Want to train with HOKA NAZ Elite for the Boston Marathon? Follow along each week as HOKA Northern Arizona Elite Coach Ben Rosario blogs about his athletes training for Boston. Every Monday Ben will share his thoughts on the previous week and dole out advice on how to tackle your own training in the week ahead.

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Monday, March 19

Four weeks to go!! Can you guys believe it? It's starting to feel awfully darn real. Here in Flagstaff we marked the occasion with a 16-miler at marathon effort. We tried to simulate the Boston course as much as we could and I think we did a pretty nice job. The "Newton Hills" section of our makeshift course was much harder than the actual Newton Hills which you could argue was a good thing though I am not sure Scott and Kellyn thought so when they were slogging their way up the toughest climb. The altitude on this bad boy varied with all the ups and downs but probably averaged around 6,000 feet. Kellyn averaged 5:44 per mile and Scott averaged 5:12. Long story short...they nailed it! And the workout was on the heels of a 128-mile week for each of them. If I sound like I am bragging on them I am. I'm allowed to do that right? Seriously though--I was really proud of how each of them handled what was a brand new challenge (we've never run a steady state on this course before). New challenges have sort of been the theme of this segment, and by design of course because Boston poses a new challenge for both Scott and Kellyn...Boston newbies.

I hope you guys are also rolling right along in your own Boston training. If you purchased one of our plans we have a ton of smooth 300s for you this week. It's a literal change of pace from many of the workouts but I feel it's important to "wake up the legs" at least a couple of times during the heart of marathon training. This week works well with how we scheduled things for you guys with a long effort at Marathon effort one weekend and a super long easy run the following weekend. So you won't be lacking strength! Here's a note for you (or anyone running Boston)--even though I have 300s for you guys you could also just turn this into a fartlek where you alternate one-minute hard, one-minute easy. That's actually what we're going to do with Scott and Kellyn. Boston is so uneven in terms of pace that doing a fartlek and going by feel on a workout like this does make a lot of sense.

'Til next week my friends!

Monday, March 12

For the second week in a row I'm late getting this out there. Sorry about that! It's been a busy week in HOKA NAZ Elite land. But busy is good as they say. And no one has been busier in terms of training than Scott and Kellyn. Last Friday they ran a heck of a workout: a 3 mile net downhill tempo, followed by 3 Hill Circuits that each consisted of 2 miles of total running (including a long hill at half marathon effort, two downhill 200 meter strides at mile effort, a short/steep hill at 5k effort and an 800 meter repeat at tempo pace), and then after all of that another 3 mile tempo but this one on a (fairly) flat course. As has been the case most of this segment, they nailed it. Then they came back on Monday (5 weeks out from Boston) and ran 24 miles on a very "Boston-specific" course. And just this morning (Thursday the 15th) they ran 5 x 2 miles with a 1/2 mile jog recovery down at a lower elevation. Kellyn ran 10:43, 10:41, 10:40, 10:41, 10:38. Scott ran 9:51, 9:52, 9:42, 9:41, 9:38. It was a thing of beauty!

For those of you reading this blog and training for Boston yourselves I've got a couple of tips for this week. If you've been following our Final Surge plan you too had 2-mile repeats this week. I hope they went well! Coming up this weekend you have a big 16 miler at marathon pace. So my first tip is this (and you know this if you have our plan) but I highly recommend taking one of your easy days during the week and running a short "leg-speed" session. Something that doesn't really give you any cumulative fatigue but is fast enough to wake up the legs a bit. We do a longer than usual warmup, followed by some form drills and then 10 x 20 seconds fast (but no faster than mile race pace) with a 1-minute recovery job between each 20-second segment. Then we finish up with a longer than usual cool-down. These little sessions are a great way to avoid marathon staleness without compromising your overall mileage and marathon-specific work. My second tip this week is in reference to the 16-miler at marathon pace. I'll bet most of you are doing something like this whether you are following our plan or someone else's or even your own. I recommend not only the run itself being a race simulation but everything surrounding it. So that means the same or similar dinner the night before, waking up early the morning of the workout, the same or similar breakfast, and the same energy drink and/or gel. Do that and you can feel that much more confident on race weekend knowing that you've been through all this before!

