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Elite Marathoner Shares Her Top Training Tips

March 30, 2017

If you’re a runner who lives in Boston, you know Amanda Nurse. The 29-year-old is actively involved in the running community as a competitor, coach, yoga studio owner, and a social media influencer.

Amanda’s rise to local running fame came later in life. As a lacrosse player in college, she was never an avid runner until she started training post-collegiately with her husband, a runner for the Boston Athletic Association. Since then, her running career has taken off through consistent training and dedication to the sport.

In 2016, Amanda ran the Olympic Team Marathon Trials, where she placed 62nd among 149 women. This year, Amanda returns to her home course as she runs the 121st Boston Marathon, where she hopes set a personal best.

Amanda holds the following PRs:

Marathon: 2:40:45 (Olympic “B” standard)

Half-marathon: 1:17:50

10k: 36:49

5k: 17:10

Amanda recently sat down with WHOOP to share her top training tips on what it takes to perform at a high level in the running world.

1. Hire a coach.

Hire a coach who you trust, and who understands your relationship with running. Having friends to train with is great, but my running drastically improved when I hired a personal coach who customized my workouts towards my goals. My coach creates a challenging, yet flexible training schedule that keeps the difficult training fun and enjoyable for me.

2. Increase your aerobic capacity.

During marathon training, it’s important to mix up your workouts. Long, steady mileage won’t necessarily make you faster. Fartleks, hills, progression runs, speedwork on the track and strides are just some of the ways I create variety in my training plan.

3. Incorporate yoga into your weekly routine.

I’ve always loved the mental and physical benefits of yoga, but during marathon training, I notice a huge difference in how it affects my running. I set aside 30 minutes a day to do yoga exercises, and enjoy a restorative yoga class once a week. During high mileage weeks, my legs (and brain) tend to be really fatigued. Without the necessary pre- and post-run stretching (that yoga can offer), muscles tend to become brittle, inflexible, and prone to injury. Yoga helps ensure that I give my body the stretching and strengthening I need to stay injury-free.

4. Increase your mileage by running your commute.

With marathon training, it’s crucial to get your miles in. Instead of driving to work, I run. It’s 5 miles each way, and it’s an easy way to boost my mileage volume without thinking much about it.

5. Train with friends and teammates.

I used to do all my runs alone. I still love running alone to clear my mind, but when it comes to a workout, it makes such a difference to have your teammates and friends by your side. Helpful tip: Let your teammates know what your workout schedule will be a week early, so you can sync up meeting times and workouts!

6. Race often.

I sign up for at least 2 races a month. Months in advance, I think about some key races that serve as great workouts that simulate marathon pace or a hard speed workout. During my 16-week marathon cycle, I’ve run a couple 5Ks, 10K, 2 half marathons, a 10-miler, and a 20-miler. They force me to get my speedwork done in the context of a race, which is motivating.

7. Keep a detailed running log.

Without a running log, how will you keep track of improvements or setbacks? My running log lists all my runs, workouts, races, shoes worn, and even heart rate. Not only does this help my coach evaluate my training, it allows me to see the progress I’ve made.

8. Listen to your body.

There’s so much more that goes into running than just running. I’ve put in countless hours of massage appointments, stretching, foam rolling, and strength training to prevent injury and stay flexible. In addition, I’ve been using WHOOP to help monitor my performance, specifically my recovery metrics including my resting heart rate (RHR) and my heart rate variability (HRV).

To follow Amanda’s races and running journey, follow @amandarunsboston on Instagram.

Amanda also teaches at Heartbreak Hill Running Studio and Wellness In Motion, both in Boston, Massachusetts. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi!


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Allison Lynch

Allison Lynch is a Senior Marketing Manager at WHOOP, specializing in Running & Women’s Performance. She has been a long-time contributor to The Locker and enjoys bringing the athlete’s human side of the story to life. In her spare time she runs, paints, writes, and enjoys a good tapas bar.