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Advice--running first marathon next year (Read 1401 times)

    Sorry in advance for the long post...

     

    I've just signed up for my first full marathon (San Francisco, 6/16/13...and before anyone asks, I ran the first half last year and the second half this year so I do know what I signed up for!)  Plenty of time to train, but I feel I'm in a somewhat unique situation for a first time marathoner in that I run a lot of half marathons (1-2 per month) so I'm looking for some words of wisdom on the best way to train.  Will my continual running of half marathons give me an advantage?  Or doesn't it matter because it's only half the distance I need to be able to run? 

     

    At the same time I'm getting ready for the marathon, I'm also trying to move up one more level in the Half Fanatics--achieving this goal requires me to run 13 more halves (which means any distance at least 13.1 but less than 26.2) between now and the first weekend in May.  I've got 7 more halves that I've registered for this year (two per month for Oct & Nov, and 3 in Dec), so Jan-May I need to do 6 more.  The (probably) last of my Jan-May "halves" next year is the BIg Sur 21 miler at the end of April so I will have at least one long run there, and I'm open to making one or more of the other five Jan-May races a 30K or 35K instead of a half so that I can get enough longer runs in without sacrificing my Fanatic goals (although for the sake of avoiding injury, I'd prefer to keep as many of them at 13.1 as possible vs longer distances).

     

    In addition to the halves, I also tend to do about one 5K or 10K race each month (although I'm doing fewer of these as I increase my number of halves), and a few duathlons a year.  Also every few months I'll hop on the bike and do a century or metric century so I definitely have experience being out there exercising for many hours at a time.  I know biking isn't as hard as running, but since I'm not a very fast biker and tend to pick somewhat hilly rides, I'm out there for more hours than I expect it will take me to run a marathon so I at least know what it feels like to be out there exercising for 5-7 hours at a time.  

     

    My weak points (besides that the longest run I've ever done is 13.7 miles) are that I haven't been running that long (2 yrs next month) and my weekly base mileage has not been great up to this point (typically 15-20 miles per week unless it was a week when I had a half, in which case I'd be a little higher).  Recently I've started increasing my regular run distance from ~3 mi to ~5 mi which correspondingly bumps my weekly mileage up closer to 20-25 mpw in non-race weeks.  Since I do so many races, my mileage during the week tends to mostly be of the easy variety, sometimes with hill work thrown in if I've got some hilly trail races coming up.  But I don't do much in the way of speed work, etc because I get that when I race something every week or two.

     

    Only one injury issue so far--big downhill in Bay to Breakers in May of last year triggered some IT band issues that caused me to have to walk the last 2-5 miles of my halves in June & July last year, but since last September I've been fine.  Thought I might have started making it flare up again after some big downhills in a trail race at the beginning of September this year (potentially aggravated by that also being the time I started to bump my weekly miles up), but this time I was on top of it and rested a bit, foam rolled every night, etc and it seems to be back under control now.

     

    My primary goal for the marathon is to finish and not completely feel like crap.  Secondary goal would be to finish in ~4:30 (current half marathon PR is 2:05, although I'm still at an early enough stage in my running career that I'm improving my speed fairly quickly so I expect by the time I get to June next year I will have knocked a bit off of that). 

     

    I should also note that since most of my long "training runs" will come in the form of races, I am totally fine not racing all of them, I can run them at training pace if necessary (plus at least some of them will be on trails so I won't be going that fast to begin with)

      If you don't have a time goal then you really just want time on your feet. You're used to do 13.1 so you're in a good place already.

       

      I see from your log that you've been doing maybe 20 miles a week on average (including some elliptical, step machine and power walking). If I were you I'd aim to increase my weekly mileage. Don't stress too much about the long run for now as your marathon is some way off. Just do more runs at an easy pace and try to get used to doing somewhat longer runs - most of your easy runs seems to be in the 5-10km range... make more of them in the 10-20km range. Choose at least one day a week as your "long run" day, although at this point it doesn't need to be very long, when you're racing a half then that's fine - on other weeks maybe aim to do a similar sort of distance that day.

        Here is a really long thread but has a lot of good information about long runs:  Help I'm Stuck

         

        I doubt that running 1 - 2 half marathons per month is sufficient long run training.  Most likely, a weekly long run of 2 hours at 1 minute/mile or so slower than your half marathon pace would help your half marathon times too.

         

        MTA:  minus -> Slower (!!!)

        2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.


