Im new. Help point me in the right direction for my 1st marathon. (Read 161 times)


    Hello All,


    I have been reading for the past few weeks and it seems there is a lot of knowledge on this forum so I am reaching out for help. I have decided I want to run a marathon. I do not have a time in mind but my goal is not just to finish (I could just finish one tomorrow, it just wouldn't be pretty). In order to get the best advise possible I am going to give you a brief history.


    I am 39 years old. I ran Cross Country in High School. I enjoyed running. I joined the USMC and they made me run, a lot. I hated running. I got out after 4 years and did not run for 10 years. In 2008 I joined the Army Nat Guard and started running again, as necessary. In 2010 I went through a 4 month Infantry school. I started this school running 5 miles in 45 minutes. I left running 5 miles in 39:30. My knees were hurting by the end. I endured lots of 100% HR runs as I wasn't quite fast enough to keep up with the pack. My knees hurt for 6 months every time I ran after that, which wasn't much. I am also a great rucker and I can ruck 12 miles with 60+ lbs at about a 14 minute mile. I have ran once or twice a week since 2010 but only about 2 miles each run.


    For the last year I have been deployed to Afghanistan and I had no access to a running area and the 1 treadmill was only accessible for a couple hours a day and was shared between 60+ people. What that means is I didn't run for months. I did do Insanity every morning(aerobics like DVD class).  On June 24th I had End Of Mission and moved to a big Air Base. That week I ran twice. The next week I ran 3 times. Last week I ran 4 days for a total of a 10 mile week, with my long run 4 miles at a 9:50 pace. This was an effort of 6 or 7. HR about 160. My max HR is 185. My resting HR is 54. I ran again this AM and at 1 mile my knee started feeling funny. Saying it hurt isn't accurate but as close as I can explain. Pain was maybe a 1 on the outside just below the kneecap. I stopped running and walked back home.


    I have an interest in Hansons running program a I like the idea or training based on Heart Rate.  In my experience I start to fast and I always am slower on the back half, however I always get an adrenaline boost when I get close to the finish and like to push myself hard toward the end of any run. My goals are to run a respectable 1st marathon, improve my 2 mile time for Army reasons, and get my 5 mile time back under 40 minutes(so I can go to Ranger school). Yes I'm an old man trying to live a young mans dream and enjoying every minute of it Smile


    So what is my question??? Well, please advise me on how fast I can increase my miles and what recommendations you have for a marathon plan as well as any other advise you want to bestow.

    I also have no idea what my marathon training pace should be as I am improving weekly at this point and should I buy Lukes book and follow that Hanson plan?


    Thank you so much in advance,



      First, get new shoes.  Go to a specialty running store and get fitted if possible.  90% of the time the knee pain will go away just by getting the proper footwear.  If that doesn't solve the pain, go see a dr.


      I would start with a smaller goal of a 5k and make a marathon a long term goal.  Work your way up the ladder, 5k -> 8k -> 10k -> 15k -> Half -> Full.  It might take you a year or two till you feel


      As a starting point, I always tell people to  try and run 3-4 times a week (every other day) and working your way up to 30 minutes per run.  Once you get to 30 minutes per run, try and add an additional run of 45 minutes a week.  This should suffice to get you in to running some 5k races.

        My goals are to run a respectable 1st marathon, improve my 2 mile time for Army reasons, and get my 5 mile time back under 40 minutes(so I can go to Ranger school). Yes I'm an old man trying to live a young mans dream and enjoying every minute of it Smile


        I admire your attitude.


        You probably already know this but your 1st goal has the potential to be in conflict with your 2nd and 3rd goals. If you make it through the training for your first marathon healthy, there is a really good chance you improve your 2 mile time and get your 5 mile well under 40 min in the process. But there's also a pretty solid chance you'll get injured along the way.


        Reversing the order of your goals might be the lower risk alternative--but there are risks either way so I can't say what you should do.


        Hansons' is a solid marathon plan. I think you want to build up your base of mileage to the point to where you look at the first couple of weeks of the plan as being pretty easy. Don't worry about target marathon pace at first, you will figure that out as you get in to the plan. Err on the side of doing the workouts a little too slow. How fast you can build your base is impossible for anyone to say for sure--you have to listen to your body and do what you can handle. It sounds like you're generally a lot more fit than the average 39 year old, so you might be able to be fairly aggressive in building mileage.


        As for your knee pain, that could be a lot of different things.  I don't put a lot of faith in shoes to fix problems. IMO a running shoe's job is to provide a little protection for the foot while basically staying out of the way and letting the body do it's thing. Most of of us who are in our 40's (or getting close) have all kinds of posture issues and tightness in our hips, back and glutes that can cause an avalanche of issues--runners knee is just one of them (actually runners knee is a catch all for a bunch of different things.) A shoe won't fix any of that. I highly recommend the book Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dacharry. There are a million training books (like Hansons) that help us build a bigger engine--this one focuses on how to build a strong and stable chassis to be able to take advantage of that engine. Among other things in can help you diagnose where you are weak and/or lack mobility needed for long distance running, and to figure out how to fix it. Go after the root cause of your knee pain versus treating the symptom.

        Runners run.

          " Last week I ran 4 days for a total of a 10 mile week, with my long run 4 miles at a 9:50 pace. This was an effort of 6 or 7. HR about 160. My max HR is 185. My resting HR is 54."


          A 40 min 5 miler is well within your capability, but you may  need to focus a bit less on all those numbers and just increase the mileage slowly at an easy enough pace that will let you increase the mileage without injury. Suggest  leaving the watch home, forget HR, just run about 40 min a day as often as you can, with an occasional 1 hour-90 min run at conversational pace.  You may need that weekly mileage over 35-40 miles a week to have an somewhat enjoyable marathon experience, build up to that before taking up a plan.

