To Marathon or To Not Marathon?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  born2run 14 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #1283

    born2run
    Member

    Let me provide a brief background about myself. I’ve been running for about 2 years now. I really caught the running bug and ran in a couple of marathons last year. My times for the 2 marathons (May and October of 2003) that I’ve done are 4:27:xx for my first attempt and 4:44:xx for my second attempt. My PRs at other distances are 20:10-5K (May 2003), 33:47-5miles (July 2003), 43:30-10K (September 2002), 1:15:50-10miles (February 2004), and 1:47:23-1/2 mary (March 2003) (ran this race the weekend after a 10 miler, which turned this race into an ugly finish).

    For the 2 marathons that I’ve done, training wasn’t “complete” (I’m an environmental scientist and often travel out of state for work), but I do get in about 30-40 mpw and especially for my 2nd thon, I would make sure that I get in the long run and not try to make up for it in the weekday middle distance runs.

    For my first thon, I tried for a 3:30 finish and crashed and burned at mile 15. For my second thon, I started off slower and was hoping for a 3:45 finish, but crashed and burned again around mile 12.5. I’m very disappointed at my times/performances for both thons and now I’m kind of “scare” at attempting another thon – for fear that I’ll crash and burn and not be able to finish “running” a thon.

    With that being said, after my 10 miler in February, I’ve been bumping up my training (was about 15-20 mpw, but about 35 mpw now) and would like to give the May (my first thon last year) thon another shot.

    Would a 4:00 (9:10 pace) finish be a realistic goal? Also, after my first thon, I’ve been doing my training at 8:00 or sub pace (a bit slower for LSD, but definitely not slower than 8:30 pace) and I find it “hard” to run 9:00 or slower pace. If I was to go after a 4:00 finish, should I start off at that pace and maintain it throughout or do I need to go slower at the beginning? Finally, would it be stupid for me to attempt the thon again on a course that I’ve bonked on (I don’t think it matters and would like to redeem myself, but my wife and friends think that I’m heading for trouble)?

    Thanks in advance for any advices and/or recommendations.

  • #13740

    Zeke
    Member

    Boy, where to begin? First off, I don’t think you should do the May marathon – not because it’s the course you bonked on last year, but because you’re not ready and you don’t have enough time to get ready. Last year you said you were running 30-40 mpw and that your training wasn’t complete. Well right now you’re ‘only’ at 35 mpw. How is that more complete than last year?

    Also something must be wrong with what you think you’re capable of, what you are capable of and your training/racing paces. For example, you went out at 3:30 and only lasted 15 miles before ending up at 4:27. It looks like you have okay speed with a 20:10 5k. However, your 10k, half and obviously marathon times don’t correlate. The hillrunner calculator says you should be running 42:02, 1:32:40 and 3:13:18. Since your times drop off dramatically, it means you have to work on building your aerobic engine. In my opinion, if you are training at sub-8 pace, you’re going too fast. You need to learn how to run 9:00 pace and possibly slower. Most people train at marathon pace plus 30 to 90 seconds per mile. Even if you could run 4:00, you’re training at marathon pace minus 60 to 70 seconds

    Would a 4:00 (9:10 pace) finish be a realistic goal?

    No. That’s over a minute per mile faster than your PR and your training isn’t any different than last year.

    If I was to go after a 4:00 finish, should I start off at that pace and maintain it throughout or do I need to go slower at the beginning?

    When it’s time to run 4:00 I think even or slightly negative splits are the way to go.

    My advice would be to skip the spring marathon, build up your mileage and possibly run a fall marathon.

  • #13741

    randys
    Participant

    You and I share several things in common. Like you I have been running a little over 2 years, and like you my first marathon was in 4:27.

    Beyond that we are very different. I have very little speed but good endurance; and you seem to have the opposite attributes.

    My first marathon was run 4 months after I began running, which in hind site is no where near ready. Yet, 6 months later I ran a 3:40 at my second marathon. In the year since I improved that to 3:37.

    Yet I can’t touch your 5k time. I never raced a 5k but I quess I would be at least 1 minutes slower than you, maybe even more.

    My focus has been on milage not speed. While not high milage to many on this forum I still log 60-70 mpw. When getting ready for my 2nd marathon I was in the 45-55 mpw range.

    With your speed, if you began to focus on endurance (which comes from weekly milage and long runs) you could easily get under 3:30. I don’t have your speed and thats my goal for May 2nd.

    In order to build milage you will need to slow your training pace down. I am not a big believer in running a lot slower than race pace but I think 30-40 seconds slower for the first half of long runs followed by picking up the pace over the second half and finishing at around MP works well.

    If you built milage over the spring and summer you would be well positioned for a fall marathon. If you get consistanly over 50 mpw you should earn a huge PR in the fall.

    Randy

  • #13742

    Zeke
    Member

    Yet I can’t touch your 5k time. I never raced a 5k but I quess I would be at least 1 minutes slower than you, maybe even more.

    Randy, if you’ve never raced a 5k you don’t know what you’re capable of.

    My focus has been on milage not speed. While not high milage to many on this forum I still log 60-70 mpw.

    With your speed, if you began to focus on endurance (which comes from weekly milage and long runs) you could easily get under 3:30. I don’t have your speed and thats my goal for May 2nd.

    I’ll turn this around on you… With your endurance, if you began to focus on speed, you could easily get under :20 for a 5k.

    I just hate to see you sell yourself short.

