Tagged: Training

The Positive of Negative Splits

For years, my marathon training plan seemed to have no real purpose except to make sure I ran a certain amount of miles each week.  So this year I bought a plan from Runner’s World with a little bit of skepticism.  I could not understand how it could be dramatically different than what I have been doing, which was running, but to my surprise, it was different.

Every day over the 16 weeks had a purpose.  The plan had easy runs, tempo runs, long slow runs, Yasso’s, strides, fast finishes, hills and more.  It also had set paces during these runs.  Many of the runs were slower than I would have expected, especially when the goal was to get faster, but I decided to trust the training plan.  I found out later that I would have plenty of speed workouts to make up the difference.

One of my new techniques that the plan taught me was the negative split.  This method of running is where you run the first half of the race slower than the second half.  I have been using it in many of my training runs.  I also have tested this technique during the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler and Hyannis ½ marathon with good results.

I plan to run Boston using a negative split.  It seems a little overwhelming based on previous marathons.  The second half of the marathon has been where I traditionally get tired, and a couple of times have hit the wall.  I will have to trust my training and listen to what my body is telling me throughout the run.

It looks like many of you who have been supporting me in my efforts to raise money for Dana-Farber and the Claudia Adams Barr Cancer Research program has also embraced the negative split.  This year’s fundraising started slow.  I was getting a little concerned around the half-way point that I might not even reach my minimum required amount.  Well, we have had a monstrous negative split and during the past 7 days, you have donated almost $2,000.  This has pushed me over my goal of $6,000 and looks like I may have over $7,000 if the Company Matching Gifts come in by the marathon.

Thank you!!


Spencer to Boston

Hi Brendan,

How are you feeling?  Hopefully that appetite of yours is starting to kick in finally.  Thank you for the email about Nicole Jacobs.  She said to tell Brendan thanks for remembering!  Nicole will be contacting your mom in the next week or so.

Is Your Heart Breaking?

I am excited that this past week is over.  It was the toughest week of the training season.  I ran 60 miles during the week, something  I’ve never done before.  Except for finding the time to do all that running, it wasn’t too bad.  My muscles, joints, and bones are ready for some tapering but I have one more week before I can easy up.  I think I’ll have 250 miles recorded for the end of this month.  I didn’t think I’d ever run that much.  You are a good inspiration!

I wanted to see how far 60 miles is from Boston, so I Goggled it.   I found and article about a mile marker in Spencer Massachusetts.  This marker is is along the Boston Post road which was laid out by Ben Franklin in 1753 when he was Deputy Post Master General for the Northern Colonies.  He ordered the that the stones be placed to regulate postal rates.  This milestone is inscribed “60 Miles From Boston”  The stone is located just to the west of one of the entry roads to a cemetery.  The stone is a contributing object in the 1767 Milestones Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Sunday, Nikki and I ran with the L Street Running Club.  The bussed us out the Natick and we ran back to South Boston.  It was a scheduled 20 mile run but Nikki’s plan was to run 22 and I needed 23 miles.  The weather forecast was for the low 40’s with off and on rain showers.  We prepared for the worst.  A few years back, I ran the same course with the same weather conditions (there was a little stronger headwind).  Many of the runners, including myself were close to hyperthermia.  That was something I did not want to repeat.  This time the running gods were kind to us.  The first drops did not fall until the last runner finished.

Both of us had a good run.  It is a real confidence builder, especially for novice runners.  You get to feel the distance, figure out your fueling plan, and practice managing your pace.   Nikki brought her phone with her because she knew with the extra miles added on, she would be one of the last runners on the course.  She did great!  She even took some pictures all the way.

We are all signed up for the Pasta Party.  I can’t wait.  It is so much fun!  The deadline is coming up soon, so in case you haven’t gotten yours yet, remind your mom.

Take care, and I’ll see you in a week or two!


MRI Results

Thank you everyone asking about my MRI.  I finally got my results back on Friday.  The doctor said the good news is there were no stress fractures.   The pain I am getting is due to bursitis and tendonitis in my hip.  He said I will be able to run Boston, but should rest and strengthen the area after the marathon.  I was thinking to myself, no problem, triathlon training starts then and I can focus on my swimming and biking.  He also mentioned that I have some wear and tear in my joint and it may start becoming more a problem in future marathons.

