Looking for first marathon in 2019...opinions on FIRST? (Read 194 times)



    I've never run a marathon.  Mostly 5k and some 10k (1 half) and an annual sprint triathlon in recent years.  Want to get one in before 50 so I've got about 2 years left!  Hoping to get into NY 2019 running for Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (my son has Crohn's).  Wondering if anyone has opinions on the Furman FIRST training method?  I saw a thread from 2009 that's mostly banter...  Is anyone currently using this training technique?  Anyone tried it but didn't like/get good results?  My two goals would be to finish the race and secondly in under 4 hours.  Anything faster than that is gravy.


    Some background on me:


    I ran the half 3 years ago somewhat injured (runners knee) and never had a workout longer than 9 miles but was able to manage a 1:44.  I'm generally around a 20 minute 5k.  I have been prone to injury since my Achilles reattachment 13 years ago. I'm usually not logging more than 20 miles a week at any point in recent years.  Throwing in some cycling and swimming in prep for the tri has been very refreshing.


    Open to any and all opinions and advice on FIRST or other marathon training tips!



    2019:  Run my first marathon.


    "Who you are will show in what you do"

    Half Crazy K 2.0

      I sort of used it several winters ago, we had a lot of ice and so running outside in the dark was out. I did the run workouts on an ancient treadmill and did spin workouts for the plus 2. I was not doing it exactly as written because the speed read outs on my treadmill are questionable at best, so I did based on time and effort. I felt pretty good in spring races.


      What I didn't like....the book is very particular about pacing and mentions using a treadmill or finding flat areas for the runs. I don't agree with this--no local races here are flat, so I need to run hills. It also can be demoralizing to not hit paces in the workouts. I really struggled with this--especially with the faster paces for long runs.


      Brad Hudson's book has a 3 day plan for master's runners that to me seems less rigid pace wise.


      I lost my rama

        First, that's great you're running for your son and Crohn's... wish you both well.


        I'm not familiar with the FIRST plan, but I can say that there's no real "short cut" to training for a marathon.  More days running and more miles equal better results.  Pretty simple but takes a lot of work.


        NYC is not an easy marathon if you're looking for a time goal.  I've done it 3 times.  However, I think it's a great race for your first marathon, especially running for a charity.  Hope you're in for 2019 and once you're committed, don't look back!  You won't regret any of it.  Good luck!

        3/17 - NYC Half

        4/28 - Big Sur Marathon  DNS

        6/29 - Forbidden Forest 30 Hour

        8/29 - A Race for the Ages - will be given 47 hours


        Are we there, yet?

          I have not used the FIRST program though I've read through a lot of threads about it.  Several factors to consider:

          1)  That is three days of hard running, either intense or long.  Recovery between running workouts is critical and not everyone can recover sufficiently with only one non-running day between.

          2)  The recovery days have you cross training so you aren't resting even if you aren't running.
          3)  The result of that is only one true rest day a week.


          For an injury prone runner I'd suggest looking at Galloway's run-walk methodology.  At the level you run, i.e. 20 mpw, Higdon's novice programs would be your starting point.  The biggest criticism there is the emphasis on the weekend long run approaching 40-50% of your weekly mileage.  That overloads your training on one run with a higher risk level for injury.  Galloway tries to circumvent that (he also emphasizes a long weekend workout) by interspersing walking with running which gives you brief active recovery period mid-run.

           2023 Races:

                06/16 - Six Days in the Dome 12-Hour




            It is indeed 5-6 hard workouts a week.  It beats me why anyone would want to punish themselves this way for months on end.  Those who take it on seem to migrate to one of three directions, assuming they get through it:


            1) They stick to it as is, complain the entire time of how hard it is, and when it's over and done decide to try something different next time.

            2) Drop the cross training days, and don't replace them (this rarely works out well).

            3) Replace the cross training with easy runs, which then makes it the same as most any other off-the-rack marathon plan.


            The thing that made the biggest difference for me was having a mid-week mid-long run, something in the 90ish minute range.  Usually that was on a Thursday while my dedicated long run was Sunday.  It made my long runs easier to achieve and ultimately made the race easier to achieve.


              I'm no expert but have run 9 marathons.  I started when I turned 50 and am now 57.


              I would just run a little farther every week.  I went by time.  First week 20 minutes.  Next week 25... and so on, gradually, until I had a 3 hour run under my belt.  Then I felt ready.


              I usually only run twice a week.  5k on Wednesdays and a long run on the weekend.  I also cross train- surfing about twice a week.  By most standards I under train but it works for me.


              Your times are fast, so you must be pretty athletic .  You should do fine.


              Also, I used to get really sore knees.  I would be limping the day after a marathon.  Then I tried sandals.  Problems gone.  Again, works for me.  YMMV.


                I used FIRST in the past when I was recovering from an injury but trying to still keep strong times. If you follow it to the letter IT'S HARD. The whole idea is that you only run 3 days a week to not wear down too much and risk injury, but when you do run you're really pushing yourself. HARD. The cross-training helps recover and further develop aerobic fitness (I assume); but your can't phone those in, either. I now run 80-100 mpw and I still look back on my time doing FIRST as just a grind. My worry would be that if you do FIRST for your first marathon, you may end up really hating the training process.


