Editor’s Note: Flanagan placed seventh overall, third American in a PR of 2:28:08 at the October 13th Chicago Marathon.
After Boston this past April, I wanted another opportunity to chase a fast marathon time this fall and decided Chicago was the perfect place to do so. It’s always tempting to jump right back into hard training after a big race, but I knew I needed to recover both physically and mentally before doing so. I kept the mileage and workout intensity pretty low for about three months—until mid-July—and got in a few shorter races, knowing that I wouldn’t have another chance to do so until after the Olympic Trials next year.
I’m glad I took this time to recover, as it allowed me to start this build up fresh and eager to get in some solid work. I’ve been in Boulder for the past eight weeks, logging 100-110+ miles, and have been hitting some big, key sessions. I’m feeling strong, confident, and excited about toeing the line in my home city of Chicago in just five weeks’ time!
Monday, September 2
AM: Recovery Run – 8 miles.
Coming off of a big mileage week and long run on Sunday totaling around 21 miles—that included an embedded workout of 3 miles at marathon effort (about 5:40 pace), 3×1 mile, 3 miles at marathon effort, 2×1 mile—I took the morning run very easy. After big sessions, I like to have about 24 hours of recovery time before I start my run the next day, so I didn’t get going until about 9:30 a.m.
It was about 90 degrees already, classic Boulder, but, it’s been a warm summer and I’m relatively used to it by now. I stuck with a flat, soft surface trail nearby my house for the run and averaged around 8 minute pace—exactly what I needed this morning.
PM: Easy Double – 4.5 Miles.
After the morning run, I came home and spent some quality time in front of the air conditioner while catching up on race results. The 20k Champs and Fortitude road race just finished up, and scrolling through the results got me excited to race again. I got in the Normatec Boots for a while and met a friend around 4:30 p.m. for an easy, double run.
Daily Total: 12.5 Miles
Tuesday, September 3
AM: Track Workout: 800s, 600s, 400s + warm up and cool down – 11 Miles
With school back in session, it’s back to early track workouts! I didn’t sleep great, which oddly happens about once a week when I’m training hard, so it was a coffee plus 2 SWORD Caffeine tabs kind of morning, before meeting some friends to warm up around 7 a.m.
After a 3 mile warm up, I had sets of 800, 600, 400 with 90 seconds recovery, controlled and rhythm focused, followed by a 3 mile cool down. I’ve been working with my coach Steve Magness for about a year and a half now, this is our third build up together, and the training has evolved a bit with each one. With Chicago being a flat, fast course, we’ve incorporated more speed work than in the past and I’ve been on the track at least once a week, which I’ve really enjoyed!
I ran the 800s all between 2:40 and 2:34, the 600’s in 155–157, and the 400’s in 76–75.
After the morning workout, I went straight to the gym for my lifting session. I’ve been working with Leomo Labs for the past 6 months and their strength routines have been a game changer. I used to be incredibly weak—probably because I avoided the gym like the plague—but times have changed and I now embrace these sessions and see them as a critical part of my training. I’ve been lifting more this build up and feel more powerful than I ever have before, so I’m sold. Do your gym work, kids!
PM: 7 miles
After the gym session, I took a long nap, relaxed, and ran an easy 7 miles (about 7:30 pace) around 5 p.m.
Daily Total: 18 miles + Lifting
Wednesday, September 4
AM: Medium Long – 14 miles
After sleeping in a bit, I started my run around 9 a.m. I recently moved to South Boulder and now pick up my favorite trail, the Coal Creek, in a new spot. The soft-surface route rolls up and down, and goes on forever, making it perfect for longer runs. I felt pretty good after taking a few miles to ease into things and ran 14 miles, averaging somewhere around 7 minute pace.
After the run, I went back home and spent the rest of the morning sitting in the Normatec boots, working on training plans for the athletes I coach through RunDoyen. I have loved coaching this past year and my athletes are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for my own training.
PM: Cross Training – 2,500 yard Swim
After struggling with injuries in the past, I’ve found that cross-training at least once a week is a great way for me to stay healthy. I usually swim or ride my Elliptigo for these types of sessions. Today, I chose to swim, but, after getting to the gym, realized I forgot my cap and goggles—AH, of course! I drove home and contemplated even going back…laying on the couch sounded a lot more appealing. But my body was pretty sore, and my quads felt like they had a heartbeat, so I gave in and got the splash done. And, as I knew I would, I felt way better after.