I was supposed to wait for the green light from the doctor on the stress fractures before starting physical therapy (and returning to running) but I went ahead and scheduled my first appointment last Saturday.  They have begun an aggressive strengthening program.  One of the physical therapist suggested I not run for the next few weeks.  I told him that’s probably not going to happen.  He asked when I planned on running again.  I said, “Tomorrow”.  He then asked how far.  I replied, “22”.  He shook his head and said, “Runners!?!”.  Since that first meeting, they have had some revenge during their boot camp like sessions.  I don’t ever remember sweating that much during PT.

I still have pain in my hip and mid thigh, but Advil helps.  The next two weeks are the toughest part of my training, peaking on March 23 with a 23 mile run and a 60 mile week.  If I can get through it, it will be all down hill!  I have a solo 22 mile run tomorrow starting at BC and running to Natick and back.  I’m looking forward to it!


Badge of Honor

Hi Brendan,

I’m glad we finally get to head out to Kiku Yama on Friday night. I am looking forward to seeing you and having some Teppanyaki cooking. I hope your appetite is starting to come back, because we will have a lot of food to eat. I don’t know what I am going to have, maybe the Mikado Special?

I had some good training runs last week. The miles were a bit less but the pace was kicked up a notch. On Tuesday night, I ran with other DFMC runners at Tufts University for a speed work out. I tagged along with Jamie, a DFMC runner and fellow blogger. I forgot my watch (which seems to be the theme of the week) and she seemed to be running at the same pace I should be running. Thanks to Jamie, I had a great work out and got to push myself a bit versus running alone.

Thursday I decided to go the Crossroad’s training run. DFMC and other runner’s meet at Crossroad’s for a 9 mile run. We take the T to Woodland Station, near Newton-Wellesley hospital and then run the marathon route back to Boston. Once again, I left my runner’s watch at home. I thought I would feel out some runners to see who run close to the pace I wanted to run. I guess many of the faster runners head out on Thursday because I ended up running with a pair who kept me moving through the hills. I ended up running a lot faster than I planned. Actually, 10 minutes faster. After the run, I drank at least a pitcher of water and had a slice of the free pizza. I was able to meet up with another DFMC runner, triathlete, and fellow blogger, Kelly. Oh, and when she not doing all of that, she is a minimally invasive gynecologic surgery fellow at a Boston hospital!

Sunday, Nikki and I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon. Much to everyone’s surprise, I was able to remember my runner’s watch. Both of us were able to have a personal best. We ran with a negative split again. I think I started a little sooner than I wanted too. I had to manage a cramp for the last two miles. I hope to put a plan together to manage Boston; the first 17 miles, the hills and then the final 4.2 miles.

This week was a different story. My adductor injury seems to have gotten worse. For the past couple weeks, I have had sharp pains in the middle of my upper left thigh. I decided to have a sports medicine specialist look at it. They took x-rays and evaluated my leg. The doctor said it may be stress fractures, but doubts that is my problem. He is going to rule that out after a MRI next week. Most likely, he thinks it is a soft tissue injury (and I’m hoping it is too). The good news is if it’s not a stress fracture, I can keep running as long as I can deal with the pain. I have been dealing with it since last march so that’s no problem. For now, he wants me to start physical therapy. That is going to be a problem because I really don’t have any time in my busy schedule, but I guess I’ll have to find some.

Running with DFMC helps me put a reality check with runner’s injuries. They are all self-induced. We could run slower, less often and shorter distances yet still reap the healthy rewards. Most injuries are in our control to prevent. We are proud wearing our pretentious badge of honor. So, I try not to make a big deal of my (seems to be yearly) injuries.  Knowing what you have gone through over the past couple of years, I couldn’t relate. You are the real hero. You have overcome real obstacles. You modestly hide your true badge of honor. You have fought to finish your marathon.   Runners could learn a lot from you.

Can’t wait to see you Friday night!

– Patrick

A Saturday on Martha’s Vineyard

Hey Brendan,

I finished a busy running week by running the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler.   A little bit of an effort for a training run, but well worth it.  The weather could not have been better for a Saturday in February.  The views by the ocean were picturesque.  Who knows, It may become an annual tradition?

