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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to know from those of you who run or have run marathons, what was your motivation to do this? Also, how much of a base or how many years had you been running before you did your first marathon? And if you had a significant amount of time to train for it, how did you plan your training? The longest plan I have found is 16 weeks.<br><br>
I have a half marathon coming up in March, which will be my second race at that distance. The next one on the calendar is not until November, seven months away from next month's race. Until then it will be about one 5K a month for the summer and maybe a couple of 10K's.<br><br>
I keep looking at that November race and thinking "why not do the full marathon instead?". That seems like plenty of time to train for it. But I've always said I don't have time to train for it, which is true for runs during the week but long runs on the weekend are do-able. The most I can run during the week without interfering with family time or other activities is about 5 miles. Longer than that and I can't do it on my lunch break. However, I've looked at a few plans and I think the weekday runs could be manageable if I really wanted to do it. There may be a few runs that I would have to do in the evening or outside of work but it probably could be worked out. From what I've learned so far, I guess it may depend on how I want to train--whether I train just to be able to finish or if I train to meet a time goal.<br><br>
Currently I run between 25-30 miles a week and I've been running off and on for about 10 years but never more than 10 miles/wk or so and never outside until last February or so. I don't have any doubt that I could do it but I'm on the fence as far as if I really want to. The challenge of doing it is appealing. My current running plan (a custom plan) goes out another two weeks after my March race and the last long run on it is 18 miles...I'm thinking of running that, and seeing how I feel before deciding whether or not I want to run that far on a more regular basis. Any other thoughts or suggestions?<br><br>
Thanks,<br>
Lisa
 

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Lisa,<br><br>
Here's my take on marathons....... I've been running for over 25 years, I've run 10 marathons but they are NOT my favorite distance..... for me, I've just never been happy with my marathon times, blame it mainly on lack of training.... my first marathon was after I had been running for 3 or 4 years.......ran it because I was fascinated with how far can I run???? and there was also a lot of media hype for the first Los Angeles Marathon. When I first started running, I ran my first 10K on 2-1/2 week of training.... ran my first 10 mile training run within 6 months. I was running 20-25 mpw (at best) because of family and business kept getting in the way. 20 milers were no problem.... but there was something about going beyond that, that gave me problems. My marathon training would usually top at about 4 or 5 50 mile weeks prior to tapering. I was able to run a 1:34 half marathon, but never could break 4 hrs in the marathon. I will probably run a few more marathons in my life..... I ran 4 in my 30's, 5 in my 40's, 1 in my 50's, and now that I'm getting close to 60, I'll need to run one after I turn 60..... and then we'll see about anything beyond that <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br>
I really enjoy the HM distance.... I still feel I can push myself to where I feel like I'm racing it instead of just finishing the distance. It sounds like you've got a good base going, it's all about how much to you want to run a marathon..... some people do well on lower mileage than others, but you just don't know until you've tried one. If you're unsure about your training, you might want to pick a marathon that doesn't close out early so you can sign up right before the race if your training goes well.<br><br>
Jim
 

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I can make a few comments, I just ran my 50th.<br><br>
My first was as a high-schooler, a moderately fast 2 mile and XC runner. I decided to do it because I'd always liked longer runs and for my ego. I had no idea how to train, and I was really too fast for my own good. I had a really bad crash, though I finished in 3:15.<br><br>
There is a certain spectacle of a big marathon that can be a draw. Lots of people showing up, and almost by definition most of them more serious than your local 5K. Much more opportunity to bond with the former strangers around you as you run it as well.<br><br>
There is an option to running your first marathon that is easier than people credit: just train for the distance and discipline to run for an "easy" time. Essentially you prepare to run a "training marathon" but you spare yourself the massive amount of hard training that many others do. This gets you the experience of what it's really like on race day and you avoid most of the risk of injury do to months of near-overtraining and pushing yourself beyond your limits on race day. Doing this and then going into a "real" marathon training schedule after you finish is a great option: you'll train for the second marathon without a lot of the first timer illusions. But this option <span style="text-decoration:underline;">requires</span> that you check your ego at the door.<br><br>
If you try that, the idea is (from your profile 1:56 half) to maybe shoot for a 5 hour marathon. Slightly shorter training required, much less training focus. Make the whole thing about building your weekly long run, about getting comfortable running slower, solving all the blister/chafing/hydration/nutrition issues. The only other real focus is to work on the discipline to not get caught up and try to race it. If you're successful this training will be much less debilitating, and you won't need any weeks of taper/recovery around the marathon. Normal 1st thon training does 2 things at once: a huge amount of distance adaptation, and a whole lot of increased running speed/fitness training to support running it at nearly your current speed. If you just train for the distance adaptation stuff it is simply an easier problem.<br><br>
Going the other way to more traditional training, let me caution about using typical race time calculators (like MacMillan's) to figure out your marathon time. The assumption behind them is "for similar levels of training." But it takes 4-10x training to be as ready for a full thon than for a half, so 95% of well trained first timers are NOT as well trained for the marathon as they were for the half PR that they based the goal time on. But they've been doing really hard training for months, and their ego is totally tied up in getting that time they read off the calculator; so when mile 22 comes around and they simply don't have it to hold the pace, it results in a huge emotional trainwreck. Much smarter get your goal time by using the calculator from a race which was not best effort or you were a little "off" that day.
 

