My favorite workout to prepare my mind and body to finish strong is called a progression or negative split tempo run. I promise it’s more fun than it sounds! Not only will you get some experience at running hard for a sustained period of time but you’ll feel like a champion when you’re done. Practicing finishing fast at the end of a long workout helps me feel prepared and ready to conquer my goals on race day.
It can be any distance, for me it’s usually 6-10 miles depending on the length of my goal race. For a half-marathon aim for 6-8 miles and for a marathon aim for 8-10.
How to do it:
Start with 15 minutes of easy warm up jogging before transitioning into the progression run.
Start out conservatively and each mile increase your effort just a bit so you get faster and work harder as it goes. It can be tough to nail the first time (or second or third time…) but stick with it! Even if you don’t hit the paces perfectly you’re learning how to run tough when you’re tired. As a general rule of thumb the first few miles you should still be able to hold a conversation. The middle miles you have to concentrate as things get uncomfortable and then those last few miles are just about giving it your all. Usually, I feel pretty strong and relaxed through halfway, and then it starts to get tough with the final mile feeling like a race effort.
Finish off with 15 minutes of cool down at a super easy pace. And then go and get yourself a cookie!
The last mile of a marathon is always emotional but in Boston the crowds take it to the next level. In 2016, I finished 9th — one of the proudest moments of my career so far. I had the 2nd fastest last 5k of the elite women’s field because I paced myself well up heartbreak hill and was able to really open up my stride in the final push to the finish line. I felt so strong and focused, as I ran down several other elite women who had gone out too hard and were fading.
The final mile, I pumped my arms, kept my eyes up and focused ahead. I used the crowd support to give me the energy I needed as I made the turn onto Boylston Street and I found another gear in the final press to the finish line of my first marathon. Overwhelmed with emotion, I cried on TV during my post-race interview. I had accomplished all my race goals and run further and faster than ever before.
If you don’t panic in those first few miles and let your heart guide you in the final stretch you’ll be finishing your own marathon with a bang this spring. Now Get Running!
Sign up for The Last Mile and you’ll get a free Summit trial to arrive at the starting line in peak condition, and if your last mile split is your fastest, you’ll unlock a $10 donation to youth running organizations around the world (up to a combined total of $50,000).