Good thing I like to be early because it paid off Saturday morning.  I planned to take the 8:15 a.m. ferry out of Woods Hole.  As I crossed over the Bourne Bridge, I realized I left my running watch attached the its charger at home.  Running for 20 miles and wanting to stick to my training pace would not be easy without it.  I realized I left it as I dashed out the door after taking too long to get ready.  I was tried from little sleep the night before and the onset of a cold (which is full-blown cold now as a write this).  Just as I was about to reach the Palmer parking lot, I remember the one thing I knew I would forget, my runner’s bib, # 284.  Why I did not put it my bag the night before, I do not know.  Why they mail it to us, instead of getting it the day of the race, I do not know either.

I looked at the clock on my radio and thought, If everything goes smoothly, I can turn around, drive back home, get my watch and bib, turn around and catch the 9:30 ferry.  Nothing like a race before the race!  If this was August instead of February, it was never going to happen.   With some help of the family meeting me off the highway with my missing items it saved me 10 minutes, and I was able to get back to the parking lot in time to catch the bus, buy my roundtrip ticket, and get on the ferry before it left.  Because I was on the later ferry, I was able to meet up with some friends that were going over for the weekend.  We made plans I getting together after the race for some food.

After all the excitement of the morning, everything calmed down and I got to focus on my run.  The plan was to run the first 13.1 miles at my training pace (8:40) and see how I feel.  If things were good, I would speed up a bit (8:20).  It’s called negative splits.  You run the second half of a run faster than the first.  If I really felt good and had plenty in the tank, I would pick it up some more for the last 5K (8:00).

The race started around 11 a.m. and there were just around 400 runners.  I started closer to the back, because it is easy to start too fast.  We were a big pack for the first mile or so.  I kept looking at my watch to slow myself down.  I was surprised how many people were running at a fast pace.  I wondered how many would pay the price later.

Most of the first 10 miles of the run is along the water, with beautiful beach houses looking out at the ocean.  On a typical winter’s day, this would have been cold with the wind blowing off the ocean, but because today was around 45F, the breeze was bearable.

Like any long run, you have your good moments and your bad.   At mile 4, I was thinking how great I feel, but at mile 8, I was questioning if my amount of miles over the weeks have caught up with me.  It is a head game, and even though it happens most times, you fall for it again and again.  By the time I reached mile 10, I was in a comfort zone again.  I chatted with a local runner for a bit as we headed back for the second half of the run.  I knew I was feeling good and decided to go with my plan of picking up my pace at mile 13 water stop.

Before I got there,  I decided to have a GU (it’s an energy gel).  I like to wash it down with some water because it’s thick in the cold weather and there is too much sugar in it for an empty stomach.  Well, I miss judged the water stop by a mile and I had to carry the opened sticky, gooey package in my hand.  By the time I got to toss it, I was able to get a decent amount of gel on my hand.  Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but during long events like marathons and triathlons, I get hyper-focus on things like “sticky fingers” and it drives me crazy the whole time.  So, I knew I would have to wash it off.  When I arrive at the water stop all I see are cups of Gatorade.  I said thanks to the volunteers as I finish my shot of energy drink and headed off.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see two cups of water.  I ran the next 50 yards debating with myself if I should go back.    With that, I turned around.  I think one of the volunteers thought I was in dire straits, because I came back for more.  I let him know I was ok, but I am too embarrassed to tell him the real reason I need the water.  I moved over close to the trash so I could clean my sticky hands with the water without him seeing.  I may be crazy, but at least I was crazy with clean hands!

For the next 4 miles, I was able to pick up my pace without any problems.  As I approached mile 17, I felt strong and knew I had a lot left in the tank.  With only a 5k left, there wasn’t much to lose going all out.  I sped up my pace over minute faster (7:00) and tried to maintain it for the complete distance.  I was even able to sprint the last ¼ mile to the finish.

Last year, I would have just started running without a plan.  I would have been caught up in the “fast start”.  I would have ran the first half faster than the second.      I would have been tired heading into the last 5k.  The MV 20 Miler was a good run.  Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not.  Jack Fultz continually preaches to us the importance of negative split before every long run.  It seemed to work well for this run.  Even as I replay my run, I still wonder if I can average an 8:00 pace for 26.2 miles.  This course is incredibly flat compared to Boston.  I guess I just have to trust the plan.

One of the great things by running with the DFMC team is you meet great people because of it.  While waiting for the ferry home, I over head a man talking about his coach Jack.  I decided to ask him if he was running for Dana-Farber and he said yes.  His name is Mike and this is his second year with the team.  In 2009 he was diagnosed Chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.  He was lucky.  He was having dull aches in his arm, and after a number of unsuccessful treatments, his doctor ran more test.  They found it a lot early than most people with chondrosarcoma get dagnosed.  It probably saved his life.

