The final weeks

The final weeks

The bulk of your training is in the books.  Here's how to make the most of all of the training you've done. 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Preparing the Mind

Preparing the Mind

We spend a lot of time running, stretching, strength training, and focusing on our eating to train for the race.  However, do you give the same effort to your mind?



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Switch it up and stay fresh

Do you have days that you feel 'bored' with your running?  You are not alone.  Making a simple switch such as your training route, location, or running partner can make a big change in how you feel about heading out for your run. 

I have to admit, I am a creature of habit.  I am perfectly content running the same loop every day.  I'm fine running a long run on the treadmill.  I enjoy being solo and within myself on a run.  However, last week I had the opportunity to run at a park in North Carolina that I had not been to since I was in graduate school.  I was reminded that enjoying a different training route is quite refreshing - even if your body is a bit tired!

How can you switch it up your training routine and spice up your training?  Below are some suggestions.

1. Try a different park.  Talk with some running friends and ask for some new ideas of areas to run.  I've lived in Buffalo nearly all of my life, and I am still finding new places to run.  Search online for some ideas, post on Facebook for ideas.  A simply change in scenery makes a big impact on motivation levels!
2.  Run your loop in the reverse direction. If you have a normal running route for let's say, 6 miles... run it in the reverse direction (to clarify, I do not mean backwards!).  You'd be amazed at how such a subtle switch really makes a big difference on how you view the run.  I had a standard 5 mile run while in college for our easy days... We called it, "Airport Loop" aptly named because it ran around the airport.  One day, I said, "Let's run Port-Air"... you guessed it, we ran Airport in the reverse direction.  GAME CHANGER!
3.  Try meeting a larger group for a run 1 day a week and follow with a breakfast (or dinner, depending on the time of day). Join a running club for a weekly training run.  Run a workout on the track.  Or if you run all of your workouts on the track, change and run on the road.  The variety gives you something different to look forward to each run.
4.  Get to the TRAILS!  It's spring time and the snow is gone (let's hope), and now is the time to get into nature.  Not only is it kind to your body to run on a soft surface, but it is a great way to strengthen the body.  Trails require you to pay attention to your footing, forcing you to focus.  Trails also require good strength in the feet, ankles and core.  This is an added benefit!  WARNING: pay attention for tree roots and other hazards on the ground, don't run trails alone especially if you do not know the trails, and always make sure you let someone know where you are in case of emergency. Explore and have fun. 
5.  Change your recovery day routine. Cross train with a different mode of exercise. If you always bike on a recovery day, try taking a spinning class.  If you always hit up the elliptical, try swimming.  Key - do a different mode of exercise and refresh the mind. 
6.  Get something new to wear! This is always a key for me.  If I'm feeling tired or blah about my runs, I will get something new to perk up my body and mind.  You don't need to take a second mortgage out!  Something as simply as a new pair of socks, compression socks, or shorts will do!  Of course, you can go for the full remodel, too!
7. Make a new playlist.  If you run with music (note: please do not when running outside. It is a safety hazard!), make a new playlist. 
8. Run at a different time of the day.  If you always run first thing in the morning, try an afternoon run, or vise versa.  Now, some people can't change the time of day due to family obligations, work, or their body simply does not like the change.  If you fall into that category, don't change the time of day you run.  Also remember that your long runs should be done at the time of your marathon race start to ensure you are ready! 

Bottom line: A small change can bring a spark back to your stride!  Explore and enjoy.  And, Run strong!



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Consistency over time and why you should NOT panic!

By this point in your training program, you've likely experienced some great training runs, some tough training runs, and maybe even a skipped runs due to illness, or other interruptions.   One of the keys to marathon training is consistency over time with your training.  It's not about 1 great run, or 1 missed run, or 1 run that you stopped half-way through.  It's about the accumulation of the training over time.  The more consistent your training, the better the results. 

How do you know if you've been consistent?  Look back at the schedule.  How many runs did you do per the schedule?  And, how many missed runs/training sessions?  If you are at 80% consistency, that is pretty good.  If you are at 90% or more, that is very good!  If you are at 70% or less, I recommend improving the consistency assuming conditions are within your control (a prolonged injury or illness may require you to adjust your race plans).

