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How to win the race without losing the battle

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  November 13, 2013 07:59 AM

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At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious: It's November.

April, and The Boston Marathon, seems at the same time quite far off and yet right around the corner to me.

I logged my first run in the snow a few mornings ago, and my marathon partner, David, and I have our long-run training plan all mapped out for the next few months.

I don't scare easy, but something about seeing all those miles stacked up on top of one another made my pulse quicken. Considerably. My pulse quickened considerably.

I've done a marathon. I know that I have the miles in me. I know that the training is the most important part. I know what needs to be done and that I will, in fact, do it.

But that doesn't make it any less scary. And maybe it's good to be a bit scared. A healthy dose of fear always seems to drive me to be as well prepared as I can be.

The trick for me, though, is to prevent that fear from overtaking me and making me feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.

So I'll let you in on my secret: To battle becoming overwhelmed, I set more goals.

Yes, I understand that seems completely counterproductive, but stick with me.

Instead of looking at the total mileage I have to hit per week and over the next few months, I've decided that, during the week, when my runs are shorter, I'm going to aim to hit below a certain pace. If you run, you may be saying to yourself, "she's talking about a tempo run".

That's true. Sort of.

My goal is to hit a sub 9-minute mile pace on the days I run a 5k. Why did I pick a 5k? Why sub 9-minute miles? I picked a 5K simply because I've figured out that I can do just about anything for 3 miles. And, I picked a sub-9 pace because, for me, right now, anything below 9 minute miles feels like I'm flying. It may not be fast for you, or someone you know, but it's my "wicked fast" right now.


Remember, I started out running at about a 15 minute/mile pace a year and half ago when I started this whole running thing. So, the fact that I am running anything faster than that feels like a gift (even though I know it's not a gift and that I have worked very, very hard to improve).

The end goal remains: Run The Boston Marathon, and finish strong. But sprinkling this smaller goal throughout my training seems to be helping prevent me from having a heart attack every time someone utters "Heartbreak Hill."

Besides, if I keep telling myself that I can do anything for 3 miles, then 26.2 to Boston seems manageable.

Because 26.2 miles is really just running 3 miles a bunch of times in a row.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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