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Another "Help a Rookie Marathoner" thread (Read 1069 times)

    Hi Folks

     

    I am running my first Marathon this Sunday (Dec 4th) and was looking for a couple of pointers from the more experienced;

     

    I've been running for about 4 years. Done 8 HMs but this will be my first full. My training has been pretty unremarkable. I have followed Higdon's Intermediate 1 plan (roughly). The workouts and mileage are there but not necessarily on the right days of the week in all cases. I have not done the cross training.

     

    My "long" runs have been two 18 milers and two 20 milers.No real problems, though for some reason the second 18 miler was a bit of a drag. Pace for the other three has been between 9:38 and 9:48.

    My recent race is a HM back on October 9th in 1:53:31.

     

    I don't think i am under any illusion about what I am capable of this weekend (y'all will soon tell me if I am!).

    I am not planning on qualifying for Boston Big grin and even though the RA Race time predictor shows a 3:59:59, based on my recent HM race, I don't think I am going to bust 4 hours - I don't have the miles.

     

    My plan is to try to "enjoy" my first marathon and try to finish. "The plan" is to set off at about 9:50 pace and see what happens.

     

    Questions are:

    • Is "the plan" a little, well, unambitious? I don't want to fall into the rookie error of blowing up later on by going out too fast but it is a race and even though I don't have the miles in the bank to "race" a Marathon. I'd still like to run as good a time as I am capable of running.
    • Any pointers for a follow up training plan? I have a HM coming up 8 weeks after this race (Jan 28th) and am probably in the best running shape I have ever been in. I would love a HM PR shot in Jan but am not sure how to fill the 8 week gap. How long a break from running after the marathon (Higdon says 3 days - no running) and then what about the following weeks?

    Would appreciate any advice anyone's got. Thanks in advance.

     

    Cheers

     

    MattJ

    2013 Goals
    1) Break 1:50 in a HM (PR 1:52:19)
    2) Break 4:00 in a Marathon (PR 4:20:39)

    Biking Bad


    finnegan begin again

       It's your race so you have to pick the priorities. But, to me, it seems like a soft goal pace based on your long runs, milage and recent half marathon time. It's slower than your long run paces. You seemed to finish all of the ones that I looked at in your log in a strong manner. Same with your half marathon race. Did those runs finish confidently?

       

      Setting a goal time that you fail to achieve while crawling in can be too scary. It's a better story though.

       

      I am early in this running thing so take my opinion with a grain of salt. 4 hours looks reasonable. 9:50 pace is really holding back IMO based on your work.

       

      Hydrate early and often. 

       

      Have fun. Good luck.

       

      It's one to build on. Good or bad

      "... the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value..."  Thomas Paine Dec 23, 1776 The Crisis 

       

      Adversity is the first path to truth. Lord Byron


      uncontrollable

        Don't know how you're feeling overall right now - fit? ready? But, I feel like you are right on target with your approach.  ALWAYS better to start out with a pace you are sure of ... get to 13.1 and check-in ... how are you feeling ... think about the distance ahead of you - feeling great: I would pick it up "a little bit" not crazy - just a little - mile 20: re-assess one more time because as they say "mile 20 is where the MARATHON starts" just be honest with how you feel: if you need to slow, so be it --- just keep steady: GREAT!---able to pick it up a teeny bit more???: IDEAL!

         

        It all goes by how the day & miles unfold.  I have close to 20 marathons under my belt, including 3 Bostons, no matter where I was at physically or mentally at the start line of any given race ... I could never predict how I would feel at each mile: I personally always have a few strategies & a few goals: ideal, acceptable, and finish & learn so that no matter what unfolds ... I can mentally re-group if need be & focus on one of those three goals.  Either way, you will finish, it is just HOW that will come to pass that is the mystery!  You have done some hard work - just be somewhere between conservative & aggressive for your first so that you have a great day!  You only get to experience your 1st ONCE ... let it be great!

        peace

          Matt,

          I've seen you post on here before, but it wasn't until last night that I realized that we have mutual friends through Facebook, and I "kind of" know you....  You'll be fine for your 1st marathon.  It looks like you're well prepared.

           

          For me, the biggest challenge was staying within myself and keeping myself from running someone else's race (faster than my preparation...).

           

          With proper pacing and mental focus, you'll be able to do what you want to do and what you think you can do.

          But, as MissPratt said, along the course of the +/- 4 hours, you're going to have to re-assess and make decisions about how you're feeling and what you should do / could do.  I *think* that it's best to reserve those mid-race-game-plan changes for the last half of the race, and until then, maintain your game plan.

           

          A friend of mine once said... "If you realize you can't do what you set out to do, then set out to do what you can do". 

          You will do it!  And, you will enjoy it!


          Cheers,
          Brian

          2014 Goals:

          #1: Do what I can do. <DOING>

          #2: 365 Hours training

           


          Fat butt on couch

            Starting at 9:50 will certainly be safe.  The question is how much you want to balance enjoyment with lowering your time.  If you ran your 20-milers 9:38-9:48, there is no reason that running the race at the same pace as you practiced a 20-miler should be a problem.  If I were you and wanted to be a bit conservative, I'd start at whatever pace you did your 20-milers at and re-assess sometime after the HM point.  Certainly once you pass 20 miles, if you are still feeling good you have time to take off a couple minutes.