        Bushrat Runner

          A weekly long run at 1/2 marathon race pace minus 1 minute per mile would be a 13 minute half marathon PR...not realistic. 

           

          If your goal is to finish comfortably, you will be way ahead of many first time marathoners. In general, my advice is if you want to finish without completely dying, you need at least an 18 mile long run. If you want to finish comfortably, you need at least two 20 mile long runs. If you want to challenge yourself and run close to your potential, you need five 20 mile long runs. 

           

          The total weekly mileage is another thing. I would strongly agree that working some of your weeks up into the 40 mile or more range will make a big difference. You are starting much further out than most in terms of your training program, so you don't need to ramp up in a hurry, but the last 12 weeks you want the mileage to be inching up and the longer runs to get fit in.

            Here is a really long thread but has a lot of good information about long runs:  Help I'm Stuck

             

            I doubt that running 1 - 2 half marathons per month is sufficient long run training.  Most likely, a weekly long run of 2 hours at your half marathon pace minus 1 minute/mile would help your half marathon times too.

            Wait, Seilerts...  I think there's something lost in translation here.  Her half marathon PR is 2:05 at 9:36 per mile pace.  If you suggest her to do weekly 2-hour run, 1 minutes/mile "faster(???)" than her half marathon pace, which is at 8:30 pace, which is about a half a minute faster than her 10k PR pace...  Something don't add up here.

             

            Liz:

             

            I'm trying to put this nicely here...  Oh, screw it, I'll be nasty!! ;o)  When you want to do something or achieve something, sometimes you have to give up something else particularly if that thing or things seem to hinder achieving your goal.  For example, if you want to, say, lose 10 pounds to get ready for your friend's wedding or something; you'd say it's silly to say, "But a problem is I love eating tons of chocolate watching late nigh show and stay up late...and I don't want to give that up."  

             

            I think, deep down, you already know the answers.  Now, personally, I actually happen to believe that, if you can get up to 13-miles, you should be able to at least survive a full marathon.  Granted, this is just for a survival marathon.  Looking over your comment, a few things that really pop out and they are; first of all, having been running for 2 years shouldn't be that bad at all.  But running "only" 15-20 miles a week, especially if you run a half marathon so frequently, is not that good at all.  If you ran a half marathon on the weekend, that would leave you only 2-7 miles to be divided into the rest of 6 days???  It seems to me that, by "racing" (or I should say, "participating") those half marathons are actually hindering your actual TRAINING.  Most probably, despite the fact you've been running for 2 years, your are probably not even ready to "race" half marathon.  And, by doing so so frequently, your body--and perhaps mind as well--is up to the top trying to recover from it each time you do it.  If you consider "racing" spending money and "training" being putting money in your account, then you've been spending, spending, spending and nothing is coming into your account.  Consequently you're not building up anything at all.  Now, that's probably an exaggeration.  By running so many 13-milers, you must be quite a bit ahead of the game than a lot of "beginners".  If you just barely want to stagger across the finish line, all those 13-milers should have been enough to carry you through it.  But if you really actually want to handle the distance relatively comfortably (I'm not quite sure what it really means by saying "running a marathon comfortably..."), then it would take some discipline and well-thought-out training.  Just do what you want doing and "crap-shooting" won't quite cut it.  Granted, a lot are doing it that way and a lot of them are actually finishing the marathon.  But it seems to me, a lot of them are barely staggering across the finish line and many just hop from one marathon to another with 4-monthe recovery break in between...  They seem to go around the circle, not improving much at all.  It is because they are not building up at all with crash training followed by a long lay off (most probably because they are burnt out physically as well as mentally) for several months.  

             

            Marathoing CAN be a great experience IF you prepare for it adequately.  It is not an easy task--if it's easy, everybody is doing it and, unfortunately, it sort of seems to be that way today and that may be why so many are actually not enjoying it.  It does take some work to get ready and discipline to control yourself instead of doing what you want/like.  Like my first example, if someone comes to you and says; "I want to run a marathon and do it well but I don't like to train for it...", you'd laugh about it.  Well...!!  

               Sorry everybody, meant to say 1 min/mi slower (or more) than HM pace

               

               

               Wait, Seilerts...  I think there's something lost in translation here.  Her half marathon PR is 2:05 at 9:36 per mile pace.  If you suggest her to do weekly 2-hour run, 1 minutes/mile "faster(???)" than her half marathon pace, which is at 8:30 pace, which is about a half a minute faster than her 10k PR pace...  Something don't add up here.

