What Helped Me Run A Faster Marathon

After the Philadelphia Marathon, a few people had asked me what helped me to cut 15 minutes off my time in 6 months. I had wanted to post about this for awhile, but really wanted to think about what is was that helped me. I realized it wasn't really just one or two things, it was a combination of everything I had learned and incorporated into my training coming together. 

marathon

1. Mobility I started working with a new chiropractor in May who not only helped me get over some lingering issues I was having over the spring, but also helped me to become a better runner in general. He helped to make sure that my muscles were all working in a way that would support proper form. If your muscles and joints are working well, it's going to be easier to run faster. Along with this, I also really began to use foam rolling on my own. Even though I had been foam rolling before, I had learned more about which muscles to focus on and how it should feel when I released them using a roller or lax ball.

roller

2. Nutrition This was also a big piece of the puzzle- and again, it was something I had been doing before but learned more about how to properly fuel my running over the summer and started incorporating those foods int my daily routine. I also tried some fasted long runs, and stopped eating bagels before long runs. I think this helped me to avoid hitting the wall because my body had started to learn about to rely on fat for fuel instead of only carbs. I also started using Powerbar Performance Energy Blends which I like a lot more than Gu.

performance energy blends

3. Core work I did a few exercises for my hips, glutes and core before every run.

planks

4. Tempo runs I really think these were the key to helping my body learn to run faster. Over the summer I started doing short intervals. For example,my "tempo pace" is let's say 7:50. I would do 5 minutes at that pace, followed by 2 minutes easy for about 25 minutes. I gradually increased that until I was running 30-35 minutes straight at 7:50. Then I was able to do some faster tempos later in my training- so eventually did 15 minutes at 7:20ish 3 times with a few minutes of rest in between. And at that point 7:50 was a pretty comfortable pace for me. Not sure if I did a good job explaining that, but you can really do it in any way that works for you! Just find a challenging pace that you can hold for 5 minutes or so, and start adding it into your runs once or twice a week. 

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ran a new 10k PR during a tempo run

Also, Nicole wrote a great post about runs that helped her to get faster!

5. The myrtle routine This was a great cool down, supported mobility, and gave my hips a little mini-workout after each run. (Click here for the exercises)

6. Following my own training plan This was the first time I made my own training plan for a marathon. Cookie cutter plans are great, but they are not individualized. Even if you are going to follow them, you should always be adjusting to what works for you. I was able to make my plan based on what I had learned works for me. I knew what mileage would be best, and gave myself flexibility to run a little more or less depending on how I felt. It also helped that I had completed the RRCA training course before I began training for this marathon, so I was able to use some of my knowledge from the course and incorporate it into my training.

training plan

7. Ran on a good course, in good weather I planned to run a race that I was familiar with, I knew the course was pretty flat, and it was in late November so I knew it would be cooler. This was a huge difference from my previous marathon in April (Raleigh) which was super hilly and really hot that day. 

lisa 3

8. Gaining mental strength I had done some other races leading up to the marathon that were in some ways practice for staying strong mentally. I wouldn't allow myself to give up or make excuses for slowing down or walking. Our minds need to be trained just like our bodies. "Run Strong" became my mantra during this training cycle.

bracelet

9. Confidence I truly knew that I was capable of a faster marathon after I finished in 4:01 last April. Once I put in the work, I knew I just had to run my victory lap on race day. 

10.YOU! And everyone that supported me! When you have people to talk to about your training, and believe in you, how can you not believe in yourself and want to run the best possible race you can?! 

Don't forget that I am hosting a giveaway for a training plan or one month of coaching services! Head over HERE to enter or click HERE for more information!

What has helped you become a faster runner? 

Do you incorporate tempo runs into your training regularly?

I’ll also be linking up today with Run The Great Wide SomewhereMy No-Guilt Life, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run! Head over to the link-up to see what other running-related stuff everyone is talking about this week!

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54 thoughts on “What Helped Me Run A Faster Marathon

  1. I don't know exactly what has helped me get faster. Probably the experience, the tempo type runs and just keeping at it. My best half was in 2013. While I have only been a minute or so off from that race, I think weather plays a major role and mental state for sure. After dropping out mid race last year, my next half (the LI half) three weeks later was definitely a mental race for me. I was so nervous I would feel dizzy again that I ran super cautious. I am pretty sure I have recovered from that but it took some time.
    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted...#NYTough P&G Giveaway (plus Amex Gift Card!)My Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      It took me 2 and a half years to finally break my half-marathon PR that I set in 2012. There were always things like weather, hills, and injury that kept it from happening!