  • #13743

    Woody
    Member

    Born to run–

    I too have a bad correlation on my 5k to marathon time. it’s really about two different trainings. Infact if your training properly it should be hard to PR in a 5k when training for a Thon and vice-versa . I’m just starting to learn this. You body is not use to running slow you need to teach it from the ground up . What I mean is you have been running anaerobic a lot more than you think. Your training your body to use Glycogen for energy and it probably feels good and easy when you do this for awhile. When running in a thon you need to teach your body to burn fat , so that you will store your glycogen for the last 10k —when you really need it. Your even running out sooner at 15 miles. I know this is hard . To teach your body to run slow is just as hard to teach it to run fast. It’s just different. My correlation is 4:57 mile 17:10 5k 28:58 8k – 1:21 1/2 thon , then ouch 2:59:30. I was running my slow runs at 7 :45 -8:00 for the most part. I was also training above LT pace all the time. So guess what I actually felt better running 7 min miles for 10 miles than 8:00 min miles. So I had to re-train my body to use fat as an energy source. So I went on a mission this winter to learn how to burn fat not Glycogen by running slower and longer. It was very hard at first running 9 + min miles for 90-120 + mins. But over time I got use to it. Now I have a big base and am clearing lactate a lot easier when my body is building it up. The cool thing is you don’t really lose much speed. Any speed you do lose can be worked on in a few weeks and you have a great base to work with . Strentgh = speed over time. Knowing what I know now and if I could pass something on it would be to learn to run long and slow, Build strentgh and then add speed. I know it’s hard to understand and it might not make sense right now but teach your body to run slow for the thon and it will pay big dividends later down the road.

    Good Luck 😀

    Woody

  • #13744

    Zeke
    Member

    Would a 4:00 (9:10 pace) finish be a realistic goal?

    I was thinking about this a little more last night. I think you could probably run 4:00, just by running a smarter race.

    When I typed my initial response I was thinking “why bother with trying to run 4:00 in May when you could probably run 3:30 in Oct.”

    So I’ll restate my stance. If your goal is to run 4:00 in May, I think you have time to increase your endurance, come up with a smart race plan and accomplish this goal. If your goal is to run a fast marathon, I’d skip May and look towards the fall.

  • #13745

    Anonymous

    After looking back at your original question I didn’t answer it. I was giving you more long term improvement.

    I totally agree with Zekes post and think 4 HRS is totally doable if you run even and smart like he mentioned.

    Then after you break 4 , jump more into what I was talking about if you like.

    Good luck BRO! 🙂

    Woody

  • #13746

    born2run
    Member

    Thanks again for everyone’s response. However, this aspect of my training/race doesn’t make any sense to me. How come I’m able to do 18 and 20 miles at 8:00-8:30 pace, but can’t come close maintaining that pace on race day? I know that there isn’t a “definite” answer for this as there are numerous factors that can easily contributed to my crappy times, but its really frustrating to know that I can train at that pace and feel great afterwards (feel like I can easily run and finish 26.2 miles at that pace), but yet can’t come close doing so on race day.

    Also, are you guys suggesting that I slow all of my training or just the easy and LSD runs? I’ve heard that for marathon training, interval and tempo workouts aren’t important until near the end of the training schedule, so if I still do weekly interval and tempo workouts, am I just canceling what I’m trying to establish (I really like those workouts, that’s why I’m asking)?

  • #13747

    Jeff
    Member
    born2run wrote:
    Thanks again for everyone’s response. However, this aspect of my training/race doesn’t make any sense to me. How come I’m able to do 18 and 20 miles at 8:00-8:30 pace, but can’t come close maintaining that pace on race day? I know that there isn’t a “definite” answer for this as there are numerous factors that can easily contributed to my crappy times, but its really frustrating to know that I can train at that pace and feel great afterwards (feel like I can easily run and finish 26.2 miles at that pace), but yet can’t come close doing so on race day.

    Also, are you guys suggesting that I slow all of my training or just the easy and LSD runs? I’ve heard that for marathon training, interval and tempo workouts aren’t important until near the end of the training schedule, so if I still do weekly interval and tempo workouts, am I just canceling what I’m trying to establish (I really like those workouts, that’s why I’m asking)?

    Jack,

    I’m following a Daniel’s marathon plan and he has me running intervals and tempos starting in week 7 and going through the last week(24) of training. He has me running a tempos run like 3 or 4 days before the race. So if you use him as a guide, I’d say you can run your intervals and tempos early in the training.

    Jeff

  • #13748

    Zeke
    Member

    How come I’m able to do 18 and 20 miles at 8:00-8:30 pace, but can’t come close maintaining that pace on race day?

    Because there’s a HUGE difference between 18-20 and 26.2. If the race stopped at 18-20, it’d be a whole different ball game.

    Also, are you guys suggesting that I slow all of my training or just the easy and LSD runs?

    Just slow down on your easy days and long runs. Make sure your intervals and tempos are based on your current fitness, not where you think you should be.

    I’m not sure if you’ve follow a program in the past or not. Check out some of the programs out there (Higdon, Pfitz, Daniels, Glover, etc). Follow one of those or at least incorporate common themes that you see in them.

  • #13749

    Anonymous

    Born to run,

    It takes time to build up the endurance to go 26.2 at the pace your talking about. Yeah some people can run sub 4 their first time or whatever. The background you had growing up has a lot to do with it as well. Did you play any other sports — Soccer, football, basketball etc. Anything where you were active. 26.2 is a lot different than 20. Don’t be in a hurry you got a lot of time . Just bag a thon in the pace you know you can handle for 26.2 maybe 9:00’s. Once you get through one without hurting you’ll understand the training aspect a little better. In the fact that you really need to train for Endurance. A majority of training for a thon is slower than MP and definitely slower than LT pace. For the Studs their 1/2 MP is only 5-10 secs slower per mile , because they are so aerobically fit. They can’t run any faster but they could go all day long. How would you like to do that with 4:50’s. Tha would be the motts!

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