              2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.

                I think Scott had in mind taking something away from the effort or pace, dialing it back as it were. In numbers that would be plus a minute, in terms of effort it is minus- just a different way of expressing the idea.

                 

                It seems to me. Liz, that your time for the half is not as good as your times for shorter distances, relatively speaking, which indicates a lack of aerobic development, that is, not enough training volume to run as well at the longer distances as you do at the 5k.

                For example, using the McMillan calculator indicates that a half marathon time of 1:56 would be a performance equivalent to your 25:05 time for the 5k.

                 

                This is not a different idea, just a way of explaining further the advice you were given by the others.

                PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                    10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

                 

                  Thanks everyone!  I am definitely working on building up my mileage--I know that 15-20 mpw is not nearly enough to really support the longer distance (which is why I'm waiting until next June to run the full vs trying to go out and run one next month)  I started working this month on getting my mileage up a bit, but I also know not to increase too much too fast so I'm trying to do that gradually.  I hope to work my way up to 35-40 mpw.  It also sounds like I do need to plan for more of those longer runs, so in addition to the one 21-miler I have planned I will try to sign up for at least a couple 30-35K's this winter/spring so that I can get that additional experience at the little bit longer distances.

                   

                  I still want to keep up my halves--I get Nobby's point about needing to focus on training and not do things that could get in the way of that, but then people are also saying I should be doing a 2 hr run every week so to me I don't see why the halves couldn't be that long run in the weeks I have them, then weeks that I don't I'll do a longer regular training run.  I like doing the halves (vs just going out and running 2 hrs on my own) because 1) it keeps me motivated to get out there and run--if I know I have a half coming up I'm much less likely to be lazy and sit on the couch and 2) variation in scenery, etc from doing different courses.  I know I could get out there and drive to these places to do training runs, but I won't--if I haven't paid to enter a race I'll end up just running the same boring trail behind my house.


                  Bushrat Runner

                    Running the halves because it is a convenient way to have a scheduled longish run is fine. But running one every week makes it impossible to learn your actual race potential in the event, as they will each be training runs rather than races. Again, this is not a big deal if you aren't wanting to push yourself at this point to run the fastest times you can. But if you do want to see how fast you can run a half marathon, you will need to plan for a specific one and tailor your efforts to allow you to be particularly sharp on that day. 


                    Queen of 3rd Place

                      Liz - I was in your shoes not too many years ago. First let me say you're in a fantastic position to start marathon training, better than most people. 

                       

                      Yeah, you need more miles. That's just the investment you need to make. But one thing I think deserves more emphasis is the importance of mid-week longer runs. Nobby has at least once posted something how to do this, specifically two 90 minute runs during the week. These are the hardest to do, in my opinion, because you have to make the time commitment to do these during your normal work week! However, the payoff is huge in that you will no longer be a weekend warrior. If it was me and there was only one more thing I could do, that would be it. 

                       

                      Don't overdo the long runs. If you look at marathon training schedules (I've used Nobby's and Jack Daniel's), you'll see that the longest runs are 2.5 hrs. I would guess most people will tell you not to go over 3 hours, for you that's probably about 18 miles. By the way, I'm very guilty of violating this, I used to do 20 - 22, then 18, my next bout of training I'll try 16. Yes, it's scary to train 10 miles less than your goal race! Smile

                       

                      If you want to do just a tiny bit more and have a little fun while you're at it, some tempo runs thrown in will go a long, long way toward making running a faster a lot more comfortable. Really, it's amazing, the payoff is huge for even a small time commitment. Do be careful not to do these too fast. I used the word "fun" for a reason! 

                       

                      Good luck and keep us posted.  

                      2013 Valley Runner of the Year Series: Feb 16 5K (4 points out of 10) ... Mar 2 10K (20/30)... Mar 16 4Mi (21/30) ... Apr 6 10K (DNS) ... Apr 21 2Mi (5/10) ... May 11 5Mi (21/30)... Jun 8 1Mi (13/20) ... Jun 16 6Mi (22/30) ... Sep 28 10K (14/20) ... Oct 5 5K (7/10) ...Oct 12 5Mi (16/20) ... Oct 20 5K (0/10) = 3rd Place, Women's Senior Division

                        Yeah--90 min runs during the week will be tough, especially as we lose daylight hours.  Even though I live in a safe enough area and run with my dogs I still don't feel comfortable being out there when it's totally dark (the bike trail I run on has no lights at all except where it crosses streets which makes me uncomfortable).  During the darker months I might be able to sneak out of work early and get one 90 min run in the middle of the week, but depending on what's going on at work I can't even guarantee that.  It's a good goal to shoot for though so I'll try to do it as often as I can, even if it's not quite as much as ideal.