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The two posts above mine are from folks way more experienced, so maybe I can offer an alternate viewpoint.<br><br>
I've done one marathon. I'm 99% sure I'll do my second in November (which full/half are you considering, by the way?). When I did my first marathon, I hated running.<br><br>
Yeah, I said it. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
Running a marathon was on my life To Do list, but I'd given up any hope of actually crossing it off the list b/c I had knee issues whenever I tried to run with any regularity. Then, the unthinkable happened... my very fit, young, healthy husband had a stroke in January 2005, just 2 months after his first Ironman. (He's OK except for some relatively minor side effects. We were lucky.)<br><br>
About 6 weeks after his stroke and hospitalization, I got an e-newsletter from a running store. I never read their newsletters. They usually went right into the Trash folder. For some reason, on that day I clicked the email and read the newsletter. There was a big article about the Train To End Stroke program, which had already finished recruiting and was already three weeks into training for spring marathons. I called the American Stroke Association, emailed them, filled out an online application, called again, sent another email, etc. Basically, I begged and begged them to let me in. I took it as a sign that I was <i>supposed</i> to do this marathon.<br><br>
So, long story short, I went from running 1-2 times a month for about 30-45 minutes to running a full marathon in 3.5 months. During that time, I also raised $6,930 for the American Heart Association, and my husband and I became the poster children for the local chapter (especially him, of course), doing interviews, public appearances, motivational talks, etc.<br><br>
I <i>hated every minute</i> of marathon training. I gave up most of the fitness classes I teach in order to have more time to run. I hated the lack of variety in my workouts. All I did was run. Remember, at that point I hated running. But I knew I had to get to that finish line. It was on my life To Do list, after all, and all those people who had donated money were counting on me. Not to mention, IronHubby was and is a huge runner and was always trying to coach me and help me, so I wanted to do it for him.<br><br>
That was 3 years ago, and I'm finally <i>finally</i> ready to tackle another one. Three years ago, I was way undertrained and way over my head. This time around, I know so much more and have a much stronger running base. I may still be a slow marathoner, but at least I know what I'm getting into and can mentally prepare.<br><br>
Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow--lots of info in just a few posts. Thank you and keep it coming! I can already tell I need to wait until I get home to digest everything or I will get NOTHING done today at work <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">.<br><br><b>Theia</b>--the race that I'm looking at is the Bass Pro Springfield marathon on November 2 in Springfield, Missouri, which is about an hour down the road from us. In fact, most races I've run have been in the Springfield area so it is familiar territory. It's only the second year of the marathon there although the half that is run at the same time has a longer history--29 years. So it's close and besides the entry fee it would not require a lot of expense or planning to go-or not go! And they do take same-day registration, so I have some time to think about it. Last year it had 268 marathon participants so it's not a huge race although I expect it will get bigger.
 