I’m proud to be running on a team with people like you and Mike.


A Runner with a Drinking Problem

I guess it’s not really a drinking problem.  It’s a not drinking enough problem.  In my early days of training for a marathon, I would drink a descent amount of water or Gatorade before my long runs.  I found myself half way into my runs with a dilemma; could I “hold it” till the end of the run?  For the remaining miles, I would be tortured trying to a coffee shop or a find a suitable space.  After more of these type of experiences I have learned to drink less and less during my runs.  This may have reduced my bathroom breaks, but its add some performance and recovery problems.

According to the Journal of Athletic Training, dehydration causes your blood volume to drop, which lowers your body’s ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, making it difficult for your body to meet aerobic demands.  It negatively affects your running performance during the run, and slows your ability to recover for the next day’s workout.

Experts suggest drinking 8 to 16 ounces one to two hours before a run depending on how warm it is outside.

Hydrating During your runs:


3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tough run over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to give you a kick of energy at the end.


3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbs and electrolytes will replenish sodium.  Prefer gels, chase them with water to avoid sugar overload (and other problems).


Drink 3 to 6 ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you’re thirsty and less if you’re not).


Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes post run.  Usually 8 to 24 ounces is fine, but it varies based on running conditions.

Looking at the past couple weeks, my hydration during 1.5 hour runs is 4 ounces of Powerade  on the way out the door and if a remember a 4 ounce bottle to bring, I get to have it halfway through the run.  That a total of 8 ounces.  If I follow the guidelines mentioned above, I should have had at least 20 ounces.  Plenty of room for improvement.   Tomorrow is the Martha Vineyard’s 20 Miler, and because of the amount of water stops along the route, I should be able to carry out my new water regiment.

I’ll update next week on my progress.  I can then work on my next task, stretching.

Good Running Week






Hey Brendan,

Sorry it’s been so a bit since my last entry.  I have been pretty busy.

I had a great week of training. I started out the week doing a workout on a Cybex Arc Trainer. I wanted to give my knees and ankles a rest after Sunday’s long run. I have heard it is the closest machine to real running. It was…well, interesting. Not that I didn’t like it, but it was different from using a treadmill or elliptical machine.   I will try to add it to my training schedule, at least a few times.

On Tuesday, I drove to Newton for a hill workout.  I ran from the Newton firehouse to Boston College and back.  I was good that I was able to work some big downhills.  My quads usually take a beating during the marathon because of the amount of downhill running on the course.  This year I want to make sure, I added this type of workout into my training.

I went to the gym on Wednesday so I could run on a treadmill.  My legs were a little sore from the Newton Hill’s and I wanted to make sure I kept a consistent easy pace for my 5 mile run.  It was nice just throwing on my headphones and zoning out for a while.  I did not have to worry about cars, weather or how fast or slow I was running.

Thursday was sort of my speed workout for the week.  It wasn’t about running fast but running at my marathon goal pace.  I started with a slow warm up, and then I tried to keep a 7:55 pace for the next 7 miles.  It is harder than it looks to run a consistent pace, so I use my watch to keep me in check.

Friday was my rest day, which I appreciated.  I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible because I was going to the Father-Daughter dance that evening.  Both girls looked beautiful in their dresses and we had a great time dancing the night way.

The DFMC long run was on Saturday, and I was back in the Newton Hills.  It was 18 miles which looked like it would be in the snow but the best Mother Nature could do was some flurries.  I second guessed myself before the run and added another layer on.  By the first water stop, I was sweating my you know what off.  I asked the (awesome) volunteers if I could drop off some clothing.  They said no problem and even dropped it off back at the starting location.  The rest of the run went very well.  I was even able to pick it up in the last couple of miles with plenty of fuel in the tank when I finished.  The leg felt great too.  It was a perfect run in my book.

Sunday was a short slow run in my neighborhood.  It was cold and windy.   I was glad I wasn’t going to be out in it for long.  I finished the training week with 47 miles  I am following my marathon plan as closely as I can, but I hope this isn’t over doing it?   This week I will be over 50 miles, something I have never done before.  On Saturday, my long run will be a 20 miler on Martha’s Vineyard.  It should be fun (and I’m guessing a little windy).  I can’t wait.

See you soon.