      Reply
  2. You've worked so hard in these past months and it's not surprising at all that everything came together for you! I did many of the same things to get faster after being injured and it's definitely not easy. I'm interested in what you've learned about mobility and how it relates to faster running because I'm sure it's something many people are missing.
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted...Winter Coaching Special!My Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      I'm thinking about doing a post about the mobility at some point. I've had to do a lot of my own research because I feel like its not as well known as other stuff.

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      I don't know what I would do without a chiropractor! But I think its most important to work with someone who really understands runners.

      Reply
  3. Karen @karenlovestorun

    I have never done tempo runs in my training and I know I need to be better about foam rolling, etc. I hope to run another marathon again with a time goal post pregnancy. Congrats on the PR!
    Karen @karenlovestorun

    Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Thanks! It took me a long time to start doing tempo runs but I have noticed such a difference since including them in my training. Good luck with your next marathon!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Fueling can be so tricky and I feel like I am constantly trying new ways to see what works for me!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Thanks! I really felt like learned a lot this year. It has reminded me that there is always more to learn when it comes to running.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    I didn't realize that you (or anyone) planked BEFORE a run. That's really interesting. I always plank at the end of a workout. It makes sense that planking before would warmup your body though. I will have to give that a try!
    Kristina recently posted...My 2015 Race Plans? Hmmm.My Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Once in awhile I like to do some core work pre-run as part of my warm up. I also think there are benefits to doing it after a run as well!

      Reply
  5. You did an awesome job to shave off that much time. All of your hard work definitely paid off! I think # 7 would make the most difference for me. Unfortunately, the weather is a variable you can't control.
    HoHo Runs recently posted...Christmas 5k (ish)My Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      You're right that you can't control the weather, but I figured my chances of a cool race were better by picking one that was held at the end of November!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      I think there are benefits to doing core work both before and after a run. I found that it helped me to warm up so doing it before a run sometimes works well for me!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Speed workouts are awesome too, especially for shorter races! I did some 800s in my marathon training, and I will probably incorporate some 400s when I start training for my next half-marathon.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for sharing these! I started incorporating tempo runs this last cycle, and it definitely made a difference. Next year I'm definitely taking your advice and working on mobility and strengthening my hips!
    Hilary recently posted...Santa to the Sea RecapMy Profile

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  7. This is great advice! For me it was a combination of pre-hab (working with my physiotherapist on my muscle imbalances and running form) so that I could get through an entire training program uninjured. And doing some midweek longish (7-9 mile) tempo runs. My goals for my next marathon are fast-finish long runs, and running part of some long runs at marathon goal pace. Although both of these things sound terrifying!
    Sarah recently posted...Learning to trust myselfMy Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Thats great that you were able to work with your physio and stay healthy! And those are great goals!

      Reply
  8. This is a great post and really illustrates how the key to becoming a stronger runner is more than just running! I love tempo runs and I agree that confidence is a huge piece - you have to believe you can do it, which is hard sometimes. I have also had a lot of luck with fast finish long runs, both for conditioning and for confidence. I love that reverse plank, I've never seen that :)
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted...Friday favoritesMy Profile

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  9. Lifting and running LESS helped me reach my marathon PR. I focused on more on the quality of the miles, not the quantity. Also, training on a very hilly course helped because the marathon I ran was mostly flat!

    Philly is a great course! I ran it several years ago. It was freezing when I was there!

    I'm glad everything came together for you!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted...Winter Wonderland Neighborhood Run!My Profile

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    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      That is really great that you were able to figure out a way to reach your goals! I love the Philly marathon!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Haha yes you should really try to incorporate some core work! Once you make it a habit it will be easier to remember:)

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      I am pretty good about doing yoga regularly but I really should do pilates also. Im also thinking about trying some pure barre this year!

      Reply
  10. You brought up so many great points. I think you've been doing a wonderful job of figuring out what works for you and you have great advice for steering others in the right direction as well. I've learned alot this past year too, but I still have tons more to learn and I think I'm learning the most now just from reading about everyone else's experiences as well. The biggest factors to improving my speed this year were also from what I learned through the RRCA coaching program, changing my regular diet, and running my long runs with other people.

    Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      I think that there is always more to learn when it comes to running! I also love reading about other people's experiences!

      Reply
    1. runningoutofwine@runningoutofwine.com

      Glad you liked the list! Its really all about putting the pieces together in a way that will work best for you!

      Reply
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