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Lisa - a close to home Marathon is a good idea for your first - sleep in your own bed, eat your own food etc. You might even want to try to run the course (not all at once necessarily) over a series of training runs.<br><br>
The Richmond Marathon (2005) was my first. I've run it 2005,2006 and 2007. I had almost 2 years of running in my legs. I started running February of 2004. I began to get interested in the Marathon about June of 2004, my friends (thankfully talked me out of the November 2004 edition). The more base you can get the better. If you have a good base, 16 weeks should be fine. There are 18 and 20 week programs out there. I think maybe Hal Higdon has some on his site, or you can get Pfitzingers book.<br><br>
No matter what you do, even if you don't follow the plan to a T - try to do at least 2 and if at all possible 3 20 milers before your first.<br><br>
I'm to the point now where I'm really trying to whittle some time down, so I'm going to do 5 20 (or more milers) before my marathon in April. Well one was a little short 19.75 miles...<br><br>
My other piece of advice is to have fun... maybe come up with 2 goals. Like Hippo said - a sub 5 hour should be achievable based on your HM time. Maybe have a stretch goal of 4:40. This keeps it interesting. Don't be too disappointed if you don't make 4:40, but go into training with the idea to attempt it.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Lisa,<br><br>
I ran my first marathon on April 28th, 2007. Yes, not quite a year ago. In the calendar year prior (2006) I did one HM and a total of about 600 miles. That's not a ton of base. My marathon training started in January and consisted of about 440 miles total. I did one 20 miler, one 22, miler, 2 17 milers, and 5 15 milers. Other than that, I did 4 - 7 mile runs during the week with two rest days and total of 5 runs per week. I didn't even register for the race until after I did the first 20 mile run. So, yeah, I think you could do it.<br><br>
BTW, I just completed my 5th marathon this past Sunday. The marathon distance is a challenge, but I'm enjoying training hard for it and watching my times come down.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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My motivation was that... well, it's a marathon, something I never thought I'd ever be able to do. As soon as I thought it's possible, I decided to do one. Also, I constantly need the motivation of a bigger challenge, to keep me going. I did my first about a year and half after starting running.<br><br>
I think my first plan was about 3-4 months... Hal Higdon's Novice plan, adapted for only 3 runs a week, since I couldn't do much more than that. There were moments when I hated running, but most of the times I enjoyed it. I was thinking about the end... the finish line, and you have to realize that the race is easy compared to the training.<br><br>
During the last miles of that first marathon I was saying to myself that I'm never gonna do this stupid thing again. Then the final sprint came, the finish, the glory, and I was already planning the next one. Someone said that for men it's the closest thing they can get to having a baby <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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I've done one marathon (Miami, 2006), primarily because my wife has made me promise not to run another until I break two hours in a half. This was almost exactly 13 months after I started running, and I think I maxed at 35 miles per week. It took me almost six hours to finish, and I walked a lot of the last six miles. "Purists" will tell you that I was under-trained, I should have had at least another year of running under my belt, and that I would have had a more enjoyable experience if I'd waited. Tough!!!!!! I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.<br><br>
I've always enjoyed running (I was a two-miler in track in high school), but like most people got caught up in life and never got around to much running. I was finally inspired when I had a sleep analysis done and they wanted to put me on the CPAP machine. I hated it when I tried it during the test! I figured that since my sleep problems seemed to correspond with my recent weight gains that it was going to be easier to lose weight than to adjust to the d**n machine. And, since a marathon had always been at the back of my mind, I figured it would make an interesting goal.<br><br>
Having decided to run a marathon, I wanted to do more than just run it for myself. I was looking around for a cause to support when unfortunately one presented itself to me. One of my co-workers was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I therefore signed up to run for the PanCAN (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network) team-in-training. They provided a virtual coach, and he gave me a semi-custom 16 week schedule (that's still on the wall of my office). My colleague survived longer than most after his diagnoses, and actually was able to return to work for awhile. He survived long enough for me to finish the race, in fact, and I was able to present him (and his family) a copy of my finish-line picture. Unfortunately he died about two months later.
 

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I'm currently training for my 3rd marathon (Boston, as a charity runner, I'm not fast!) The first thing that i"ll tell you from my experience is that you REALLY have to want it to get through the training without being miserable. Marathon training is tough enough under the best conditions. I ran my first marathon (Disney) to finish and to just have fun. I guess that I did because when I woke up the next morning I told DH "I'll do this again". My second was NYC which I trained a bit more seriously for mostly because I had somewhat of an idea what to expect and the thought wasn't so scary. I ended up with an 11 PR which I was thrilled with! <img alt="banana.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/banana.gif"><br><br>
I guess that my best advice (with my limited experience) is to examine your motivation run a marathon, and try to make it an enjoyable experience.
 

