Jess Runs Boston 2018 – February report

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Jess Runs Boston 2018 – February update

I can’t believe how quickly the Boston Marathon is approaching. The month of February flew by. Overall, I’ve been happy with my training, but I have had my fair share of good and bad days over the past month. As I’ve learned from the past, one shouldn’t expect a training plan to go perfectly all of the time.


My first marathon pacing run occurred on February 3rd. My goal pace was 6:53 min/mile for 9 miles, with a 2 mile easy warm up and then a 2 mile cool down afterwards. I went into the run trying to focus on maintaining a comfortably hard pace so that I wouldn’t get too obsessed with hitting my desired pace perfectly.

From past experiences, I know that once I feel that I am unable to hit my pace perfectly, I get very discouraged, and I mentally shut down, which greatly affects my confidence and training potential for that run. I wasn’t going to let that happen on my first pacing run. From last season, my goal pace was 7:00 min/mile, and I often struggled to be consistent hitting that pace. Now that I was running my typical route (the Peavine Trail) for my pacing runs again, I knew that I had to focus on my effort more than my pace. My tactic was helpful, and I averaged 6:59 min/mile.

The revenge of the long run

For the following week, I had another marathon pacing run. I wanted to change up the scenery slightly, so I started my run near my house and then ran towards the Peavine Trail. I felt stronger on this run and averaged 10 seconds faster than the week before. It was cooler weather and my legs felt like they were getting back into a groove again.

Luckily, for my sanity, the following 2 long runs of the month were slow distance runs of 19 and 20 miles, with elevation gains of 2,033 and 2,203 feet, respectively. Long slow distance runs are more enjoyable, but just as important as the pacing runs, as I spend more time on my feet, work on my cardiovascular fitness, and get a lot of hill training for stronger legs. I usually spend my long distance runs on the trails, where I don’t worry about time, let my mind run free, and bring my best training partner along with me- my dog, Mieka.

Mieka, the best training partner!

Getting ready for a long trail run


After nailing my January workouts on the track, my February speed workouts for the first 3 weeks weren’t as great. I ended up missing one speed workout due to traveling with some friends to Durango for a ski trip, where I got excellent quad, hip abductor, and gluteal workouts due to my conservative skiing approach (I was ok with this cross training), but for the majority of my speed workouts for the month, I often resorted to the treadmill in my garage (I was not ok with this), since the track team began practicing at the track.

I thought that I would be fine on the treadmill as long as I had music to distract me, but that didn’t work out like I had intended. I had to hit “stop” on the treadmill more times than I would like to admit before completing my workouts. Also, I absolutely do not recommend doing 400 meter repeats at a fast pace on the treadmill. No, I didn’t fall off or anything (yes, I have fallen off treadmills in the past), but maxing out the speed on the treadmill is just plain torture.

Cross training in Durango (just resting)!  

Cross training in Durango. 


I knew that I had to end the last week of February on a more positive note, so I was determined to change things up. Fed up with my less than stellar performances on the treadmill, I went to the quiet cinder track downtown, which is only about 2 miles away from my house. Despite fighting an infection in my mouth from a partially erupted wisdom tooth (to be removed in the near future), and about 50 hours spent working, I still got my track workouts in and did them well.

It was not easy though. I was tired, in pain, and felt like I had no quiet free time to myself that week (my introverted self was going crazy). I literally had voices in my head before and during my workouts that wanted me to stop. I had to keep telling myself “just one more, then you can be done.” I had to break things down, in order to make the workouts feel manageable. It’s similar to when you don’t feel like getting out the door to do a regular run. Just tell yourself that you’ll run just one mile, and it’s likely that you’ll do more. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting out the door. I could have had a million excuses to skip my workouts that week, but I didn’t, and that was more satisfying than hitting my target paces!

That feeling when you hit your target pace on the track!


Now that March is here, I have to stay focused and keep the ultimate goal in mind. This is the last month for hard training and I want to feel strong and ready in Boston! Greg, with High-Altitude Training Institute, has developed an excellent training plan for me, and I want to make the best of it. I’m looking forward to running some of my long distance and marathon pacing runs with some running buddies (including my awesome Coach Greg!) this month and keeping up with speed work at the old school cinder track (bye-bye treadmill!).

About the Author

Jessica Clark

Since the age of 14 Jessica has been pounding the pavement, trails, track, meadows, and fields. She grew up in central Upstate New York and was part of her middle school’s first outdoor track team. She knew that running was for her after being on the school’s field hockey team and preferring the warm up and cool down laps over practice! Her school didn’t have a track to practice on, so they often improvised on the surrounding landscape of our small town, spurring her love for trail running. After high school, she became a collegiate athlete and was urged to join the cross country team to help condition her for the indoor and outdoor track seasons. As a middle-distance runner, she believed that running anything over three miles was very far, and kind of crazy. She trained very diligently the summer before her first cross country season, fearing incompetency, but hard training paid off; she excelled in cross country for the first season and then for three seasons thereafter. In her senior year, she qualified for and competed in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. Read more about Jess on our Sponsored Athlete page...

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