Chaski Challenge: A Maggie Fox Recap

Maggie Fox runs for Greater Boston Track Club and is a coach for Chaski, specializing in distances shorter than the 10K.

Maggie raced both the Chaski Challenge Open 5K race, coming in 2nd place, and the Chaski Challenge Open Marathon Relay, where her team came in 1st place.

You ran two races in the same week! How did you prepare for this and how'd you recover between races?

First off, my relay would not have won without the significant contributions of my much faster teammates, Lauren Masterson and Ashley Brasovan. However I didn’t know I would be running in their relay (my second race) until that week, so I didn’t specifically prepare for it. I had adjusted my workout earlier in the week to be lighter in anticipation of my 5K race. I also took the day between the 2 races off completely. Typically runners like to do some light mileage as a shakeout after a race and as a precursor to a race the next day. However, since my mileage is so low I’m more aware of every single mile…there are no throwaway miles in my world! I also limit the number of days in a row of running to no more than 4, and often only 3. Taking both of these things into account, I needed the off day. 

What's your training been like ahead of these races? Did you have any key workouts that you have used to predict your finish time? 

At the beginning of July, I had injured my posterior tibial tendon and took 2.5 weeks off of running. I then spent the next 8 weeks building my mileage slowly to the low 20’s. So not a whole lot of mileage, and I had about 4 weeks of workouts under my belt before the Chaski Challenge. My training was focused on some much farther out goals, but since I knew I was racing a 5K, a couple more race-specific workouts were added. One workout was a week out from the race and was 800, 2x1K, 800. It gave me some indication of current fitness so I was able to plan a race pace.

As a lower mileage runner, how do you approach the 5K vs. 10K differently? Has your training been focused more on the 5K or 10K? 

Well, the 10K is double the distance so isn’t it double the work?! Joking aside, I haven’t trained for the 10K specifically since I was a freshman in college (2007). Running the 10K last week was a leap and a prayer, but how well it went, in particular considering I had raced 2 days earlier, was a testament to the quality training I’ve been doing. Right now I’m focusing on the 5K, but inevitably as I get stronger and quicker my 10K time will improve. I’m a bit of a conundrum training-wise since I race well off of less than 30 miles per week. In theory, I’d be faster, especially at longer distances like the 10K or even a half marathon, if I could handle more miles, but I break easily. Long term plans involve increasing mileage to be better prepared for longer race efforts.

Both of these races were run virtually - how has virtual racing been for you? Are you someone who thrives off of in-person competition or can you push yourself just as hard on your own? Can you provide anything help you may have learned this year about solo workouts/races? 

Virtual racing is HARD! I am very competitive and all the tricks in the world can’t simulate an in-person race. Some of the things that have helped a little though are getting dressed like it’s a real race, ie: uniform, racing shoes, bib number, and believe it or not, a pretty hairdo. It helps to get me in the whole mindset of racing. I also follow all my typical pre-race rituals, ie: good dinner, extra sleep, specific breakfast, long warmup and drills. I lack self-motivation so accountability is key. It’s hard for me to push myself if there is no pressure for a race. Pressure can be simulated by telling someone a specific goal time.

You're a very experienced coach (both with Chaski and as a high school, college, and club coach) and athlete. Do you coach yourself or do you also rely on someone else to provide outside guidance and support? 

I have so much running info in my head that it’s like a kid in a candy store who can’t pick just one thing. When left to my own devices, I do too much and get hurt. I also find that my self-motivation only comes in bursts so I rely on others to pull me through the lull…specifically on my coach [and Chaski Director of Coaching], Jon Waldron. Accountability is such an important part of my training. I could come up with a training plan, but if I don’t do it then no one’s the wiser and no one cares! But when Jon gives me something to do I feel obligated to do it. I’d be a much lazier individual and a much slower runner without him!

How has your recovery been and what's next for you?

Recovery has been going great. Everyone, knock on wood! The plan is to continue slowly building mileage and get stronger. I respond well to faster workouts and they keep me invested (more than a lot of "LSD", long slow distance) so I’ll keep doing track workouts during the slow total build. I’d like to stay injury-free with no rush to race, I’m looking at next spring as a target. I’m learning to love the process of just training…but since it’s always fun to see some big gains, I’ve recently taken on some short term strength training goals as well.