First Marathon - Do I still have a shot at sub 3:00? (Read 228 times)

comfortably hard

    Hello RA! First time poster here in search of some advice. As background, I'm a 27 yo guy, started running consistently last spring with no major purpose except for a desire to have a healthy, goal-oriented hobby.. I eventually was persuaded into doing a half marathon with a friend in October. Built up to about 50/60 mpw for it and really surprised myself by running a 1:19 (didn't expect anything faster than mid 1:20s). I was hooked. Shortly after, I signed up for an early spring marathon (Rock n' Roll DC - March 16). Regrettably, I did not purchase any formal marathon training plan, and instead pieced together a plan based on principles that made sense to me from reading through sites like this (I know..  I know.. not smart for a first timer, but I thought I had read enough about Pfitz's/Hanson's plans online that I generally understood the different approaches/concepts). Anyway, things were going great, I had built up to 60/70 mpw with no major issues (little bit of ITBS in December but got over it quickly enough with strength work & stretching), until about 6 weeks out...


    I felt pain on my left inner ankle.. stubbornly tried to run through it.. obviously, it got worse.. Self diagnosed it as Posterior Tibial Tendonitis (fits all the symptoms and I have low arches). After that, I took 8 days off completely, then when it no longer hurt to walk or jog lightly, I started back with some cross-training and strength work and, in an attempt to salvage the marathon, have rapidly ramped up the running again. I just completed a 60 mile week - all very easy runs and a fair amount of cross-training, but the PTT still lingers. It is a lot better though, and I was somehow able to complete a 20 miler on Saturday, but it's a bit sore in the beginning of runs and sometimes walking around during the day. Anyway, since then, I have also developed some mild tendonitis in the other ankle (hasn't progressed in the last few days so I'm optimistic), my back gave out while bending over to pick something up this morning (my back likes to do this every once in a while, usually takes only a few days to heal and running actually doesn't hurt it), and I now have a pretty bad cold.. I know none of this is major... and it could always be worse, and if I play my cards right, I think I could still get to the starting line, but, man is it frustrating.. Anyway, the point of this whole post is I could really use some advice on what to do the rest of the way (next 3ish weeks) and thinking about a revised time-goal (should I even have one?).


    My original goal (aside from finishing) was to BQ, 3:05 for my age group (I'm from Boston and, after reading some good race reports, I really really want to run it someday) . Then, as I got fitter, and could roll off 6 minute miles fairly comfortably, I started considering sub 2:50, or maybe even faster.. I had heard that it's hard to get the first one right, and read lots of advice to be conservative with goals in the first one, but I felt pretty confident in how my training was going. I had done two 18 milers, one slow, one with the last 8 @ 6:00 pace, 60/70 mpw with a good amount at MP or below (possibly too much which probably is what got me hurt) and I was planning to do at least two runs of 20+. Now, due to the timing of the injury, I haven't been able to do the big long runs as planned and I only have done one 20 miler... on a treadmill... (this past Saturday.. did 15 @ 7:30, 5 @ 6:30) and I haven't done a proper speed workout in a month. I was wondering if I should attempt another 20+ miler this weekend with only two weeks to go before the race, or is that too close that I wouldn't fully recover from it in time(not to mention the obvious risk in re-injury)? If that's a bad idea, what should I do? I was also going to try to do a 8 mile tempo this week and maybe 10-12 mile tempo the following week. Assuming I can put in a some decent training, maybe 60 miles this week, 40 next, with some MP runs, is a BQ still realistic? Sub-3? Lower? I want to start out at a pace as close to my potential as possible without seriously risking a major blow up. Any thoughts, advice, criticism, info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys.


      My husband is a sub 3:00 hour marathoner, so he probably could tell you if you could or not (he's my "coach" and he's pretty good at running marathons-- he has done 30-something).  That being said, I'm a firm believer in not setting a goal your first marathon.




      Half: 1:48 (March 3rd, 2013)

      Full: 4:05:40 (March 17th, 2013)


      2013/2014 Goals:

      Sub-4:00 hour Marathon

      Sub- 125 pounds
      Sub- 1:45 hour half.

      Feeling the growl again

        A 10-12 mile tempo run the same week as the marathon?  Even if I'm reading that off by a week it's kind of close for that.


        Look, don't try to be making up for missed training in the final few weeks; it doesn't work that way.  If you want to qualify for Boston and you've already run 1:19 for the HM, you just have to go out and do it.  Go for sub-3, learn a lot, and you can push the limits next time.

        "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


        I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


          That's a tough one.  You obviously are going to smash sub-3 one day but maybe not this time.  If you still have soreness from that PTT you could set yourself up for a much longer layoff due to injury by going all out in this marathon.   No matter what you decide, I'd do as spaniel says and NOT try to make up training but, and here's where I differ from spaniel, I'd most likely bag this marathon.  At best, I'd just jog the thing if you MUST run it.  I'd only race it hard it if that soreness is completely gone.  You're a young guy with some potential and the best way to realize that potential is to string together long, long periods of uninterrupted training.  You may come out just fine but you might not.

          comfortably hard

            Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated. Spaniel, I was thinking that long tempo would be about 8-10 days away from the race. That too close? I realize its not ideal but is it better than doing a 6-8 mi tempo?  I dont want to do extra workouts to make up for lost time, but I want to make the few workouts I have left count (if I can). Also, kuen, part of the reason I will likely go for it if healthy enough is that I'm getting surgery (unrelated to running) after the race and am going to have to be immoble for 8 weeks anyway, so if I make things worse during the race, I have a built in rest period. Well, thanks again, hopefully it all goes well.

            Bacon Party!

              Frankly, it sounds like you're well into over-training.

              For this race, you'll likely have the best shot at your best possible performance given current conditions if you just focus on arriving at the starting line as healthy as can be.


              You're only a few weeks out - the hay is in the barn. Your best opportunity for making aerobic developments for this race has passed. Get healthy. Race as well as you can. Go forth and sin no more.


              pace sera, sera

              And in the end...

                If you can cool your jets a bit in training and pace yourself properly during the race you should be able to pull off a sub3.


                Fuck it. I'm gonna PR this fall. Let's do this.


                registered pw

                  I think you have a great shot at it, but take care of your nagging pain.

                  2017 goals:

                  sub 1:30 half 


                    To me, it depends on your goal priority. Trying to run your best marathon, you run a very real risk of blowing up and missing your BQ. But with the shape you are in, if you can get to the starting line with nothing really wrong, I would say sub-3 should be in the bag.


                    If it were me, I'd pace for just under 3, and pick it up around 20 if I felt good (which you probably will). If not, hopefully you can still hang on for the BQ. Really, I would call that a conservative plan. Without the training interruption, I would definitely be thinking sub 2:50.


                    I agree with the others that getting to the starting line healthy is more important than getting in more quality training at this point, unless you are really determined to go for broke.


                    So yeah, I agree with spaniel, "Go for sub-3, learn a lot, and you can push the limits next time."


                    Good luck.