Below are Common Training Concerns/Questions & Recommendations:

  1. Concern: I missed a week of training due to a minor injury. RECOMMENDATION: do not panic!  Assuming you are good (healthy) to return to training, you will be just fine if you have missed only 1 week of training.  My general rule of thumb is for every 1 day of training missed, it will take you 1 day of training to get back to where you were, up to a full week.  If you missed 3 days of training, 3 days back with training nothing lost (nothing gained either). If your injury extends beyond 1 week and forces greater time off from running, and you ARE able to perform quality cross training to maintain aerobic fitness, you should adjust your overall training volume when you return to running, as well as modify training paces and race goals.  If your injury has required an extended period of time off completely, then you may want consider a later marathon that will allow full preparation.
  2. Concern: 1 missed my long run because I was sick. RECOMMENDATION: do not panic! One missed long run in the 18-week training cycle is minor!  Even 2 missed long runs (ideally not back to back) can be ok.  Again, consistency over time is the key to success.  My rule of thumb is to never try to "make up" for a missed training session.  Meaning, if you missed your Sunday long run today (due to illness), do not try to fit it into the next week's training plan!  You will be on overload if you try to fit an additional high quality training run in.  Remember, there was a reason you were not able to do the run (illness).  Focus on getting healthy and being ready for the next long run!  
  3. Concern: I missed a week of training due to family/work/travel/other life circumstances: RECOMMENDATION: do not panic!  This is actually the easiest to bounce back with a great week of training.  Using my rule above, up to 1 week of missed training will take you 1 week of training to be right back where you were with fitness.  Do not try to put two weeks worth of training into 1 week and 'make up' the missed sessions.  Instead, resume your training on the current calendar.  You will likely feel a bit fresh!  Now, don't get over eager and go overboard because you feel a little fresh... again, do not make up and try to double your training week.   
  4. Concern: My training volume has been lower than my original goal due work, or injury, or illness. However, I have been consistently running each week.  RECOMMENDATION:  do not panic!  Your best option is to adjust your training goals and outcome goals.  If you originally planned to hit a peak mileage, say of about 50 miles, and you've only been 35 at the most, then your overall endurance/aerobic strength will be less.  Adjust your training paces (slower) and your goal pace for the marathon (slower) to reflect your mileage/strength. 
  5. Question: Should I switch my race to the half marathon if I'm not prepared for the full marathon?  RECOMMENDATION:  Decide soon!  If you are not getting in the training needed to safely complete your marathon, it may be wise to drop down to the half marathon.  You can defer or switch your registration for just $10.  However, if the half marathon race is full, you won't be able to switch.  Check the Buffalo Marathon Website for information on how to SWITCH YOUR RACE or DEFER.
  6. Question: Why does it look like it is so 'easy' for the fast runners?  REALITY CHECK: It is NOT!  Those "fast" runners are working hard, putting in a lot of miles and quality training sessions.  It may look effortless, but I assure you, there is a great deal of effort exerted! 

As you continue your preparation, remember CONSISTENCY OVER TIME is key, and DO NOT PANIC! 

Run Strong and enjoy the process. 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Bitter Cold Temps - Should you Run?

Bitter Cold Temps -  Should you Run?

After being spoiled with an overall mild winter by Buffalo standards, we are getting first real blast of bitter cold weather.  Should you still run?  How cold is too cold? 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Are you ready?  The answer should be yes!  YES!  You are ready!



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Two weeks to go...

Two weeks to go...

Now it's getting real.  Your marathon/half marathon race day is just two weeks away.  Now is the time to make your race day logistics plan.  Below are some often overlooked but important race-day tips



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

What if it's hot?

What if it's hot?

You've been training for months through one of the coldest winters in history.  Now race day is here and it's suddenly hot.  What do you do?  Here are some tips to help you prepare.



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

The Countdown Begins...

The Countdown Begins...

We are 4 weeks from race day!  Here are some tips for your training over the last 4 weeks to keep you healthy, strong, and mentally ready.



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

What is your purpose?

What is your purpose?

We're closing in on 6 weeks to marathon weekend.  Sometimes motivation wanes in and out, but developing a strong sense of PURPOSE can help you keep your motivation.



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

What's on your feet?

What's on your feet?

Your running shoes and socks play a critical role in your training.  The right shoes are one of many factors that will help you get to the starting line healthy.  Do you have the right shoes?



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Training the mind

Training the mind

The Marathon presents one of the greatest challenges both physically and mentally. Now is the time that we start to get into some seriously long runs, some serious fatigue, and some serious self-doubts. Needs some mental help? 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Improve your recovery

Improve your recovery

Do you experience soreness or fatigue the day after a long run or tough workout?  Below I have outlined some tips to help you improve your recovery, reduce soreness, and get ready for your next training session. 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Nutrition & Hydration on the Long Run

Nutrition & Hydration on the Long Run

Have you ever run out of energy in your long run?  Hit the wall? Gotten light headed?  Then his post is for you. 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Eat and Run....