Daily Total: 14 miles + 2,500 yard swim
Thursday, September 5
AM: 60 minutes + 6 x 100 meter strides – 8.5 miles
Another hot, late recovery run! I didn’t even mind though because the extra sleep was fantastic! I ran 60 minutes very easy and finished with 6×100 meter strides. Strides always seem to put some life back into my legs. I usually do 6–10, 1–2 times per week after easy runs. The run was uneventful, except for seeing a massive snake, which was definitely not my favorite part of the day. I came home, spent some quality time with my Roll Recovery and got in a short nap.
PM: Easy Double – 4.5 miles
I met my friend Rosie around 4 p.m. for an easy double at the South Boulder Creek Trail. This is a staple trail in Boulder and anyone who has been there understands the joys of trying to continue running while pushing open the cattle gates and locking them again; I’ve got this down to about a two second situation!
After the run, I came home and took an ice bath. I used to always ice after hard works, but never do any more. Instead, maybe once a week, when I’m feeling especially sore, I’ll hop in an ice bath the night before a workout. Even if it’s just mental, I think they help me feel a bit fresher the next day—but to each their own opinion!
Daily Total: 13 miles
Friday, September 6, 2019
AM: Workout: Lactate Threshold Session. 2 miles, 2.5 miles, 1 mile with 2 minute recoveries + 3 mile warm up and 3 mile cool down – 12 miles
I met my friend Evan around 7 a.m. for a threshold session. Evan works for the Boulder-based company Stryd, which is doing some really cool work with running power, and has also been helping me with workouts this build up.
After a 3 mile warm up jog, we ran 2 miles at 5:30 pace, jogged for 2 minutes, ran 2.5 miles, alternating 800m in 2:39-2:40 with a cruise 800m in 2:59-3:00, jogged for 2 minutes, then ran 1 mile in 5:20. The session felt good and we kept things pretty consistent the whole time.
Just like Tuesday, I went straight to the gym after the workout for my lifting session, which, today, included kettle bell step ups, single leg squats, quite a bit of core work, and a few other exercises.
PM: Easy Double – 4.5 Miles
After workouts, I am definitely guilty of procrastinating my double, and I didn’t run again until about 5:30 p.m. My legs were heavy from getting after it a bit in the weight room, but they felt better throughout the run. It was a Netflix-and-chill type of the evening, which is pretty standard during marathon training—living the dream!
Daily Total: 16.5 miles + Lifting
Saturday, September 7, 2019
AM: Recovery Run – 9 miles + Yoga
When I don’t have a workout on Saturday, I usually try and make it a one run, recovery day. I don’t even look at my watch on these types of runs and just go as easy as I need to before my long run. I ran on the South Boulder Creek Trail and saw a lot of people I knew, which was fun. After the run, I did yoga and spentsome time rolling out with the Roll Recovery.
Daily Total: 9 miles + Yoga
Sunday – September 8, 2019
AM: Long Run – 20 miles
I met Evan around 8 a.m. for a 20 mile long run. In marathon training, I usually alternate between a normal long run and long run “workout” every other week. These enhanced long runs incorporate different distances at marathon pace or faster, like last week’s that alternated 3 miles at marathon pace with mile repeats. Today was just a standard run.
We ran on a 10k road loop, as it’s an easy place for me to put out fluids and practice fueling every 5k with SWORD. One thing I have done differently this build up is to run all of my non-track sessions and long runs on the roads to help better prepare for the pounding of 26.2 miles. I still do all of my easy runs on soft surface, but do the longer, more intense ones elsewhere. We took about 10 minutes to ease into things, then ran the remainder between 6:15–6:25 pace, averaging around 6:20 for the 20 miles (about 40 seconds/mile slower than marathon pace). I only lost one water bottle of six in the bushes, so it was a successful day!
I came home, took an hour nap, and caught up with all of my athletes that raced today. Fall racing season is officially in full swing!
Daily Total: 20 miles
Weekly Total: 103 miles, 1 cross training session (swim), 2 gym sessions, 1 yoga session