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How One Runner Qualified for the Boston Marathon by Running Less

Ann Marie Piotrowski running a race.

Name: Ann Marie Piotrowski
Age: 31
Occupation: HR analyst for Walgreens
Goal: Qualify for the Boston Marathon

Ann Marie Piotrowski was ready to get serious. After completing three Chicago Marathons—the first as a “bucket list” quest, the next two out of love—Piotrowski did what successful people do. She set herself a tough goal: Boston’s 26.2-mile race. She needed to shave over 30 minutes off her best time to qualify for the famous Massachusetts miler, to conquer its 3:35 entry standard.

“I didn’t think I would come close this year, so I told myself—just break the four-hour mark and then knock it down from there,” says Piotrowski, a natural athlete who has indulged in a heavy dose of athletics since early childhood.

Around May, she started following her own training plan in advance of this year’s Chicago Marathon, an advanced program found online that friends had used and recommended. The race was in October. Piotrowski didn’t have a chance. “I thought that if I wanted to run longer and faster, then all I needed to do was run more,” she says. “I had no core strength; I couldn’t even hold a plank.”

As an HR analyst for Walgreens, Piotrowski has access to the Core Performance Center located on the company’s corporate campus in Deerfield, Illinois. In June, she dipped in for a yoga class and soon dropped her old gym membership.

“I was so impressed because I didn’t see equipment everywhere; there were more minimalistic tools, like medicine balls and ropes,” she remembers. “The trainers knew I was preparing for a marathon and were so helpful, showing me strength exercises and Movement Prep that would make my running stride more efficient.”

From core stability work to plyometrics, Piotrowski was learning the difference between amateurs and professionals, performing the specialized training that top athletes do behind the scenes. “They opened me to that world,” she adds, “putting together personalized plans that complemented my body’s tendencies.”

The Core Performance trainers analyzed her running schedule, helping her implement cross-training days and shepherding her through yoga classes and other recovery-based activities. And on race day, a 3:41 time proved the worth of real guidance.

Says Piotrowski: “I actually ran less than before and had much better results, showing myself that ‘more is not better.’ Cranking out sloppy work will not benefit you.” Yeah, she missed Boston by 6 minutes, but she did so with heart. “I never hit a wall; it was a totally different experience,” says Piotrowski. “I felt strong the entire time. And after the race, my recovery couldn’t have been more different—my body was able to handle this and more.”

One of her Core Performance trainers came to the marathon and cheered her on, and another put together a post-marathon plan that had her back on the pavement within a week. She felt so strong, in fact, that with continued guidance, Piotrowski ran the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 3rd. Her result: Boston bound, baby!

Tags: Running, Race, Success Story

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