             

            Assessing the way you feel in a marathon is a difficult thing to do.  I've had races where I felt like complete hell at 16 miles, worked through it, and PR'd.  I've also had one where I felt great at 22 miles before my legs seized up and forced me to walk most of the rest of it.

             

            Whichever pace you choose, be prepared for some ugliness in that last 10K.  Unless you really slow it down to a training run there are likely to be some unpleasant times....not that you won't enjoy it in some sick way anyways.  Wink

            "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

             

              Starting at 9:50 will certainly be safe.  The question is how much you want to balance enjoyment with lowering your time.  If you ran your 20-milers 9:38-9:48, there is no reason that running the race at the same pace as you practiced a 20-miler should be a problem.  If I were you and wanted to be a bit conservative, I'd start at whatever pace you did your 20-milers at and re-assess sometime after the HM point.  Certainly once you pass 20 miles, if you are still feeling good you have time to take off a couple minutes.

              It is amazing to me (not that I'm saying you say it this way, Spaniel) that people do their long run faster than their anticipated marathon pace.  I guess I just don't see much point in doing your workout better than your actual race.  To me, THE RACE is where you shine; where you do your furthest and the fastest.  You (OP) had just done Half Marathon in somewhere around 8:40 per mile pace; and you had been doing 18~20-mile in training at 9:38~9:48 pace.  And you anticipate to start the marathon at 9:50?  I don't know; I found it all so very backward thinking...  When my wife ran her first marathon (I always use her as an example because I remember her paces, etc., I never remember all those details...), she was training mainly at 10~11 pace; we put the program together in such way that she'd do HER BEST at the race--in other words, we planned to PEAK on the day.  She started out at 8:15 pace; well, a bit too aggressive, and ended up running at around 9 pace average in 3:54.  As far as I'm concerned, that's what training and racing is all about.  You train to race.  If you do better in training, well, I don't really see much point of training/racing.  I know some people look at things differently; I noticed someone said something about running a half marathon on treadmill and counted that as PR.  I don't see not too many people, or organizations like BAA, would take that as official performance.  Maybe good for ego booster but perhaps not much else...

               

              Going back to the original question; my suggestion, at this point, is to get to the start, settle in the comfortable effort, regardless of what the watch or Garmin might tell you, and stick with it as long as you can and see what happens.  Trying to adjust the pace, according to the watch, not your feeling, can be disastrous.  You should not force yourself to slow down OR pick up and pace.  Feel the force (Luke). 


              Fat butt on couch

                It is amazing to me (not that I'm saying you say it this way, Spaniel) that people do their long run faster than their anticipated marathon pace.  I guess I just don't see much point in doing your workout better than your actual race.  

                 

                I totally agree with you Nobby.  However given the crumbs of information we get from such threads (or even logs for that matter) it's impossible to know how hard the OP was running during those 20-mile training runs....it would be dangerous IMHO to assume that rookie marathoners are running them at an effort level a coach may desire.  I know some people try to push them too much, so you can't just assume a marathon pace a lot faster.  It's just hard to throw one out there (I don't THINK I frequently give people hard numbers?  I'm an expert on few people's training history).  There was also the voiced desire to, above all, enjoy the experience, so it becomes a personal decision on how hard to push.  While I "enjoyed" the faster marathons I ran, I can't say they weren't miserable experiences in-the-moment towards the end.

                 

                Like I said previously, I'd consider whatever the 20-mile training run pace was to be the top and and look downward from there for the right answer. 

                "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 totally agree with you Nobby.  However given the crumbs of information we get from such threads (or even logs for that matter) it's impossible to know how hard the OP was running during those 20-mile training runs....it would be dangerous IMHO to assume that rookie marathoners are running them at an effort level a coach may desire.  I know some people try to push them too much, so you can't just assume a marathon pace a lot faster.  It's just hard to throw one out there (I don't THINK I frequently give people hard numbers?  I'm an expert on few people's training history).  There was also the voiced desire to, above all, enjoy the experience, so it becomes a personal decision on how hard to push.  While I "enjoyed" the faster marathons I ran, I can't say they weren't miserable experiences in-the-moment towards the end.

                   

                  Like I said previously, I'd consider whatever the 20-mile training run pace was to be the top and and look downward from there for the right answer. 

                  Yeah, I was worried you may take it directed at you which was not my intention--I guess I was too lazy to go all the way at the top and look for the appropriate sentence to quote to bring my point.  

                   

                  And, while your last comment is so true, my point actually is to say that it is a wrong approach to begin with when you have to do so (consider whatever the training pace and look downward for the actual marathon).  There IS something fundamentally wrong about this approach.

