for overall strength or head to the track for speed work at goal pace.

I’ve worked with my coach, Jack Daniels, for 10 years — he’s been instrumental in what I’ve been able to accomplish. He’s a big believer in treadmill hills and I am too. It removes the wear and tear of running downhill and helps me maintain strength, as well as speed, in a very controlled environment. I recommend them for my athletes too (Lewy Boulet coaches a few runners).

I’m smarter about my training since I turned 40 and am willing to drop my mileage so I don’t end up injured. I’m running 70-100 miles a week. It’s allowing me to stay in the sport and stay competitive for longer. Consistency is key for me. So is not putting any more miles on my body than I have to and getting the most out of my training without pushing too hard.

You’ve stood on many starting lines. Is there something consistent from one to the next?

I think so. We all run. We all train. We all have a passion for running. At every race, the participants care about their running. They’ve trained relative to their abilities and that hard work crosses over into any running event.

RELATED: How To Get Started In Ultrarunning

As the VP of Innovation & Product Development for GU Energy, you get to sample a lot of product. How do you fuel on the run?

It’s a numbers game because you can never take in and utilize as many calories as you are expending. Experimenting at different races and distances has helped me to tweak that formula for myself.

For shorter races I rely solely on GU Electrolyte Brew, maybe a GU energy gel, and Chomps before and after the event. When I go long and slow, I can handle more calories. But when I go at higher intensities, I can’t really digest solids.

For the TNF Endurance Challenge 50-miler, I used Roctane Energy Drink (tropical fruit flavor) because it had both electrolytes and calories. I also had a gel every hour. I’m glad I had a pacer because she reminded me to eat and drink. Getting past mile 40 was new territory for me, and I had a rough time for a few miles.

You’re a mom, a wife and a competitive runner, plus you have a full-time job! How do you find balance?

Let me start by saying I have a very supportive husband! He understands my passion and is supportive of my goals. He knows I’m happiest when I’m running, and me being happy helps keep our family in harmony.

My husband owns a running store, so running is a shared passion. It’s our lifestyle. We give each other time to run and make it a family affair with our 8-year-old son. Even after a 20-mile run, I’m not too tired to go the playground with my son and watch him in his element.

It helps that I’m a morning person. Getting up at 5 a.m. means I can finish a workout before anyone else is awake. Sometimes I’ll commute to work by running. I also get a lot of support from GU. They want to see me compete, and we work with such inspiring athletes. Seeing others workout inspires me to go the extra mile.

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