Talk to you guys next week. We're getting there!

Monday, March 5

Hey all,
Sorry I'm a day late on this week's post but I have good reason...we made an awesome video of Scott and Kellyn's workout from yesterday!! You can check it out below. They had their first long run (of 3) at marathon effort and it went pretty well overall. Kellyn averaged 5:43 for 14 miles at 7,000ft--the fastest she's ever averaged for one of these on Lake Mary Road. Scott averaged 5:25 and that was with a minute rest at halfway. Sometimes you do have to adjust things on the fly and this adjustment (the minute rest) ended up working as you'll see in the video. The other update for these two was from last week when they ran a Boston specific workout where they did 3 x mile downhill, then 10 x 1k alternating uphill and downhill and then 3 x mile downhill again at the end. I loved how they looked on this one as they are both really mastering downhill running...a key to running well at Boston. Finishing the last mile in 4:35 (Scott) and 4:59 (Kellyn) helps the mind too. Even though those were downhill we just don't get to see those splits at 7,000 feet very often so it gives you a confidence boost for sure.

For those of you following our Boston Marathon Training Plans on Final Surge you have a doozy this week! The workout is described as follows:

Do the best you can to find a place you can run a 3 mile net downhill (ideally a 150 foot drop over the 3 miles). Then we need a place to do some hill repeats. Ideally a 6-8% grade. Then we want to finish with another 3 mile that's either flat or slightly downhill. 3 mile warmup. 3 miles at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace. 1 mile jog recovery. 10 x 60 second hill repeats (jog back down for recovery). Effort should start around half marathon effort and work toward 10k race effort, no faster or you won't have anything left. 3-5 minutes rest after the last hill. Then another 3 miler at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace. 3 mile cool-down.

If you didn't purchase one of our plans but you're looking for a workout this week try this one!! It's a great Boston simulator.

Monday, February 26

Another week gone for all you Boston Marathoners. Seven to go! The past seven days have been good to Scott and Kellyn. As I mentioned in last week's post, the way things worked out their true "Boston segment" started eight weeks out and they are both off to a great start. We ran 22 hilly miles last Monday to officially kick things off. Then they both ran 30 x 400 alternating up and down on Thursday with 3-4 "surge" 400s on the downs at about 3k effort. With 200 jog recovery after every 400 that was 18k worth of work. They followed that up with a medium long run (14) on Saturday and then this morning was 22 again but this time it was a "depletion run" so no carbs before or during the run. We simulated Boston as best we could on this one and got a lot of downhill in there. They'll both do everything they can to recover from said downhill so we can be ready to go hard on Thursday. Bottom line...so far so good!

Now for those of you who bought one of our Boston Marathon Training Plans you better be ready. This is definitely the hardest week so far! The midweek workout is 15-20 x 1k with short recovery and the weekend will see you tackle your first long effort at marathon pace. For the Ks I suggest finding a spot with a small incline so you can alternate 1k uphill and 1k downhill. And remember- this is practice. No different than basketball players doing layups so they become automatic you want to be running enough uphill and especially downhill during your Boston buildup that the form required to be efficient on the different grades you'll see on race day becomes second nature. So really focus on that during those Ks (or whatever you might be doing this week if you're on a different plan). Focus on letting gravity do a lot of the work on those downhills. Avoid "braking" meaning don't land on your heels and lean back. Land underneath yourself and stay nice and tall, even leaning slightly forward. I promise- practice this every week (it's not too late to start) and it will make a difference on April 16.

Thanks all. Keep taking this thing one week at a time. We're getting there!

Monday, February 19

Hey all...eight weeks to go!! For Kellyn and Scott this happens to be the week that officially begins our "Boston Segment." Since December we've been training hard, don't get me wrong, but it hasn't been specifically focused on Boston. We've done high mileage but not super high. We've done a variety of workouts and even raced an indoor mile of all things. If you've been following along you know all that work produced some good results including road 10k PRs for both of them as well as solid half marathons. But that training block has ended and the Boston specific work has begun. In between they had a very easy week to reset the body and the mind. How easy? They each had a five-day stretch after the Mercedes Half Marathon that included three days completely off and two four-mile runs. That's pretty darn easy. Think about a "down week" or "bounce week" or whatever you want to call it like this; it's a macro version of the hard/easy schedule we pretty much all subscribe to in our weekly training. We don't just do hard workouts day after day after day. We make sure we recover between hard efforts. That's the same thing with an easy week. It's a chance to absorb all the work you've done so far and re-charge the batteries for the hard work still to come.