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It all depends on your goals and how realistic they are. If you want to do it a pace faster than you're doing today, you need to start over and work on building your base at that pace.<br><br>
If you asked me what the toughest thing I ever did was, I would typically give you one of two answers because I haven't yet decided which was tougher... Either the Marathon itself, or the training for the Marathon.<br><br>
I think you have the base and frankly, if you can do the 18 miler, you can do a marathon. The question is would <i>you know</i> you could do it. For first timers, I think that's pretty much all anything over 18 miles is for... to show you mentally you can go that far. If you have any doubts after 18, you need to go 20.<br><br>
If it were me, I'd be tapering after the 18 miler and doing a full in the next two weeks...
 

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I'm currently training for my seventh marathon (first was in 2002). I had a great mentor give me the following advice before I decided to run my first:<br><br>
1. Run 3 20 milers in training<br>
2. Make a couple of your mid-week runs longer (I took them out to eight, it will keep you from getting hurt and make the weekend long run easier.<br>
3. Only attempt it if you have time to enjoy the training, not dread it or stress out about it.<br><br>
Best advice ever. I only do one full a year, that is all I have time for, and I make sure I do it when I have the time to get the training in without causing undo stress on the rest of my life. I've gotten a bit faster over time, bumped up to a harder training program, but most important, I'm still doing it and having a good time.<br><br>
You have the base, the training is challenging but if think you can get it done without it becoming one more thing in your life to stress about (who needs that!)I would definitely go for it. I got my pr on my hometown course - nice not to have to travel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Funny you say that--someone at the gym today was talking up the OKC marathon/half marathon, which isn't two weeks from my half but just over a month. I definitely think I'm going to try that 18 miler and see how I feel. Another interesting issue will be telling DH if I decide to run the full. I told him this morning that I wanted to run the half in November. I thought he already knew but he still thinks I'm crazy <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">.<br><br>
Why is it that the 20-miler is the longest training run for marathon train instead of runs that are equal to or greater than the marathon distance?
 

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For most runners if you push it beyond 20, you'll spend too much time recovering from those runs and they end up being counterproductive.
 

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Yeah, that's the theory. The other theory is that there is a reason that so many runners crash just after mile 20. <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><br><br>
Certainly there are a lot of people for whom the theory doesn't apply. Certainly if you present the idea that there is something bad about runs over 20 miles to ultrarunners we would all look at you as if you're looney.<br><br>
So my personal advice is that you should not completely accept on faith that longer runs are bad for you. Just be aware that somewhere between 18-22 miles the nature of the run changes a lot and there are a whole lot of new challenges which can really disrupt your training if they get out of hand.<br><br>
The other reason many training plans stop at 20-23 miles is that there is simply not enough time. By the time you work up to 18, there may only be 8-10 weeks to go before race day. The last three weeks are taper, so there are only a few weeks in there to get in long runs over 18. Since that length of run is a good place to be cautious, the schedule just runs out of time around 20-22 miles.<br><br>
IMO a really bad pattern some runners get into is to be underprepared and overconfident after 3-4 runs in the 18-21 range. On race day they really hammer themselves in the last few miles trying to hit an aggressive goal. That means they have to take a lot of time off, and by the time they can train again they need to pretty much start over. So the next year they do the same thing and STILL only manage 3 20 milers. Reminds me of Sisyphus.<br><br>
If you can manage to be in good shape after the marathon, you may be able to get in a long run of 16 or so within 4-6 weeks and just build back from there. That sort of assumes you want to train year round though.
 

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It's interesting... after Richmond this year (my PR by 4 minutes), I was motivated. I took 2 days off, and began running again, a week and a half later, I ran an 11 miler, and felt GREAT. 3 weeks after Richmond (on December 1), I began training for my April marathon. I think that the rapid transition from good race, to solid training has had major benefits for me psychologically and physically.<br><br>
My long runs (except for today) have been great. Today's still wasn't bad, just not as good as I'd have liked, but those creep in from time to time to remind me that I'm human. I think having that base going into building a new base is a powerful thing. But you're right, it does assume that you want to train 'year round'.
 

