to marathon or not to marathon?? need advice (Read 1322 times)


    Hi all, I'm new to this forum. Stumbled upon this site while looking for training programs. I wanted to get some advice on whether I should attempt to run in a marathon Nov 11. Here's my background: 30/F, been running consistently since high school, 130 lbs, currently in graduate school began training for a marathon in 2009, was up to week 11-12 in training (long runs of 18 miles) and sprained my ankle getting off the bus, was too busy last year to train This year my base since April has been 20-25 mph.. I did have some weeks with less mileage around my proposal defense and while I was at a professional conference for work. In August I backpacked 75.8 in Nantahala/Smoky Mountains NPs on the Appalachian trail, covering 13-19 miles per day for 5 days straight. So I am in fairly good shape with no lingering injuries. Time this summer simply slipped through my fingers, I was defending my proposal and working ridiculous hours in the lab. Now here it is September and I'm realizing that the marathon I wanted to run is 7 weeks away!! My long run this past week was 11 miles with no issues. I was wondering how bad of an idea it was to steadily increase my long runs (and overall mileage) 2 miles per week up until 2 weeks before the race and then taper down? If I continue along, by week 5 I will be running 21 miles. I will be able to consistently run 5 - 6 days a week up until the race. I don't want to get injured and don't particularly care about how fast I run it. Advice? Am I crazy?? Thanks in advance!

      just do it.


      you've got the right idea, ease into the longer runs.

      Get off my porch


      CPT Curmudgeon

        You have seven weeks until the race, and your most recent long run is 11 miles.  I'm guessing you're probably running around 20-25 miles a week at this point, over a spread of 3-4 days (but that's a guess on my part, and I could be completely wrong, so feel free to correct me).


        Could you complete a marathon in seven weeks?  Probably.  But.....  Depending on your personality, how you approach races, it could end up being a slog, particularly towards the end of the race.  And you're gonna be a hurtin' pup for the next week or so.  To avoid that type of situation, your best course of action would be to follow a run/walk plan like what Jeff Galloway recommends (you can google him and his plans).  There are people who have done a marathon on effectively zero training, by basically splitting up the running with more than a fair amount of walking.


        As for how to train for it....  Cramming is probably not the best bet, which is why my personal recommendation would be to try and schedule a marathon at least 4 (and preferably at least 6) months out.  Most of the marathon training plans out there, even novice ones, are around 14-18 weeks, and they have a base level of fitness they recommend before actually starting the plans.  Giving yourself more time would allow you to really get yourself in proper shape to run the marathon, and thus minimize your chance for injury while maximizing your enjoyment on race day.

        an amazing likeness

          You'll probably get a lot of dire warnings..but realistically, most people who are reasonably fit can cover the 26.2 miles.  You seem more than reasonably fit, just not someone who has focused on distance running recently.


          What changes about long races with quality training is comfort and speed...how fast you can do it, and how much it sucks while you're doing it.


          After reading your question, the advice I'd offer is to not try to cram a bunch of training that is more than your fitness can handle into the weeks between now and November 11th.  Cramming in lots of miles and lots of long runs will break you down.  Your goal should be to optimize the fitness you have.

          I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)


            to run, or not to run: that is the question:
            whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
            the slings and arrows of outrageous distance,
            or to take legs against a sea of faddists,
            and by opposing best them? to run: to walk;
            no more; and by a walk to say we end
            the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
            that knees are heir to, 'tis a consummation
            devoutly to be wish'd. to run, to walk;
            to walk: perchance to chafe: ay, there's the rub;
            for in that marathon what dreams may come
            when we have shuffled off that distant hill,
            must give us pause: there's the respect
            that makes calamity of such long runs;
            for who would bear the blisters borne of time,
            the achilles' wrong, the hamstring's contumely,
            the pangs of IT band, the rainy day,
            the insolence of sub-elites, the spurns
            that patient plodding with the ipod brings.
            when a runner pause, a thirst to slake
            with accelerade? who would be there,
            to grunt and sweat over a weary course,
            but that the dread of something afterwards,
            the spenco shoe from which a smell emits
            no traveller desires, but force the will
            and make us rather bear those ills we have
            than to face the morning knowing that
            karmaphobes and cowards are we all;
            and thus the native hue of resolution
            appears at every turn, at every thought.
            oh, enterprise of great pith and moment,
            we accept the challenge laid by you.
            hold tight the name of action. - run you now!
            when the distance is at last complete
            be memories of all your pain forgot.

            i find the sunshine beckons me to open up the gate and dream and dream ~~robbie williams

              You'll probably get a lot of dire warnings..but realistically, most people who are reasonably fit can cover the 26.2 miles.  You seem more than reasonably fit, just not someone who has focused on distance running recently.