                Overall, I think JimR hit the nail on the head. I think I progressed through each of #1, 2, and 3 over the course of a couple training cycles. Once I got to 3 I realized I could do much better and moved on to more robust programs focused on building/maintaining a sustainable base. My take on FIRST is that it can work if you're trying to put in decent times without running too much, and you're worried about avoiding injury. But there are many programs that can help with injury avoidance.


                Anyway, lots of good advice already. I think the Higdon plans have their place for new marathoners, and it can help you start to build a good base. It will give perhaps the most "classic" training experience. But I agree that the long run mileage reco is pretty outdated. I know almost nothing about Galloway, so I'll defer to others (but I know a lot of people hold it in high regard). Overall, given the times you cite, I think your goal is well within reach regardless of the plan you do. Just know that the first one is always tough, so don't be discouraged if you fall short despite preparing well.


                Best of luck!


                the REAL JZ

                  Thanks all for the great feedback.  This really helps.  Right now I just reserved a copy of the book at the library to check it out.  I'm going to investigate the various plans/methods noted.


                  I definitely want this to be a good experience as much as a goal to accomplish and staying a runner for life is a big factor for me.  I ran in HS but not much after until my early 30's and then I blew out my Achilles at 34.  Honestly thought I'd never run again but a year later I was able to get out of bed in the morning w/o pain and got back into running and fell in love again.  Got my wife, who never ran, into it too and my kids love the occasional 5k.


                  Thanks again for the input and happy holiday running to all!

                  2019:  Run my first marathon.


                  "Who you are will show in what you do"


                    I suggest you check out the Hansons book from the library, too.  That's not a reduced mileage program like FIRST.  It does, though, avoid the "epic saga" 20 mile long run that 4:00 runners don't need, and it might be a good fit for someone athletic enough to put up 20 minute 5Ks on 20 miles per week.  I'd definitely recommend against FIRST for first time marathoners.  I once tried FIRST for a *half* ... about 2/3 of the way through the cycle I had a bad fall and lacerated my knee.  I was so relieved as it provided a great excuse to break training!  For me, FIRST was overall much less pleasant than anything I'd tried before or after (14 marathon training cycles total - Higdon, conventional high mileage, Hansons).  If you're leery of re-injury the best thing to do might be to hook up with a Physical Therapist who knows runners and can monitor your progress as you slowly build towards the ~40mpw that the consensus seems to think is minimally acceptable for a marathon.  A visit or two a month could prevent real mischief...


                    Good luck and let us know how it goes.


                    the REAL JZ

                      Thanks DukeDB.  I checked out Hanson's website and am also reserving this book at the library.  What I'm finding strange in their beginner marathon plan is that mileage jumps from 24 to 40 miles week 5-6.  I realize week 6 is the first week they have 6 days/week training but that still seems like a big jump.

                      2019:  Run my first marathon.


                      "Who you are will show in what you do"

                      Half Crazy K 2.0

                        While you're checking out books, get Brad Hudson's Run Faster from the 5k to Marathon. He has a 3 day per week marathon plan for masters, plus 3 others with varying mileage.

                        From the Internet.

                          Thanks DukeDB.  I checked out Hanson's website and am also reserving this book at the library.  What I'm finding strange in their beginner marathon plan is that mileage jumps from 24 to 40 miles week 5-6.  I realize week 6 is the first week they have 6 days/week training but that still seems like a big jump.


                          Yeah that's a wild jump. I think there was a reason for it in the book but I haven't read it yet and honestly I'm not sure any sort of reasoning would be enough to convince me that it's a good idea.


                          I HAVE seen people use the beginner plan successfully by just considering the plan to *actually* start on week 6, go in with a little bit of base building already done, and spend the first weeks running more mileage than the plan prescribes.


                          the REAL JZ

                            Hey all - just wanted to follow up on progress.  I'm running the NJ half on April 28th and am using the half marathon training plan in Brad Hudson's Run Faster from the 5k to Marathon.  It felt like the sweet spot between FIRST and Hanson's.  So far so good!  I'm up to 35 miles/week with a 12 mile long run the past two weeks and have ramped up to just a few miles short of the totals in the plan.  Best part is I'm injury free and feeling better running than I have in a long time.  Can't wait for this half.


                            It's going to be my benchmark for determining my training and pacing for a full marathon which will be NY in November.  Excited and anxious but glad to have a spot.  I'm running in memory of my mom, who passed last year after battling Leukemia, and on behalf of DKMS - a charity that raises awareness and helps get people signed up as bone marrow donors.


                            For those interested in more info...here's my fund raising page!  John Z fund raising for DKMS

                            2019:  Run my first marathon.


                            "Who you are will show in what you do"

                              What was your half marathon time? How recent was it?


                              Recent 10k time?


                              I just read an article...10k vs. Marathon time...



                              10k                Marathon          MPW

                              51                    3:59                40

                              45                    3:29                50-60

                              38                    3:00                70

                              32                    2:29                80-90

                              300m- 37 sec.

                                On the West Coast: Bizz Johnson, a downhill on dirt roads. Moderate elevation of 6500-4000 might be an issue for some.

                                60-64 age group  -  University of Oregon alumni  -  Irreverent and Annoying