So that's Scott and Kellyn. Let's talk about you guys. First of all, if you're someone who didn't purchase one of our Boston Training Plans (don't worry- I won't hold it against you) and you're feeling like you're really marathon fit right now and starting to think that eight weeks seems like a long way to go I'd suggest considering a re-charge week like the one I've described above. You may feel a little rusty at first but it'll pay off later, I promise. If you do have one of our plans you'll see this week you have a ton of 400s! Now when a lot of people see 400s (especially if you ran track in high school) you think that means hammer time. But not in this case. These are meant to be run at about 30-to-35-minute race pace. Not that crazy for one 400. But we're doing anywhere from 20 to 30 total! Go out in mile race pace on the first couple and you're going to be in a whole heap of trouble. So just hit the paces as prescribed and you'll end up getting several miles of work in at a very nice pace. With a 200 jog recovery on these you'll also end up wth a good amount of mileage overall on the day. Finally, you'll see we have this one marked as "Boston Specific." I would love to see you find a stretch with a slight grade so you can go "up" one way and "down" the other to practice your very best form on both uphills and downhills when running at a fairly fast pace.

And here's a little extra insight into how Kellyn and Scott will do this; because they may end up in the front pack on race day we want them to be able to handle some of the surges that will inevitably happen. So three or four times over the course of the 30 400s they'll do, I'll have them run closer to Mile/3k pace (60-62 for Scott and 68-70 for Kellyn). They'll have to not only handle the pace change but handle recovering from it and get right back to business on the next repeat with no extra rest afterward. After all, their competitors won't let them relax on race day!

That's it for now I suppose. Have a great week and I'll check in again next Monday!

Monday, February 12

Hey all! Nine weeks to Boston. How are you feeling? Hopefully still taking things one week at a time because we have a long way to go. In fact, Kellyn and Scott are taking an easy week to recharge the batteries before we get into our full-on Boston specific training next week. Last week they raced the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham, Ala. We picked that one for a variety of reasons. Number one it fell at the right time. But in addition to that it was a fairly hilly course with unpredictable weather. Sound a little like Boston? For them it also came after two weeks of racing before that (an indoor mile in Boston and the Cardiff Kook Run 10k in California). So they were likely a little tired going in but that was also by design. When a marathon is the end goal I like anything you do in the build-up toward that to be done with at least some cumulative fatigue in the legs. I love that sensation of the marathon itself being the day you feel better than any other day in the entire training segment. Anyway, all that to say, I thought they did a great job. Scott won the men's race in 1:04:20 and Kellyn was second on the women's side in 1:12:29. That's actually 45 seconds faster than Kellyn ran in a similar half marathon before she began her NYC Marathon specific training last fall. So I'd say we're in a good spot!

For all of you who purchased our HOKA NAZ Elite training plans through Final Surge you have two big sessions and one light leg speed workout this week. The mid-week workout is 1.5 mile repeats at marathon pace/effort. This one is not particularly "hard" in the way you would normally think of something as being hard. Meaning, to run 1.5 miles at a time at a pace you want to hold for 26.2 straight miles in nine weeks shouldn't be overly difficult. But that's the point. What we're trying to do is be super efficient and relaxed at that pace. This then serves as sort of a prerequisite for longer efforts at this same pace as the training moves forward. So be smooth on these! Same goes for the leg speed workout. On this one you do a longer warmup than normal so you're nice and loose (and to get a little extra volume on the day). After the warmup, make sure you get even looser with some easy drills and dynamic stretching exercises. The workout itself is just alternating 10 x 20 seconds fast, 1minute easy. The track is a nice place for this one if you have one available. But that doesn't mean you're trying to be Usain Bolt out there. Run each 20-second burst at one-mile race pace and do it with a relaxed face and shoulders, with your feet landing underneath you and popping off the ground. Basically imagine Runner's World is there doing a photo shoot with you. The idea is to eventually master that form and begin transferring it to longer and longer efforts. I always think of Scott Smith and how he was running even in the last mile of his 2:12 marathon last fall--looking smooth and fast--no different than he looked at mile one.