                        Fat butt on couch

                          Running frequent halves is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you tck a few miles on after the finish and make a few of them real long runs. However, you don't race long runs. If you are really racing all the halves there is no way that it will not hurt your training overall.

                          "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

                           


                          Black-Toe-Nailed

                            Yeah--90 min runs during the week will be tough, especially as we lose daylight hours.  Even though I live in a safe enough area and run with my dogs I still don't feel comfortable being out there when it's totally dark (the bike trail I run on has no lights at all except where it crosses streets which makes me uncomfortable).  During the darker months I might be able to sneak out of work early and get one 90 min run in the middle of the week, but depending on what's going on at work I can't even guarantee that.  It's a good goal to shoot for though so I'll try to do it as often as I can, even if it's not quite as much as ideal.

                             

                            Hi Liz, I do run 90' runs pre-dawn here in Holland.

                             

                            The most important thing to do is to make yourself visible enough, this means of course lights and a reflective vest. If the bike trails where you live are like the Dutch ones it's pretty safe as even in the worst case the 'vehicles' that you may encounter are only a bit faster than you (or even slower depending on your pace!).

                             

                            Doubles or halves are OK too but from the recommendations that  I have got you should leave 10 hours between the two runs. 

                            I do doubles every Wednesday to train with my pals from the office (I act as 'trainer' LOL) so that what I generally do is to leave the morning after the double free and run a short recovery if necessary late in the second day's evening. (Although this will change now that I have joined the local Athletic Union).

                             

                            I envy joy because of having dogs to run with... my cat is absolutely unwilling (lazy beast). 

                            --

                            "If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years,
                            then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter.
                            I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to."

                            Emil Zatopek

                              Running frequent halves is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you tck a few miles on after the finish and make a few of them real long runs. However, you don't race long runs. If you are really racing all the halves there is no way that it will not hurt your training overall.

                               

                              Definitely won't race the halves if they're training runs--I may pick one between now and June that I think is a good PR course and try to run it faster, but I'm totally fine treating the others as training runs

                               

                              Hi Liz, I do run 90' runs pre-dawn here in Holland.

                               

                              The most important thing to do is to make yourself visible enough, this means of course lights and a reflective vest. If the bike trails where you live are like the Dutch ones it's pretty safe as even in the worst case the 'vehicles' that you may encounter are only a bit faster than you (or even slower depending on your pace!).

                               

                               

                              My concerns about running in the dark aren't about visibility/vehicles (I have lights that clip onto the front & back of my hat & leash lights for the dogs which I use when I run near twilight), it's about personal safety.  I live in a reasonably safe area, but being out on a mostly deserted trail that's just about completely in the dark except for my lights makes me nervous.  My dogs aren't big enough to actually protect me if someone were to assault me, and it's typically pretty windy here so if I tried to spray someone with pepper spray I'd be more likely to have it blow back in my face instead of hitting its intended target.


                              Queen of 3rd Place

                                My concerns about running in the dark aren't about visibility/vehicles (I have lights that clip onto the front & back of my hat & leash lights for the dogs which I use when I run near twilight), it's about personal safety. 

                                 

                                Yup, I hear ya. I found a 2 mi loop in my neighborhood and use it to do laps. Surprisingly, it's not all that boring at night because, well, I guess it's night and there's not much to look at anyway. I look at the sky which is pleasant enough. One time I had a big dog harassing me and just knocked on a neighbor's door, they helped me shoo the dog away. 

                                2013 Valley Runner of the Year Series: Feb 16 5K (4 points out of 10) ... Mar 2 10K (20/30)... Mar 16 4Mi (21/30) ... Apr 6 10K (DNS) ... Apr 21 2Mi (5/10) ... May 11 5Mi (21/30)... Jun 8 1Mi (13/20) ... Jun 16 6Mi (22/30) ... Sep 28 10K (14/20) ... Oct 5 5K (7/10) ...Oct 12 5Mi (16/20) ... Oct 20 5K (0/10) = 3rd Place, Women's Senior Division

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