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I have not read all the above posts, but I'll add my 2 cents and hopefully not be redundent...<br>
I ran my first after 2 1/2 year of running...when it was suggested, I thought people trained for YEARS to prepare for a marathon (which IS true)...but I found a program and proceed to overtrain for my current ability, develop ITBS, run 18 miles of the race too fast and walk the last 6. I was smarter the 2nd time around and actaully undertrained...my 3rd one I nailed...<br>
There are all sorts of programs, 24 weeks on down...I would decide what your goals are and how much you can handle and how much time you have...good luck!<br>
PS: the 1/2 is my favorite distance by FAR...I "retired" from the full last year...until they announced one in my home town this year...so I "gotta" run that! <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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When I did my first, I had been running for a little over 7 years. I decided to do it on a whim two weeks before the race when Sputnik mentioned it while we were running the Alpharetta half. (Typical, aka not-pregnant) training for me involves very high levels of training because I enjoy it, so I had done a 20 miler already, and I did another 21.5 miler a week and a half before the race to make sure I could do it. I ran it without a taper. Even doing it on a whim with no specific training, I almost cried crossing the finish line. It is a powerful moment, especially if you doubted yourself before.<br>
I would have done fueling differently if I had more experience, I think -- in that I would have taken in more fuel during the race because it is surprisingly helpful.<br><br>
My second marathon this last November was *supposed* to be a training run for another marathon and I ran it mainly because I did it the year before and had decided it was tradition <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> Again without taper, finished a little bit faster with less effort because I was a little bit fitter. (I had added bicycling to my training, instead of only running which brought up the maximum amount I could train without getting injured significantly)<br><br>
For me, I had a different experience in the marathons than some in that I underestimated my abilities. I went out too slow and ran a much faster pace for the last 10K when finishing became "real" and not just possible. I finished without being too tired and was running again immediately because I did not tax myself. (intentional in the second, when I ran with a first-timer and was only doing the race as a training run-- not intentional in the first)<br><br>
You have plenty of time to train for a marathon, imho, esp if your goal is to do a marathon more than beat a specific time (this is personal, but I wouldn't do that for your first one because it does teach you) --- and weekday runs are not as important for finishing a marathon as the long run. If you get your long run to 20 miles, you'll finish the marathon no problem. (I like going over 20 because I do not get injured and it mentally helps-- I think most plans stopping at 20 is why so many first time marathoners have so many problems at mile 20 of a marathon even with what we know about fueling to prevent the physical bonk -- a mental hurdle. But whether that's right for you, depends on you)<br><br>
Now, I only have the experience of 2 marathons, without specific training and taper and all that emotion, so take my advice for what it's worth. Seems like most the responders have far more experience.
 

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More on the marathon newbie perspective- I ran my first two years ago (Marine Corps Marathon), and am currently training for my second (Big Sur).<br><br>
My motivation- To challenge myself. I kind of came to the marathon distance backwards; the year before I completed a Grand Canyon double crossing (48mi) at a fast hiking pace and decided I didn't want to do that again, but a marathon might be reasonable.<br><br>
Base- I ran about 15mi/wk and did some long hikes for the year prior to GC2x, and after that did nothing for 10 months until starting marathon training. I have never been much of a runner but like to hike, ski, etc. on the weekends.<br><br>
Goal- For my first marathon it was to finish in under 5 hours, and I finished in 4:34. My goal for Big Sur is 4:30.<br><br>
Training- For my first marathon, and the one I am currently training for I have only had 14wks to train for, so I took Higden's Novice 16 week plan and lopped off the first two weeks. I moved the days around to fit my schedule and have tweaked the mileage a bit and added in cross training on the weekends.<br><br>
My novice opinion is that you should be able to get sufficient training in with just running during your lunch break during the week. If you make one or two of your weekday runs an interval workout or speed workout you will be able to get the equivalent training of a longer run in a shorter time.<br><br>
I say go for it! <img alt="icon_salut.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/icon_salut.gif"><br><br>
Cheers!<br>
Mark
 

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I ran my first marathon because I was tired of people finding out that I ran and asking, "So have you ever run a marathon?".<br><br>
I ran my second because my first went really well and I knew I could greatly lower my time.<br><br>
I ran my third because I totally crashed at my second and I didnt want that to be my last.<br><br>
I ran my fourth because I missed my goal at my third by only 30 seconds.<br><br>
I ran my fifth because it poured rain at my fourth and I didnt have a good run.<br><br>
And so on and so on. I'm up to 10.
 
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