                   

                  And your comment about "enjoyment"; well, you should know, most usually, the one you DIDN'T enjoy is the one that must have taken you much longer than the time you wanted to run that marathon in, right? ;o)  

                  rlemert


                      Targetting a 9:50 to start might not be that bad an idea. By "thinking slow" you might be able to counter-act the tendency people have of starting out too fast and be able to settle in on a comfortable pace. It will also give you a chance to get through all of the jostling that takes place in the early part of the race, and it will give you a chance to see how you're feeling.

                     

                      Assess how you're feeling after the first couple of miles, and pick up the pace to something that's comparable to your training pace. Aim to keep that pace up through twenty miles, but re-assess at the HM point (and maybe again at ~17 miles). Do your final major self-assessment at twenty miles. If you feel good you could shift into a slightly higher gear, or you could start slowly accelerating through the rest of the race. If you don't feel that strong you can either hold your pace or slowly back down.

                     

                      After the twenty-mile point, your body will make its own self-assessments - whether you want it to or not.

                     

                      You will find the race-day energy to be a mixed blessing. Early on it will try to make you move faster than you should, so you're going to need to keep it under control. Later, when you start getting tired, you need to start feeding off of it.

                      Question:  I see some comments, questioning the wisdom of doing workouts faster  than your actual race.  I am assuming you are only referring to long runs and not speedwork or tempo runs, correct?

                       

                      Maybe it's just me --- but if I tried to run a half or a full at a faster pace then I had ever trained at ... that would be a recipe for disaster. I dont think it's realistic to expect your legs to go faster all of a sudden when you've never asked them to do that before. 

                       

                      I do my longer runs considerably slower than my Goal Race Pace, but my coach ensures we have several runs each week that incorporates good chunks of time at either Goal Race Pace or Tempo (plus Intervals in speed workouts).    This ensures my body knows what it feels like at that pace.  You have to be train your body to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

                       

                      It sounds like your goal is to simply finish the marathon and enjoy it, right? If that's the case ... if I were you .... i would ignore all the comments about how fast or slow you should be running, and just do it at a nice easy comfortable pace that you are sure you can sustain. If your goal were to finish in a certain time, that's a different story.

                       

                      When I did my first half, I deliberately chose a very conservatvie pace plan ... I wanted to enjoy it, and I did. Since then, I've done another half and am training for my 3rd -- in both of these, I have very specific time goals, so my training is completely different and incorporates both slow long runs and plenty of tempo and speedwork as well. Like you, I am going to attempt my first full marathon in the fall and my only goal will be to finish. My training will then be primarily about getting miles under my belt, and not about my pace.

                      Scout7


                      CPT Curmudgeon

                        Why is the long run always classified as "slow"?  That doesn't make much sense to me.  What is "slow"?  How do I know I ran "slow"?

                         

                        Long runs should be "steady", meaning you hold a consistent level of effort over the run.  What that effort level actually is will depend on the purpose of the workout, the level of fitness of the individual, and the overall goal of the training.

                          Why is the long run always classified as "slow"?  That doesn't make much sense to me.  What is "slow"?  How do I know I ran "slow"?

                           

                          Long runs should be "steady", meaning you hold a consistent level of effort over the run.  What that effort level actually is will depend on the purpose of the workout, the level of fitness of the individual, and the overall goal of the training.

                           

                          I'm not sure I agree with "consistent level of effort" for long runs. Marathons are best run are more or less a constant pace. But that's very far from a constant subjective effort - it's easy at the beginning and gets progressively harder.

                           

                          I think it's good to simulate that kind of thing in some of your long runs - so start nice and easy and push the pace later on.


                          Fat butt on couch

                            Question:  I see some comments, questioning the wisdom of doing workouts faster  than your actual race.  I am assuming you are only referring to long runs and not speedwork or tempo runs, correct?

                             

                             

                            This was in reference to the long run only.  Certainly you will have workouts...and even portions of some long runs...that are faster than your MP.

                            "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

                             

                              Get to the start, settle in the comfortable effort, regardless of what the watch or Garmin might tell you, and stick with it as long as you can and see what happens.  Trying to adjust the pace, according to the watch, not your feeling, can be disastrous.  You should not force yourself to slow down OR pick up and pace.  Feel the force (Luke). 

                               

                              Well said!

                              Scout7


                              CPT Curmudgeon

                                I'm not sure I agree with "consistent level of effort" for long runs. Marathons are best run are more or less a constant pace. But that's very far from a constant subjective effort - it's easy at the beginning and gets progressively harder.

                                 

                                I think it's good to simulate that kind of thing in some of your long runs - so start nice and easy and push the pace later on.

                                 

                                However you measure effort is fine.  I prefer RPE, some like pace, some like heart rate.  I see no reason why a marathon can't be run at a consistent (not constant) effort.  However, I'm willing to bet that most people can't run a consistent pace over the course of a marathon, either.

                                 

                                The point is, it shouldn't really be "slow".  The goal of the long run isn't to go out and plod along for lots of miles.  The goal is to work on developing your ability to gauge effort, to develop your body so that it can maintain a consistent effort level (or pace if you prefer) throughout the run.

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