How to Improve Your Marathon Time from 4:56 to 3:11

Hi Runners!

I’m Dorothy Beal of the blog Mile Posts and I’m here to talk to you today about Marathons & Moderation!!
First a little about me – I’m a marathoner x19! I’ve been running for 10+ years and just set a PR this Sunday in the marathon with a time of 3:11.

Beal Family

What I’ll tell you next is that I am a mom of three little people 5 and under, I don’t have a nanny, we have never paid a babysitter, I coach, blog, freelance write and happen to think I have almost NO spare time. I have however been able to train for and complete marathons since 2003. What I will also tell you is that I didn’t use to be as fast as I am now – my slowest marathon to date was a 4:56 at Marine Corps Marathon in 2005. I tell you this stuff because I want to prove to you that don’t have to become a crazy person and let marathon training become all consuming of your life to improve your times and achieve your goals! You can be a MARATHONER and still have MODERATION.
When did I get faster and what does it have to do with moderation?
I got faster after I had kids and my time was limited. It makes no sense at first but at closer look it does. I often see runners fall into the trap of TOO MUCH. Doing too much will not make you a better/faster/stronger marathoner in fact often times it will make you quite the opposite. You will either burnout, get injured or not have the needed energy to complete the hard workouts needed to improve or finish a marathon.
I don’t have time for a gym membership. I don’t have time to take yoga or a spin class. I don’t have time to overdo it or run 120 miles a week.
Call it forced moderation if you will.
My lack of time is the reason I make the BEST of my time.
Think QUALITY instead of quantity.
b and a 1
I used to be overweight. When I started on my journey to find myself and get in shape I thought quantity over quality – the more I did, the more calories I burned, the more weight I lost. It was OK at the time but once I got down to my goal weight I realized I was really beating up my body and not treating it with respect. Respecting your body means letting your body rest and recover. When you let it rest and recover properly you make fitness gains. I wasn’t making gains because I was doing too much – there was not moderation.
Now, because of my children I have limited time to fit in my workouts. This means that on my fast runs I run fast – not only because I want to get faster but because I need to be finished faster in order to fit it in. This also means I take REST days. I often see runners I coach tell me they are taking a rest day and then go take a yoga class – REST means resting from all activities not just running.

Day Before RaceIn every workout, whether it is a long slow run or a short squeezed in run before pre-school pick up – I think quality over quantity. I don’t do junk miles. I make every mile count.
Don’t compare your quantity to others.
I just told you to think quantity over quality but I am going to tell you my peak mileage this training cycle was 90 miles. For me – 90 miles is at the top end of my moderation. Any higher and my body will break down and I will start to take away time from being with my family. [I currently fit in all my runs before they wake up, during nap time, or on the treadmill]
Just because I said I run 90 miles doesn’t mean that is a good idea for you or that it is your moderation. Don’t compare yourself to what your friends are doing. Decide what works best for your body and go with it. Moderation is about finding what is moderate for you and not what it is for someone else.
How am I still in love with the marathon 19 marathons later?
I’m still in love with the marathon 9 years later because of one word – MODERATION.
I don’t over train.
If I don’t want to run one day – I don’t.
I don’t force myself to run.
I take rest days.
I reward myself for working hard.
Some years I have only run one spring marathon – other years, like in 2011 I ran 3 marathons within 5 weeks of each other [National 3:26, Boston 3:30, Potomac River Run 3:23].
I want to be that 80 year old woman at races winning her age group because I am mostly likely the only one in my age group. I’m in it for the long hall and not for fleeting years. I make sure I have a healthy attitude about my running so I never fall out of love with it. When the going gets tough there are definitely times I doubt my ability but i Know in the end that I have made a life long commitment to running and I intend to keep my promise!
Find your MODERATION in order to #findyourstrong

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  1. Krissy @ Shiawase Life March 7, 2012 / 6:03 pm

    LOVE this feature!

    Thank you, Ashley for featuring Dorothy, and thank you, Dorothy, for being such a great inspiration!!!!!

  2. Tracy March 7, 2012 / 6:35 pm

    I love this post! Thank you so much for featuring a Mama Runner. I often struggle with getting my runs in during the week because I have two kiddos and it is so great to know it can be done!!

    • Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal March 7, 2012 / 6:54 pm

      YAY Tracey – I love other running mommies! It’s hard being a runner & a mommy – don’t ever get down on yourself for not fitting it in. I only think about the good workouts I do and never dwell on the missed ones 🙂

  3. courtney March 7, 2012 / 9:13 pm

    very much so enjoyed this post! again, thank you dorothy for being such a wonderful role model to women everywhere!

  4. Ericka @ The Sweet Life March 7, 2012 / 9:18 pm

    Really love this post. I’ve read so many “why I run” types of posts but this one was different. Your point about moderation was SO important. I wish more people with little time would adopt your attitude. I don’t know if I’ll ever run a 3:11 but you give me inspiration that I can do a lot better. Thanks for featuring Mile Posts, Ashley!

  5. RunningISMyDiet March 7, 2012 / 9:37 pm

    I LOVE this post!! I love every idea here. <3 #inspired

  6. Katie Cummings March 8, 2012 / 1:33 am

    Wow! So inspiring! I’m not a wife or mother, but I am so jealous that you manage to find the time!! I’m doing a half marathon (or 2) this summer, and am thinking I’ll do a marathon next year. The idea of doing 3 in 5 weeks is so overwhelming to me, way to go!!

  7. Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader March 8, 2012 / 3:37 am

    I love love love this post!! I can so relate! I just set a half marathon PR by doing the same thing – I ran 4 times a week and I made each run COUNT!

    PS – how did you add the FB comments to your blog?

  8. Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) March 8, 2012 / 1:45 pm

    Great post! I am 100% with Dorothy on rest days. I don’t take them often (maybe once every 10 days), but when I do, I don’t do exercise of any kind. A complete break really allows me to recharge both physically and mentally!

  9. Michelle March 8, 2012 / 5:34 pm

    So much love for this post! Being a mom doesn’t mean you have to give anything up if you really love it 🙂

  10. Ginger January 16, 2013 / 8:16 pm

    This is so encouraging. I just ran my first marathon and all I can think about is getting back to training so I can achieve a better time next time. Thank you for the great advice and for the perspective! Great post!

  11. Roan April 14, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    What a great post! MODERATION. That’s what I needed to hear. I am about to run my 4th marathon. I have five children that I homeschool. I really, really want to take 45 minutes off my marathon time so that I can qualify for Boston. For this last marathon, 50 miles was my peak week. You have encouraged me that I CAN continue squeezing my training. I would love to hear how you lowered your marathon time so much. 🙂

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