Beginners and Beyond


Time capsule for Nov 2013 - Expectations for my first marathon (Read 188 times)

    I am using this space to document my expectations for my first marathon in November 2013.  As time passes, I find that my recollection of prior goals is pretty lousy.  Putting my thoughts in writing today will allow me revisit them about a year from now when I am tapering.  I don't really have any specific questions for the forum, but feel free to comment or provide advice if you have any.  I'll bump this post a year from now and let you know how it went.


    Running Background

    I am 40 years old and have run off an on in my life, but never as consistently as I have in the last year.  I have not been running high mileage, but I am about to complete my first 1,000 mile year.  Next year, I expect to run about 2,000.  I would estimate that I have only run about 2,700 miles in my whole life, so I am moving into uncharted territory.  My lifetime PRs are mostly from high school and from my late 20s when I was lighter and fitter, but running inconsistently.  I have lost some weight in the last year, but at 6' 1, 190 pounds, I could still afford to lose 20 - 25 pounds. 


    Current training plan for 2013

    In the last year, I have read books by Glover, Daniels, Hudson and Pfitz. I have learned from all of them, but my plan is to follow Pfitz's 18/55 training plan.  Training will begin in early July.  My goal is to average 35 - 40 miles per week from January through June 2013.  If I fail to average at least 35 miles before marathon training begins, I may need to consider a less demanding Higdon program.


    Goal marathon pace

    I plan to run a spring HM and will base my initial training paces off the results of that race.  I'll probably run another HM during marathon training to help set my goal pace. It is much too early for me to predict my marathon pace one year from now, but that does not mean I can't have fun trying.   My race performance is much better over short distances than over long distances.  Obviously, I need to work on my endurance and stamina. Using the equivalent times calculator on, I get the following Vdots and equivalent marathon times based on races in the last 6 months.


    Distance Time Vdot Equiv marathon
    1 mile 5:27 53.9 2:59
    5k 20:03 49.7 3:12
    5 miles 34:17 47.6 3:19
    10 miles 1:15:36 44.6 3:30
    13.1 1:43:31 43.4 3:35


    My times from 1 mile to 13 miles have all improved dramatically in the last year.  I expect to see future improvements at all distances in the next 9 months.  Depending on how hard I train and how much weight I lose, I could imagine outcomes ranging from sub-3:15 to around 4 hours.  Some of these scenarios are more likely than others, but here is my current view about each one.


    sub-3:15 (7:25 pace)

    This is a best case scenario and is probably not going to happen next year.  I might get there eventually, but I think I would need to average at least 50MPW for 2 or 3 years to get to this territory.  I love running, but I am not sure I have the dedication to ever get to this level. At my current fitness level, I could run 10 miles at a 7:25 pace, but 26 miles is a very different story. 


    sub-3:30 (8:00 pace)

    Right now, this feels like the sweet spot.  If you told me to today that I will break 3:30 next fall, I would be thrilled to hear that. If training goes very well, I might aim higher, but this seems to be a tough goal that may also be attainable.  Last spring, I ran a HM at a 7:55 pace after training for just a few months. It seems possible that I will be able to run a whole marathon at this pace after an additional 18 months of training.


    sub-3:45 (8:35 pace)

    A sub-3:45 debut marathon would be a solid achievement, but based on my recent races times, this is not a result I would be completely satisfied with.  I can see myself going out too fast, blowing up and ending up in this range, but I don't think I will aim to run even splits at this pace.  I have to admit, I will not be impressed with my progress if this is the best I can do.


    sub-4:00 (9:10 pace)

    I first started thinking about running a marathon a year ago.  At the time, I was thinking 4 hours would be a pretty good target.  Now, it doesn't seem like a very good outcome for me.  As the marathon approaches, if I am concerned about being able to break 4 hours, I am probably not ready to run a marathon and should wait another year.


    So that's it.  This is not a very interesting post today, but maybe it will become more interesting a year from now.

    2013 goals: 800m: 2:20 | mile: 4:59 | 5k: 18:59 | 10k: 39:59 | HM: 1:32 | Marathon: 3:20


      I loved reading through all of this and I wish you the best of luck in your training! It will be fun to watch and see how much you improve between now and November. I bet you make some pretty drastic improvements just by virtue of the fact that you are running more/consistently  and you are already pretty darn fast so who knows where you will will be next Fall!  I just ran my first in October myself.  It was a great experience.  I hope the same is true for you.  I look forward to watching your progress and cheering you on along the way!

      Bad Ass

        You have put a lot of thought and training into this.  I will be watching your progress in 2013 to see how much you improve during training and to which of the expected goal times you are closest to.  Wishing you the best.



        "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

        It's always fucking hot in Miami! (except for 3 days of the year)

        delicate flower

          You're already pretty speedy for not putting in a ton of miles.  I think you'll do well with some solid miles.  It'll be fun to keep tabs on you.  Smile   I'm kind of in the same next marathon will be next fall and I have ways to go with training before figuring out what to target for a time. 


            Thanks so much for the supportive comments.  I'll keep you posted.

            2013 goals: 800m: 2:20 | mile: 4:59 | 5k: 18:59 | 10k: 39:59 | HM: 1:32 | Marathon: 3:20

              Just a couple of thoughts. 


              Congrats to you for doing the research and thinking it through.  Too many folks just grab a plan off the internet or out of a book with no idea how it will work for them.  Other than that, my only other thoughts are: 


              1.  Miles, miles, and more miles.  The more miles, the better.  If you can start doing some doubles 2-3 days per week for even 30 minutes, those extra miles will pay dividends between Miles 22-26 in the marathon.  Beyond that, your body adapts not just to how much time you spend stressing it but also to how often you stress it.  For me, I always struggled with more than 50 mpw until I started doing doubles and I now easily handle 70+.


              2.  Don't totally neglect some short, fast stuff.  Even during marathon training, I think it's important to do some maintenance work on your speed.  It keeps you from getting bored with doing the same thing over and over and over.  Plus, it makes your marathon pace seem a tad bit easier.

              Short term goal: 17:59 5K

              Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

              Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).

                Just a couple of thoughts. 


                Congrats to you for doing the research and thinking it through.  Too many folks just grab a plan off the internet or out of a book with no idea how it will work for them.  

                Thanks.  I had some serious TMTS issues when I got back into running.  Oddly, I had a lot of trouble moving from 12 to 20 MPW.  I had runner's knee, numb feet, shin splints, foot pain, hip pain and a bit of ITBS.  Eventually, all these issues went away, but it has left me a bias to be conservative and patient.  I was really tempted to run a marathon in 2012, especially after reading the sucess stories from RMT3B, Baboon and even Dallison, but I decided to read more, run more and wait.  I certainly credit you, wcrunner and others around here, for enouraging runners to establish a strong base prior to marathon training.  Hopefully, the slow and deliberate method will work for me.


                As far as mileage goes, I agree that I need more.  At this point, I don't think I need doubles, just more days of running.  When life gets busy, I find myself running just 3 days a week. That's not going to cut it.  My first step is to get my butt out the door 5-6 days a week.  After I have done that for a while, I'll see if doubles woud be beneficial.

                2013 goals: 800m: 2:20 | mile: 4:59 | 5k: 18:59 | 10k: 39:59 | HM: 1:32 | Marathon: 3:20