Eat and Run....

Let's talk about preparing nutritionally for your long run. By establishing a good routine now, you will be prepared for marathon day.



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

As the long run goes....

Now that you are 4 weeks into your marathon training program, you will start to get into longer runs on the weekend. This post is to give you some background on how to approach your long runs.

As you build your long runs, be careful to not look too far into the future to avoid overwhelming yourself.  This is particularly important for the first time marathoners.  Take each long run as it comes.  You may finish a 14 mile run and think, "how could I possibly go any farther? I'm exhausted after 14 miles."  Don't panic! You will find that each long run will lead to adaptations with the body improving strength and endurance. When you go out for 16 miles, you will be just as tired at the end as you were at 14 miles, but you have run 2 miles LONGER.  Adaptation (physiological stuff - such as increased blood volume, great efficiency, increase burning of fat as fuel, great mitochondrial efficiency, greater storage of glycogen, etc.) has occurred. This is all GREAT STUFF!  But, none of this is ever "easy."  Running is work, and work is hard. Nothing great comes without hard work (just in case you were thinking running the Buffalo Marathon was going to be easy... I will put that misbelief to rest!).

Why are some weekend long runs LONGER and others SHORTER?  You will notice that the long runs gradually get longer.  However, once you get to 18+ miles there are occasional weeks that the run is shorter.  This is built in recovery.  It's not a good idea to run 18 - 20 miles every weekend because it will fatigue the body and not allow recovery (unless you are a high mileage runner or coming from an Ultra marathon background).  Recovery is often overlooked in training.  I have put in recovery weeks to make sure you do not over train.  Enjoy when there is a "shorter" long run!

How long should your longest run be?  This depends on several factors including your experience level, your weekly mileage, and your running pace. There are different philosophies on mileage for marathon preparation.  My approach is conservative.  This means I want you to get the MOST benefits from the LEAST amount of running to keep your body healthy and ready for marathon day.  My general rule is to cap the longest runs you do at 18-20 miles, or 3:30, whichever you reach first.  For the individual running 7:00 pace, it's going to be no problem to get in 20 milers.  For the individual running 10:00 pace, you will reach 3:30 BEFORE you reach 20 miles.  I encourage you to STOP at the 3:30 time.  Why?  Running longer than 3:30 takes much longer for the body to recover.  You will need 4-5 days easy days, if not more, to allow full recovery. This leads to backing down training for additional days (lost training time).  If you stop at 3:30, your body will recovery in the proper time to allow you to continue the training schedule.  I know what you are thinking... if I don't run longer than 3:30/18-20 miles in practice, HOW DO I KNOW I CAN FINISH IT ON MARATHON DAY?  There's this thing called training adaptation.  As you build your long runs, and put the time running on your feet, your body is getting stronger, gaining endurance, and improving efficiency (those physiological adaptations).  While you can't go run 4-5 hours every weekend in training, you CAN do that by the end of the training because of the physiological training adaptations that have occurred (increased blood volume, increased efficiency, increased use of fat for energy, great storage of glycogen/fuel, for example).  You do need to trust yourself and trust the training. 

For my first time marathoners following the BEGINNERS program, I have your long runs built on a Run/walk cycle of 9 minutes running/1minute brisk walking.  By starting your long runs with this approach, your body will be able to build endurance.  Do not wait until you are tired to put in the walking, as you will end up walking much longer than 1 minute period.  The idea behind 9min run/1min walk is to provide a short break to drink & recover while not loosing your rhythm.  A longer break will cause you to loose your stride rhythm and when you go to start back into your run, it will feel more difficult.  Keeping that consistent cycle of 9/1 will allow your body to continue for a long period of time.

The next thing to cover with the long run is nutrition.  That will come in the next post.  If there's a topic you want me to cover, feel free to let me know! 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Beating the winter weather

Beating the winter weather

So you've committed to training for the Buffalo Marathon.  And you live in the northeast.  And you're looking at the weekend forecast calling for cold temps, maybe some snow, maybe some wind.  And you are questioning, "Is it possible to train in this weather?"  YES IT IS! 



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.

Starting your training program

Starting your training program

Congratulations! You've begun your journey to completing the Buffalo Marathon/Half Marathon!  Throughout this blog, I will be providing you with tips and ideas to improve your training, stay healthy, and reach your goal come race day on May 24!



Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.