Training Tips

Art’s Alley – Update Tuesday July 8, 2016
July 8, 2016
Training & Coaching with Ryan Hall
September 26, 2017

The tips below have helped me successfully reach personal records and Boston qualifying goals over the last 5 decades. Some of this data may offer a piece of information which may help other runners reach their goals

  1. Discipline:
    Eat, drink, sleep, train, smell, taste and think Boston or PR’s. Let that mindset devour you. It’s not I think I can, I think I can… but I can, I can I can, I am going to succeed.
  2. Mindset:
    It is not an easy task to qualify for Boston or PR but placing discipline and dedication as top priority will result in establishing a PR or crossing the finish line on Boylston Street and worth every ounce of effort.
  3. Distance trumps speed:
    The body needs to be cardio-vascular efficient before it can run faster. Once comfortable a 25/30 miles per week (1/2 marathon) and 30 miles for the marathon then you may safely add some speed work.
  4. Weekly mileage: Very important 10% rule.
    While ramping up mileage never go further than 10% of previous weeks mileage. Example: A 20 mile week=22.2 next week then 24.4 the next and 27 next week…..until you reach a 30 mile week for a half marathon and 50 + miles for a full. Over reaching the miles per week leads to weariness, leg fatigue, injuries and end of training. Period.
  5. Speed workouts: Another very important 10% rule.
    Only 10% of your weekly mileage should be used for speed work (No More: Ever). Speed work should not begin until you have reached running weeks of at least 25 miles. Too early in the training and too much will lead to fatigue, weariness and injury. Guaranteed.
  6. Speed workouts: (Twice a week—remember 10% rule)
    Only 10% of your weekly mileage should be used for speed work (No More: Ever). Speed work should not begin until you have reached running weeks of at least 25 miles. Too early in the training and too much will lead to fatigue, weariness and injury. Guaranteed.

    • Intervals: 45 seconds faster than regular running pace. 1/4 to 1/2 mile speed interval with 1/4 to 1/2 very slow interval . Repeat several times or until you have reached half the weeks speed workout. Twice a week
    • Tempo runs: 30 seconds faster than regular pace. 1 or 2 miles of comfortable speed (30 seconds faster than regular pace). As your regular pace improves so will all your speed workout times improve and vica-versa.
    • Marathon goals. Interval time 45 seconds faster and tempo runs 30 seconds faster than marathon pace goal.
      • Example #1: If a 3 hour time is the goal than a 7 minute race pace is required. So by race week you should be comfortable at intervals of 6:15 and Tempos at 6:30 pace.
      • Example #2: If a 3 1/2 marathon time is goal then an 8 minute pace is required. So on race day your intervals should max out at 7:15 pace and tempo at 7:30 min pace.
      • *** Remember Intervals 45 seconds faster than regular pace and Tempo 30 seconds faster than regular pace. Doesn’t matter which speed workout you pick (mix and match if you desire) they both will produce positive results.
  7. Shoes:
    The running shoe should fit almost like a glove. All the laces should be cinched up for a snug fit. Too loose of a shoe will tend to waste energy as the foot wobbles on contact, which will exacerbate tiredness in the legs.
  8. Inserts:
    If the insert reveals a footprint toss them out, now. They no longer serve any positive purpose. They no longer absorb or dispense any impact stress, which will now travel into the leg producing useless fatigue. * If only your legs feel weary and dead, it may be inserts. If you’re entire body feels fatigued and weary it generally means you have over trained. Replace with a quality innersole (I use a $10 Spenco) which lasts for months and effectively absorbs the stress of the foot contact with authority. * An insert with too much cushioning is also self defeating since the foot will wobble on contact creating the fatigue effect.
  9. Train alone:
    Cadence, pace and most important –focus- will be altered running with a partner. It’s self defeating. Either you will run their pace or visa versa or there becomes a tendency to race each other. Use an IPod for company, but during the marathon run without music. It is better to focus on pace, time, effort, physical condition, fluid, electrolyte and nutritional needs.
  10. No Watch:
    Leave watch at home until comfy at 25 or more miles per week: A major self-defeating tendency is the attempt to run faster each day, but I guarantee that this will lead to fatigue, burnout and injury. Remember, until you are cardio vascular efficient –distance always trumps speed.
  11. Training regimen:
    Two to three months of marathon specific training is enough (especially if you have been hitting the pavement on a regular basis).

Race Evening:

Food intake: Studies have shown that stuffing oneself with carbs the night before the race or too much breakfast is not really productive. A light dinner and a small bowl of oatmeal three hours before the race topped off with a gel or two 10 minutes before race start is sufficient and efficient. There is plenty of time to reward yourself after the race with pancakes, beer and ice cream or whatever.

Race Day:

  1. Start slower:
    For the first two miles start 15 to 30 seconds slower than race pace. Gives body ample time to warm up before hitting race pace. The lost 15 to 30 seconds per mile can be made up for during the next few miles (that’s where intervals/Tempo training is handy)….Then
  2. Even pace rest of race:
    *** This is # 1 on priority list of most important tips and can’t be overstated enough. You can’t achieve your goal in the first few miles, and the lactic acid buildup (running too fast, even for only a few seconds during the first two miles) will most certainly help you miss your mark. Most runners who are walking near the finish went out to fast. Run the race based on your optimal training pace. Period.
  3. Start further back or run with a pacer group:
    The best way to prevent running too fast at the start is to begin in the back of your race pace pack. Example: Since you need to run an 8:40 pace, line up just before the 9:00 minute pacer. It will pay rich dividends. Chip timing makes this easier to deal with, since your time doesn’t start until you have crossed the starting pad. And if you even pace after mile 4, 5 or 6, I can guarantee that you will be passing lots of the runners from mile 20 to the finish. Most ideal scenario is to have equal or negative splits, which means either completing each half in the same time or completing the second half faster than the first. OR run with one of the pacer groups which will make it easier to stay on race pace (if provided).
  4. Hydration:
    A cup at each aid station is more than enough water or provided electrolyte drink. Forget carrying the water bottle belts. They are heavy and slow you down. That’s what the water stations are for.
  5. Cramping:
    I train/race with a very small packet, which includes a few gels and a handful of Hammer Endurolytes (There is never enough electrolytes in the drinks offered at the aid stations). They help keep the bodies chemistry balanced. Just before every other aid station I place two Endurolyte capsules in my mouth and chase with the water they offer. They work. Period.
  6. Aid Stations:
    Stop only for a few seconds at aid stations (just enough time to make sure you swallow all the water/Gator Ade in the provided cup: A gel can be washed down with this stop. I replace my electrolytes with Hammer’s Endurolytes (prevents cramping). They work. Just before arriving at every other aid station I toss two down and maybe a gel and wash down with the water. Thus, my aid station stop time is only for a few seconds. ***If you stop for even 15 seconds at the usual 13 aid stations you will lose about three valuable minutes and maybe a Boston time.
  7. Hang tough:
    Every runner knows how hard it is during the last few miles but that is where heart will kick in. Dig deep and keep an even pace. Any suffering will be over at the finish line. Remember: Pain is temporary. Pride is forever

Hopefully a few of these tips will help shave off a few minutes or more and either help achieve a personal best or a trip to Boston or both.

Arthur Webb
PS IF you are interested in an extensive and comprehensive individualized training program that could make it easier to follow and reach your 1/2 or marathon goal I can develop one for (a reasonable fee).

Any questions email me at