The final session of the week is a long run with eight 2-minute surges during the second half of the run. Again, this one is a prerequisite for what's to come. It's a chance to do a "normal" long run but introduce some faster running into it. The little trick there is that on the last surge of the day you're running half marathon pace (the prescribed effort for the surges) at the end of 16-18 miles of running. You'll likely end up with a very nice overall time for the entire run.

So there it is. Time to start prepping that body for the biggest weeks of training which are yet to come. Talk to you guys next week!!

Monday, February 5

We've arrived at 10 weeks to go!! For some reason 10 weeks, to me, is when a marathon starts to feel real. And from a training perspective it's about the time I usually suggest things start getting a little bit more marathon specific. Our HOKA NAZ Elite athletes running Boston, Scott Smith and Kellyn Taylor, are both finishing up a block of training that I suppose you could call a "pre-marathon" phase or a "base" phase where they worked on a lot of different things- some speed, some hills, some fartlek work, etc. And they've gotten a chance to put that training to good use here these last couple of weeks. They both ran indoor miles at the end of January in Boston. Kellyn ran 4:33 and Scott ran 4:03. This past weekend they both ripped a 10k on the roads at the Cardiff Kook Run in California. Scott ran 29:01, won the race and broke the course record by 31 seconds. Kellyn ran 32:34, set a road PR and finished second to Canadian Olympian Jessica O'Connell. Now they'll have one more race this weekend, the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham, Ala. before hunkering down and training specifically for Boston. Can't wait!

As for those of you who purchased one of our Boston Marathon Training Plans, you'll have a fartlek workout this week to kick things off and then a "regular" long run this weekend. This first week isn't particularly difficult but don't worry...it gets harder! The idea is that things build and build and build toward Boston so that you are at your absolute best on race day. For that fartlek, the effort on the hard segments should be about 30-40 minute race pace. No faster. That way the recovery jog stays at a decent pace and doesn't turn into a shuffle and you get a fairly good overall pace for the entire session. For the weekend's long run no need to hammer it. And I didn't ask you to run a Boston-specific course for this one (like I will later) but if you find a hilly route for this one I certainly don't think that's a bad thing. The bottom line is that even though we're at 10 weeks to go and the race is starting to seem closer I encourage you to try your best to stay in "one-week-at-a-time" mode. I really believe that's the best way to train for anything but Boston, especially, because there's so much emotion involved in it. You worked so hard to get there and you want to run well on this famous course. But thinking about it and talking about it all the time won't boost your fitness. Training will! So focus on the training and the race will be here before you know it.

Thanks all. Have a great week and I'll hit you back next Monday...hopefully with good news from Scott and Kellyn in Birmingham!!

Monday, January 29

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first of my weekly blog posts leading up to the 2018 Boston Marathon. Each Monday for the next 11 weeks I will be releasing a post right here on Final Surge. The content of each week’s post will have two main components. First off, we have two HOKA NAZ Elite athletes, Scott Smith and Kellyn Taylor, who are running Boston. I’ll update you on their previous week. The three of us just went out to Boston last week actually and toured the course so we’ll be gearing our workouts specifically for everything we saw. And therein lies the second component of each week’s post. I wrote three Boston Marathon training plans available for purchase on Final Surge. They are based on exactly what Scott and Kellyn will be doing, with volume adjusted for ability/experience level. So…in addition to telling you about all the cool stuff Scott and Kellyn are doing, I’ll also be previewing the coming week’s workouts for those of you who purchased our Boston plans. Or if you already have another plan (don’t worry- I won’t hold that against you!) hopefully you can gain some ideas that may help as you train for Boston.

So the bottom line is I am hoping this blog will be fun for fans who just want to keep up with Scott and Kellyn and super useful for those of you training for Boston. I will try really hard to accomplish both. And of course for those who are gearing up for Boston…I wish you the best of luck!!

Check back on Monday for more...