              I agree with this.  You're at least as prepared as I was for my first marathon, and I didn't explode on the pavement or anything.  If you're realistic about what you are capable of and don't go out too fast, you can even have reasonably enjoyable experience.

              Runners run.

              A Saucy Wench

                I agree pretty much with Milk Truck


                I've had crappy marathons off bad training and fantastic marathons off bad training.  The difference was expectations and attitude.


                I wouldnt try to cram cram cram.  More than ever you need to listen to your body.  I think you would be far better off ramping to say 15-16 miles and then alternating on out - something more on the lines of 13-15-16-12-16-taper.  At this point beating yourself up on the long run is only going to increase injury risk and not increase your enjoyment of the race all that much.   If you are faster than the average bear maybe that 5th week could stretch to 18. 


                Most of your strength at this point is going to come from what you do midweek more than what you do for the long run.

                I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets


                "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7


                  thanks for the advice everyone! my 13 mile long run tonight went great. I'm going to keep slowly increasing and taper 2 weeks before. I certainly know that training further in advance is best, but my schedule as a graduate student is pretty hectic, so here we are. I will let you know how the race goes!!

                    Hokie - you still going for it?  I think you should, but be realistic.  Anyway, come back often and let us know how its going (or went - when completed).


                      i'm gonna go for it... so far so good. Ran 29 this week. doing lots of stretching and listening to my body if I'm tired. Thanks a lot for the advice! This time around my body feels much better trained than back in 09. Back then the long runs were total hell, and now they're a lot of fun. I went to an orthopedic doctor this week and got a sports physical and everything looked A-ok to him. Thanks again for the advice!

                        so far the long runs have been pretty good, two weeks ago  had a pretty rough 15 mile long run, i was definitely not properly hydrated or rested, but stuck with it and finished.  No lingering pain or issues afterwards.  Last week ran 17 on my long ron, had a little bit of stiffness in my hip flexors and lateral aspect of my thighs around mile 8-9 but it eased up by mile 12 and i finished strong. A couple days ago I slightly tweaked my tibialis posterior after a 4 mile run.  My muscles felt tired right off the bat when I started running, I should have listened to my body, I had done some yoga earlier in the day and all the deep muscles in my calf were tight while I was doing yoga.  It's not swollen or inflammed, just irritated.  In any case I took yesterday off and will take today off and will try a shorter slow run tomorrow on the indoor track. I have had problems with my tibialis posterior back in 2008.  I know the drill with the icing, sports massage, exercises, etc.  If I can't make the Nov 12 race, its not the end of the world.  Today, I just realized there's a closer marathon to me than the one on Nov 12.  Kiawah Island is Dec 10, and its a closer drive for me, so that may be a better goal.  Will see how this  calf thing turns out...  

                        King of PhotoShop

                          I am going against the grain here and advising you to wait.  Certainly you can finish the marathon if your goal is just to see if you can finish one, but you sound like an achiever and you will likely make a hash out of this attempt and you will not be at all happy.  Finish the important academic and other priorities you have before you, and then when you have the capacity to train over a more reasonable period of time, go for it.  You are young. There are lots of marathons ahead of you and much time.  Don't do it yet.  Spareribs


                            I'm with the group that recommends against running the marathon. But of course that depends on your goal. If you just want to finish it at a pace that's comfortable (not competitive for you), then I suppose you can do it, especially with the suggestion of the Galloway program.


                            But with the training you've described, I have a feeling you could switch to the half marathon and be perfectly OK with it. I'd recommend saving the marathon for later.