          Ready to race!

            I agree with the advice above and would like to add that even if you don't end up using the Hanson Method, you may want to buy Luke's book anyway.  The general training concepts in there are spot on.


            Feeling the growl again

              I would focus on the shorter distances first; I'm sure you could get to FINISHING a marathon in a year or so but doing that, even if you didn't end up injured, you may just hate running again.   I would focus shorter and let the marathon wait until you are handling 10Ks/half marathons without issues.


              Your knee could be a lot of things, but I strongly suspect it has more to do with the abuse taken from Army training and rucking than running.  I have a good friend who was in Desert Storm, went to Ranger School, and recently spent another year in Iraq.  His descriptions of some of the stuff they did to him in Army and specifically Ranger School sounded like a knee's worst nightmare.  He dropped out of Ranger School close to completion because he wrecked one of his knees....and now he has permanent issues with it and wishes he hadn't gutted it out until they had to carry him off.  So be careful with it.  Those courses are designed for someone a couple years younger than you.  Big grin

              "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




                I was getting discouraged, checking the post several times a day awaiting a response. I just checked it and was delighted to have 5 replies. Thank you I truly appreciate the time you each took to respond.


                Protex- I went to a running store a few years ago and tried on many different shoes and based on my pronation and fit I went with the Asics Kayano. I am now on my 5th or 6th pair and they are about 10 months old with not a lot of miles on them because I was unable to run. They do have some gym time and some walking around time but not much. I will however replace them soon as I bought them in a hurry just before I deployed and I hate the color.


                Mikey- Yes I do understand there is some risk involved in running. I finally leae Mississippi in a few days and I plan to press my boss on the Ranger School dates and firm guarantee (I have been out of contact for a year and budget issues make it harder and harder to get a spot). Based on that conversation I will decide if the primary goal is the 5 mile time or the marathon. I really need to be in shape to do both in order to be successful at Ranger School.

                I typically nee to go to the chiropractor every few months(at least) t get adjusted because of the physical demands of my civilian job as well as my active lifestyle. I have not been able to do that and hopefully an adjustment will fix my knee. I did run this am(3 miles) with only a little knee discomfort at about 2 11/2 miles. I am smart enough in y old age to stop if thins do not feel right and to slowdown when absolutely needed. I ran at a 10 mm pace today and it felt very comfortable even if it was a tad faster than talking pace.

                Than you for the book recommendation. I will purchase it.


                Happyfeet- You nailed me right. I obsess with the watch. I like having the statistics and I like meeting a certain pace goal, even when arbitrarily set. I a not capable of leaving it at home but I will set my mind to looking at it much much less and focusing on my breathing level.


                Mescal- Thx I will buy the book anyway I sounds like, at least for me, an informative read.


                Spaniel- I go through phases where I think Im 18 again and the last 5 years I have been in one of those phases. I must admit, my body has held up pretty well. I have went through 4 different academies from 2008, all of which are known to be hard for their particular field and all several months long each. With that done I need more of a challenge and I believe this may be my new thing. I already run 45minutes at a 1 minute mile pace and could go a few more(I think) at that pace. I am fighting to build my mileage slow Its hard because I want to keep going.


                Thanks for the tips. I will post again with an update and if I have questions.


                Feeling the growl again



                  Why the fixation with the marathon?  I'm not hammering on you, it's just that there is so much more to running.  I had plenty of fun for 10 years running before I ever did a marathon -- 9 years having never raced over 10K.


                  Take your time.  Enjoy the steps along the way.  I'm an aggressive, driven personality myself but this is a sport for patience.  And, read that Anatomy for Runners book.  It just might give you some insight into what may be going on with your knee and why it may be a good idea to address that before you think about marathon training.


                  MTA:  Look at the numbers and types of people running marathons these days.  If it's some important personal milestone for you, fine.  But if you've been through other Ranger-type programs and go to Ranger school, I think you will be let down by the difficulty of the marathon.

                  "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


                    Boy, what is it with us Military and this obsession to go from 0 to Marathon in no time :-)     -- Just as reference, I was in Afghan in 2010, and spent my whole time in Bagram, where I assume is the base you were talking about at the end there.  The longest run I did was about 10 miles around that base perimeter, then I came home and did a Marathon 3 months later on lessening training.  (I'd call it a 3-month taper?!)


                    The difference I see though is that you are having Knee Pain, whereas I wasn't.  With knee pain at much lesser distances, the main concern is that you would get about half way through it and the knees may get too painful for you to finish.


                    I'd suggest you start with a Half-Marathon first.  But... If you are as stubborn as I was and want to do the Marathon first, the key thing I would suggest is a steady running plan and buildup in miles.  I am not certain what plan you should do, I have always 'done my own thing" and not followed plans.  But.. Again, the key thing:  Running 3 to 4 times a week, and building your weekly mileage up to 30-40 miles a week at a minimum.  


                    It will take time for your knees to strengthen up, so don't push it if the knees start to hurt, but over time, you should be able to build up a consistent weekly mileage for perhaps 12 weeks prior to the Marathon and you should be in good shape + have a successful Marathon.   Good Luck. !


                    The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞


                      Thanks again guys. I purchase Anatomy of Running last night and Im reading it now.

                      I am not a patient guy an I get something I my head and I just go do it. Luckily for me I am afraid of knee injury enough that I am trying to slowly build my miles and the marathon close to home isn't until January so Ill probably run a 1/2 for training on the way to the full.told it

                      My wife and I are planning on training together and we have not decided if we will run the marathon together or not. It depends on how slow she ends up being but I haven't told It to her that waySmile